Friday, July 31, 2015

Great Gaertner UK Road Trip: Wales

Tea and scones in an adorable little tea house
with a name we still can't pronounce.

A day at a living farm where we bottle-fed lambs,

held baby bunnies, and brand-new lambs, and goat kids.

We Gaertners were in baby animal heaven. 

The woman running the farm ask Jonathan to help her 
rescue a lamb that was stuck in the fence.

We visited an oceanside mediaeval castle.

We drove along the mountains, stone fences, and lush farms of the Welsh countryside,

Got lost again, but finally found this view after two hours of 
one-way roads winding along steep drop-offs... But it was worth it!


Wales, you're beautiful and charming and we love you (even though you 
don't believe in vowels and we can't say the name of any place we saw).

Great Gaertner UK Road Trip: Preston and Liverpool

More than half of my ancestors come from Preston and Liverpool. Some of them, including Mary Rogerson, were among the first English converts to the LDS Church. I've grown up on their stories of sacrifice, faith, and heroism.

It was so special to stop in Preston, where there is now an LDS temple.

The descendants at the doors of the temple. 
Mary would be so thrilled.

We visited the river bank where Mary was baptized. 

and played on a park we found on the way.

Then we went to Liverpool, where these ancestors got on ships to a completely unknown future on faith alone. Some of them were single mothers, some of them had new babies, some of them spent every penny they had on the ship passage. 

On top of enjoying the funky hip vibe of modern Liverpool, we wandered around old ships at the pier.

And wept in gratitude for my ancestors faith and courage that paved the way for the beautiful life I enjoy.

We are truly standing on the shoulders of giants.

Great Gaertner UK Road Trip: The Highlands


Loch Ness.

watching for Nessie.

 ruins of Urquhart.

highland cows.

curious sheep.

majestic mountains and vistas.

vegetarian haggis.

Great Gaertner UK Road Trip: Stirling

the views.

the architecture.

the company.

 the charming little village.

Oh, and Jon's adoring public found him all the way in Scotland... and of course they needed a picture of him with their children. It didn't even phase him.

Great Gaertner UK Road Trip: Glasgow

Glasgow is a funky industrial town with a hipster strain running through.

Fabio was presenting at a conference here, which bankrolled his flight to the UK and was the event responsible for our trip. So for four days we were sans-Daddy, but the boys and I weren't ready to slow down, although not surprisingly I don't have very many pictures from this segment of the trip. My hands were literally full.

We hit up the science museum, complete with a child-size full-functioning crane, and that basically filled a day. In fact, it could have filled all five if I'd wanted.

Another day we rode a taxi to the train station. Then we rode a train to the boat pier. Then we rode a boat around Loch Lomond. Then we rode the train back to the taxi queue and a taxi back to our hotel. It was a day for children that love things that go--which mine happen to very much!

Boys and trains

The "bonnie bonnie banks..."

We also circumnavigated the city on the hopper bus, swam in the hotel pool, got lost, made friends with a window-washer, had an EPIC spill at the hotel bar, got caught in the torrential rain, and lest anyone think of me as completely adventurous, watched our share of Octonauts.

I sure love adventures with these two.

The Great Gaertner UK Road Trip: Edinburgh

We crossed the Scottish border in the middle of the night, so we pulled into Edinburg in complete darkness and tucked our sleeping puppies into bed. The next morning, everyone was starving and breakfast was the first priority.

As we turned into the alley behind our hotel, there was a little old lady with purple-white hair unlocking the smallest tea room a person could imagine:

As we walked in, she exclaimed, "Come in! Come in! I'll put a pot on forya." And before we knew it our table was covered with peppermint tea, delicious scones, cream, butter, the very best shortbread, and jam. When Jon thanked her as she brought out his food she laughed, patted his head, and said, "Well aren't you a fine wee lad? A little American gentleman, I'd say!"

At one point a couple came in and asked if they could get some coffee to go. She rolled her shoulders back and told them that if they were in such a hurry they should "go to McDonald's. But good food takes time."

It was a very Scottish welcome to Edinburgh. And we loved it.

After breakfast we walked to our first of many castles: Edinburgh Castle.

We explored everything from the queen's bedchamber to the battle look-outs to the dungeons. Jon loved standing where the knights and soldiers stood years ago.

As we walked to our car, we stopped to applaud a street performer with a red beard juggling fire and making jokes at the expense of the Irish.

It was a very Scottish 36 hours.