July 9, 2011

Another reason I haven’t been blogging much is that I’ve had lots of guests in town. What a joy to host my friends! They have really helped me absorb so much more about Scotland.

When Charity came into town, we made shortbread with a friend’s mum, and got to meet his gran as well. You haven’t lived until you’ve had a homemade scone with an 80-something woman who recently jumped out of a plane. I was asking questions about how to stay young. Her basic response, “I’ve always worked hard.” Looks like I have a fair chance.

One of the best gifts of friendship is encouragement. From the very first day, her mouth was filled with words like, “You are so fun, Nicole, so artistic. So creative.” I needed to hear those words. To hear them daily for 2 weeks actually made me believe them! Charity is 17 and also so who she is as a creative person!

I think adults have this mentality that they are meant to suffer, go to bed early, eat healthy all the time, make their beds, and focus on work at the expense of everything else. We spend a lot of time thinking about bills, whether the house is tidy, and how to live properly. Charity reminded me what it’s like to slow down and laugh a little.

After a few weeks back to “normal,” Barbara and Valerie arrived. These girls have been my friends for a few years, and they inspire me as well. They both have computer jobs and are very talented artistically. Barbara sings, plays guitar and banjo, and paints (she especially enjoys watercolours). Valerie plays classical guitar and paints (she’s not afraid of oils).

After 2 days in the city, they had experienced more than I had in a year and educated me loads about Scottish history. I had NO IDEA that the unicorn was the symbol for Scotland. They made me watch Braveheart again. They hiked Ben Nevis on a clear day without even training for it! I opted for a small walk and a cruise on Loch Linnhe. They found a hat shop that I didn’t even know existed! They ate at restaurants that I have yet to try (I did get to try a brilliant Indian restaurant with them). We went to the Scottish Natural History museum together, which was a lovely treat.

We went to Ft. William, and I got a real taste of something called Highland Hospitality. I will never be the same. 

The Macdonalds (some friends I know through one of the university students at church) asked my friends what Scottish fare they’d like to try, and we had a lovely dinner of haggis, neeps, tatties, and blood pudding, which I hadn’t yet tried, but really enjoyed!

This photo was snapped after we had already gone to the train station to catch our train out (the girls had just finished hiking Ben Nevis). The Macdonalds brought us a warm pizza and some pie for the train-ride home. The trip could not have been more perfect. It was sunny the entire two days we visited.

Barbara and Valerie are such blessings to me! They also brought lots of encouragement. Valerie taught me a classical piece on the guitar and encouraged me to charge more for some paintings I’ve got on exhibition this week. Barbara kept washing all the dishes and helping me relax (except when she slept in my bed with me and stole the duvet). It was wonderful to host such generous people. I think we’re all a bit better for giving to one another.

They said things like, “You are so good with people, Nicole.” “You have such a great life here, and it’s great to be a part of it.”

The fact that I have friends who would save money and travel thousands of miles to spend time with me is more than I could have asked for in life. I had gotten used to spending so much time alone, and while I really enjoy that like I have never have before, it’s nice to be reminded that I have strong, lasting friendships that are not overcome by geographical distance.


3 Responses to “visitors”

  1. Sandra said

    I love that your email included a sketched version of yourself. I did laugh out loud!


  2. Sandra said

    Do NoT complain about Braveheart! When you arrive, I hope it rains, so we’ll be in the mood for Sleepless in Seattle!

  3. Charity Lane said

    Aw, I love you Nicole

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