2011 Scotland and Ireland
Friday, September 16, 2011
Early morning on September 7 we boarded our bus to Kings Cross Station in London to catch our train to Scotland. We arrive early and hang out in the train station. We spy the sign directing us to platform 9¾ but, alas, we bonk our noses on the brick when attempting only what wizards do. Ah, to be confirmed a Muggle, although our resident “wizard” does confirm we are helping clear a wide variety of “stuff” that seems to have made the train station their hangout (some will understand the implications, others will just have to trust on this one). We hover around JR and connect with friends we will be traveling with for the next few weeks. Its great to see JR and the gang and all are in good spirits.
A bit before noon we board the train for our 5 hour journey north first through the English countryside, then into Scotland. The scenes that pass by us are show us the beauty and splendor of this land; beautiful green fields, sheep grazing, cattle wondering, horses prancing, farmers tilling, small quaint houses of stone or brick, small towns with chapels in the center, and a wide variety of terrain. The energy shifts as soon as we leave the city of London and enter the countryside. It becomes lighter and more pleasant. Our group takes over the train car and for the few people that have chosen this car for the ride are quickly exposed to our shenanigans and join in. We laugh, connect, sleep, meditate, laugh some more; all with a high level of excitement for what lies ahead.
Along the way we hear from the conductor that, due to signaling issues,
we will be delayed by about an hour. What feels like a 100 hour journey
concludes at 6:30 or so when we arrive at the Gleneagles train station
where a bus is waiting for us to take us onward. We arrive at Gleneagles
to a great reception of bagpipes and kilt-dressed porters. Much pomp
and circumstance follows as we are heralded into a private room to register,
receive our keys and get instructions as to where our rooms are located.
I’m rooming with Mike Polek once again (we roomed together in Israel
two years ago and got along famously). The staff is extremely helpful
and was well prepared for our arrival. As a rather discerning and well-traveled
group we can offer some rather interesting challenges. Enough said. We
get settled in our rooms. Mike and I are fortunate to have a wonderful
room with a sunken living room area with a fireplace and an patio facing
the front of the property. The full moon is approaching and the night
air is crisp and clean. After unpacking we have a casual dinner and retire
for the day.
Our meeting point is the Jumeirah Carlton Towers in Knightsbrigde, London, a wonderful 5 star hotel close to Hyde Park, Harrods Department Store and the center of London. After a brief intro by Jsu, Nicholas Brown took over discussing logistics. After all was said and done, we didn't know much more about the trips destinations, excursions, or adventures than when we signed up. Its sort of a show up and have fun type of trip. Be on the bus at 9:30 tomorrow ready to go. That's the most important thing we need to know. But yes, we are headed to Scotland by train - about a 5 hour trip to our main jumping off point - Gleneagles, a fantastic looking place with superior service and a wide variety of fun things to do.
Along the way we'll experience the British and Scottish countryside and get to know others on the trip. Once at Gleneagles we settle in and then learn more.
For me, I'm totally stoked. The energy in the room for our first briefing was electric. There was a air of excitement and I was filled with a sense of being at the right place at the right time...a sense of acknowledgment and appreciation. Many people had stories of how and when they chose to be here. Some a year ago, some only days ago. For me, as soon as I heard it was the UK, I was in, no matter what. There's a calling or longing, or, maybe even some karma to clear - don't really know and I don't have to.
In preparation for the fun factor, I managed to book some extra-curricular activities at Gleneagles during our three days off from touring. I'm playing a few rounds of golf and am still looking for some other golf partners. I'm taking some fly-fishing lessons, and will be joining a trail-ride into the highlands which should test my horsemanship ability.