ad caledonia

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Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Today I am headed to Scotland to begin University.  The trip has already started off a bit rough with out flight from Kansas City to Newark delayed for nearly two hours!  We already will have to rebook in Newark because our flight to Edinburgh leaves before we will arrive.  Fucking.  International.  Travel.

Just a bit about myself.  My name is Kennedy Younger Dold.  I am eighteen years old.  I was born in Lawrence, Kansas, USA.  Currently I am traveling to Edinburgh, Scotland to start my first year at the University of Edinburgh for History and Archaeology.

I really want to become a medieval archaeologist working mainly in Scotland and England.  I have a special interest in late Rome/Early Middle Ages, also the High Middle Ages (Hundred Years War).  Ideally, I will be working on digs during the summer and have either a professorship or a fellowship at a University.  I know that I will need to have a phD in my field if I ever want to be competitive – and for the type of person that I am, being competitive in my field is a must.

I am not traveling halfway across the world to be mediocre.

Of course, I have been forced to make sacrifices to achieve this.  I am leaving behind a lot of amazing friends.  This summer was honestly so fun and I really got close to a lot of people that I hope to remain in touch with.  Of course, I will hope to make new friends in Scotland… assuming of course that I make the flight in Newark.  We land at 8 and our flight leaves two terminals over at 8.10.  It is nice though to finally be heading to Scotland.

I’ve been waiting for this for a really long time.  I’ve learned as much as I could in Lawrence, and it was time to move on.  You can’t spend your whole in one place and you can’t spend your life in regret.  I’ve learned this all too well.  That is what I hope for Edinburgh – to live there for next plus years without regret.  I know this is probably too much to ask, but fingers crossed.

The movers arrived at Roseneath Friday, 2 August to pack up my life in Edinburgh and move it to Lawrence.  Four years of my life packed and boxed in less than an hour.  It’s taken me nearly a month to write this post.  But, as I have my Masters orientation tomorrow, I figured I’d finally attempt to finish it.

During the packing process, I found an old journal I bought before leaving Lawrence back in 2015.  It had fallen forgotten between my bed and my bookshelves for the past three years so I never filled it out except for the first few pages which I transcribed faithful to the original above.  If I’m going to be honest, ‘eighteen-year-old Kenn’ seems absolutely terrifying.  I can only hope that I’ve chilled out.

But, I’m glad to see that after four years I didn’t fully ‘travel halfway across the world to be mediocre.‘ I did graduate with a First after all and have a Masters program to do.  But, sadly(?), happily(?) I’m still on that ‘unending quest often satisfied but never for long‘ my high school English teacher wished upon me.  It was a quest tucked inside an old copy of Selected Poems by H.D. that I have kept with me these past four years and probably will for the rest of my life.

Once again, in spite of my desire to fulfill that quest – to do what I need to find my place, my home, my heart… I find myself in the same position as I did four years ago, leaving those closest to me and a part of myself an ocean away.

I said goodbye to Caitlin and Ellie and Sophie and Tay at the beginning of the month.  All four of them are off to do great things and I can’t wait to see what they all do next.  On August 8th, Ellie and I went to the Florence + the Machine concert in Princes Street Gardens and managed to elbow our way to the front row.  I stood outside in a thunderstorm for an hour and half to get those spots but considering how much her music means to me … worth. it.

I spent August 9th, my last day in Edinburgh, tidying my room and getting coffee at Black Medicine.  I knitted a scarf and walked along the Crags to look out across my city.  I owe so much to that fucking city.

I said goodbye to Gregor that night and that was very hard.  Gregor was among the first friends I made at university and I am so grateful he was there to help out a wayward Kansan learn how to climb mountains.  I’ve never had the experience of having an older sibling, but having Gregor is my life is perhaps the closest I’ll get to having an older brother.  He’s supportive but also calls me out on my bullshit.

Regularly.

That sentiment can also be said for Tuva and Erling.  (I would gust more about you guys but you got a whole three paragraphs last post!)  We became a family in those three years in Roseneath.

Alven went to the airport with me on the morning of August 10th to help me manage the absolute metric fuck-ton of baggage I checked to help me survive the month before the rest of my shit is shipped.  I said goodbye to him at the security gate to which he replied, ‘I won’t miss you.’

Lies.  Blatant lies.

Over the past four years, I’ve changed my hair colour, swapped my glasses, gotten four tattoos, and cut my fringe back four times before I instructed Erling to hold an intervention if I ever attempted a fifth time.  I’m not going to attempt to discuss everything that happened these four years because you if you want to read that then just read my blog ???

Either way – I do believe I have come closer to finding the person I want to be, the person I need to be.  And, I owe it to Scotland.

I lost her a few times, but she always crept back up on me … eventually.

I have tried to put into words just what Scotland means to me and every time I fall short.  (Which is why this post is so late.)  Sometimes, I think I finally understand.  But, just like the mists wrapping through Edinburgh, the feeling is there and then it is gone again.  The closest I think I ever came was the jumbled mess of shitty words I wrote in my private diary last September prior to the beginning of my final year:

Wednesday, 12 September 2018 – 1.30 am

I suppose now is as good of time to start writing in this book.  I received it for Christmas nearly 2 years ago but found it to beautiful for just any mundane story.  So it sat on the bookshelf – until now, I guess.  Because if not now, when?

Just to state for the historical record, my name is Kennedy Younger Dold.  I born April 28 1997 in Lawrence, Kansas, USA.  I attended school in Lawrence until I graduated from Lawrence High in 2015.  That following September I moved to Edinburgh, Scotland to attend the University of Edinburgh.  I study History and Archaeology.  This is the beginning of my final year.

I suppose what led me to begin writing at this time was the realisation I had returning to Edinburgh this weekend.

I set out to study the past – history.  To make connections to places and people.  I was never a lonely child but I often found myself amongst the company of books or those much older than myself.  I often understood but found communicating difficult.  I have always been much more at home by myself – until I realised the connections I had so deeply desired had finally manifested themselves in the way of incredible friends and companions, many of whom I dread to see the day we part ways.

