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“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go” Joshua 1:9

September 26, 2015

~ A Ceilidh Dance ~

16 September 2015

Dancing in and out, weaving through our partners, like yarn weaving into a beautiful-crocheted snowflake. It was wonderful, an art form in itself.


A ceilidh dance is a traditional Gaelic dance consisting of billions of different dances. Rather like square dancing and its relation to USA, ceilidh dances are jumpy, up-beat and sometimes extremely complicated dances related to Gaelic countries, traditionally danced to Gaelic-folk music. The ceilidh dance I went to was danced in the old Blackfriars church in Edinburgh, lit up by fairy lights and the heat and sweat from the large amount of people (200 >).  This all combined to create an ideal night-out.

To begin with, and I believe keeping up with our family tradition, I was late. The friend that I was with, Danielle, is also known for being late, so in that sense we didn't make such a great pair. After missing the bus stop, meaning we had to walk a few k's in the cold, we were so ready to dance. While we came in to the church wearing jackets and scarves, everyone else was wearing short sleeves and shorts. I did not realise at that time how important it would have been to wear shorts instead of jeans...

After taking our coats off, we got straight into the first dance, Danielle and I, and to be honest I don't even remember what dance that was, I just know that we both were not cold anymore. I do remember how stiff that first dance was, which turned out to be a real friend-bonding moment, and how seamlessely it later turned into all laughs and smiles. After that first dance we sat down to rest from both the mental (bonding moment), and the physical hardship :D :)

That was when I got out my phone and recorded my one and only video of a dance, kind of a shame really. I managed to use the video to create pictures, luckily, so here they are. It is abit dark, but you will get an idea of what I am describing here :)



The next dance started up, and already we were confused, left-right-left, or right-left-right. However, we soon got the hang of it, and we were off on a roll. We did not stop dancing, besides water breaks, until the end of the night. I cannot for the life of me think of the last time that I laughed so hard. I actually felt like I was going to fall, and the dancing didn't help there either. Friendships and laughter <3

We rounded to the last song, and it was seriously like something out of a movie. We were all positioned in a large circle, and partners randomly disengaged from the circle and started waltzing a fast as possible around the room, in which we immedietely followed suit. It was so thrilling, that even though I bumped hard into another person's back, that dance, rather like a flash mob, was my favourite part of the whole ceilidh dance. The part where I could literally not feel the floor. I felt like I was floating. I have to say, Danielle and I made such a grand couple :) We knew how to waltz!!

Well, I will leave you with one last thing. By the time I got home, my feet were throbbing, my ears were singing, and my heart was full of gladness. I would do it all again in a heart beat :)

Now you are uptodate,

Laura

xoxo

July 18, 2015

Day 4 - Rundale Palace

8th July, 2015

The beautiful gardens of the Rundale Palace were glistening in the sunlight as we continued our walk through the many hedge walkways. It was a humid 26 degrees celsius, as Mum, Dad, Harri and I read names of roses out like a composition of a song. And so this is how our Day Three in Latvia played out :)

To begin the day we all woke up to a cloudy morning :( The weather app on the Iphone got it wrong ... again. Mum had made us all poached eggs for breakfast with toast, so we all ate together after saying grace. Dad then talked with his mum and brother on Skype, while the rest of us quickly got changed to talk as well. The day was looking like it could be a great day, because the weather forecasts are rarely correct. Subsequently, I have actually found that it is better to look at the forecast to see what the weather will NOT be :) 

Today was going to be a driving day. I had already planned where we would be going, and so all we needed to do now was to draw a line on the map to help us get out of the busy city. Once that was done, we set out on our way in the car from Riga to Bauska, which is the closest town to the awesome-looking Rundale Palace. After I directed Dad through the round-about roads closest to Riga, it was such a nice change getting onto the main road heading to Bauska, because it was more relaxing driving on these roads than the roads we had been on previously. I guess this is because it is more of a country highway, which is not leading to any major city. 

As we continued our journey following the A2 main road the scenery opened up our eyes to a side of Latvia we had not seen before. Plains of fields filled with yellow and purple flowers, a miniature village, and every now-and-then we would see old farm houses that look like they would fall any moment. It is at times like this I wonder whether people live in these places, or not…

Route showing the main road from Riga to Bauska, and the number 1 I think is the Rundale Palace = Our destination. 

