24 hours in Scotland with our kids

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Spending Tuesday in Scotland was — to be honest — the last thing we were planning to do on Monday morning.  We planned to leave on Thursday on a regularly-scheduled military flight, which would put us in the States in time for Elliott’s sister’s wedding this coming Sunday.

It was a regular Monday morning for me until I got an email from Elliott at 10am that said, “There’s a military flight leaving at 7pm tonight for the States through Scotland.  Maybe pack just in case we can get on it?”  But we were planning to host 12 people for dinner that night (including Elliott’s visiting command team), the house was a mess, I hadn’t packed a thing, and, to top it all off, I was sitting in the doctor’s office with two antsy children.  I couldn’t imagine leaving that night.  Our dinner guests wouldn’t even leave till 7:30!  There was no way.  We tabled the idea.

Later that night, after our dinner guests went out the door, Elliott called the terminal just to check on the flight.  “Becca… the flight is delayed!  It hasn’t even left Bahrain yet, and that’s four hours away.  We should pack!”

And so we did.

And at 3:45am we got on a flight to the States!  It was stressful and last-minute and a little crazy, but we did it.  The house was clean and the decision was made and the plane was taking off with us on it.  We were on our way!

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The plane landed in Prestwick, Scotland, about 3 hours later.  The military crew informed us that we’d stay for 24 hours to give the pilots time to rest, and in the meantime a bus would deliver us (and the 30-odd other passengers, most of them returning from deployment) to a hotel in the nearby town of Ayr.  “Just be ready to get back on the bus at 6:30am tomorrow morning.  Have fun!”

The photo above was the view from our hotel room window after we walked in around 8am.  We were tired but excited.  A mandatory stop in the U.K.?  I’ll take that any day!  We napped with our kids before digging out some warm clothes (it was 60 degrees outside!) and setting off to explore.

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Good morning, handsome!

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In the beautifully manicured gardens of a public park near our hotel.

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“There’s a horse, Mama!”

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The Scottish poet, Rabbie Burns, was from Ayrshire. becca-garber-scotland-12

On the town green, looking out to the Isle of Arran.

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We found the most incredible playground!

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Chasing seagulls.

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We thought Jon and Erika would appreciate this especially.

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Elliott found blackberries!  I tell you, the man has some kind of blackberry homing device.  More blackberry adventures here and here.

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High Street in Ayr.  So refreshingly different from Sicily!  (And northern Virginia, for that matter.)

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Brightly colored doors, closely cropped lawns.

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Comfort food in a little cafe called The Chatterbox.

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Love Gil’s face in this one!

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After afternoon naps, we ate dinner in a wonderful Indian restaurant called The Rupee Room.  Elliott and I both lived in India before we met, so the food has a special place in our hearts.

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Helping herself to some Indian hors d’oeuvres.

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Sunset in Scotland.

It was such a wonderful day, a mandatory respite in the midst of so much travel!  We had a great 7-hour flight the next morning with the same crew and passengers, all of whom were so incredibly kind to our family.  They had arranged for brown bag lunches for everyone on the plane (as that C-40 military plane was staffed by Navy aviators, not flight attendants with hot meals in the galley), but they bought and added stuffed toys to the brown bags for Lena and Gil.  Everyone made sure we were comfortable, and the pilots invited Lena and Elliott to come up to the front into the cockpit for awhile.  Definitely a different experience than most trans-Atlantic flights these days!

We landed at Macguire AFB in New Jersey and walked out of the terminal into big hugs from Grampa Garber.  He shuttled us back the 3.5 hours to northern Virginia that he had just driven in order to get us.  Sweet man!  We are so glad to be back in Virginia with our family.

And now… wedding weekend, here we come!

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17 Responses to 24 hours in Scotland with our kids

  1. Eden September 12, 2013 at 10:14 pm #

    Amazing!! Good for you for jumping on the opportunity with some amount of grace.

  2. Sarah Boschung September 13, 2013 at 2:16 am #

    I love Scotland! My maternal grandmother was from Dundee, and my family and I visited our relatives there several years ago. Mom and I bought matching kilts which we wore every Thanksgiving. I distinctly remember visiting several castles and St. Andrews and enjoying the beautiful countryside with the heather dominating the hillside. Oh, and we literally ate fish and chips every single day that we were there. So glad you had an opportunity to visit! XO

    • Becca September 20, 2013 at 8:45 pm #

      All of this really makes me want to go back!!! 24 hours was just too short. Elliott’s family also has a history in Scotland — hence the former-surnames-turned-first-names Elliott and Gil[christ] in our family — and there is so much more to see and do there!

  3. Alica September 13, 2013 at 3:41 am #

    Your family has some amazing adventures, and this is definitely one of them. Glad you had fun! For all of the difficult times that you had the first few months with Gil, it’s great to see these pictures of him laughing…and oh, those curls! :)

    • Becca September 20, 2013 at 8:45 pm #

      Thanks for sticking with me and reading along all this time, Alica. :-)

  4. Jonathan September 13, 2013 at 3:06 pm #

    Luckies! Looks like so much fun. Those blackberries do look really good–thanks for the mention! ;)

  5. Joy @ Caspara September 13, 2013 at 5:28 pm #

    Wow, that looks SO fun!! I’m jealous!!

  6. Erika September 13, 2013 at 7:09 pm #

    Hahaha :)

  7. Carrie September 14, 2013 at 1:39 am #

    It looks like a beautiful place!

  8. Di September 14, 2013 at 9:02 pm #

    I can’t believe you were in Scotland…..but on completely the opposite coast from me here in Dundee. It looks like you had a lovely day….dry weather too….that can be unusual on the west coast. I am glad Scotland was good to you.

    Enjoy the wedding!

    • Becca September 20, 2013 at 8:46 pm #

      Thank you, Di! We were also so grateful for the weather, although not used to the temps… as it’s been around 38-40 C every day in Sicily!

  9. Jen September 15, 2013 at 11:19 am #

    I am impressed! Go team :) I am doing space A from Ramstein to BWI next month alone w my almost two year old…I am hoping it goes this well :)

    • Becca September 20, 2013 at 8:46 pm #

      Ramstein to BWI will be a great flight! Also there’s sure to be room as they run that flight every day. I might end up on it going the opposite direction on our way back to Sicily… we’ll see!

  10. Violet September 17, 2013 at 3:52 pm #

    We just got home from a week in Northern Ireland, and couldn’t believe how many red doors we saw everywhere there, as well…really fun and bright. :)

    • Becca September 20, 2013 at 8:47 pm #

      The Garber family smiled when I read this comment aloud to them. :-)

  11. Aly September 20, 2013 at 4:47 pm #

    I stumbled onto your blog from another site. I loved this post :) Maybe because I’m a spontaneous spirit, or maybe because your kids are ADORABLE. I hope that when I’m a mom I’m still able to remain flexible enough to enjoy adventures like this!

    • Becca September 20, 2013 at 8:47 pm #

      Thanks for this sweet comment, Aly! I checked out your blog and it’s fantastic… what an amazing resource!

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