I guess then, what the sudden urge to write this morning means then is that I’ve found it.

My peers no longer stare at me as if I’m some sort of Professor’s Frankenstein.  The desire to connect through history was only a mask used to hide my true fears of loneliness…

It’s not that I no longer wish to be an archaeologist – it is more that I am no longer seeking something which I do not possess.  The past has bewitched me – make no mistake – but…

Now, when I see castles and ruins I see both those from the past and my smiling companions in the present.  I see people who genuinely care and understand me.

And, maybe that’s what I’ve always wanted to find?  But only through returning to the past did I discover what laid ahead?

I owe everything to Scotland (~ad caledonia~).  To the degree I earned.  To the books I read.  To the person I became.  To the friends I made along the way.

I am heartbroken but they are the reason I can return to America.  They are the reason I am beyond excited for my Masters and the future opportunities ahead.  At the moment I have 1) a pretty cool part-time job, 2) two new St Bernard puppies, and 3) an upcoming hog roast in which my parents plan to dig a hole and set fire to a whole fucking pig in the front yard, you know, like they do in Hawaii.  In the future?  I want be a part of something bigger than myself, give back, help others, and tell stories.

If you haven’t learned this by now, I’m a bit of a sentimental piece of shit.  I keep every letter ever written to me including one my dad wrote to me when I went to summer camp when I was 11.  It was a pretty basic letter but did include the line, ‘come home with great stories!’    

So, my lovely, lovely, dearest, darling, sweet princess angel, Edinburgh, here’s to you.

To the cobbled closes of Edinburgh and laying in the sunny Meadows.  To the green mists of Glen Coe, the saw-toothed ridges of Liathach, and the pink hued sunset beaches on Skye.  To getting drunk off whisky and singing off-key in Kintail.  To ceilidh dancing under the stars or watching the crashing waves in Shetland.  To an underground Parisian jazz bar, cinnamon rolls in Oslo, or meeting Bacchus incarnate in Berlin. To a Neolithic settlement along the Danube, an ancient Roman trade city south of Pompeii, a medieval kirkyard, a towering Northumbrian castle, and a 18th century gardener’s cottage.  And finally, to the towering red sandstone of Roseneath I was so unbelievably lucky to be able to call home.

Thank you for my four years in Faerieland.  Thank you for the lessons and the stories.  Thank you for my international family.  Thank you for me.

With tolerance and love,

Kennedy.

 

 

 

my third summer with the anglo-saxons

What up boyos!!!

I’m back in Edi for ~one final week~ before bouncing across the ocean for a limited show two-year US tour in search of jobs and education. I’ve lined up a fancy new part-time job (more on that later), enrolled in my ~graduate~ classes, and forced my dad to pick up his grown-adult-child’s vaccination records so I can prove to KU I’m not an plague carrier! As it turns out I’ve been vaccinated twice for meningitis!

However, for the past six weeks I’ve been surviving in the No Phone Dead Zone of Northumbria.  It was my third year with the Bamburgh Research Project and my second year on staff.  This year I was the Assistant Finds Supervisor.  I’ve chatted about the site and my responsibilities previously in various posts but the gist of the position was to assist the Finds Supervisor in cataloguing and keeping all the finds that come out of the trench.

I also specialised in teaching Small Finds Illustration – basically drawing the ‘shiny’ or special finds that come out of the trench like worked bone, carved stones, or exceptional metal work.  I’ve always been ~artistically~ inclined, but I learned how to do technical drawings my third year of university and really liked it.

However, one thing I learned from the season is that I really, really, need to invest in a new computer if I want to seriously pursue digital finds illustration.  Especially considering I almost certainly have an illustration project lined up with the BRP which could transition over to my Masters!  My current laptop is a Grand Old Lady at this point and my poor baby crashed four times causing me to lose more than one illustration over the season.

I’ll provide two different examples of my work from the season below:

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Besides teaching illustration, I supervised the reorganising and moving of the bulk finds from the Castle Windmill to our storeroom inside the castle.  The Project decided that instead of storing all the bulk finds (shell, charcoal, mortar, animal bone, etc) in year boxes they would be stored in artefact type boxes.  This will make it much easier for future study of a particular artefact type.  However, it basically took all season to inventory boxes and create a new cataloguing system.

On a social note, Ben and Alven ‘surprised’ me with visit during the last weekend.  Their original plan was to show up and actually surprise me which I’m very glad they didn’t because I hate surprises.  Ben took the train up from London and Alven took the the train down from Edinburgh.  I picked both of them up from Berwick.

That weekend was also the BRP Reunion so not only did both of them get to meet the students and current staff but many of the Oldies from the project as well.  And of course, while it had been sunny all week – it rained all weekend.  Both of them got drenched on the beach and I forced them to stand next to the space heater.

However, I think between working on site and drinking in the pub, Ben and Alven got a truly well-rounded archaeological experience.  Alven worked a bit with the animal bone since he’s studying zoology and, while, we don’t have an cranes on site for Ben to gush over we do have an EDM which uses ~lasers.~

It was a really nice weekend.  Alven is still being a public nuisance in Edinburgh (HE CRAWLED OUT THE WINDOW OF MY FLAT!!!)  but I’m really glad that I got a chance to say farewell to Ben this time in the bright sun instead of the Edinburgh bus station at night.  There were still tears but I’d say it wasn’t as ~traumatic~ this time around.

And that was the season.  Lots of teaching and drawing and cataloguing.  But as always, I really enjoyed my time with project.  It’s given me invaluable archaeological experience which will only make it easier for me to get that dream job with UNESCO.

I am already looking forward to next summer.  Things are going to be a bit different – we are moving trench locations and there might be opportunities for me to work with both the Castle Museum and the Project.  Again, this might transfer to my Masters.  There are also some other potential summer projects which I am currently trying to make work.  More on those when I know myself.  Fingers crossed.

But, this past Saturday, Gregor drove down to Bamburgh to pick me up from the campsite.  There was a slight issue getting the bike in the car but we eventually found an Allen key.  I said farewell to the rest of the staff and Gregor and I booked it back to Scotland with time to spare.

