A Year In England – February

“Skiing? In Scotland? I had no idea you could.”

That was my initial reaction to taking a skiing holiday in the country to the north. But the more I thought about it, the more intrigued I was.

I had never been skiing, so this was a great opportunity to try something new. I also looked forward to returning to Scotland. On a trip in November, visiting Edinburgh, St. Andrews, Inverness (and Loch Ness) and Aberdeen, I found I loved the country. A chance to return and explore other parts of the country was too good to pass up. Tickets were booked for February and I began making plans.

The weather, however, had other ideas. Little snow fell in Scotland that winter and the forecast wasn’t promising. “It will begin snowing soon,” I prayed, but with each passing day and no snow, I realized my ski trip would not involve skiing.

Skiing was only scheduled for a few days of the week. I also planned to return to Edinburgh and St. Andrews and realized that with no snow, I would be able to explore the area in the center of the country where I was staying. So one cold February morning, I loaded the car and headed north.

It turned out to be a wonderful week. Among other things I saw/experienced:

  • Driving north I passed by Lockerbie, where Pan Am 103 had crashed to earth a few weeks before. Access to the town was still restricted, and a tall, wood fence blocked a view of the town from the motorway. A visual reminder of a tragic event.
  • Visiting Stirling Castle and standing on an upper level looking out over the Scottish countryside. The wind whipped around me and I wondered what it must have been like centuries ago, standing watch in similar conditions and looking for attacks.
  • A drive to the ski area to see what might have been. The brown mountains had a few patches of snow and deserted lifts. I continuing driving north through the Scottish countryside to near Balmoral, one of the Queen’s residences.
  • While I didn’t make my first ski run, I did have my first horse ride. Though it was a pony and not a full-grown horse, I was terrified once in the saddle, feeling I was too far off the ground and would slide off any minute. The horse sensed my fear and lack of assertiveness with the reins. At a large mud puddle, rather than following the other horses through it, took off into the woods. Nothing I did made a difference. Once I realized the horse was simply taking a path around the puddle, not galloping off, I relaxed a bit and enjoyed the rest of the ride.

That was my last horse ride. And I still have yet to go snow skiing, although as much as I hate being cold, I’m not sure that one is ever going to happen. I haven’t been back to Scotland, a country I enjoyed so much. And while it is easy for me to sit and think about what I haven’t done, in the thirty years since, there is plenty I have done. I have completed my Master’s degree, become a mom, learned to scuba dive and sail, made several moves, started my own business, and gotten better at not letting my fears over what everyone else thinks control my life. While reflecting on what I haven’t done can be a good motivation to try new things, remembering what I have accomplished is important too.

After the “skiing” part of the trip was over, I returned to Edinburgh and again, took a day trip to St. Andrews. The city felt familiar this time, and I found my way around with ease. The same feeling happened six months earlier when I returned to London after two weeks on the continent. I was amazed that after only a few days, returning to a place I had been before could feel so familiar. Once the week was over, I returned to my village and the familiar routines of life there. The winter days were still short but were lengthening. My thesis research was progressing and my parents were coming for a visit in a few weeks. Halfway through my year in England, it was beginning to feel like home.

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