The first time I fell in love...

by Christina

Part 1.

When I was but a wee, young child, we lived in England. Those 4 years were and remain a very important part of my childhood. We left when I was 8 but my memories are vivid. I always wanted to move back. Although I was fortunate to grow up in an amazing, idyllic community in the mountains of Colorado, I have always felt I left my heart in the UK. Perhaps those are just silly childhood memories but nonetheless, they are my memories, disillusioned or not.

When I was about 5, my family and I travelled by train to the north of Scotland, Inverness and Loch Ness. Over the years I have recalled this trip in a dream-like state.

We stayed in an old stone house, small and simple, the bedrooms upstairs. It was cold, damp and a bit dreary yet just thinking about it makes me feel cozy, secure and loved. The small house set in the middle of a massive hillside, covered with green and dotted with sheep. It was bordered by a rock wall fence that most likely had stood the test of time, hundreds of years.

The hillside extended out of the great Loch Ness. I recall a tree with a swing. As I climbed higher and higher with each pass of the swing, I could peer over the edge, sneaking a peek of the Loch wondering when Nessie would appear.

At night, I lay in my bed, my senses purely on overload. The rain came down on the vintage roof that had weathered many a storm and the sheep huddled against the side of the house seeking shelter from the elements. The soothing sound of the sheep bleating, the soft rain pitter-pat…

And that’s when it happened. I fell in love. With the rain, with sheep and all their wooly goodness, with a cup of tea, cozy cabled sweaters and the Scottish Highlands. Perhaps this is when my love of grey skies, rainy days, lush green hills and fiber began. Certainly these are some of my favorite things.

Part 2. The opportunity to return…

Since having children travelling by air has been a source of anxiety, let alone travelling overseas. When the opportunity to attend a conference in Scotland arose I thought “I have to go”. I waffled with the idea for almost a year, committed at first because it was easy to say "yes" but as the time drew closer I became more hesitant. Recall the fear of flying.

Resistance needs a big push sometimes. So, I bought the ticket knowing that I was then committed. I made the arrangements for lodging in Edinburgh and a quick stop in Balloch for another meeting on the bonny shores of Loch Lomond.

Part 3. My return

Fast forward to present day. I’ve been to Scotland and returned home, 3 weeks ago. Each day I told myself to write about my trip, post the beautiful photos. At the end of each day I tell myself “tomorrow”.

Why have I been so resistant to put pen to paper? Wasn’t this a trip of a lifetime? And now with 3 weeks of reflecting I’ve realized why.

It wasn’t what I expected.

It was more. It was less. It was dark. It was inspiring. It was truly a mixed bag of emotions.

In all honesty, I wanted it to be just like I remembered. Just like the first time I fell in love. But let’s be realistic, there is never a “first love” twice. Real love is much more than that. It’s deep and emotional. It’s full of highs and lows. It comes with seeing the other side and not always the roses.

The history of Scotland is a bit dark. I’m sure there are grand moments in time but that’s not the tales that were told. So much death…from notorious battles between clans, with other countries and then there was the issue of lack of proper sanitation, The Black Plague, dysentery, cholera…

Yet the countryside was magnificent; beautiful beyond words. It was breath-taking and truly inspirational.

When I flew home, I felt at peace. Glad I went but a sense of closure.

So why did I not write about it for 3 weeks?

And now I know why…because it wasn’t the end, just the beginning. There is more to discover and I yearn to go back. I want to walk through the countryside, sleep on the ground where so much history has occurred, document the beauty, see as many sheep as possible, and learn as much about wool from the British Isles as possible. My dream hasn’t ended. It’s a dream or perhaps a love-story with many chapters…

The south shore of Loch Lomond, Ross Priory near Balloch.

The south shore of Loch Lomond, Ross Priory near Balloch.

Stay tuned for Part 4...the actual highlights of my trip including a few photos and some yarn treasures.