I’ve got just over a week left here in Scotland and I plan to enjoy every second I have left here in Edinburgh.  These past four years have gone by far too quick – expect a very emotional post in the next week.  More on that soon.

byyeeeee.

 

 

 

the ending of things and beginning of things

It’s the middle of week four of the Bamburgh Research Project.  We have two weeks left in the season.

Last week I was back in Edinburgh for bittersweet farewells and the endings.

I left Bamburgh last Thursday evening and spent Friday running errands to prepare for the coming week.

Ben arrived late from London (He’s currently selling his soul to the corporate engine and getting hit by cars in exchange) on Friday night.  His train was delayed.  Personally, I think it was karma for leaving disgusting fermented lemons in the Roseneath fridge.  I waited for him at Waverly listening to three drunk Glaswegians singing ‘A Thousand Miles’ by Vanessa Carlton on the communal piano.  It was wholesome.

The next morning my parents and Crosby arrived into Edinburgh after flying from America.  Ben, Alven, and I went for an early coffee and then met up with them for brunch and then later an early dinner.  After dinner, we three and Crosby went to see ‘Toy Story 4.’  We all cried.

The next day we three were joined by Gregor and Sophie at Cold Town House, a lil microbrewery with a roof terrace overlooking the castle in the Grassmarket.  We stayed all afternoon in the sweet, sweet Edinburgh sun.

Ben left for a dinner and Alven, Gregor, and I returned to Roseneath to make our own.  I met back up with Sam and Pippa and Ben for a pub quiz.  Then around 10pm it was time to walk Ben to the bus station for his bus back to London because once again he’s sold his soul to the corporate engineering world and needed to be in the London office for bright and sunny Monday morning.

It’s really, really hard watching a bus pull away and not knowing when you’ll see that human again.

It’s really, really hard hearing the bells of St Giles and knowing with each chime that human is further and further away.

It was the first goodbye of many to come and maybe in some place in my mind I thought I was ready.  As it turned out, I wasn’t anywhere close.

Monday, I ugly cried in my kitchen and Alven took photos.

Tuesday, on the second of July, I walked across the stage in McEwan Hall and got wacked on the head by the hat made from John-Knox’s-but-also-not-John-Knox’s-pants-which-did/didn’t-get-sent-into-space (it’s a long story).  I was awarded a Masters of Arts with Honours in History and Archaeology, First Class.  I took my photos in the Old College Quad.

And that was four years.

Taking the photos, I looked up to the Golden Boy on the roof of Old College and thought about seeing it for the first time back in 2015.

After graduation, Mom and Dad and Crosby and I went to Sandy Bells to wait for our dinner reservation.  I messed up the timings and booked a much later reservation than I thought.  We ate at the Witchery by the Castle and once again I’m reminded exactly how I want my future official dwelling to look.

Wednesday, I took the family to Stirling to see the Castle.  On all accounts, I believe they enjoyed it.  I went to Stirling with Gregor and our Canadian exchange student Sarah in first year so it was nice to return.  I also took them to Gregor’s friend’s coffee shop.

Thursday was the Fourth of July.  It was my third Fourth of July outside of America.  Truthfully, I found it hard to celebrate this year when the quote American Dream un-quote is being denied to so many.  When children are being separated from their parents and held in cages with no beds or toothbrushes or soap.  When women are denied autonomy over their own bodies.  When teenagers fear for their lives while they are trying to get an education.  But sure, let’s parade tanks, force people to work instead of giving them their day off, and brag about the Continental Army ‘taking the airports.’

Anyway, I also got two really pretty tattoos. One is a Kansas sunflower – a symbol of loyalty and the flower of the American Suffragettes.  The other is a Scottish thistle – a symbol of defiance and memory.  Both are actually from the same plant family and are also both noxious weeds!  Tattoos have become a cathartic release for me.  I’ll carry them forever as reminders and memories of where I came from, where I went, and where I’ll go next.  Tat me up!!111!!!

That evening Tuva and Erling and Alven and Crosby and I went to see the new Spider-Man film.  Highly rated, Zendaya wears a Joan of Arc T-shirt.

Friday was Crosby’s 20th birthday.  Yikes.  Mom and Dad took her shopping and I ran a few errands.  I met up with Sophie for a quick cup of coffee and she gave me the loveliest card which I cried reading on the train.

That evening, Roseneath went to the Argyle for one last official flat pub outing.  Gregor went to sleep early as he was still recovering from celebrating his own graduation. Tuva and Erling and Alven and I stayed up late into the night drinking whisky and crying in the kitchen.

Saturday morning I woke up early and packed the rest of the shit I needed to take back to Bamburgh.  Mom and Dad came by Roseneath to help me carry my stuff as I can’t put a lot of stress on my shoulder just yet with the fresh tats.

And that’s when I said goodbye to my sweet, darling Norwegians.  I’m so glad that I met them on a mountain in the Lake District four years ago.  All my love you two.

By now, they are safely back in Oslo.  Gregor is still in the flat and will be there when I return in late July.  But, Roseneath as we knew it with Tuva and Erling and Gregor and Kennedy has come to an end.

It won’t be forever, but I know the separation of Roseneath will probably last far too long.  However, I do know this, when we do see each other again, wherever in the world it will be – it will be as if we never parted.  As I’ve learned, global friendships are some of the hardest to keep.  But, if you can keep them, they prove to be the most rewarding.  Having friends across countries and over oceans makes the world just a bit smaller and that much more wonderful.

But, goodbyes are fucking hard.  I don’t think they will ever get easier.

And so, I returned to Bamburgh Castle and my family toured the site.  We ate lunch together and I worked for the rest of the day.  After a week off, I need to reorganize some stuff and get back into the workflow.

I’ve cycled to and from the castle when it hasn’t rained to think.

So much has ended.  So much is beginning anew.  I’d be lying if I said I haven’t cried at least once per day this past week.  But, I wouldn’t trade these past four years.  I will carry my memories of my friends in Edinburgh forever.

