Scotland: my first experience that harkened a gripping desire to live in the UK. I spent three glorious weeks with one of my dearest college friend’s family in Aberdeen, Scotland. Her family had lived there for nearly five years in a beautiful grey stoned home that hosted many a tea and scone filled afternoons. Her mother, an incredibly generous soul, chauffeured us to a multitude of castles and lighthouses along backcountry roads that meandered through forests and fields to every far reach of the country.
I won’t name every castle we toured, as the list would seem interminable, but each castle truly offered its own unique presence. The dank cold walls held stories of generations, the antiques and woodcarvings displayed lifestyles of past nobility, tapestries of distinction, grand halls of eloquence. No matter the season, Scotland’s hillsides hold a tangible chill, an underlying arctic wind that blows through daily, never missing a chance to impart a frigid embrace to the populace. The thick stonewalls of castles seem to only enhance that frostiness despite attempts by tapestries, thick curtains, and fluffy carpets to entrap the warmth of fires and furnaces.
Heather, my gracious host, is an amateur botanist. We spent hours by the lake in college collecting various species of plants for pressing for her research. Her love for horticulture inspired me to pause and admire the presence of each new flower, and expand my minimal knowledge about botany. We probably passed an equal amount of time touring castles as we did strolling through the castles’ gardens. And as irony had it, we found many stonewall with heather’s purple shades peaking through the cracks.
Dunnottar Castle’s storybook quality has captured the hearts of many, with its ashen walls juxtaposing vivacious green lawns that drop off along the cliff face to the ocean below.
Scotland’s dreary gray skies that seem to continually drip rain and its perpetually chilly air may turn some people away, but I loved the snuggly warmth of fires, the afternoon tea breaks, and deliciously lush hillsides. Those same dreary gray skies hold silver linings of storm clouds that illuminate flower petals of all shades dotting the highlands. And that same chilly air creates swirls of mist that weaves through dense forests of pine, creating a fairytale land fit for believers.