Taking a break in Scotland

We left Ireland not as rested as we imagined.

Our attempt at taking it easy in Ireland really didn’t occur.  We slept in three different beds in seven days and drove just shy of 700 or 100 miles per day all over the countryside while exploring each city we were staying in.  We were coming up on nearly four months of non-stop travel so this time, we promised one another, it was time to slow the pace.

We stayed in Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland at Chester Residence, a serviced apartment.  It was perfect for what we were looking to do which was to try to have a semi-normal life and get into a routine with standard rituals.  Our serviced apartment had a full kitchen, living room with a huge TV and tons of American channels, separate bedroom and a desk Peter could work at with great natural light on a leafy quiet street.  It really was like having our own apartment with in-house cleaning which was a nice change of pace from small, cramped hotel rooms and AirBnBs.

The first couple of days we barely left our apartment.  Peter worked a ton.  I read, did yoga, and had marathon days of watching really bad TV.  We ordered pizza, relaxed, slept for long hours and wore out the apartment’s Nespresso machine.  It was fabulous.

When we did set out on the town we had some self-guided walking tours.  Edinburgh is a fantastic walking city.  Its also probably a good time to add that we were blessed in both Ireland and Scotland with such incredible weather. We could count the measurement of rain hours on one hand for our two weeks there. This is a time of year where most people count the number of sunshine hours on one hand.

On our first walk in Edinburgh we took in the Royal Mile which includes tons of touristy shopping.  Think kilts and cashmere.  Many pubs, restaurants and street performers.  I saw a man swallow a sword, lay on a bed of nails, and juggle knives. I also learned something new about my husband that day; he has a strong aversion to watching sword swallowers.  I could barely watch as well.

The Edinburgh Castle at the end of the Royal Mile was a highlight of the city.  Not only does the Castle provide views of just about the entire city, but it’s the rich history dating back to the 12th century that makes you feel like you are going back in time.  You can stand right in front of the encased crown jewels which were first worn in 1504.   The Castle represents the story of the nation – past to present.  The Scots and English fiercely fought over control of the Castle.  Whoever had control of the Castle ruled Edinburgh and therefore Scotland.  The control was exchanged throughout history with constant bloody sieges.  The castle also includes a Prison of War where prisoners from America, Italy, Ireland, France, Spain, amongst others were kept.  Before the Castle became a museum 200 years ago it was a military base.  We purchased the audio guide to accompany our tour of the Castle and immediately fell in love with the story-telling of the grounds we were exploring.

Pictures weren’t allowed inside but we were able to get some good shots outside of the Castle grounds where you could take in panoramic views while imagining a British army charging the gates.

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Here are some shots of the outside of the castle (note the weather!).



On a seperate day we decided to get some exercise and walk around Holyrood Park and make our way up to Arthur’s Seat which is the main peak of a group of hills in the park. It was a reletively easy hike to the peak (Arthur’s Seat) which provided even better views of the city than the Castle did. Although both views are spectacular, Scotland’s landscape of lush green, rolling hills, water, and historical buildings is really beautiful.




We used Edinburgh as a base to explore some other parts of Scotland.

One day we took a train from the East side of the island to the West where we met up with some family friends of Peter in Glasgow. Peter’s Uncle went to University with an American now living in Glasgow named Joe. His Scottish wife Helen and Joe picked us up at the train station in Glasgow and instantly made us feel welcome.  Helen and I bonded over her love of Alaska. She felt that Alaska was much more similar to Scotland than California.  Helen was living in California when she met Joe.

One topic that we discussed quite a bit was the vote for Scotland independence from the UK.

Just a couple weeks before we arrived the country voted for independence.  Ultimately the “no” vote won with 55% of the votes and an impressive 80% of the population showing up at the polls.  Helen and Joe passionately campaigned in favor of independence. They had spent an incredible amount of time, energy and passion the weeks leading up to the vote. “Gutted” was the verb that Helen used to describer her feeling upon the results.

The week or two leading up to the vote, the polls were showing that the “yes” vote, for the first time, was polling higher than the “no.”  There is a lot of controversy surrounding the media spin and the one-sided debates of the issue. One of the biggest news outlet is obviously the BBC which many think had pressure to report in a certain way. There was also misinformation fed to the Scottish seniors that their pensions would be lost if independence were gained. They retracted the story, but the damage had been done. Others worried about the inability for an independent Scotland to enter the EU. Other concerns were over financial issues, defense and so forth. All in all, it seems that with a mix of fear, misinformation and media manipulation, the British were able to avoid independence…for now. Peter and I both are confident that its more a matter of ‘when’ than ‘if’ we see an independent Scotland in our lifetime.  I was moved by Helen’s passion on the topic.  Peter and I both felt like we gained a good deal of insight on the topic and were glad to be more educated on the topic from someone on the front lines.

