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  • Writer's picturemaggiehsmith07

Just Grateful


If you’re sensitive to typos, you may want to stop reading as this post is likely to have some. I tapped it out onto my phone and it then required a herculean effort to post. In any case, days have begun to melt , dissolving into one another making it difficult to discern where one ended and another began. We toured Edinburgh which exceeded expectations of how a city in the UK should look. The location of our hotel and room within the hotel was ideal as we were in the front which allowed a view of the castle. That’s where the highlight of the hotel began and ended. Although we did not turn the heat on in our room, we had to have been surrounded by people who did which made it sweltering in our room. Thankfully, we spotted a small fan tucked in a corner of the room and were able to push one window open enough to circulate some air. The shower would dip in temperature only so unexpectedly and quickly rise again. We were near the Balmoral hotel (book there for same view and less features of hilarity) which is where JK Rowling penned the final Harry Potter book. Imagine? She began writing the books at a nearby coffee shop, the Elephant Room (which we walked past and peeked in) because she couldn’t afford to heat her flat. By the time she was writing the last book, she was now married with three children & didn’t want to disturb her family so she booked a suite at the Balmoral and worked on the final book Monday through Friday. When she completed the book, she signed her name to the back of a statue in the room. The hotel eventually caught onto what they had and the statue, I am told, is encased in glass and the suite has been made into a converted into a Harry Potter themed suite and is now one of the most expensive rooms in the hotel. We toured the Edinburgh castle, which is the castle that our hotel room faced. The castle had endured 26 sieges. Apparently, when sieged you burn the buildings down. The chapel of St. Margaret was the only structure spared “out of respect”. Andrea was pondering me while learning of Queen Margaret but scoffed when learning the Queen was “very religious and very kind.” I asked which part she found amusing and she said both. Bear in mind, she’s been with me days on end by this point. I’m a peach. The chapel was quite small but with beautiful stained glass windows. On the hillside outside the chapel, was a small dog cemetery where the soldiers buried their deceased dogs. There were headstones as well. I felt all of the buildings were quite small - but when you have to rebuild all the time, maybe you’re like “eh. The hell with this.” The living quarters for royalty were small. I felt the prison was roomier but I’m sure that was not the case when it was overcrowded with prisoners. There’s so much history crammed in that I feel I need to go home and study a bit to sort it all out. We walked around the part of the city where the castle was and back to a statue in memory of a small, “sky” terrier named Bobby who faithfully stayed by his master’s graveside for many years following his passing. We visited Bobby’s small grave which had a pile of sticks in front of it that people had laid there when paying Bobby respect. We ducked into a Writer’s Museum and learned about Robert Louis Stevenson - who moved about a bit in search of a climate to support his health. Unfortunately, he died at age 44. We also visited the Yacht Britannia which was the yacht belonging to royalty. It was enormous and you would expect it would be opulent and over the top, but it wasn’t. It was a place of comfort where royalty could relax. Still, it was nice enough to host dignitaries and have celebrations. Pictures lined the walls capturing the Regan’s visit, Clinton’s visit (we peered into the room they stayed in), Princess Diana & Prince Charles and their boys, etc. Also tucked throughout the yacht were small, stuffed animal Yorkie pups that you were encouraged to count. Of course, Andrea did this with gusto and earned a small reward for her efforts. I’m fairly certain Andrea’s age range is not the target demographic for this but the help was very enthusiastic of her keen eye. On Thursday, we rolled through Scotland and learned of the “border” district which is where border collies are said to originate from. The hillsides were dotted with sheep as well as yellow, “Scottish broom”. We crossed the border from Scotland to England, the flags of each heralding our exit and arrival respectively. We stopped in Alnwick & stretched our legs. We looked at another castle there - just the outside as it was closed. We passed a farm field lined with rows of yellow which was canola. At last, we arrived in York - a Viking city with Roman city walls. We wandered around and happened upon a band, The Hyde Family Jam, playing in a square. They had a violin and cello amongst their 5-piece ensemble and were playing a spirited version of Tainted Love. I posted a photo and short video of them on my Instagram account (maggiehsmith). A great time. We spent the night in York and are rolling on to London today (Friday) where we will spend the remainder of our vacation. We head back home on Tuesday - a day consumed with travel. As I set out on this trip, my boss shot me a text wishing me a great trip and saying they would miss me. And I thought how lucky I was to work with so many people I would miss and how a few would miss me as well. Over the years, I’ve repeatedly seen that saying, “Live a life that you don’t need a vacation from.” And I feel very blessed to be doing just that with Andrea in our cozy home (which we love - our little sanctuary) and menagerie of pets, and working for a company I love led by leaders I believe in that’s doing good work. We’re healthy (minus the fact we’ve got weight to unload and are jumping on that upon our return. Hello, Q2!). We have this opportunity to travel together and more on the horizon. Anyway. I’m not ordinarily anything resembling sentimental/mushy, and I’m not sure I’d quite label this either of those - just grateful. 


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