Will update more later.

roadtrip 2019

I’m back in Edinburgh from yet another two week Yummick Roadtrip and I have the midge bite scabs and sunburn to prove it.

For those completely unaware, I cast my lot in with the Edinburgh University Mountaineering Club (EUMC) in first year.  After four years and three committee positions, I’ve found it to be an incestuous league of miscreants who might also just be the best people I’ve ever had the pleasure of suffering in a bog with.

This year eight of us departed Edinburgh on May 26.  Split between two cars, we headed northward arriving at the walk in to Strabeg Bothy with plans to spend at least two nights.  The bothy is maintained by the Mountain Bothy Association (MBA) who manages and upkeeps basic open access shelters around Scotland.  Most of them are old croft houses with stone walls and two fireplaces.  They can be notoriously dark, dank, and soggy but it really beats pitching tents in rain and wind.

The walk in was a treat.

It was only meant to be a little over two miles but during the day the river had flooded and the surrounding bog had become a swamp.

I fell into this swamp after being dumb and thinking I could just take my shoes off and wade through the water.  Lies.  Incorrect.  I too was bamboozled.  After sufficient ridicule, Erling finally attempted to help me but at this point the mud and sheep shit had already absorbed me up to my knees.

bog

But, we finally made it to the Bothy after wading across the flooded river in a chain, put on dry clothes, and hung everything else to dry by the fire.  Ben had decided to abandon us all and wade across the river himself.  I still don’t know if it was ambitious, stupid, or if he was just trying to off himself so he didn’t have to listen to my shit chat anymore.    We all cooked dinner (steak stir-fry if you’re wondering) and then went to sleep.  The next day I slept in because, truthfully, I’m going through a bit of an insomniac phase again.  I found a copy of Atonement in the Bothy and kept the fire going.  It was cozy.

We stayed at Strabeg for two nights and then walked out.  Ironically, the river torrent we had been forced to cross two days earlier was a little more than a stream.

Considering that most of Scotland was still a bog from the heavy rain the last few days, we headed even farther north to Sheigra in hopes that there might be dry rock or sun.

Behold. The sunny beach of Sheigra.

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yummick roadtrippin’ 2019

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northy north

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Upon arriving we pitched up and decided what to do next.  I ran off along the coast for a pleasant run.  Alven placed his crab trap in hopes of catching something for breakfast.  That evening we sat at the beach until the sun started to dip below the jagged sea cliffs.  The only option was to climb higher and we watched the last rays of the sun from a grassy ledge above our pitched tents.

We packed up mid-morning.  Alven checked in on his trap only to find that a crab had indeed been caught, ate the salami bait, and then broken out of the trap.  Saddened, we headed off for a day of climbing.  I ran off for a short run and then returned to climb.  From climbing we headed to Scourie and pitched up in a field near the shore (we pitched on the middle peninsula in the photo).  Being Alven’s birthday, we treated ourselves to something nicer than what we can cook on our gas stoves.  Ben, Sam, Erling, and Alven then decided they had been wronged when they learned that the ladies’ bathroom at the restaurant had clean hand towels to wash faces and spa soap and lotion.  The gent’s apparently only had a weak hand dryer.  Walking back to our tents, we watched the sunset.

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yesterday’s sleep spot.

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The next day we left for a bit of day cragging on semi-dry rock.  We returned that evening to the same field in Scourie to spend another night.  From Scourie, we drove southward to Ullapool.  It had been nearly a week at this point so we stopped to resupply food and take showers at the Ullapool leisure centre.  (We had wanted to go swimming, but the pool was closed for Senior Hour in the morning.  But, alas, no seniors were floating about.)  As usual, the boys had finished their showers well before the girls and were waiting outside with their arms crossed.  Honestly, I pity that you all just don’t appreciate clean hair and scalding water more.

From Ullapool we continued southward toward Applecross where the annual EUMC dinner meet was to be held at the Walled Garden.  It was a chance to see everyone before parting ways for the summer, take showers, peel off sweaty leggings and shirts and put on something nice.

We met up with various other parties of Yummicks at the pub to swap stories from the week and then pitched up by the water.  We stayed up late wrapped in a tarpaulin to keep out the chill.  Many were already realising the bittersweet finality of this last road trip.

The next day we packed up and moved to the Applecross Campsite. It was raining so some ambitious folk went running and others went to the cafe.

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oh deer

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By the afternoon, Ellie B had arrived from Edinburgh and it was almost time to get ready for dinner.  Getting ready for Dinner Meet is a rather social affair.  Imagine, people rushing around the campsite fixing each others ties and makeup while balancing plastic wine glasses or tins on cars or soggy grassy patches.

We held the Dinner Meet at the Walled Garden this year.  It was a short walk from the campsite which was a blessing as it was still threatening to rain again.

Dinner was really nice.

After, we danced our way back to the campsite to change and then headed down to the beach for a bonfire. I’ve come to realise I’m actually quite a sentimental piece of shit and found myself trying to memorise that moment on the beach. How everyone’s smiles reached all the way to their eyes. How the fire flickered in the sand. The feeling of being spun on the beach in a dance and the cold sand beneath my feet.  How the stars looked overhead.

The next morning was rainy and fit the mood of farewells. Ellie Leigh returned to Wales to continue her amazing internship. Ben headed north and then south to London to start his summer job (He also drove off with all the remaining food and my camping mug!!! Sabotage!!). Tuva and Erling returned to Edinburgh.  The rest of the Yummicks scattered to the wind to do amazing things of that I am sure.

It was just Ellie B, Alven, and I heading even farther north to Skye.

The following week went as quickly as the week before despite my pleas to make it slow down. We spent a windy night on the edge of the world and woke up early to catch a ferry to Lewis and Harris.

We spent the next two days driving around the island and visiting every historical site on the map. The Callanish Stones were absolutely stunning. They are a stone circle similar to Stonehenge, but arguably much larger and probably more significant – they exist in a larger landscape with more of the subsidiary stone circles still surviving.

