Category Archives: Travel

Photo Hunt: Road

As many of you know, my little family and I went to Scotland in March/April to visit my family.  To save $400 per ticket – so a whopping $1600, we decided to fly direct to London, hire/rent a car and drive to just west of Glasgow.  Now, I’ve been on long road trips living here, and now I think nothing of driving for 6 hours to get somewhere.  Six hours seems reasonable these days.  The drive from Heathrow to Glasgow was an estimated 7 hours non-stop.  Now, couple this with not really sleeping for 24 hours and raging jet lag, and there you have it my friends, you instantly have a “it seemed like a good idea at the time.”  It took us 10, almost 11 hours.

A funny-now story:  The kids had done amazingly on the three flights (Missoula to Denver, Denver to Dullas, Dullas to London) and we stopped not long after we left London at a Warwick (Woh-rick) Welcome Break (a cool rest stop).  I was crammed in the front seat with luggage around me and barely had enough room to wiggle my toes.  Ian declares, “Mummy, I’ve got throw ups.”  “Wha?!”  Yeah, I had to scramble to the back door tripping over my bags and catching my coat in the door.  Irony doesn’t even cut it.

Below are photos of random places on the M6, one of England’s most notoriously dangerous motorways.  Sounds fun, eh?  This is on the trip back down to London, although we were technically still in the north (of England) here.

The white dots on the hillside?  Sheep.


Word of the Week


This is used to mean senior or most important. The big school is Secondary School (as apposed to Primary school) or High School:

“Ah’m goin’ tae the big school in August.”

Big lassie is a child’s term of address to an older girl or young woman:

“Hey big lassie, gonnae gie’s ma baw back?” (baw->ball->football)

Big man is a friendly term of address used to someone the speaker regards as being taller than himself:

“Can Ah get a swatch at yer paper*, big man?”

*swatch at yer paper = can I have a wee look at your newspaper?

Hear me.

A Lifetime in 6 Months

It’s amazing to me how much has transpired since Cameron turned one year old in January. I was physically exhausted after writing this letter to him. I’d found out the condition of my Gran had worsened and posted this – another drainer.

We made the decision to go to Scotland together as a family to see her in March, she passed while we were there and then I wrote this and this.

You’d never know I generally seep in sarcasm after reading those. Everybody takes you seriously when you have a lilting accent, though. Something about not hearing the different sarcastic inflection. Kiss my kilt. It’s draining the sarcastic life out of me.

So, I decided since Cameron was turning 18 months old today, I was going to capture some shots of him and Ian together. It turned out well. As well as a mother could hope. Now I know why they say never to work with children or animals. Or animal children. (Click on any of the images to enlarge.)

I get them in position, and then they spot a farmer on his humongous tractor 16 miles away. OK, it was about half an acre behind our place, but still…

I birth a brain child and heave their bench from the porch onto the lawn. Too bad they’re too busy TALKING to pay attention to me. Their mother.

Almost a shot. Too bad they’re both looking the wrong way. What’s over there, you say? Nothing. A rogue twig, probably.

Ian tries to steal a kiss, holding on to Cameron with the double hand death grip.

An escapee chases a bloody butterfly. However, I am still oozing the patience of a saint.

I manage to get Ian back on the bench, doing some sort of Playgirl move. Too bad his shoes are on backwards…

Yes, he’s a freakin comedian. I’m laughing too. Can you hear me? CAN YOU HEAR ME??!!

I fake sneeze to get Cameron to laugh. It backfired when Ian started doing it too.

Granted, they’re still sitting together, but then Ian starts body slamming him because I kept telling him to move back beside Cameron. Cameron then curses at him in his own language. Ian looks on, obviously indifferent to the insults being fired at him.

I give up. This one’ll do.

I took this the night before. His first shot on a swing.

I get no respect. Check out his new growler face.

I get Ian in a prime spot and have him wait for Cameron. He was a no-show.

I’ll leave it to the professionals next time, they get paid to be miserable. In the meantime, I have some SERIOUS blackmail fodder for when they’re both teenagers. This is me with baited breath.

Photo Hunt: Support

This broken down jetty in my hometown in Scotland doesn’t offer much support for anything, quite frankly; but I love how corrosion has formed and shaped the structure into a piece of art, amidst the deleterious River Clyde.

Click here to see a bigger version.

T13: Thirteen Tips for Travelling (Long Haul) with Children

1. Sleep. Be well rested for your trip. If you need to, set your target bedtime for an hour earlier than the actual time you want to get to sleep.