The yellow fields we passed along the way.

Arriving at Bauska in the car.

The little town of Bauska was such a lovely town. Very clean and crisp. We stopped off here for a toilet break, and to ask directions from the information centre.

The information centre in Bauska.

After recieveing the right information we needed from the info centre, we all then got into the car. As the day was basically 'my day' for giving directions, I guided Dad down the country roasd and over the bridge into the palace parking. 

Walking up to the Palace there were stables and houses selling various fruits and souvenirs. It was a lovely community-type atmosphere. As we walked over another bridge, we speculated on the extravagence of the gates to the Palace. Funnily enough, there weren't many tourists at all at the Palace. It is such an amazingly, magnificent looking Palace that I don't understand why there aren't more tourists. Shame really…

Walking up to Rundale Palace courtyard. The palace itself is shaped like a u, and on the outskirts are the gardens.

We had all felt that it was an excellent time to have our luch, being nearly 12:30. Hence, we made our way downstairs to the Palace cafe. It was interesting to get there, because we had to walk through tombs and an exhibition of door handles and key holes :) It was very out of the way, so I guess that is why it was pretty much empty, only besides one other person. The cashier ladies didn't speak that great English, so we pretty much blindly ordered a meat soup, just knowing that it was a 'large chunk of meat from a pig'. 

As we sat at the table waiting for our meal we imagined ourselves as servants for the Duke and Duchess of the Palace. We would sit here and quickly eat the delicious meal the cook cooked up for the servants, which I am sure would be awesome, and then continue with our duties. There would probably be light chatter, but other than that it is difficult to imagine. A world away from our own... Downton Abbey seems so graceful, everyone knowing exactly what to do all the time, I imagine I would have difficulties knowing what to do every second of the day. But then again, you would probably pick up a regular schedule.

Here we are with our pork soup, which turned out to be ham. 

The waitress firstly came out with our napkins, forks and knives, and then in another lot our bowls and plates. Surprisingly, she then brought out a little tiny bowl of some white looking thing, which I thought must be butter, but when I smelled it it was sour cream. Interesting :) Next she brought out a basket of rye and white bread, which must have been freshly baked, and a platter of butter mixed with dill. I was unsure about how the butter would taste mixed with a herb commonly used with fish dishes, but it was so refreshing!! A great way to add a fresh taste to bread :) Finallly she brought out the huge bowl of soup for us all, and told us we could tell her if we needed more. Wohoo!! 

The ham soup.

Now, how would I describe the soup? Wel, it was such a different flavour of ham-and-saltiness. The broth was super flavoursome, I have never tasted a broth so full of taste I don't think. Definetely a highlight!! The thing, I think, here is that there really are no words to describe the way that the meat tenderly fell off the bone, or the smell of rich stock filling our nostrils with happiness. 

Anyway, after filling ourselves with more helpings of the soup, because we could, we set off for the Palace gardens. As the sun had come out now, we thought it would be best to take the garden route, so we headed outside to pay for a family ticket. I had to pretend like I was a year or two younger than I actually was, because we wanted to get the cheaper price :) 

Walking through the gates to the gardens, after getting the okay from the ticket lady, we were over-awed with the largest array of roses that we had ever seen!! The spread of the gardens were ginormous, and looking at the map we realised there were even more gardens through the hedges we could see on the outskirts of the roses, so we were overwhelmed really. We thought, first is first, so we began with the roses. 

The rose gardens of the Rundale Palace. These particular roses are called "Jazz".

The scent instantly hit you walking through the shades of white, pink, purple, orange and red. I am under the impression that in that garden was a museum of every possible type of rose that has every been named. For instance, we found roses with names such as Queen of Perle (my favourite), Smoothie, Gloire de France, Pretty in Pink, Rene Goscinni (the author of Astrix and Obelix) and Cinderella, which all delighted the imagination with the possbile reason behind all the names. 

Queen of Perle roses.

Selfie at the rose gardens.

After sweltering in the hot sun for an hour, we all decided that it would be best to head into the air-conditioning of the Palace rooms. I was simply beyond the capacity to think, because of the humidity, and so that sort of ruined the extravagence a tad for me.

Mum and Dad admiring the ball room in the Rundale Palace.

Harri's favorite room, the games room.