Something else we learned from Joe and Helen is that Scotland is known for and has incredible Indian Food.  The British colonized India during the 19th and 20th century and Scotland experience a large scale of immigrants that brought their cuisine with them.  If you do a search for Indian food in Scotland all sorts of restaurants pop up.  Peter and I were both really excited about this because we both love Indian food and we had been struggling to find good food since arriving in Scotland and Ireland.  They took us to Mother India Cafe in Glasgow and it really was excellent.

After a late lunch Joe and Helen dropped us off at the train station and we head back to Edinburgh.  We truly had a lovely afternoon with both Joe and Helen and appreciated their company while touring us around Glasgow.

The day before we left the UK we rented a car in Edinburgh. Peter was excited to drive with miles on his speedometer and destinations quoted in miles opposed to kilometers.  We put Stirling Castle into our GPS and headed out to visit the castle grounds and catch a glimpse of the William Wallace monument. Remember the Movie Braveheart? “FREEDOM!”

It takes about an hour to drive from Edinburgh to Stirling which gave us an opportunity to enjoy the countryside of Scotland.  We were lucky enough to enjoy a rainbow on our road trip.  A double rainbow over a hilltop castle, extra bonus.


Stirling Castle sits atop a hill protected on three sides with steep cliffs.  The location is also near the crossing of River Forth which is important because its the access to northern Scotland.  Like Edinburgh Castle there were many bloody sieges seeking control at Stirling Castle.  During the War of Independence which took place from 1296 to 1342 the Castle changed hands between the Scots and the English eight times.   It was at Stirling Bridge in 1297 that William Wallace led his army to victory over a much larger and better armed English Army.

As Peter and I were walking through the parking lot we noticed a limo with what appeared to be a bunch of groomsmen in kilts.  So I of course wanted to take the opportunity to get a photo.

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We later saw the bride.  I was intrigued by her wedding dress.


The castle provides stunning views from every direction including William Wallace’s monument.


Peter got inspired by the monument and because we of course watched Braveheart while we were in Scotland he decided to do his best Mel Gibson imitation. “FREEDOM!”


Here are some other photos taken outside the castle.  Noticed how Peter nailed the shot with the flag in the last picture?

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Our friends had told us about the enjoyable pub life of Scotland but I unfortunately it wasn’t that type of trip. We needed to balance things out after exhausting ourselves the first four months of traveling. Most nights we ordered in with the exception of a trendy neighborhood restaurant called The West Room that had a good vibe and friendly tasty food.  Most nights we were asleep early.  Scotland was good to us.  It was a change of pace from go-go-go to relaxing in a country that speaks our native tongue and offers some of the creature comforts we’re used to at home.

Next stop Barcelona.

Thanks for keeping up with the Fotheringham’s.



  • Becky Lessley

    A few thoughts: Loved the discussion regarding the vote for independence. Your mom and I were actually in London when that vote occurred. Amazing turnout of 80%! If only we could get Americans to exercise that right. I see you are enjoying your new boots. Love those boots. Love Peter’s FREEDOM shot. I am a huge fan of Scottish history. Check out the Diana Gabaldon series. Absolutely fascinating.

  • Becky, we just met a young woman from Scotland whose opinion is for no independence. So now we have heard both sides and rationale of opposing thoughts. It’s been fun to learn about and hear straight from Scottish minds. I wore those boots and my jacket a ton after we parted. Great purchases and thanks again for strong arming me into buying both. Even though I told you that you were worse to shop with than Julie. Peter did a really nice job with his photo session. I’m like you, love the history of Scotland. You need to go. Let me know where we can accompany you next.

  • Rosemary Hodges

    Wow!!! Been out of this loop for a long time. Loved your take on Scotland. Shows how you can travel a country and take it easy too. Good choices and valuable perspective. The pictures are priceless…both beautiful and entertaining. What a priceless legacy you will hold when your travels are done. Love Mom

  • Thanks! Scotland was good to us. We relaxed, saw some beautiful castles and landscapes, and learned from the locals.