Wednesday, 27 February 2008

Swimming Gala

Here is a picture that I took of Ethan at his Swimming Gala on Monday. I learned shortly after taking it that cameras were not allowed in the competition! Oops. Anyway, the gala was a competition for The Glasgow Academy classes Prep 5 - Trans (Jr high) just like a swim meet at home. Ethan qualified to swim the 25 meter Breaststroke and he did great! We were very proud and it was fun to see a school competition! Ethan swims at school every Friday morning for PE.

Tuesday, 19 February 2008

Winter Holiday in the Borders

The boys enjoyed a full week off for their Winter Holiday and we took advantage of it by heading to a holiday home in the Scottish Borders. This is the area south of Edinburgh and Glasgow and north of the border of England.

The house we rented was in a village called Gattonside over looking the River Tweed and the larger village of Melrose. It was a wonderful house with lots of space, a yard and a beautiful view. There is tons of history and plenty of Scottish countryside to see so we enjoyed little outings each day.

We visited the Dryburgh Abbey (abandoned in 1544; they were tired of defending it from the English), the Jedburgh Abbey (almost destroyed that same year) and the Melrose Abbey (which we could see from our house). Each Abbey was amazing and they have done a wonderful job of preserving the structures after fire and battle.

The Borders are also famous for being the home of Sir Walter Scott, the poet and writer that changed the image of Scotland from a land of the savages to the romantic countryside that we know! We traveled to one of his favorite places high in the hills for a look at "Scott's View" where you can see for miles and miles. It's just as you would imagine, beautiful rolling hills with patchwork farmland, sheep and cattle dotting the landscape and the River Tweed winding it's way through the scene. Really breathtaking.

The day that we were in Jedburgh happened to be the day that they were celebrating "Hand Ba", a tradition for 250 years. As we entered the town and were walking toward the abbey, this little old lady came and told us to "watch out, it's crazy up there. Keep your children close, they might get hurt, today is Hand Ba". We were thinking, what in the world could be happening? We stopped in the information center to ask and they explained that Hand Ba' is the traditional ball game where the Uppies and the Doonies manhandle a leather ball stuffed with straw to get it to their side of the town (Up or Down). They form a scrum and scramble to get the ball then throw it in the direction they want it to go and the mob chases the ball and forms a scrum again. The legend is that the Scots cut off an Englishman's head after a battle and used it as a ball and therefore the game was born.

Well, Scott Nicol was so excited as we guided our 3 small children into this crowded town! We were there in time to see the teenagers start their game and it was quite interesting. The whole town shuts down for the day (notice the boarded windows in the pictures) and everone is in the town square. We watched for a while as the scrum moved back and forth, up and down in the town and then Scott stayed to watch the adults have their turn while the boys and I went onto the Abbey. Scott said the adults scramnble was not near as fun as the teenage one! It was a treat to see this crazy tradition. (Also notice in my pictures the boys climbing the Abbey's walls at the end of the scramble to get cut through the town; maybe they were uppies headed uptown?)

On Saturday, Scott enjoyed a guided tour of the River Tweed for a little fly fishing, and then our friends Jo and Andrew Waddell and their 3 boys Jude, Sol and Casper came for a late lunch. We had such a great visit. We'd been enjoying the blessing of sunshine our whole vacation and so we had lunch then went outside for a game of rugby. We also walked across the river on the footbridge for ice cream at the local sweet shop. It was such a wonderful day!

We continue to enjoy the blessings of this beautiful country each time we have a chance!

Monday, 11 February 2008

Cycling in the City

Exactly one week after our snow, glorious, snow day we had this sun, glorious, sun weekend. It was so mild and nice this weekend and we all loved being outside!

We cleaned up the bikes, pumped the tires and headed to the Botanic Gardens. Charlie rode on the Trail-a-bike for the first time and he felt so big like "the brothers." It's just about 2 miles to the park and so we cycled there, had a picnic, played at the park and then cycled around a paved path near the Kelvin River. It was wonderful to be outside and to utilize some of our outdoor toys!

The boys are on Winter Break this week so we are enjoying a lazy day. Ethan, Christopher and I went to see the musical Dr. Dolittle on Friday night. It was brilliant! And tomorrow we will go and see the "Wee Fairy Tales" at another theatre. We are enjoying this city and all that it has to offer for our family!

Hope you all had a wonderful weekend.

Saturday, 2 February 2008

Snow, Glorious Snow

We have had quite the weather this week! One day it rained, snowed, sleeted, hailed, and was sunny all in the same day! My friends say that winter in Scotland is just like that, you really do not know what the day holds. We are learning to dress in waterproof layers at all times!

Last night we had a beautiful snow fall so we woke to a winter wonderland. The boys had a great time playing outside with the neighbors.
Just like most snow days in Texas, the snow was gone by noon. We're hoping for more tonight!