A lovely painting I took for my Grandma in Australia :)

The white room. The patterns on the ceiling were actually 3D, which was amazing!!

The vase room.

I am guessing this is the vase room for obvious reasons. One question I would really like to ask the owner would be how they chose what vase they were going to use for each bouquet of flowers. Walking along, I found another room like this one, so there would be such a large amount to choose from!! Personally, I would choose the middle purpley-coloured one on the third teir from the bottom. What about you?

Bauska castle, looking very modern. 

A few kilometers away from the palace was the Bauska Castle. It has been extended recently, after half of it was burnt down. Hence the modernity of the place. What would seem like a 3D wall of the castle, was actually drawn triangles to make it look 3D. It was very interesting architecture!!

The Bauska castle walls.

As we continued on our way, and drove back to Riga passing more fields of yellow, green, and purple, we allowed oursleves to reflect on the day. We all told our favourite place on our trip, and I reminded them that we still had two more day to go!! The question was, what are we going to do tomorrow?

Now you are uptodate,

Laura

xoxo

July 12, 2015

Day 3 - Old Riga

7th July, 2015

Today was a magical day, it was like going back in time. The Old Riga is a maze, a labyrinth of colour, art and churches. Awesomely inspirational. Today I am allowing Harri my brother to write the majority of this blog, and I think it is interesting seeing how both my Dad's post from yesterday, and my brother's post today hold different styles of writing. I am hoping that seeing these different styles will demonstrate to you guys that writing a blog is so simple. The reason to write a blog for me is to create a travel diary, which I think is so much easier that taking a diary with you wherever you go. 

Before I get ahead of myself, here is Harri's perspective of this magical day:

Town Hall in Town Hall Square; though we never really knew exactly where we are at the time :)

The House of Blackheads and St Peter’s Church in Town Hall Square; the “centre” of Old Riga, though we could still feel the heavenly cool breeze from Daugava River located on the outskirts of Old Riga. 

Daugava River separating the old and the new of Riga; a nice breeze by the water on a hot, sunny day. The highrise next to Vanšu Bridge is the tallest building in Riga; nice to see that the city is developing while keeping the modern buildings separate from Old Riga. 

A picture of Laura taking a picture of one of the many immaculately designed streets of Old Riga. The stunning bright colours make the dilapidated city from post-war times a trivial mist disappearing in the sunlight.

Alberta Street in the Art Nouveau Quarter, which is apparently one of the most famous streets of Art Nouveau architecture in Riga. The city of Riga is known for having an abundance of Art Nouveau buildings, which are characterised by intricate, linear designs and flowing curves based on natural forms. 

A prime example of Art Nouveau in the Art Nouveau Quarter, as seen by the eye-catching faces, people, and animals carved on the wall.

After walking through five Art Nouveau streets we sit down to take a rest in the Art Nouveau Quarter. Here I try to convince my family that the next street of Art Nouveau is worth seeing :D

Pilsetas Kanals in Kronvalda Parks; a deja vu from our travels through Amsterdam!

A selfie at the Freedom Monument :) Honouring the soldiers killed in the Latvian War of Independence.

The Nativity Cathedral; which is the biggest of its kind in the Baltic States. 

Soon afterwards we took a taxi to our apartment, which happened to be only a 15 minute walk away :) However I found it completely worth it, after Dad and I walked with blisters and bruises for the whole day. 

Hehe, thanks Harri!! It is fun seeing the way that other people take pictures, and mostly what they prioritise in the process. I hope that you feel inspired to start creating your own blogs!! 

Now you are uptodate,

Laura 


xoxo

July 7, 2015

Day 2 - Jurmala beach

6th July, 2015


Today was my parent's anniversary, so I thought I would allow my dad to write the blog post. He did also kindly request to do so, which was lovely (relieving me of my duties for a day), so here is his post:


Yesterday’s adventurous and somewhat treacherous driving experience – the Latvians are crazy drivers! – was mostly forgotten as we ventured out in the car again to Latvia’s most famous beach region – Jurmala. Once again, Harri navigated us there with iPhone screenshots he had prepared back in the apartment using wifi.

 

In another episode of surprise while driving, nothing could have prepared us for the tollbooths we think we passed by mistake. We saw a sign ahead of us in Latvian indicating upcoming tollbooths at a cost of 2 euros per car. We were in the far left lane, which was taking us to Jurmala, and the middle and far right lanes had to turn right. We assumed we would all have to stop and pay the toll. But too late! We saw drivers stopping at these booths as we sped by in the fast lane heading to the beaches.

