Saturday, March 7, 2009

visit scotland (dot com!)

This is not a postcard of some Canadian idyll but a photo of the actual view I was looking at on Thursday.  I've been away all week (on a school trip that has been looming heavily in my mind ever since I found out about it in June) at an outdoor centre just past Helensburgh.   In between crawling through mud, getting stuck inside plastic tunnels and launching myself into icy ponds I had a great time - a shock to me but exactly what everyone else predicted.  Must learn to listen to people who know more than me...
On Thursday I was signed up to go hillwalking (for the first time since I was about 16) on a hill called Cruaich Tarbert but woke to see a bona fide blizzard raging outside.  I was quite scared but went anyway and am so glad I did.  The sun came out, the blizzard stopped and we were and left with these Scandinavian-esque views.
Climbing the hill was tough (my muscles are still feeling the burn) but the best thing I've done in ages.  I was knee deep in smelly bogs and thigh deep in beautiful white snow and just amazed by everything we saw.  For quite a while we were walking through forests and the trees were covered in snow that blocked out nearly all the light.  The snow was melting so there were sparkly drips falling all around which looked and sounded so magical in the dark.
When we emerged from the woods at one point we saw this strange and fantastical view.  I thought the conditions were perfect for a hulder sighting but it didn't happen... this time.
At the top of the hill I drank hot chocolate and ate my sandwiches and managed to build a snow cat (I was missing these two) in between having snowball fights with the biggest but least painful snowballs ever.

Before getting on the bus home yesterday, I squeezed in some fun with tiny wildlife.
This is a caddisfly larva peeking its head out of the incredible house it built itself from bits of twigs and a leaf.  This was a centimetre long or so and was found in the pond (along with pregnant shrimps, fish and enormous backswimmers) by some of the children.  At this point the caddisfly larva was in a dish being examined under a microscope.
The place we were staying was on the shores of the Gareloch.  I managed to escape for some time on my own and went for a quick morning walk along the shoreline.  I was throwing stones into the water but nearly every stone I picked up was covered in tiny whelks and I didn't have the heart to throw them.  Here are some of the tiniest ones.  That huge pink blob at the right hand side is actually my teeny tiny fingertip.

Much as I enjoyed my week in the great outdoors, I am glad to be back in the city surrounded by my home comforts and reunited with my little hairy family.  A tired hooray!

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