Sing Me A Song Of A Lass That Is Gone..

Atlanta Airport

I’ve been missing for about nine days or so – off to the land of Haggis, Sheep, Tartans, and Highlanders: Scotland.

On Sunday, November 21st, my dear friend and one of my oldest confidantes, Telisa, met up at her home to be transported to the Atlanta Airport. Luckily, she had this awesome connection with MGA LUX, a private transportation service that escorts you to the front door of the airport! We gathered our things and headed out to greener, well, snowier pastures!

Telisa & I on MGA LUX

When I travel internationally, I always dress super comfortable. I opted for a thin, butter soft gray T-shirt that read Radiate Positivity in rose gold and black yoga pants. I made sure to pack two more outfits on my carry-on bag, as well as all of my chargers, hiking boots, and makeup, just in case my luggage gets lost.

We were giddy as two teenagers! You see, Telisa and I have been talking about traveling to Europe together for years. Sure, we’ve both done some traveling, she more so than I, but we had never done this together. Actually, our friendship started over the Let’s Go Europe 1991 (I think that was the year,) book! At the time we couldn’t imagine where we would ever come up with $800 to backpack Europe, and here we are now, in our late 40s, sitting on go with less worries and definitely more financial stability. (I can’t imagine spending $800 to backpack a continent now! I think I blew that much on souvenirs alone.)

I was a little nervous about getting through security due to my name. I never officially changed my last name on my passport or social security card after I got married, however, I did change my last name on my driver’s license. At work, on my insurance, and my vaccination card, it reads: Kirksey. On everything else, it reads: Thurston. We put the airline ticket in Thurston and I just grabbed my passport and hoped for the best. Like all things we worry about, they didn’t even bat an eye at my vaccination card in the Kirksey name. One hurdle done.

Got through TSA with no problems, I believe Telisa’s bag got pulled, but all went well and we headed to our gate for an overnight flight to Paris, France.

Ah Paris, you know how I love you. If you haven’t read about that trip, click HERE.

Unfortunately, Telisa and I did not get to sit together on the eight hour flight. We got upgraded to Comfort plus, so the seats were not together. She sat next to a guy from Croatia and I sat next to a guy from Colombia. Best part about Delta’s Comfort Plus:

Delta’s Comfort Plus

All of that leg room.

The flight was smooth as silk and we landed in Paris around 9 am or so. We had a little over an hour to get through security to catch our connection to Edinburgh. The Paris TSA were a pain in the ass – barking orders: Grab an extra container. No, not that one. Is this your water? Keep moving.

Blah, Blah, Blah.

And guess what? Both our bags got pulled for a security check. Plus, they used their wand to scan my hands for bomb residue.

Ha.

FINALLY we get to our plane, a very small plane, might I add, and settle in for the 1.5 hours flight.

On the Plane From Paris to Edinburgh

I am pretty sure I fell asleep on this flight, since the last one, I simply watched movies and read my book over the eight hours we were over the ocean.

We finally land in Edinburgh and we breeze through customs and head out to get our scheduled Covid tests. I have to admit, that is a little intimidating. I did worry – what IF I was positive? I would have to stay in a hotel for ten days and not leave the area. That would totally ruin the entire trip. Luckily, we got in and out and everything was negative.

Uh oh… I forgot an important detail. My luggage made it, Telisa’s did not. So our day was a little behind, because she had to file her claim with the baggage area and everything got pushed back a little. We missed our appointment to visit Holyrood Palace and… well… just wait, there is more!

We hailed a cab and had an awesome time chatting it up with our driver. He was a talkative bloke, originally from England, and he enjoyed pointing out the attractions and telling us about the neighborhoods. He did ask us, (which I was surprised it came up,) what we thought of Trump. We both, in unison, replied, “Not a fan.” He then went on to tell us why he just adored him. He explained he loved his brashness and no-holds-bar approach to dealing with people. We were quite surprised. I had always heard that the international community were not a fan. Goes to show what I know. (But wait… there is more on this issue later.)