 

Jurmala reminded me a bit of Noosa in Australia. Expensive homes, well-dressed tourists wandering in and out of shops, and lots of old trees. 


A lovely wooden house we passed. 

But the beach was different. To begin with, the water was shallow and cold. And cafes and bars were scattered up and down the long beaches. Best of all, we spotted a car, driven by an older man who looked like a tourist, driving along the beach scattering sunbathers, walkers and joggers!


The sand, seaweed and ripples at the beach. 

Anita and I on the beach. 

 

Towards the afternoon it rained. So we ducked into one of the beach cafes for a late lunch of pizza, chicken nuggets and ribs (we were starving). 


On the drive back to the apartment, we ended up taking a wrong turn in the heart of the city into a lane where a policeman waved us to the side. I told him we were lost. “I know,” he replied. (He must have noticed our Finnish registration plates.) He said the Parliament was in session and that we weren’t meant to be there. We had ended up outside Parliament House! It looked as though he was about to order us out of the car, so I interrupted and said we would be on our way by taking the next left and the next right. He seemed reluctant to let us go, but I insisted it would be better for everyone. I didn’t wait for him to finish his sentence. He stepped back as I pulled away from the curb.

 

Later that afternoon we headed off on foot into the rain towards the city. After an hour or two our shoes were soggy. We bought some groceries for dinner and arrived back in our apartment wet and exhausted, but we were glad we did it. We had made the most of the day, in spite of the rain. 



Walking through the streets of Riga in the rain. 

I'll now hand this blog post back to Laura


Thanks, Dad. Well, after our lovely trip to Jurmala we all felt ready to fall asleep, and so for the first time in a few days I fell asleep straight away when I rested my head on the pillow :)


Now you are uptodate,


Laura 


xoxo


July 6, 2015

Day 1 - Helsinki to Riga

5th July 2015

You know those times when you wish you could just get out of the car and transport yourself to your destination just by thinking of it? Well, if not, that is exactly what I feel like doing right now. Not that the scenery isn't lovely, or that I wouldn't want to be on this holiday, but that I would love to be at our destination instead of stuck in traffic here on the road from Parnu, Estonia to Riga, Latvia. There is only so many times you can play UNO before it starts getting boring... 

So, to catch you up I will begin from 5:30 this morning: wake up call :D Mum and Dad woke up earlier to get ready themselves, the disadvantage of only having one bathroom, and woke Harri and I up when they were ready. I woke up very easily, and got ready easily, but then it was only until after that I started getting tired. It is called 'delayed wake-up reaction'. Not that efficient really, my body is weird like that. 

The drive to the port was quiet at 6am. Not many people are awake early in Finland, on a Sunday especially. So we got to the harbour in only 10 minutes, which in peak hour could get to 30 minutes. 

Driving from our apartment to the dock in the morning

So our plan for the day was to catch the ferry from Helsinki to Tallinn with the car at 7:30, and then drive from there to Riga with a few stop-offs along the way for food. That was the plan, and we hoped to be able to get to Riga for an early night ready for tomorrow. Now we now that there are things we didn't see coming... Things like Sunday traffic, difficulty reading signs, and most importantly the fact that Nav Nav (name for our GPS) couldn't direct us through Estonia and Latvia!!

Before I get ahead of myself, it was lovely getting on the boat to Tallinn before all the regular passengers who came on foot :) We have been on the trip many times before, but just not in the car. So we all enjoyed driving on the boat in the car :D Even though I have been driven four times onto a ferry in a car before, it is always such an awesome experience driving into the mouth of the ferry!! It feels like driving into the mouth of large fish. Interesting sensation!!

Travelling in the car onto the boat 

We got a lovely seat next to the window and sank down into the cushiony fabric of our seats for the two hour trip to Tallinn, Estonia. To pass time we played games, and I especially loved getting 26 points from the word JOY in Scrabble. However, Harri did beat that high score by adding MER to WORLD to get a whopping 42 points!! It was a really good game, even though I came 3rd (second last). In this way, it is the experience that counts, and not who won. 

Us all on the boat ready for our trip. 

Our score from the Scrabble game we played. 

