Sunday, April 17, 2011

mr. rogers spring

Now I understand why daffodils and lambs in green fields are emblematic of Easter. In the last three or four days I have seen more daffodils and lambs than I think I've seen in the rest of my life. I can practically see the hills on the Isle of Bute, across the Kyles of Bute, turning green. Each day is less brown, more blindingly green. We can sit and watch the rain come across the water, greying the view of the farms and hills. Then the sun comes burning out again. Of course the grass is turning green.

The coast here has about a nine foot tide, the water moving in and out with barely any waves. Farther towards the ocean, the wind is creating whitecaps. But here the water is clear. Tiny kelp islands are not waving. As clouds move overhead the surface of the water reflects silver and becomes opaque, and the room feels chill. Put on cardigan. Just as quickly the sun is back and the water is transparent again. Take off cardigan.

There's an old pier that becomes submerged at high tide.

There are no photos, due to no camera, so instead there will be maps.

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A few days ago we rode around the southern most part of the Cowal Peninsula. We had planned to go to Kames, where we'd heard there was a slightly larger store than the one down the street here in Tighnabruaich. I'm just barely able to say Tighnabruaich with a straight face. I feel the need to cringe because I am sure I'm butchering it.

Kames is very close, and the road keeps going along the water. Why not keep going? Eventually we turned inland to cross the peninsula, after going through the most beautiful sheep farm possible. Brand new lambs stumbling around on legs that are clearly too long, panting sheep lying in the grass about to have their own.

We kept going, and saw it was possible to make a loop. Everything is beautiful. The beer is inexpensive. We can walk past bustling downtown Tighnabruaich - post office, shops, cafes, store, and hotel - in less than 5 minutes. Town continues a bit farther, mostly homes and inns, all lined up along the road that follows the coastline.

Daffodils. So many daffodils. Everywhere. And in the forests just outside of town the ground is covered in moss, trickling with streams, and yellow flowers poke out in patches of sunlight.

To get out here we did this:

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The final climb up to 200m was long, but reasonable. Tomorrow, perhaps a day trip to Rothesay, on the Isle of Bute. Already ordered a camera.

- rolling post

Friday, April 8, 2011

Scotland no camera

The good news: we rode from Greenock to Tighnabruaich, about 30 miles with the shopping we did beforehand, and we were elated and exhausted when we finished. Apparently muscle memory is real, whether you break a foot or not. Riding a bicycle? F'ing awesome. And it is so beautiful here. Different from fjords and snow and Norway-beautiful. Spring is happening for real already and there are daffodils everywhere. Everywhere. Amazing.

I'd go ahead and post a photo of some daffodils, but it looks like my camera is gone. Yesterday we climbed some major 20% grade BS, then down, and then we climbed a more reasonable slope for a much longer period of time. Near the top is one of the best viewpoints in all of Europe - or so the locals say. After the day we had, I can say that arriving there I was stunned by the view. Just perfect. I'd already given up my bags to the manly man in our couple. That's right, Joshua went heroic and carried my bags, too. (Much of our gear will arrive by mail, so we were two bags each, therefore Joshua could take over mine). But upon arrival at such an amazing viewpoint, well... I took some photos. Of the two birds we have with us now. Cashmere Chicken has a friend, see post below entitled 'Stowaway'.

Alas, you'll not see that photo either. I'm pretty sure I left my camera at that very fine viewpoint. I am so certain that today I took a taxi up there to see if it was still sitting on the panorama interpretation table. No dice. I will check the hotel in town, in case someone heading this way saw it there and tried to return it. You never know. Meanwhile, sadly missing Norwegian buddies.

Not the best photo ever, but you get the idea. It's cold. There's a waterfall (rainbow included), and the very bright sun is shining in our eyes. Ah, well. Let's go see the waterfall from behind.

Caption for the above photo: "Man. That was a pretty good little camera. Crap."

Postcards galore. Point is... we'll be lonely here for the first little while. Or maybe it's that we'll appreciate the quiet and calm, no one to worry about but ourselves, simple meals, simple days - for a few days. And then we'll just be wishing for kids to wrestle with and make puzzles with and listen to. Where can we get some of those, anyway? Oh yeah.

We went from one very special household to another. Thanks to Norway and team Natalia for being just awesome. Now we have a beautiful little flat to keep warm on a... kyle? A kyle of Bute? Still getting used to the Scottish language. So far, I understand Norwegian children better than drunk Scottish students boozing on the train. What can you do? Buy a new camera. Maybe even a waterproof one this time.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Spring is on it's way and so are we

Well, it rained today. Really hard. And the snow is melting fast. There's still a lot of snow, but the roads are clear.

So out came the bikes!

We rode up and down the driveway, testing the bikes and ourselves. Everything seems to work okay! Brakes were a little squeaky at first, but that's to be expected.

And in a few days we'll leave our happy cozy Norwegian paradise. We are going to miss the warm, busy, cozy, full home here. Little monsters and elves running everywhere - laughing, crying, shrieking, hugging, smiling.

But the time has come, and our next destination is calling - we'll be house-sitting in Scotland until June 1st or so. Hopefully we'll do our share of small trips while we're there, just a bit west of Glasgow in a very tiny town. Then in June we'll bicycle our way through the UK, visiting our buddy Budge in Newcastle, and at some point we'll take a ferry to The Netherlands. Back to Amsterdam! Yay!


Somebody snuck into the bag before we left Monterey...