As an aside, stone circles don’t exist in isolation and play into the landscape.  They’re all connected to each other like a spider’s web across expansive miles. Their position is affected by other circles and geographical features. Because Lewis and Harris is still relatively undisturbed compared to the landscape around Stonehenge you can actually get a better feeling for the prehistoric landscape. Also, you can walk right up to them.

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~ritual purposes~

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The sun finally came out and the waters turned into one of the most beautiful turquoises I have ever seen. (The most beautiful still has to be Shetland.)

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🥰

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The three of us took the ferry back to Skye and then drove to Sligachan to meet back up with other Yummicks.  We spent the night at Neist Point and watched the sky turn from blue to yellow to orange to pink to purple and then to black.

Sunsets have always held a special place.  Growing up in the Kansas countryside you get used to vibrant colours spreading across the wide reaching sky.  The sunsets across the ocean have that same magic and maybe something a little extra.  There’s a moment when the sun’s rays hit the water and appear to wrap around the world.  And then the stars emerge – the same stars people have looked upon for thousands of years and the same ones we all gaze upon now.

I am so thankful I decided to wake up early that morning in September four years ago to get on a bus and head northward.  I am thankful for the sun and the snow and the rain and even the bogs.  For the broken tents and the soggy bothys.  I am thankful for the moments of fellowship in the mountains and trust on belay.  The silence of the night broken by the muffled sound of music.  The quiet breaks on the sides of ridges.  The feeling of exhaustion but also of adoration for the landscape and the people around me.

And the stars.  The spreading canvas of light across the night sky.  They might be separate balls of gas thousands and millions of light years apart, but together they weave constellations and epics across the sky.

I know no matter where in the world we end up, we’ll share the same sky.  Somewhere, you’ll be watching your sun and stars as I watch mine.

Writing this now back in Edinburgh I realise how much I will miss them.  I just hope they will miss me just as much.

I am reminded now of the conversation I had with an old woman in the Tesco car park in Ullapool.  She rambled a bit and was all to keen to tell us the dangers of Germans driving large caravans on small highland roads, but she looked me in the eyes and said something I will carry with me for a very long time.

She said, ‘Some places are magnets and the north of Scotland is a strong one.  People return here.  They always do.’

I hope I do.

Either that or I’ll write a really good story about it.

 

~a week in paris~

Hey all.  It’s me, back to tell you about my international exploits.

For those wondering:

  1. Yes, I am finished with university.
  2. No, I haven’t graduated.
  3. Why? Examinations are still ongoing and the external exam board meets in June.
  4. So when do you graduate? July 2 at, I think, 2 o’clock in the afternoon (?).
  5. So, like, what have you been doing? Well, I went back to America for a bit of sun and then back here to Edinburgh.  And then off to Paris with Caitlin, Sophie, and Ellie.

The trip started by driving down to London from Edinburgh.  We stopped off in Liverpool for lunch with Caitlin’s aunt.  It was late by the time we finally made it to London.  The next day Sophie, Caitlin, and I spent time in central London.  We went to some of the vintage shops near Oxford Circus and I found ~yet another~ leather jacket.

The next day we met back up with Ellie at Kings Cross to take the train to Paris.  We arrived in Paris late afternoon and from Gare du Nord took the Metro to our AirBnb.

Our first day in Paris it was sunny and we spent it wandering around.  We visited the Museé d’Orsay.  The building used to be a railway station but was later adapted when the tracks proved too short for longer trains.  It now houses pieces by the Impressionists and Post-Impressionists like Van Gogh, Monet, Manet, Cezanne, and Gauguin.

Basically a dream.

That evening we went to an underground jazz bar that Betsy had recommended.  Betsy had spend a few months living in Paris during a study abroad program and ~usually~ has good taste.

The place was called the Caveau de la Huchette and is located in the Latin Quarter just south of Notre Dame. The basement of the building dates to about 1551 and has links to the Templars.  By 1789, it became the meeting place for French revolutionaries.  In 1772, it was converted into a Freemason Lodge.  After the Second World War, it transformed into a live jazz club when American GIs brought in New Orleans jazz and swing dance.

The drinks are a little pricey but the live music was fantastic.

The night day we got up early to visit Sainte-Chapelle.  The chapel was commissioned by Louis IX in the 13th century to be the reliquary for the holy relics he collected while on Crusade.  It’s construction was relatively contemporary with Notre Dame.  Notre Dame was built to be the more public building while Sainte-Chapelle to be the private royal chapel.

We arrived early in the morning to see the stained glass.

I don’t know if it’s because I was probably a magpie in a previous life, but I love stained glass.  Actually, that’s probably an understatement.  I could sit for hours looking at stained glass.

We then went for lunch and to see Notre Dame.  Since the fire earlier this month, the street has been blocked off but it was heartening to see the structure appears to be stabilized.  The roof is gone and so are many of the upper windows.  There is smoke damage to the upper rose window on the south side of the building.  However, the bell towers are okay and so is the larger rose window in the front.  Even without a roof, the building was still impressive.

Near to Notre Dame is Shakespeare and Company, an independent bookshop with ties to James Joyce, Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Zelda Fitzgerald, and Ezra Pound.  The first shop was founded by the American Sylvia Beach in 1918 as an English lending library and bookshop.  Sylvia soon found herself in the company of dozens of English and American writers of the Lost Generation who had flocked to Paris following the end of the First World War.  In 1922, she published James Joyce’s Ulysses when the book had been banned in most English speaking countries.  She operated the bookshop during the Nazi Occupation of Paris until she was arrested in 1941 for hiring a Jewish assistant and refusing to sell a copy of Finnegan’s Wake to a Nazi Officer.  Beach spent six months in an internment camp.  When she finally returned to Paris, she did not reopen her shop.

However, by 1951 George Witman reopened Shakespeare and Company with Sylvia’s blessing across the way from Notre Dame.  The shop earned a second life as the inspiration for the Beat Generation with visitors including Allen Ginsberg and James Baldwin.

I grabbed a coffee from the cafe attached to the bookshop and a table facing out toward Notre Dame.

