After our late night wacthing North & South, today started as a lazy day. Courtney slept in a bit while I breakfasted with Matias and Oskar. We spent the rest of the morning working on scripts for our Scotland episodes. After lunch, we drove in to town to pick up my Parisian friend Nikolas at the train station. Years ago on a trip to France with my students, she was our guide. We became good friends, and have continued to stay in touch. Last year, we happened to be in London the same time, only 2 blocks from each other, so we met up for coffee and dinner. This year, she had a whole week off, so she will be joining us as we explore Scotland! So excited to spend extended time with her.

     The charming little cafe Merienda was our first stop after picking up Nikolas. She needed a coffee, bien sur! After catching up for an hour or so, we took her to the red sandstone Carlisle Cathedral, where George gave us our own private tour.  I love this cathedral, because all of the stages of architectural development are so evident, from the Norman to the gothic. The ceiling of the quire is also painted magnificently, surrounded by a band of verses giving praise to God. The ruins of the cloister outside echo of the days when this cathedral was in its full glory. It is truly a marvelous complex.

     Hadrian’s Wall is only  few miles outside of the city, so we  took the short drive there to show Nikolas the northern-most boundary of the Roman Empire. We found a stretch of the wall along the roadside, so we parked as walked along the wall and had a fantastic view of the Lake District to the South, and Scotland to the North. Incredible to think that this was as far as the Romans went – the outer limit of their vast empire. Hadrian built this wall all across the island of Britain in the second century, and in many places portions of the wall are intact.  We decided to film our intro to the first Scotland episode there, as we will be crossing over Hadrian’s Wall, leaving England for the rugged Scottish landscape. Of course, there were plenty of sheep looking on!

    Leah made us a delicious curry for dinner, after which I had the pleasure of Matias reading me the story of Uncle Buncle.  We decided we actually needed to buy some sunscreen for our time in Scotland – who would think!!?? The weather is supposed to be sunny and warm!! We have been amazingly blessed with great weather – only one day of rain in Stratford, and none in the forecast.  Never would have expected to need sunscreen in Northern Great Britain. We tried out another British store, Sainsbury. I would say ASDA is to WalMart what Sainsbury is to Target. I LOVED this store! We found some great Union Jack swim trunks for our younger boys, and some more huge Spanish raspberries….random, I know. But what fun. Nikolas also said how much she loves to go to department/grocery stores in other countries.

     When we returned home, we did another girlie activity – painted our nails! And of course, plenty of talking. Tomorrow we hit the filming again after a few refreshing days to relax. I am so excited to go to Inveraray tomorrow. This is the part of Scotland called Argyll, the home to the Clan Campbell, so much of my husband’s and children’s ancestral heritage is there. My ancestors on my dad’s side are also from Scotland, so in many ways , I feel like I will be going “home” to the land of our heritage.  A new adventure begins tomorrow…. glad to have good friends to share it with!

Enjoying the journey into a new adventure…

Heather and Courtney