Tag Archives: Scotland

Try The Haggis

try the haggis

When we went to Scotland a few months ago, Matt ordered a full Scottish breakfast at a restaurant our first day.

It came with haggis.

In case you don’t know what that is, haggis, a traditional Scottish dish, is: “a savory pudding containing sheep’s pluck (heart, liver and lungs); minced with onion, oatmeal, suet, spices, and salt, mixed with stock, traditionally encased in the animal’s stomach”. 

That does not sound appetizing in any way.  Honestly, it does not.  I know this.  No thinking person would reasonably read that description and think, “MMMMMMMM, haggis.  That sounds good, I’ll try that!”.

But you know what?  I tried it anyway; we all did.  Even the kids.  When that plate was delivered to the table, every one of us took at least a small bite.

You know why?  Because we were in Scotland and haggis is a traditional Scottish dish, maybe the most famous traditional Scottish food of all.  And what was going to happen if we tried it?  Nothing.  The worst thing that would happen is that we’d have tried something that tasted badly.  You take a sip of your drink and you move on.  But maybe you find out that you LOVE haggis.  And you’d never have known if you hadn’t tried it.

“Well?” I asked. 

Not bad was the general consensus.  Not delicious, but not terrible. 

“And,” said Bridget, “now I can always say I’ve tried it.  Now I know.”

In that moment, with that statement, as I looked at all four of my kids chewing thoughtfully on bites of spiced sheep organs, I felt proud and I felt energized and I felt like a good mother.  Like if I do nothing else right in this life, at least I’ve taught my children not to be afraid to try something new.

So many people live in fear of trying a new thing.  People limit themselves on where they go and what they do and who they talk to and what they eat and what they wear based solely on the fact that the thing they do is the thing they’ve always done. 

What a waste.

What the hell is the point of living if you’re unwilling to ever try something new?  If you never take chances and risks, where’s the fun?  How will you ever find out what you love if you only ever stick to what you know?

So go to ScotlandTry the damn haggis.  At least you can say you did it. 

Also, this is the very purpose of our having moved to Europe, and this is another important parenting message.


Edinburgh, Scotland

IMG_6227We went to Edinburgh, Scotland for a weekend in November and absolutely loved it.  We actually took the kids out of school and left on Thanksgiving Day — Matt is on a US holiday schedule even here, so he had a long weekend and we wanted to make the most of it.  The kids’ school was great about us taking them out for a day.

Even though Edinburgh is only a few hours drive from us, we found really, really inexpensive plane tickets (under $250 total for six people!), so we flew there.  The flight was just over an hour long — so quick and easy!  Since there are six of us, we usually can’t fit into one hotel room, which can make hotel accommodations expensive.  In general, we now skip hotels entirely and just use AirBnB — WE LOVE IT!

edinburgh aribnbThe place we rented for our weekend in Edinburgh was absolutely perfect–close enough that we could walk to the main downtown area near Edinburgh Castle and the Christmas Market, with plenty of space for all six of us.  Plus we had a kitchen and living room so we could really relax during our downtime.  This picture above is the view from the kitchen window our first morning — definitely a wonderful start to our Edinburgh vacation. Below you can see the kids having breakfast before we headed out for the second day.  I highly recommend this property if you’re going to Edinburgh, and the host was really helpful and lovely!

20151127_081750We set out our first morning in search of something to eat before heading to Edinburgh Castle.  Matt got the “Scottish Breakfast” which included haggis.  We all tried a bite.  Not my favorite, honestly, but it was better than I anticipated it being and I’m glad I at least tried it.  When in Scotland, after all!  

20151127_102808From breakfast, we headed to Edinburgh Castle, stopping first in the Prince Street Gardens to play on the playground.  We really do seek them out everywhere we travel; it’s a good way for the kids to burn energy, have fun, and stay engaged and excited about where we are and what we’re doing.  Thirty minutes on a playground buys Matt and I a few hours of happy kids, so it’s well worth it.

IMG_6226Edinburgh Castle is really, really cool.  It overlooks the city from it’s perch atop an extinct volcanic hill.  It looks like it just grew sort of organically out of the rocky hilltop.  We walked up the paths along the steep hill to get there, which was really cool — it just kept getting bigger and bigger the closer we got, and the views from the hillside and atop the castle were amazing. 

IMG_6241 G and DadThe castle, obviously, was really big and there was lots to explore — we did part of a guided tour, but then broke away to check it out on our own. 

IMG_6254The weather turned pretty nasty part way through the day, though, so then we mainly stuck to the indoor exhibits rather than get blown off our feet by the wind and rain.  No one minded because there was plenty to do inside, and we’re hoping to go back to Edinburgh in warmer weather and explore the exterior of the castle a bit more.

We walked the Royal Mile, checked out some really cool shops, bought tartan scarves for all the kids, and then headed to the Christmas Market.  I already wrote all about it, but I’ll just say it again: Edinburgh Christmas Market is a fairy tale and if you can EVER, EVER go to it, you should. 

Coincidentally, one of my good friends from college, Leah, and her husband were also in Edinburgh that weekend!  They are living in London for a year, and we hadn’t had a chance to get together yet, but we met up at the Edinburgh Christmas Market!  So fun. 

IMG_6243The next day was windy, rainy, and cold again, so we planned some indoor fun.  We went to a really amazingly cool museum called Camera Obscura.  It’s the white tower on the upper left hand side of the picture above, and it was AWESOME.  Located on the Royal Mile just outside the Edinburgh Castle grounds, it was basically 5 stories of optical illusions, brain teasers, and puzzles. 

20151128_130954We spent hours there and everyone loved it.  It was really cool and I highly recommend it as an indoor option if you’re visiting Edinburgh with kids.

fam photo camera obscura camera obscuraWhen we left Camera Obscura, we were all ready for lunch, but the nasty weather had sent a lot of people indoors and we couldn’t find any restaurants with seating for 6 people and less than an hour wait.  So we went to Pret a Manger, got sandwiches to go, and took a cab back to our apartment.  This is why Airbnb is so great — we were able to hang out there for a while and watch a movie (we were all cold and ready to take a break), we could enjoy our lunch without stress, and then we got cleaned up and headed back out a bit later when the weather cleared up.

We were only in Edinburgh for 2.5 days, but we really loved it — even though the weather was cold and rainy, no one complained even once and we had a great time.  We’re really looking forward to going to back to Scotland again!

Happy Thanksgiving

cousins at Thanksgiving

We’re not in Boston for Thanksgiving for the first time in my kids’ whole lives.

It’s totally weird.

We miss the cousins, the whole family, the food, and the annual layover in NYC on the way up the East Coast.

This is the first holiday we’re really missing because of the move — there’s no equivalent in England, and the kids have a normal school day. 

But we didn’t want to be sad about the one real downside to living in England, so we’re making the most of it and instead of eating turkey and pie today, we’re actually flying to Edinburgh for the weekend!  We miss our friends and family at home, but we won’t let that be the overriding theme of the day. 

Happy Thanksgiving from Scotland!

Also, adventures from Thanksgiving’s past, and the Christmas Creep, which isn’t a problem in England where it’s Christmas season basically on November 1!


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