As a hopeful novelist, being in this space was incredible.  I’ve struggled a lot with my writing in recent years.  Often I just don’t feel confident or like I’m expressing myself well.  Just the other day was the seven year anniversary of the publication of my novel.  I can’t believe it’s been that long.  And, I know I really need to finish something else.  Trust me, I’m gathering stories…. which I’ll finish… eventually.  My current piece is something really dear to my heart and I want to make sure that I’m telling it the way I want it to be remembered.

But, being a place where people just want to tell stories and express themselves was comforting.

That evening we went to the Louvre.

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▶️🅰️🌾❗️💲

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As expected, the Mona Lisa was small and the display of Nike was incredible.  She is positioned at the end of a long stairway and looked just like she was taking off as you got closer.  Honestly, she’s a star.

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📈📍🦅📧

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The next day we went to see the Eiffel Tower.  It was pretty.

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🤟🏻🅰️💲🌱 1️⃣

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We had some lunch and then queued to see the Catacombs.

I would never wish to see the Catacombs again.  The tunnels stretch for over 200 miles under Paris and include the remains of over 6 million people dating from the medieval period.  They were removed from overcrowded, un-safe cemeteries during the 18th and 19th centuries and placed underground in walled stacks.  All the remains were kept together and plaques indicate which cemetary they came from.

While, I understand the necessity for the remains to be safely reorganized below ground in a city that was nearing two milleniums worth of occupation… I cannot say that I felt comfortable visiting.

I have worked with human remains in labs and excavated remains in the field.  I had the option of completing a Masters in osteology… but that doesn’t make it any easier.  The Catacombs felt like a world apart and, honestly, I felt like an intruder.  I’ve always justified my study with the scientific benefits of analysis.  However, there was not any scientific advantage to viewing these remains except to see them in dark, claustrophobic tunnels where the living very clearly have no place.

To see a part of history, maybe I am glad for that.  But, not all history needs to be seen.

The next morning we caught an early train back to London.  The four of us split off and I went to Westminster Abbey.  After visiting the Abbey, I found a sunny spot in St James’ Park and read my book.  That evening Sophie and I spent the night at Ellie’s.  The next day, the two of us took the train back up to Edinburgh.

I’ve been back in Edinburgh for few days now finally getting time to decompress.

All in all, the best part? Being with my friends at Caveau de la Huchette and Shakespeare and Company definitely.  Most beautiful piece of art? The windows at Sainte-Chapelle.

 

shetland

This past week, Ben, Alven, and I took the train from Edinburgh to Aberdeen and then the overnight ferry from Aberdeen to Shetland.

Considering the events of the week before which included learning I’d lost a friend I’d known since childhood, my parents calling to let me know my faithful dog of 12 years was gone as well, and then deciding to move back to America this August for a Masters – getting away seemed like the thing I needed to do.  The trip was planned quickly, with ferry and train booking happening Thursday to leave Saturday.

Shetland, if you are interested, are the northernmost islands of the UK.  The islands are very close to Norway and have a very strong Norse heritage with plenty of archaeological sites.  One of the really significant ones is Jarlshof which has everything from Bronze Age, Iron Age, Viking, Early Medieval, and Late Medieval on one site.  If you’re interested in the complete history here’s the Wikipedia page.

But, anyway.  We spent the week traveling around the Mainland and working on our dissertations.  All three of us brought work with us, so it wasn’t a total escape.  But the change of scenery was something I dearly needed.

Instead of a normal blog post I decided to make a video to attempt to capture the week.  The video is at the end of this post because I want you to read everything first.

I’m going to be honest here, I fell in love with Shetland.  Everything from its remoteness to rainbows created by the crashing waves to the ancient stone brochs and finally to the long roads to the edge of cliffs.  It felt like there was something familiar about it nagging at me the entire time.

Back in August of 2015, I began the long process of packing up my life and moving to Scotland.  That process included picking and choosing what parts I wanted to take with me and what parts I would decide to leave behind.

Maybe I am a sentimentalist, or perhaps that is just a nice way of wording Kennedy-is-a-hoarder, but one of the things I packed and moved across the Atlantic with me was a worn copy of Selected Poems of H.D. and a typewritten note by one of my English teachers.

A portion of that note reads:

Dear Kennedy,

In his poem ‘Tollund Man’ Seamus Heaney writes:

 Out here in Jutland // In the old man-killing parishes // I will feel lost, // Unhappy and at home. 

I would never wish you unhappiness, however, I know that desire is in you to find a home in the lost places, in history, in poetry, in the bog, in the ruin, amoung the relics.

So my wish for you is an unending quest often satisfied but never for long.

If you’re a nosy reader of my blog here you’ll probably recognize those verses from my About page.  They’ve been there since the beginning.

The book is one of the few I keep close within arms reach next to my bed.  The others, if you’re curious, are Tomorrow is Now by Eleanor Roosevelt, The Art of War by Sun-Tzu, The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan, and The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien.

I have thought of those words often, I’d admit.  When I received them at age 18, I knew that it would be something that would plague me for years and I think my English teacher knew that as well.

Living in Scotland these past four years has become that ‘unending quest.’  And truthfully, my English teacher was right.  It has been satisfying – but at each turn I make, I discover something new and once again I am… on another unending quest.  Traveling to remote places, exploring in wet and windy weather could make someone feel lost – but again, and not to sound like pretenious piece of shite, I have never felt more at home.

I am so close to finishing my degree with only two essays and my dissertation left.  Especially after the events earlier this month, going to Shetland this past week allowed for me to escape everything and find my next move.  It also showed me a place I would happily return to and live unbothered.

 

 

 

 

hap newt year!

yikes, another year in the books and to be honest, 2018 was pretty amazing.

Here’s my Year in Review:

January

Traveled northward once again for Hogmanay at the EUMC Bothy.  Went skiing in the Cairngorm National Park and tripped over flat ground.  Ordered a sleeping bag with arms and legs.

