Sometimes it’s hard to know where and when a story begins. But I can tell you exactly when this journey began. It was on the 14th of January 2005. Right after I poas*.
I was in our house in Kintyre, and we were surrounded by the biggest mess imaginable. We were moving house. Starting a new job and just that week we had bought a new car. I wondered how my husband was going to take the news… “darling..I’m pr..” there was a heavy crump, clatter and the sound of a thousand pieces of broken crockery spilling on to a wooden floor.. news delivered. As I clearly couldn’t carry any more boxes I settled down with the computer, surfed the net for all things baby and supervised operations.
A third of the way round the world another Mum to be was waking to find her world similarly turned upside down. Jo, in Vancouver also stumbled around on line doing a little research. Eventually we both landed, by quite the happiest accident, on the September 2005 forum of a leading parenting website. For 8.5 years now a group of around 50 of us have chatted daily. We cover the globe from Canada and the US, up, down and across the UK from Skye to Northern Ireland to Devon, Holland, Germany, the UAE, Jordan, Beijing and to Australia. In that time we have seen the very best and worst of each other. 83 babies have been born. There have been engagements and weddings galore. We have celebrated thousands of birthdays. We have lived and breathed every moment of a cancer diagnosis of one of “our” babies at just 4 months old (now a beautiful 7 year old). We’ve held virtual and real hands and huge squeezy hugs through illness and bereavement, separation and divorce. We have shared the thoughts, feelings and fears that we express freely only in our secret on line space. People have come and gone from the group; there have been fights but I guess what I’m saying is that we’re a pretty tight group.
Over the years there have big meets, and mini meets and those who live close together have fun days out. Some of us have become particularly close and recently one September 05 lady became godparent to another of the girl’s recent arrivals. Jo (from Vancouver) and I have always got along, the same age (a little more mature than some of the group) with the same approach to life, parenting, coffee and wine. So, you can probably imagine my excitement when Jo announced that her lovely brother Brock was treating her to a trip to the UK this spring. I waited for about 2 seconds before messaging her and asking if she would like a travel companion. Jo, equally carefully, took a second or two to reply yes. Let’s do a roadtrip. Thelma and Louise were re-born. As you would expect for a couple of ladies of sensible ages, who were being given a week of “freedom” we chatted endlessly and meticulously planned our trip….well, not so much. Jo was finishing exams and I was running about Scotland photograping weddings and families. Life is so busy that we built the trip around a couple of facebook chats,Jo wanting to see Stonehenge and meeting our 05 ladies along the way.We agreed to meet in Edinburgh on 2nd May and decided that that was more than enough planning. The trip would end in Cornwall with the first AGM of the TMK team…
Leaving Kyle of Lochalsh….just me and my camera..below is my packing for a week.. A WEEK!
I loved the train journey from Skye to Edinburgh. 6.5 hours gave me time to start unwinding from work. Unwinding from being Mum. Re-winding to a time when I went travelling, to a time I was scared I was forgetting.. Edinburgh is my home town and I always have a quickened heart rate when the train clatters over the Rail Bridge from Fife to Edinburgh. You can see the Castle and the sleeping lion of Arthur’s seat, I can see my childhood.
After a couple of hours spent putting the world to right’s with my wonderful university friend Lesley (our fabulous Edinburgh host) I headed out to the airport to collect Jo. As you can see below I carefully selected a prime position to get a shot of her arriving from her London flight. In a miasma of confusion and happy go lucky it-worked- out- anywayness she appeared behind me… The terrible shot of us on the airport bus on the way back into town that we had to take and share with the 05 ladies was the only time we drew breath that evening. We just picked up our on-line conversation right where we had left off 3 days before and carried on chatting..
Edinburgh in the rain..we walked and walked and talked.. Jo cried on her first sight of the castle. It was wonderful for me to see the city that I love through fresh new eyes.
Thrilled to see this window display of Hunter Boots and tartan together on the Royal Mile.
Inside St Giles Cathedral (where it was rather lovely to receive such a warm welcome as a photographer). We visited several Cathedrals on our trip and without exception had lovely chats with those who look after these amazing buildings. Jo and I walked the route of many of my primary school and childhood trips from Edinburgh Castle down the Royal Mile to Holyrood House and stopped at some of my favourite spots along the way. (Naturally, this included both coffee and wine bars) At first Jo thought she might not want to see too much “old stuff” but she soon indulged my love of history as I dragged her round places that are old, ancient and beautiful.
But it wasn’t all about history. There was coffee and wine too. And wine. And perhaps just a glass of wine. Because it’s always wine o’clock somewhere. The middle photo below was taken just after Jo checked her final exam results (a return to study after 20 something years). The results were, of course, fabulous and ..you guessed: we had a glass of wine to celebrate.
The Queen’s Gallery at Holyrood House and the Scottish Parliament. Our final stop on our first day.
The next morning, after talking WAY too late into the night again. We headed off to collect our rental car. I had looked at many car hire companies but settled on Avis. Mainly because of their excellent and responsive social media presence. I love a company that recognises the value of engaging directly with customers. I doubt I will look elsewhere in future**. Although, to be honest, and much as I loved our Citroen..next time I’m hoping for the car on the right…
A strange thing happened on the way to collect the car. Both of our phones failed. Completely. Utterly. It underlined for us how reliant we are on phones and how little heed we pay to fixed arrangements. Both of us have become used to making and re-making arrangements on the run. We were, of course, running late. Luckily for us an incredibly patient group of ladies waited at the wonderful National Museum of Scotland …chat, scones and hilarity ensued.
Very quickly our road trip became the no sleep ( on account of Jo’s jetlag and our collective party tendancies), no eat (no time!) tour. If this was Saturday we had to be done with Scotland and in Newcastle by dinner and there was still a LOT to see. We hugged our friends and headed south. Jo navigated beautifully with the aid of direction print outs my husband had thoughtfully spent ages putting together for us. It was easy (these words will haunt me later!). We soon paused in the gorgeous Borders village of Jedburgh. The town was deserted ( a sevens tournament nearby had ensured this) and we strolled around in the afternoon sunshine. Feeling rather that time was winding back in the most delightful way.
Jo had fallen in love with Scotland. If there was a regret to our trip it was that we didn’t spend more time in Scotland. We happened upon the Border so quickly. To liven the mood we broke out our fabulous new boots and held a mini photo shoot. We entertained ourselves and a group of bikers parked at the roadside food stop. There was no stopping our Border crossing now…
Read more about our adventures tomorrow..
*pee’d on a stick.
** Avis did not sponsor the blog or the trip. Just excellent service.