This trip was starting out swell on the boat, but that was going change next; and so it was not untill we began driving off the boat that we realised our faithful 'Nav Nav' was not cooperating with us!! We had planned on allowing 'Nav Nav' to guide us to all of our destinations, and now we had to do it the old-fashioned way... AH!! 

As we departed from the boat we all started to feel hungry for morning tea, so we stoopped off at the Old Town in Tallinn for a bite to eat.

The old town in Tallinn.  

However, we all started feel abit agitated with the lack of signs in Estonia, and probably also the fact that we hadn't driven without a GPS in ages. Subsequently, we were all stressing each other out about it all, and I am convinced that the roads circled it's way around Tallinn just for the fun of it. I don't know how Dad continued to stay calm at the wheel to be able to drive us out of that city... Needless to say, we circled a couple of times before following the only road that would logically make sense, and hoping that it was the right one. It was weirdly funny that there were different signs on the same road going where we were supposed to be going. When I say funny, I mean when you get to the point were something very stressful can only become funny about how stressful is. If you know what I mean...

Along the way Harri and I did the traditional thing that children usually do in car trips, and kept asking 'Are we there yet?', to which Dad would promptly reply 'not quite, or almost there'. The usual childish saying gave us something to do when we were getting weary. We also played many games of UNO and I read. I had planned on more, but the trips always seem to go much quicker than I have planned for.

Next we then arrived at Parnu, the famous beach location in Estonia. Parnu is known for it's white sand beach, much like beaches in Australia and other warmer countries. It was lovely town, and walking to the beach was quite soothing really after all the time spent in the car. However, we all did felt that something was missing at the beach, and this missing piece of the puzzle, we suddenly realised, was the lack of the sound of crashing waves hitting rocks. Well, we wouldn't want to find Australian beaches too close to Finland :D In this way, now we have something to look forward to when going back to Australia!! 

Us all at the Parnu beach in Estonia, with Harri behind the camera. 

After leaving Parnu, and stocking our car with all the necessary equipment for snacking, we set off towards Riga. 

Crossing the border from Estonia to Latvia. 

When we crossed the border to Latvia everything suddenly changed. While the roads in Estonia were no where near roads in Finland (in that you had to watch out for potholes), at least the cars were actually moving!! In this way, straight away when we crossed the border we had to stop because of the traffic, and it continued. We were moving at the pace of a snail by the half way point!! In addition to the traffic, the way that a one lane road suddenly became two lanes without a line was very different!! That was something new, and I must say a tad dangerous :D I had read about the atrocious driving of the Latvians, but it was still a huge shock when cars came whizzing past us illegally. It was then that I remembered reading about how in Latvia you are supposed to drive as close as you possibly can to the side of the road to allow these drivers the space to over-take, to make this illegal manouveur as safe as possible. Hence, that was the reason the cars in front of us where vearing right to side of the road!! hehe. 

After that experience Harri saved the day by directing us, by using apple maps, straight to our accommdation without default. It was at this point that I started to feal like I could conc out at any given moment. Subsequently, I can't remember that much from our walk to the grocers and showering. Except to say that the tea here in Latvia is VERY cheap :) I think we will have to stock up on tea before we go. 

Anyway, tomorrow is mum and dad's anniversary, so I am looking forward to doing something relaxing with them.

Now you are uptodate,

Laura 

xoxo 

July 4, 2015

Day 0 - Riga Trip

4th July 2015

The day before a holiday always holds mixed feelings. Should you be nervous? Hopefully you will remember to pack everything you will need. Or should you be excited? It is a holiday tomorrow, show some excitement!! The holiday dilemma... The conclusion for me, an inbetween-type feeling of awareness, yet unawareness.

Feelings aside, today we spent the day cleaning our apartment. When I say cleaning, we were not just doing the usual dusting and vaccuuming, but the whole kit and cabudal: Dusting, vaccuuming, mopping, cleaning out cupboards, and taking stuff to the charity shoot. I did not realise how much stuff can accumulate over a couple of years staying here in Finland. Mostly I found that I needed to find more space to put all my crafts. The answer ... a wool drawer :D Woohoo!! I can now easily find the stuff to use when my hands feel restless, and unmotivated to open a book or write.

