“What about Scotland for 3 months?” I called, as I examined my Housecarers.com house sit notifications. “Really?… Scotland in winter?!” was the reply. But, we decided since the winter months are usually quiet and dull for us, that Scotland would be much more exciting than being at home – even if it meant doing only inside activities like galleries and museums.
We checked the average rainfall and temperature in the Edinburgh area; 50-70mm of rain and an average 3 to 6 degrees Celsius between January and March with some minus 0 C. temperatures and a possibility of a few days of snow.
Surprisingly, it was not that much different than the normal temperatures and rainfall in the central Vancouver Island area. Even though Edinburgh’s more northerly latitude is 55.95 versus our 49.69, I discovered that Scotland’s climate is warmed by the Gulf Stream; a current of warm water that moves from the Gulf of Mexico across the Atlantic Ocean towards the United Kingdom.
Since this is not unlike the southwest corner of British Columbia where we experience the Jetstream across the Pacific Ocean, we presumed that we could continue doing outdoor activities. We checked airfares – also reasonable.
We applied for the house sit. A few days later we had a Skype session with the homeowners. We were lucky. There were quite a few applicants, but within a week we learned that we got the opportunity to housesit 3 adorable cats; a set of black and white twins and a Blue Burmese.
We were excited! We hadn’t been in the United Kingdom for 36 years; mostly because the exchange rate made it too expensive of a country to travel in for us Canadians. But, with a pet/house sitting opportunity supporting our accommodation budget, suddenly the UK became affordable.
Here was our first opportunity to really live like a local in another country for 3 months. Staying stationary allowed us to participate in Scottish life on a daily basis.
Living with the locals in a regular neighbourhood, walking through shopping malls, grocery stores or hanging out in the neighbourhood coffee shops gave us a better idea of how the average Scot lives.
The local transport system is fantastic. We got around by purchasing a weekly bus pass. It was a great way of seeing other neighbouring cities, the countryside and Edinburgh neighbourhoods.
Edinburgh itself is a fantastic walking city. There are countless ways of experiencing the pulse of the city by exploring its hidden streets, fashionable shops and picturesque parks.
A grocery shop at “Tesco” became a daily event; we enjoyed comparing types and colours of packaging, trying the typical foods people ate, and how costs compared with what we pay at home.
Casual conversations during outings gave us a glimpse into what the average Scot thinks and feels about everyday life.
Reading the local newspaper and watching the news helped us to appreciate what the important social issues are. When it comes to economies, jobs, an aging population, health care, pensions and our homes; it seems that we are not that different.
One day, we were invited to join the Dunfermline Ramblers, a walking group, for an outing to Gask Ridge; which was an outline of Roman signal towers, built around 70 AD. We spent a fantastic day in the countryside in an area that we never would have known about. We met some very interesting and fun-loving individuals and at the end of it all, we enjoyed a drink at a local pub before ending a wonderfully serendipitous day.
Living life in another country allows you to learn about yourself as you observe others. Since we only brought one small suitcase each and only used existing household items, we had to learn to live with less. But it didn’t matter; we realized that we didn’t need much.
What was important was that we looked forward to having fun every day and for a while we looked at the world from a different point of view.
There was only one problem… questioning what is important in your life can be hazardous to your status quo.
Next post…. Walking the 100+ mile Scottish Fife Coastal Path