2. Think Positive. If you think it’s going to be a bloody nightmare and go pear-shaped, then it will. Setting out with a great attitude will set a preface for your entire journey, and, it’ll rub off on the children too. Experience the day with a child’s sense of wonder. This is their experience too…

3. Slow Down. Arrive at the airport 10 minutes before your target time. Take a moment to describe to the little ones what’s going on, where you are and what to expect. If possible, take an opportunity to visit the airport for a self-hosted mini tour. Also, don’t feel rushed through everything, it’ll only make you flustered and add undue stress.

Also, slow down going through airport security. Feeling like you have to rush through it will only add stress and complicate the situation. Take your time and don’t worry about the people behind you who are in a rush. You can only do one thing at a time, so think it out methodically and have a plan in your head of where everything is and what you need to show. A good rule of thumb is to deal with your own things first and then turn to the children. This goes for removing shoes too.

4. Necessities. If you think you’ll use/wear it, you won’t. Leave it home. Trust me.

5. Carry-on luggage. Rather than humph around a nightmare on wheels, opt for a backpack, it’ll free up your arms and you can organise everything easily too.

6. Flights. Aim to get flights that have the fewest amount of layovers possible. Contrary to what you may think, giving your kids a break from flying by hurtling them through airport security and/or flight changes is time consuming, stressful and can be avoided. It’ll also lengthen the process for them.

7. Spend it. Children under 2 can fly for free on most airlines if they sit on your lap. Consider the length of the flight before taking advantage of this. Holding a baby or small child on your lap for several hours is harder than it sounds. If your flight will last for more than 2-3 hours, I’d recommend you buy a seat for your under 2er. It’s well worth it and they can sleep and rest easy. You can too.

N.B. Check the label on your car seat or the safety instructions and also check with your airline to make sure that yours will meet FAA (or applicable) regulations.

8. Meals and beverages. Make sure your wee one has been reserved a child meal. Be sure to confirm it when you confirm your flights. If they are small enough, airlines and security allow the individual Gerber plastic juice bottles. They also allow fruit cups (e.g. Del Monte), Gerber Graduates food bowls and sippy cups with juice in them. Be prepared to drink from them too. Be sure to pack all of your bairn’s food and drink in a separate plastic ziplock bag and let the staff at security know you have it right off the bat. Plan to take a few more drinks than usual for your kids (in case dehydration sets in) and avoid sugary snacks or anything with caffeine. The last thing you need couped up on a plane is a high pre-schooler. Even if your child is past the age for a sippy cup, use one as a container for snacks. Remember: Ice packs will be confiscated, plan accordingly.

Similarly, make sure you all take a trip to the toilets before take off.

9. Surprises. Pack a new toy and/or book for each child. We brought a small etcha-sketch, A Color Wonder Pack, a thick colouring book with chunky crayons and 3 new books. We also bought 3 new DVDs (two of them we found for $5 each at Target – Muppets in Space and Stuart Little. The other was Curious George.) We also packed a small pair of binoculars for looking out of the windows.

Be sure to let them walk (with supervision, of course) freely around the plane too, don’t feel like they need to be restrained to their seating area.

10. Equipment. You can gate check your stroller. After tagging it at the gate, just leave it on the ramp and the airport staff’ll pick it up. You can ask for a large plastic sack to cover it. Note: Some airports only stock these in the main terminal. We stored our 3 year-old’s booster seat base in the seat of the folded stroller and bungee corded it on before bagging it. Also note: I spent an extra $25 (all in) to rent a CARES restraint for my almost 4-year-old. It was unnecessary and unused. Save your money (and time and stress).

11. Travel in Comfort. Make sure you all dress comfortably. I dressed my two in open leg sweat pants and long-sleeved t-shirts. I also removed their shoes after we got aboard and were all seated.

12. Packing. It may sound rudimentary, but don’t over pack for you or your kids. Plan outfits that can be interchanged easily. This will also help cut down on the new checked luggage fees. Pack an extra set of clothing in your carry on for your kids. Eating, drinking and turbulence don’t mix. Pack some plastic/poly bags (and disposable scented diaper/nappy bags too. Sassy sells them in packs of 50). You may like to know: The diaper changing station on a plane is directly above the toilet. All those tween (or sloshed adult) years of playing Twister will finally pay off.