We got dropped off at the address Telisa googled for the Bed & Breakfast – The Scott House. We got out, crossed a busy street and discovered that we were indeed at The Scott House, just the wrong Scott House. At this point, Telisa is started to get frustrated and for good reason. She was cold and still aggravated about the airline losing her luggage. We sort of took a deep breath, got on the AirBnB website and figured out where to go next. We hailed another cab and took off, this time for the new place. While this is happening, she realizes that she cannot find her glasses. The last time she had them, we were in Paris. I wouldn’t think much of it, but apparently, she is blind without them. Add that to the list of things that could go wrong.

By the time we got to the RIGHT Scott House, I was thrilled to see a bench out front. It was too early to check in and we couldn’t get the owner on the phone. So I just grabbed a spot and chilled out. Finally, a woman who speaks very little English answers the door and lets us in. She ends up handing us the phone, and the owner, Jemima, is on the line. She tells us our rooms are almost ready, in the meantime, just relax. So we did. It was nice to sit someplace warm and cozy.

Outside of the Scott House

The Scott House is a beautifully restored Georgian (about 200-year-old) townhouse in the heart of Edinburgh’s New Town, laying just off the trendy Broughton Street area. All rooms had large en-suites with both bath and shower. The space was absolutely perfect for our first taste of Scotland. To see our room, click HERE. We stayed in the Robert Burns room, which happens to be both haunted AND up three flights of stairs.

Oh wait.. I forgot to tell you. I had to pay $100 extra dollars for my suitcase which weighed 56 pounds. It was six pounds over. I was dreading the idea of pulling my big suitcase up the stairs, when divine intervention presented itself. Telisa could not see, yet I could. She asked me to handle the baggage issue on the phone, and in turn, she would carry my bag upstairs! Let’s just say, she made me an offer I could not refuse.

Once we got upstairs, it was getting close to 2 pm, and I was in need of sustenance and Telisa needed glasses. We got cleaned up (well, I did anyway, she really didn’t have anything to change into,) and we walked out the door, around the corner to see if we could find a pharmacy or bookstore or really anyplace that might have reading glasses. Telisa finally found a pair and the mood began to lighten just a bit more. At least she could see now, however, the coat situation was not looking good. The confirmation we had from the airline was that her luggage would be delivered on Tuesday morning and that all would be well. We decided to scope out the street, feeling a little more hopeful and ready to tackle the day!

Right behind where we were stay was the Cask & Barrel Pub.

Cask & Barrel

Luckily, we met the nicest Scottish bartender who poured Telisa a pint and made a flat white coffee for me.

Just order a flat white when in doubt

I asked if they were still serving lunch and unfortunately, the kitchen was closed. I think he took pity on my story about the comedy of errors we were experiencing and went in the back and heated up some potato and leek soup for me!

Potato & Leek Soup

Suddenly, everything seemed to feel right. We got the biggest kick out of the older gentlemen sitting to the right of us. They were discussing a soccer match and every other word was eff this and eff that. Well-dressed, nice men at that. Apparently the F-word is just another word in this part of the world. Telisa and I giggled at the lack of pretension and just sat back and relaxed.

Me at the Cask & Barrel Pub

After we sort of got our bearings we decided to uber over to the Edinburgh Christmas Market on Prince Street. Talk about magical!!!! THIS was what the doctor ordered.

It was close to 4pm and in Scotland, specifically this area, the sun begins to set at this time. This means we got the full force of the evening cold, the twinkly lights and the magic on an older city like Edinburgh can provide.

A Hotdog at the festival

Telisa joked over and over how she was “there for all the food.” I was still trying to behave myself and stay “not sick,” so I just lived vicariously through her. The next few pics are some of the items she ate:

This was actually just where salmon was being smoked
Mulled Cider with Scottish Whisky
Piri Piri Style Spiral Chips
Smoking of fish
Mac & Cheese with Parm – My option
Candy Stall

After we shopped and nibbled our way through the market, I realized that I needed dinner. So we stopped by the Milnes Bar on Rose Street.