Subsequently, I learnt today the importance of cleaning. It is because of all this cleaning that I now feel a sense of relaxation that I will be coming back after our holiday to a nice, cleaned room :D

Okay, so The holiday: I am going to be leaving tomorrow at 6am with my parents and Harri for a 5-day car trip through Estonia, Latvia and possibly Lithuania. The dates: Sunday, 5th July to Friday, 10th July. The reason: Who needs a reason to go on a holiday? Big year + four week holiday for my mum = reason enough :D We were undecided as of yesterday whether we would be making the trip, and I was glad when we all decided to go ahead with it. The itinerary: You will just have to wait and see, now won't you ;) We will too :D

Now you are uptodate and have an awesome weekend,

Laura

xoxo


May 18, 2015

Dear Diary: Letters from Macmerry

18th May 2015

Dear Diary,

I haven't written here in so long, or perhaps it is that time has slowed down. I have been super busy, always doing something or other. Which is great, because I don't have time to feel home sick or anything. To be honest, it is not just work and looking after kids that takes my time away, but also home-group and meeting with new-found friends. I love it, my life I have made for myself here in Scotland.

So, as an update academically, I have confirmed an offer from Queen Margaret University here in Marketing, Public Relations and Events. I went for a student tour last Monday, so I got a feel for the land. It seems very close-knit, friendly and exciting. I am looking forward to my time at the uni!! I applied and accepted accommodation on campus, and that looks great as well, with your own ensuite bathroom (tiny) and a huge workspace. Looks like my dad's office at Aalto University in Finland, except with a bed and bathroom :D

Two days ago Alisha and I went for a lovely bike ride around Macmerry. I had been a week before, and found a secret garden near a farm. As I had told Alisha, she wanted to discover this secret garden as well. Hence, we set out. It was actually quite a blustery day, not the best for riding. In Scotland, though, I have discovered that as long as it is not raining tooo heavily, it is a great day to go outside ;)

The first step to going outside is to put on a water and wind-proof jacket, then warm shoes. Oh, and a scarf. The scarf is quite important, unless you are preparing for a cold that is. The next step, brave the wind and set out!!

We met some horses along the way, and stopped to say hi :)

After that we continued down the farm lane to our destination. Destination: Secret Garden. There was a swing, patches of white flowers, lots of vines, trees and dead stumps. We called ourselves The Terrific Two, play on Fantastic Five, and began to get a lay of the land, which we called our little adventure. We did find a dead bird carcass, which was quite a wierd thing to find, but we couldn't find any clues as to how it came to be right there. Plus, it was quite scary, so we both decided that mystery was not for us to decipher :D


Carcass we found on our adventure

The flowers smell like chive flowers, so perhaps they are

Nature's picture frame of vines



After we had spent a considerable amount of time in the secret garden, mostly taken up by taking pictures, avoiding the spiky branches of holly, and swinging on the swing, we set off again. We couldn't help but stop again on the way back for a quick chat with the horses.

The ride back was quite tiring, as we had spent so long both getting to the garden, and walking around. So, I had to stop a couple of times along the way to walk for a while. In some parts the wind wa sso strong, and I could see that it was starting to blow Alisha's bike a wee bit. The one good thing about wind is that you always recieve a free wind-swept look, however much my eyes sometimes sting. Nevertheless, it was such a lovely trip!! We had picked some of the chive flowers, and brought them back home.

A nice little reminder of our secret garden. Shhh...

I thought I would just give you an update on the adventure I had most recently.

Have an awesome week,

Laura

xoxo

April 7, 2015

Dear Diary: Finding my way home

It is currently cloudy and 2 Degrees here in the luscious country retreat in Lempäälä, Finland. This is my home, but I have many homes. It is funny how we can have more than one home. If Home is where the Heart is, then my heart is travelling all over the place :D

So much has happened in my life since I posted the last blog post. It seems like it has been a thousand years, but really only a few months. Life is like that, a day turns into a week, a week turns into a month, and a month into a year. Metaphorically, of course. Because really life doesn't work that way.

