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3 January 2008

I love the quote: “Life is uncertain; Eat dessert first!”

I don’t do that often enough! In fact I don’t really eat dessert all that often. But, I do try to live every day to its fullest—remembering that we never know what tomorrow holds. That’s the point of that quote, really—Carpe Diem.  

That’s rather the way I feel about this trip we’re on. Who knows what the future holds. The economy is in the worst condition I’ve ever known in my lifetime. Nothing is certain anymore. We are hopeful, of course, that under the control of a new president, we can look forward to some positive changes. But, nothing happens overnight, and it will take years for things to really get better. After all, it took years to get us into this awful fix, right?! So, we’re looking at an immediate future of tightened belts and careful budgeting. We hope that as part of the entertainment industry, Renaissance festivals may not suffer as much as some business; but at the same time, we are prepared to have low expectations for a while. Kyle and I have no idea when we might be able to take another holiday on the scale of this one.

So, it’s been crucial to us, as we planned for this trip, as we got on the plane, and as we live each and every day here in the United Kingdom, to live it to its fullest.

What’s been especially good for me on this holiday, is to realize that that doesn’t always mean going and doing. Today, for example, we did practically nothing. And it was really pretty darned wonderful. Part of what we wanted from this trip was to “experience” being here, more like locals.  So, despite the fact that the William Wallace Memorial is five minutes down the road (we went there in ’95) , and despite the fact that Stirling Castle (one of our very favourites!)  is fifteen minutes the other way on the same road, we went to neither today.  No museums, no shopping even.  Just Living.

We finally had a morning we could sleep a little later—breakfast is served here in this little boutique hotel, until 11 a.m.! And, a terrifically delicious breakfast it was, too! Then, off down the street a block and a half to the post office to buy stamps and get postcards in the mail before the day’s noon pick-up. After that, came the big football (soccer) game that we had originally wished to attend while we were here. Tickets, unfortunately, were prohibitively expensive, and unjustifiable for us. So, it meant a lot to Kyle to at least get to watch it on television. We discovered a giant telly screen in a lounge downstairs in the hotel. And while watching the game, we enjoyed a visit with a very friendly, chatty local—and some really tasty beer from Bridge of Allan Brewery. After the game was the visit to the brewery itself. And, as we fully expected, that was a real treat! We tasted the three seasonal brews they had on tap today, as well as their amazingly tasty “1488.”  We had quite the visit in there, with an American fellow here in the UK working on his master’s degree. And, then a great little visit with Douglas Ross, the brewmaster himself. We had such a good time at this little brewery three and a half years ago, and when we thanked him for that day, and recapped the experience of being there with a group of eighteen or so, and being served lunch and all, he remembered us, and we felt even more welcome. When we had taken up enough of his time, and were realizing it was way past time for a meal, we went in search of one. After a short walk down the main street and back, we ended up at a sweet little chippy and ice cream shoppe, just across the street and down a few paces, from the hotel. We shared some delicious smoked fish and chips and then the ice cream sundae pictured above. Yum.

One more stop in a local pub called the Crooked Arm, resulted in yet another great little chat with some locals. This is a very friendly little town! Did I mention we’d been here before and loved it then? We love it even more, now.

So, it was a day of doing almost nothing. It was a day of having an enormous amount of fun, and of making new friends, and new memories. Although it was relaxed and not full of tourist-y sight-seeing, and although dessert did come toward the end of the day . . . we lived this day in the village of Bridge of Allan, to its fullest.

~MB