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what a place to send 2017 to its fiery demise

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February 

Tuva and Erling invited me to Norway and abandoned me in a snow drift outside of a mountain hut while they went inside and ate cinnamon rolls.  Jokes aside, I got stuck all on my own.  The Beast from the East hit Edinburgh and the university was closed for a week amidst faculty strikes and bread rations.

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♑️⭕️🌾🔱🅰️✌️

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⛷⛷⛷

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March

March was essay season and I sort of stared into the void for most of it.

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y i k e s // pc @caitlin_mcgovern

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April 

The end of third year, a trip to Berlin to see Gregor and Sophie, my 21st birthday, and the last university exam I will ever take in my life. Get wrecked.

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🅱️3️⃣®👍📍♑️

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May

I take my Theoretical Archaeology exam and run/swim away to the Highlands.  The EUMC has its 75th Anniversary Dinner and then we kick off for the Road Trip.  We spend nearly a week on Skye with no rain and about a 100,000 midges.

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🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿

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Some scrambling.

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June

Dad visited, I went to London with Besty, worked on some dissertation stuff, started at Bamburgh as an Assistant Environmental Supervisor, and then back to Chester for more work in a medieval kirkyard.

August 

Flew back to America and meet the family for a well needed holiday.

September 

Roseneath came to Kansas.  Gregor’s plane was never going to Chicago and he landed in Newark.  We meet a Bud Lite corporate rep who gave us 12 free pitchers.  Returned to Scotland for the start of fourth year.

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✌🏼❤️🌻

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October

Completed less work than I would have liked but went back to the Lake District one final time to see a Roman Fort.

November 

Built a model of an iron age Round House and cooked Thanksgiving for forty people. And went to the EUMC Bothy together for our last Bothy Trip.

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bothy trip year iv.

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December 

Had my last essays, EUMC Christmas Dinner, went to see Hoizer in concert, flew back to America early, spent Christmas with my cat, and flew back to Edinburgh with my sister.

I’m back in Edinburgh until term starts in the next few weeks.  Currently I’m finishing the second of my four essays for Early Medieval Sexualities, a presentation about my dissertation, and still writing and researching for the dissertation. My courses for this semester don’t change drastically.  Only ‘Architectural Archaeology’ was a semester, the rest are full year.

Edinburgh has a massive city wide party and instead of driving up north, this year the flat, some friends, and I stayed home.  My parents sent Crosby to Edinburgh for New Years here as well so my friends and I made sure she had a good time.  We watched the fireworks shoot off from the Castle in the Links and it was a pretty great start to New Years.

So hap newt years!

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✨ hap newt year ✨

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quick update for those interested.

hello friends.

a few cool things have happened the last 10 days since my last post besides only playing Skyrim in the flat.

I had a writing seminar with one of my favourite authors – Maggie Steifvater.  It was five hours of learning about her writing process which has honestly inspired me to get back more into my own writing.  She discussed plot, characters, and pacing.

I have a really bad habit of working on a manuscript and then reaching a point where I have the story finished in my head but not on the paper and I get bored.  This has happened with a 70,000, 40,000, and 20,000 word manuscript. tl;dr: I have commitment issues when it comes to writing and going to a writing workshop with one of my favourite authors helped me a lot.

But!  I have a urban fantasy novel (about 10,000) and a futuristic sci-fi (about 40,000) which I’m working on right now and I’m really excited about them.

Yummick X-mas Dinner.  This year the EUMC headed out to The Advocate for a nice dinner and then out for a evening of dancing and debauchery.  It was the last Christmas dinner with all of us together so it was a little bittersweet.  For those on facebook you can see the album there.

Hozier in Glasgow.  Ellie, Caitlin, Sophie and I took the bus over to Glasgow to see Hozier at the O2 Academy.  I love smaller venues because they make for a much more intimate show.  I’m big fan of being able to actually feel the drums through the floor and the speakers hitting your chest.  If I’m going to shell it out for a concert – I’d prefer not to be in the nosebleeds.  Seeing Hozier in a smaller venue and being near the front was incredible.  Cha girl got taken to church.

So yeah other than that I’ve been doing a bit of Christmas shopping and then it’s back to America in a few days time.

a video?!

 

what is this 2016?! I haven’t done a vlog in ages and this is the least I could do after shoving my camera in my friend’s faces for two weeks.  sorry not sorry. So anyway, here’s a belated mock-u-mentary about the anniversary dinner/roadtrip conveniently edited to a PG rating and under 5 minutes.

roadtripping 2018

Sorry for the absence, I’ve been away for the last few weeks getting eaten alive by midges.

I’ve been in back in Edinburgh for nearly a week after time at the Bothy, Arisaig, Skye, and Torridon.  It’s been just enough time to take multiple showers, postpone my laundry until I physically couldn’t stand to have it in my room, read not one! but two! trashy teen medieval fantasy novels, get the photos from the trip developed, take part in the Processions to celebrate 100 Years of women having the vote in the UK, and teach young children about worms.

A lot has happened so I’ll try to summarize it the best I can without boring you.

As per my last blog post, I stated I would be returning to the club Bothy in Kintail to do some final fixings before I officially retired from my post as EUMC Bothy Secretary.  With great pride, I can say the EUMC Bothy is now fitted with a fully working gas kitchen.  We cooked a group meal on Saturday night and I spent another weekend in one of my favorite places in Scotland.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Then it was quickly back to Edinburgh to repack for the following two weeks of Roadtrip.  Gregor arrived back to the flat with his dad’s orange jeep and the four of us (being Gregor, myself, Tuva, and Erling) drove to Arisaig for the kick off of the annual EUMC Roadtrip and the 75th Anniversary Dinner.  This year was special in that the event was attended by not only current Yummicks but past club members as well.  I spoke with a few members from the 1970s and 1980s.   We arrived on the Friday night and had a BBQ on the beach.  On the Saturday, we went cragging to a nearby sport crag.  That evening we had a hog roast, a ceilidh, bottles of committee wine, and I got to meet not one! but two! very fluffy cats.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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That Sunday, Gregor drove back to see his parents and I along with Alven and Tuva packed out kit into Ellie B’s car.  Erling, Oonagh, and Ben packed with Ellie Leigh.  The eight of us went to the beach near Arisaig were we discovered how quickly the Scottish tide can come in and that apparently, gin bottles explode in hot cars (?).  Then it was off to Mallaig to catch the ferry to Skye were the weather was the nicest.  No one really starts the Roadtrip with any concrete plans, we just check the weather and go.