Anyway, since talking about time, it is about time that I discuss with you diary about my timeless past few months. It is difficult to explain the Riley family, whom I have been helping out in Macmerry, Scotland. I suppose if they were a soup, I would add a heap of compassion, a tablespoon of wisdom and knowledge, a touch of ideas, because one idea always leads to more, a swag of sincerity, in the true Australian manner, and not at all least a rainbow of yellows, turquoise', greens and all other colours imaginable. This soup would probably turn a browney kind of colour, but that is okay. Brown is a colour showing all colours mixed together. That would, however, not merely describe the whole of this most awesome family I have come to know since the beginning of the year, besides my own awesomely awesome family of course :D

I have learnt so much from this family, and they have taught me to grow spiritually. This is the most important thing, spiritual growth. I will never forget laughing all the way home with Anita from smallgroup, or the time I beat Brenton at handball at youth. I am looking forward to making more memories like these, and that is what life is about. Creating memories, not material riches. I have found that all I need is all I can fit into my cabin-size, lime green suitcase and a justice bag!!

I hope, dear diary, that throughout my life, and other's lives, we will all understand this need for material wealth is worthless. All we need in life really is a God that loves us, a suitcase of our necessities and a Bible. That way we can travel the world, and no matter where we go, or what we get ourselves into, we are somewhat prepared.

You have an entirely awesome week,

Laura

xoxo

February 2, 2015

Dear Diary: Letters from the English Countryside

31st January 2015

Dear Diary,

Today we had the adventure of a life time. We met Carolyne, a farmer, two dogs, Tommy and Inca, and some horses, sheep and hens. All while I lost the keys for the cottage I was meant to be responsible for. Okay, well it did all work out in the end...

To begin the day I woke up in a lovely, large double bed in a huge room looking out over a luschiously, pale green front garden. To recap, I came to Birmingham with Anita and Brenton Riley, who I have been working with the last couple of days, yesterday with their kids Elias, Alisha and Josiah. The journey from Edinburgh to Birmingham and our cottage was meant to take around 6 and a half hours, and ended up becoming around 8 hours long because of the peak-hour traffic. How annoying...

Driving at night everything kinda looked the same, but in the morning everything looked so beautiful!! This is our cottage below. Alisha and I shared a room on the top left-hand side of the house, Elias and Josiah shared the top right-hand side of the house, and Anita and Brenton had the bottom left-hand side of the house. It is really quite a large cottage.

Our Cottage in Abbot Morton Parish - Cartref Cottage.



Our feet :) Alisha had the idea for this picture, not me...

After we all adjusted ourselves to the temperature, we set out to the owner's farm. As we walked up to the farm the farmer's wife, Carolyne, called out 'Hello' to us. She was very welcoming, while mucking out the horses stables, and said that there is a walk around the farm we could take. It was around that time when a gorgeous German Shepard lept out from around the corner. We all fell instantly in love with him, so Carolyne said that we could take him on the walk with us. Carolyne then looked at all of our shoes, and said that Josiah's trainers wouldn't be appropriate for the walk, and gave him a pair of wellies to borrow. English generosity <3

To begin with we had to cross several fields to get to the track. Inca then came along with his stick, so we had to continually play catch with him. Not that we were complaining :)


Josiah racing Inca through the fields.

As we got to the track it becoming increasingly apparent that we would have to walk through piles of mud and puddles. Lucky for Josiah with his wellingtons, but the rest of us had thin boots or sneakers on.

We had to tread carefully through the muddy paths.


Alisha throwing the stick for Inca the dog.

Carolyne said that we had to hug the hedge to the right. I love the English little sayings!!!

The amount of mud weighing our boots down.

We had to go though all these little fences, and you had to use your brains to work out how the locks worked. Not to mention strength...

Elias giving a hug to our trusty tour guide - Inca :) Alisha found this huge branch on our walk (that Inca is staring at in the picture), and we were all too tired to keep picking it up and throwing it... We tried throwing a smaller stick for Inca, but he kept going back to the large, heavy one. Shouldn't have done that Alisha :)

Finally reaching the end of the meant-to-be half an hour trek around the farm. It ended up being around an hour, or more. Not quite sure.

As I had locked ourselves out of he cottage, we had to wait for Carolyne to finish her horse-riding lesson so she could find the spare key to the cottage. All of our shoes and jackets were filthy, so I turned the washing machine on while we waited. Luckily that was in the utility room, not the cottage itself.. :)

We did finally get the spare key, and got in to make ourselves some lunch. The kids had a shower, and then we watched a couple of episodes of 'H2O'. We have become addicted to that show...

Now you are uptodate,

Laura

xoxo