13. Ask. If you need help from a flight attendant or airport staff, ask. They are more than willing to help when needed, especially when you have a little one to gush over! One flight attendant crouched and spoon fed my 14-month old his ravioli when she saw the shapes I was getting into trying to feed him from the side. She also offered to hold him as we prepared to get off the plane.

If your baby is 6 months or younger, most airlines have bassinets for your baby to sleep on. It’s also a nice idea to pack your own blanket if possible.

Tip: It’s also a good idea to ask to be seated after the First Class passengers and before everyone else. Some staff at the gates didn’t offer it as we boarded, so it’s better to ask than be left struggling to make it up the tiny aisle with small children, a car seat and your carry on luggage (and the other passengers).

Bonus: My two weren’t bothered by their ears at all with all five flights. But you can take pre-packaged fruit snacks or juice cups to alleviate any pressure to the ear drums during take off and landing.

Tip of the Century: If you are at all flying to the UK, don’t exchange your money at the airport. There are plenty of places when you arrive at your destination that will do it commission-free. Travel agencies, the Post Office and Marks & Spencer (aka M&S) are great places to look out for.

Photo Hunt: Water

This week I couldn’t decide and just pick one, so I’m posting two. OK, technically speaking the second photo isn’t water, but it’s a favourite…

Me & Ian, 4th June 2005
(Ian was almost 1 here)

Me & Ian, Yellowstone June 2005
Look! See, I have a torso! Legs too!

Word of the Week

mooth :

The mouth. Someone considered to be well-endowed in this department may have it said of him that he has a mooth like the Clyde Tunnel. A person who has irregular or stained teeth may be described as having a mooth like a row of condemned hooses or buildings.

One of the unpleasant after-effects of a heavy drinking session, especially when mixed with smoking is a mooth like a pocket of douts (cigarette butts). A similar expressing is a mooth like a badger’s bum or arse. One can’t help but wonder why a badger should be considered particularly unpleasant in this department and indeed, how anyone found out.

The phrase you’ve a mooth indicates an offer of food or drink to a guest:

“Ye know, Ah sat in the hoose for a good hoor an’ a hauf, an’ they never thought tae say, ye’ve a mooth.”

T13: Thirteen Places in Scotland that I Love (and Miss)

In no particular order: (But I would say that…)

1. Inverness. The Highlands’ biggest city.

2. Loch Lomond. As you leave the industrial capital of Scotland (Glasgow) behind and head for the Highlands, you’ll be privy to some spectacular scenes and breath-taking serenity. A beautiful scenic rural area of Scotland, with break-neck, windy, narrow roads and an amazing view to distract you. Mind the rock on the passenger side as you glide past tourist coaches, then your heart suddenly stops as you fear death itself. It’s worth it though.

3. The Old Man of Stor, Isle of Skye. Spectacular scenery in a breath-taking location.

4. Edinburgh and Stirling Castles.

Edinburgh Castle (Edin’burra, nae “Edinburg”, mind)
A tiny chapel, built on the summit of the castle rock in the early twelfth century, is dedicated to the memory of Queen Margaret and is the oldest building in Edinburgh Castle.
Stirling Castle
Most principle buildings date from 15-16th century

5. Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum (Glasgow).

6. The very rustic, remote areas of the Highlands.

7. Glencoe. (Gaelic: “Gleann Comhann”) Not the highest point in Scotland, but awe inspiring.

8. The Glenfinnan Viaduct. Made famous by the Harry Potter series films.

9. Princes Street, Edinburgh. A shopping metropolis in Scotland’s capital on one side and a honkin’ huge castle on the other. Don’t worry, it trips us out too.

10. Fort William. The only place IN THE ENTIRE WORLD where McDonald’s ALLOWED them to change the name (Mac Dhomhnuill’s). Oh, and it’s pretty too. The biggest little city up north.

11. Carnoustie. Another golf h(e)aven – other than St. Andrews, this is. Apart from that, I totally love the name. (Auchtermuchty and Crianlarach come a close second and third)

12. Buchanan Street, Glasgow. A shopper’s Utopia. I could spend hours on this street alone. Not aLONE, but, you know…alone.

13. Eilean Donan and Dunnottar Castles.

Eilean Donan Castle, built in 1220
Dunnottar Castle, outside Aberdeen (older than dirt, i.e. The Dark Ages)

P.S. Although I would love to lay claim to these wonderful shots of my homeland, they were all retrieved from a search engine who shall, for my own selfish purposes, remain nameless. That, and they’re already rolling in money, and who am I to keep them in the lifestyle they’ve become accustomed to?