Telisa ordered the fried haggis fritters,

Fried Haggis Fritters

While I opted for the veggie sliders and chips.

Veggie Sliders

I actually tried some of the haggis and honestly, it was not bad! It tasted very much like beef. We enjoyed sipping and nibbling and just chatting it up. Finally, we decided it was time to head back, take showers and get ready for the big first full day in Edinburgh.

Little did we know…. the comedy of errors had only begun!

Stay tuned for Part Two!

Sleigh Bells Ring, Are You Ready To Listen?

Caught this jolly fella in Santa Land in Downtown Americus

I am coming off a 14-hour work day. One of my favorites of the year – Christmas Open House in Downtown Americus. It took a couple of years to adjust to the fact that 1. Christmas Open House takes place the Thursday BEFORE Thanksgiving and 2. The City allow us to say Christmas instead of Holidays. Five years in and it seems perfectly normal. So normal that when someone asks me, “Why?”, I look at them strangely!

My work family

A lot goes into prepping a city for the holidays. Thousands of dollars, as well as hundreds of man hours. You mix that in with creativity and early holiday burn-out, it is amazing when you see the finished product. Another hazard of the job is that everyone has an opinion on what you should have done. This many years in, I realize it just comes with the territory.

Aside from an awesome event last night, we kicked the day off with a ribbon cutting. Yes, it is straight out of an episode of Parks & Rec.

A great turn-out

Earlier in the year, the American Street Trolley bit the dust. It was way past time for a new one, and boy oh boy, did we get an upgrade. This one has heating & air, AND is accessible for wheelchairs. What a game changer!

It is the little things that make a community special, you know?

Today is a super busy day for me – getting all of my loose ends at work tied up before I go on vacation next week. I started the morning with depositing my travel funds into my fun-money account and now I am getting ready to pick up my prescriptions for the trip.

Tim called a little while ago and asked could we have family over tonight to roast hotdogs and marshmallows by the fire. *Sigh*

I don’t mind, I just have to go buy veggie dogs for me! (And no marshmallows.) Life gets a little complicated when you are trying to live healthier. For example, I was soooo hungry when I woke up, so I ordered a 20 oz. smoothie from Smoothie King. As a HiTone Fitness member, we get a perk at the establishment. It is just a little discount, but sure does help when you add those enhancers. I ordered a favorite of mine – The Chocolate Peanut Power Smoothie. It has 690 calories, which is way more than I typically allow myself at a meal – but I went in on a mission. I wanted to fill up and really hit my macros. Particularly my carbs, protein and fiber. I added the fiber enhancer, immune booster (both to help my system before I travel,) and electrolytes, because I recognize that I am a little dehydated today.

I did another something I have been dreading – I gave myself an at-home Covid test. I wanted to be absolutely certain that I would not have any surprises when we got to Edinburgh. We have to take a test upon arrival and yes… I did come into contact with someone on Saturday that did, indeed, test positive. Though everyone in this person’s life tested negative, I waiting until the very end to give it a go. All is well!! No covid.

Folks – here is another reason to get vaccinated! I spent a considerable amount of time with this person, they were coughing up a storm. I was told they had been to the doctor and it was pneumonia, but not covid. But turns out…

I have the 2 full Pfizer and the booster just 2 weeks ago. I am negative. Vaccines, do indeed, work.

Speaking of trips – AHHHHHHHHH! I am beyond thrilled! I plan to blog about my experience in a three part series – Edinburgh, Stirling/Inverness, and Isle of Skye. Stay tuned for that!

When I get back to town, I will hit the ground running with a lot of work-related activities. So much to do, so little time to do it in!

Update on knees: I feel like a new woman. I almost cried waking up this morning and stepping onto the floor and not having to suck in breath from the pain. AMAZING!!