I had never been to Skye before this week.  I had been close, multiple times.  The Bothy is just south of Kyle of Lochalsh, which if you wanted to drive to Skye over taking a car ferry is where you would find a very steep bridge linking the island to the mainland.  And the weather was incredible.  On average Skye gets about three sunny days a year, the rest of the time it’s known to be clouded in mist and rain.  The week we were there, it did not rain a single day.  Clear skies, hot weather to the point I was still sweating in just a sleeping bag liner… and midges.

The Scottish midge is a beast known only to itself.  While I pride myself for never getting ticks or mosquito bits… holy living Hell I was eaten alive.  I looked like a pox victim.  Actually, probably worse.  And since we wild camped most nights, the midges had no mercy.

But anyway, here’s what we got up to on Skye.  Ellie B and I had a nice walk from Elgol to Kilmarie.  It was along the coast and we stopped for ice cream and met a nice dog.  We ordered way too many plates of sweet potato fries from the pub in Sligachan and probably ate all their mayo as well, sorry.  All of us had the bright idea of wild camping at the Fairy Pools so that we could wake up early and see them without all the tourists, which was great and we all went for a swim until the tourists showed up… with their mechanical, whizzing drones.  I really hope when they rewatch the footage they see my kind, respectful one finger salute while I’m trying to bathe for the first time in a week.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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day 1 on skye

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In a stroke of ingenuity, we sat cooking dinner in a layby with cars speeding past.  We were all well beside ourselves having realized the speed of the cars kept the midges at bay (it’s hadn’t occurred to us how low our standards had gotten that were were excited about cooking on a layby)…  that was until I woke up the next morning to see the yellow roof of my tent covered in black patches.  In a speedy departure I thought I was home free until I fell into a bog up to my waist.  Pinned down by the weight of my base bag, my friends abandoned me to the midges while I pulled myself (and about a metric ton of bog crap) out and stumbled to the car.

That afternoon, everyone was just a little tired and split up to do different things.  Some went climbing, a few ran errands to get missing kit, and I went for a run.  Despite falling in a bog that morning the day evened out and I ran a solid 18km down Sligachan Glen at the base of the Cullins.  The sun was out, the trail was amazing, and I honestly haven’t felt that happy running in a long, long, long time.  I could have kept going… in fact I sort of did.  I only planed on maybe 7/8km max… but it was just one of those days were nothing hurt and the surrounding were beautiful.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then it was off to Neist Point for climbing by the coast.  I’m normally not scared of heights, but, ouch, did I think I was going to fall into the ocean.  But, I mean it didn’t help that the path to the crag neared about three inches to the cliff with horrid, cackling birds below.  But, the climbing at Neist was great.  The sun did not set until nearly 11 pm so we stayed out late AND! we had our first midge free night!

 

 

 

 

 

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🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿

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The next day, Ellie B and I met up with Sophie, Caitlin, and Urte who were all on their own roadtrip around Scotland.  However, before we went to Dunvegan Castle because tbh is it a trip if you don’t see a castle?  That evening we pitched our tents on a dubious beach spot and got a bit of a fright when we thought the tide would wash us out again.  But, it didn’t and we had a BBQ and celebrated the week as the sunset on Skye with a bottle of cinnamon schnappes.

We were all brutally awoken by Ali shouting, ‘CAN EVERYONE GET UP SO WE CAN LEAVE THIS HELL HOLE!’ at 7 am. My eyes snapped open it was wasn’t even patches of black this time, no my tent was entirely blackened with midges.  Not wanting to even think about moving I shouted back, ‘Have you tried asking them (the midges) nicely to leave?’ No one thought that was funny and with panicked screeching we packed up and got the heck outta Dodge.  However, this was not before Erling became the next victim and if it wasn’t for his socially acceptable male leg hair, he would have looked like not just a pox victim but Patient 0.

Ellie B drove in silence back to the pub carpark and I didn’t blame her in the slightest.  I even forgave her a bit for almost murdering me in my sleep.  *Apparently* I snore and the only way to stop it was to hold my nose until I woke up.

That afternoon, Ellie B drove Tuva, Erling, and Alven back to Edinburgh and Ali returned to Aberdeen.  I swapped into Ellie Leigh’s car with Oonagh and Ben and we all drove to Torridon.  We spend the rest of the time in Torridon before Ellie Leigh dropped me in Inverness and I caught the train back Wednesday night, just in time to go to the pub and see friends again before they all left for the summer.

But back to Torridon, it was finally windy and the midges met their rightful demise.  The highlight of my time in Torridon was scrambling across the Liathach Ridge.  With just the four of us in Torridon and with limited rack and ropes Ellie and Oonagh split off to do an eight pitch route while Ben and I completed the ridge.  (I’ve linked the route description above if you want to check it out because I’m a little too lazy to retype it here.)  But basically, at a few points, while clinging to the side of a rock I cried to Ben (he offered no sympathy, mind you!), why I, a meager Kansas farm child, had ever thought leaving the flat of the valley floor below was a good idea. Jokes aside, it was actually fine and I’m glad for this view.

 

 

 

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Some scrambling.

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😻

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The next day all four of us drove to Diabaig for some climbing but after a while we bailed and went for a swim instead.  Then it was off to Inverness to drop me at the train station for my train back to Edinburgh.  I left early so that I could make it to the RBGE Volunteer BBQ on the Thursday.

 

And that’s the trip.  I’m back now and I spent today at the gardens helping the education team with school groups aged 5-6.  I need to start some research, pay a few bills, and answer a few emails before heading off on excavation in July.  I keep telling myself to do things and I probably should get started.