I’ve always wanted to visit Scotland and it’s been on my bucket list since I was a little girl. Steadily I’ve been checking things off that bucket list and found myself at age 39 with only two left to go — to see the Aurora Borealis and visit Scotland. As parents, many of us put our lives on hold, waiting for one day…..for some day. But life is short and sometimes you have to make your own opportunities.
Many times myself or the contributors of TravelingMamas.com are invited to be hosted by countries, tourism boards, or hotels to visit and hopefully write about the things we see. It’s been grand to be able to see the world thanks to my travel writing career, but I’m also an impatient person and decided that I would figure out a way to make my dream a reality.
A longtime friend from a travel writers’ bulletin board has for many years extended the invitation to visit his home, the Village of Moniaive in Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland. I just needed to figure out how to get there. I began to get a little creative with my budget (or lack thereof) and flew Delta to London’s Heathrow Airport. From there, I booked a train journey online (paid for with money I had set aside in my Bluebird Account) and two weeks later found myself at the Dumfries train station meeting Hugh and his lovely wife Moira, both travel writers for LaterLife.com. I also had the pleasure of meeting another longtime colleague, James Gracie.
I was invited to the local pub that evening to listen to Two Left Feet Ceilidh Band and there began the true magic of Scotland for me. When they found out I was from the States, they played some traditional tunes for me, but also a few American selections. The music went on until 4 am and the beauty of this place is that all were welcome at The Craigdarroch Arms hotel pub, even families.
The next day was St. Patrick’s Day and somehow I found myself in the hotel kitchen making a pot of Louisiana gumbo for everyone. Local musicians began to file in, gathering together for a session. After some music, a comforting bowl of gumbo, and more music, I found myself whisked away on an adventure that would be my Mama Moment in Scotland.
I was asked by one of the musicians, “Do you want to see a castle?”
Me, “Um. YES!”
So off we went and I found myself a few minutes later staring in wonder and finding myself doing what I had dreamed of doing since I was a little girl. I was standing in the middle of a silent, barren area of snowy ground staring at a dark stone ruin that was shyly reflected in the nearby loch. There were a few sheep standing near one side and the ruin itself was a dark mystery in stark contrast to the innocent white snow. I stood there in silence, listening to the wind blow through the nearby trees and the mournful sound of a lone heron in the dusk of the evening.
It was a beautiful moment. It was serendipitous. And that’s what I love about travel. One can plan every moment of their life, their journey, but the unexpected is what sometimes takes the breath away.
Morton Castle is located near Thornhill, Dumfries and Galloway in Scotland. It is the property of the Duke of Buccleuch, and is cared for by Historic Scotland. Special thanks to the hospitality of everyone I met while in Moniaive and for the special attention given to me, a visitor on a holiday.