Alright, I have things to do… LOTS of things. I know you guys are busy too. I hope to tackle some topics in the coming days. You guys were always good at letting me know what you wanted me to write about. Feel free to message me with some ideas.

Until next time….

Pass the Cranberries and Haggis

Almost five years now, I have dealt with some fairly tough knee pain. Got a second opinion today and here is what we know:

  1. Lose the weight. (Yep, working on it.)
  2. Osteoarthritis
  3. Bone spurs
  4. Torn MCL

Soooo…. I got TWO cortisone shots today, one in each knee. First timer here, folks, and man oh man – I am soooooo glad I did. It has been about an hour and the pain is subsiding.

I say – BRING ON THE HIGHLANDS!

Okay, let me back up.

I’m going to Scotland this Sunday. Super excited about this trip because it is with one of my best friends in the whole world – Telisa. We have been talking about traveling to Europe together for almost 30 years now and FINALLY we are taking our trip.

As we were crowd-sourcing information about touring Edinburgh and the Highlands, many of our friends informed up that Scotland is super hilly and of course – there are the mountains. All I could think was, “How in the world was I going to navigate those hills with my knees.”

I decided to take my healing into my own hands, called my friend that is a Physical Therapist, and began 8 sessions of PT. Still… there was a little pain, so I got a second opinion. Dr. Fennessy gave me two shots, one in each knee.

Now I can scream from the top of my lungs – “BRING ON THE HIGHLANDS!”

Now that is fixed, time to transform into an elf for the Christmas Open House that is about to happen. Yes, a 14 hour work-day.

Ho! Ho! Ho! and pass the cranberry sauce and haggis.

Is This Thing On?

Welp…

That was a bit of a break, wasn’t it?

Just checking to see if any of you are still out there and if so – Hi ya! How ya been?

It’s been nine months since I last shared any thoughts with the public. I even thought about deleting the whole blog. But then I remembered how much I used to love writing.

I’m not sure what happened, but anyway…

Here I am. I’m back and well, a LOT has changed. Again.

For one,

Me in the hospital

About six weeks ago, I ended up in the hospital for nine days. I had acute pancreatitis caused by 56 gall stones, and an enlarged liver.

Eek!

Let’s just say – KETO WAS NOT MY FRIEND.

That’s okay, moving on. Had the gall bladder removed and began making some serious lifestyle changes very quickly and in six weeks, I am down 20 pounds. Why all of the extreme changes? NAFLD. What is that? Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is a condition in which excess fat is stored in your liver. This buildup of fat is not caused by heavy alcohol use. When heavy alcohol use causes fat to build up in the liver, this condition is called alcohol-associated liver disease. I just had a good-old fashioned fatty liver. Ugh.

What causes it? Poor lifestyle choices, which includes high fat and processed food.

Thank GOD I decided back in March or so to start working with a nutritionist by the name of Sue. We were slowly working on making some lifestyle changes. Slow as in I would give myself a B- in doing what is good and right.

Now that this has happened, I would give myself an A-.

So what have I done?

  • Cut out all soda or any carbonated drink
  • No beef
  • No pork
  • No fried food
  • Decrease in processed food
  • Whole foods

Not too shabby. I am pretty sure that my body will thank me for this years from now. 😉

Now that my attempt to write is back, I am sure you will hear a lot about how this is going.

What else is going on? Well…..

I got a new boss. All of the kids are in college and out of the house. Knock on wood – Tim and I are COVID free and both vaccinated and have our boosters. #TeamPfizer

I did, indeed, make some friends – FINALLY. I am serving on different boards and doing different things. Again, all of these things will be discussed in the coming months.

I’m back in the gym. I still haven’t found a church, but I am honestly not looking very hard since COVID.

I went on some pretty spectacular trips this year. All of which I will share later. And I guess the biggest news of all:

I’M GOING TO SCOTLAND IN 4 DAYS!!!

That will be a story all unto its self!

So stand by, strap in, and let’s try Destination Unknown – 3.0.

And by the way, Dorian says Hi!

Isn’t he gorgeous?