Chris and Audra Do Ireland, England & Scotland

 

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Here we are, just two Americans, sitting in a Starbucks (aka the American embassy) whilst soaking in the Glasgow culture.

(Before you scold me for choosing a Starbucks over a local cafe, I’ve been to 47 cafe’s and no one has pouring cream (aka heavy whipping cream) except Starbucks and I’m craving it right now. So, ssshhhhhh.)

Today is day 10 of our 12 day journey through the UK and the weather has decided it wants to be fickle by allowing the sun to peek through the beautiful and historic town only to smack you in the face 5 minutes later with its sideways rain and bitter temps.

It’s quite fun to people-watch as everyone is caught off-guard with the wind and rain while I’m warm and tended to. 

I think I’ll help myself to another hot and steamy Americano.

During one of my people-watching moments (which is my favorite thing EVER) I caught a glimpse of a beautiful woman walking with her luggage, most likely just entering Glasgow via the train. She had long, straight, blonde hair and was wearing what most women over here are wearing- a long camel, wool coat. Her long and skinny arm is extended before her, clutching tightly onto her phone. She is walking and talking whilst filming herself and documenting what will soon be her beautiful self drenched in Glasgow rain with darkness all around her. 

I’d pay $100 to see that video. I should have asked what her IG handle was, darn’t. 

Hindsight is always 20/20.

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We decided to visit Glasgow because this is the city where my grandpa grew up. The thick Scottish accents (very different from Edinburgh) and the smell of old men smoking reminds me of my precious grandpa. He had THE thickest Scottish accent and could always be found with a cigarette in hand. There is a familiarity about this city even though I’ve never been here before. It’s crazy how that happens. I guess the deep roots of family binds you to lands and people, even unknown to your heart and life. How truly powerful that is and what a beautiful segue to share why we came to these beautiful countries in the first place.

Truthfully, Chris and I have talked about visiting Scotland since we were first married, 16 years ago. With 50% of my makeup being Scottish, and his devout love for Braveheart’s William Wallace, we knew that someday we wanted to visit. Looking back, maybe it was the lack of money or 3 small kids or planting a church or starting a business or…. or…. or…. why we never made this dream a reality. Maybe it’s one of those. But more than that, it was a legitimate fear of mine to travel over water…. for that long. I know, I know. Stupid fear. But it was real.

Fast forward to last summer and my precious sister becoming an angel. Through that devastating loss emerged a “family” that we didn’t know we had. Hannah’s family and friends in Nashville quickly became our family and like the deep roots of family that I spoke of earlier, this too was true. 

When Hannah’s best friend announced that she was getting married…. in Ireland… in a castle…. our hearts did a little dance and we started dreaming again. Could we go? Could we make it happen financially? Could we take time off work? Could we be gone from our kiddos for 12 days? COULD I FLY OVER WATER FOR 9 HOURS???? 

When I shared with the bride/groom that we were wanting to attend their wedding because Hannah would have attended, she asked if Chris could officiate the wedding. She said that Hannah had always wanted Chris to perform her wedding, if/when she ever got married.

Queue the freaking tears. 

And then….

I was sharing about our desire to travel to the UK to some good friends who are originally from England. I began to (secretly) ask if they knew of a way that I could get tickets to an english premiere game IF we travelled over there. (For those who know my husband, this is his #1 bucket list item.) Their exact words were, “Let us make some calls.” 

And then God did His thing.

This family gifted us two tickets to the Manchester United vs Arsenal soccer match. 

Queue the tears again.

So now we NEEDED to go. It was no longer just a dream. We were going.

I kept all of this a secret from Chris until I surprised him on Christmas Day with tickets to the game. (Secrets are good sometimes, wink wink) I saved my own money and bought/paid for all our flights and lodging before I gave him his gift. When he opened it, he was speechless. First, because he couldn’t believe he was going. Second, because he couldn’t believe that I booked/paid for everything in advance. 

I scored some serious wifey points that day 🙂

And the rest is history… or present day… or whatever.

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The sun is shining now and Glasgow has decided to gift everyone the opportunity to remove their hoods and plastic pram covers and to collapse their umbrellas.

I take my earbuds out to give the barista my empty, lipstick stained coffee mug and my eyes catch a couple of scraggly kids hitting each other with sticks at the next table. By the looks on their faces, they aren’t playing around. At first glance, they seem to be parent-less, but then a frazzled looking man, barely holding onto a toddler, comes rushing over from the bathroom to address the children’s behavior. My guess is that he was in the restroom holding up his son to the dryer as his pants were drenched from the rain just a couple minutes prior. 

I can’t help but stare at these squabbling, shoulder-haired boys who are shoeless due to their quick ability in kicking off their rain boots upon sitting down. 

Man do I miss the HECK out of my kids right now. 

I immediately get lost in thought about all the beautiful fights I’ve had to referee over the years (absence makes the heart fonder you guys) and am brought back to reality when the little boy locks eyes with mine as he receives a gentle scolding from his father. I quickly look away as to not embarrass him. My mama’s heart tells me to do so. 

All in all, I’m ready to come home…. and not just because my shellac is peeling off my nails. I’m ready and rested for the messy house, the fighting kids, the busy work schedules, the taxes that have to be paid, the kitty litter that needs changing, the morning workouts and lower carb meals, the 60 soccer practices, 30 soccer games and all the hard stuff.

All. Of. It.

Because one thing that this trip has taught me is that I can do hard things. I can press through the anxiety of flying over the ocean and be ok. I can spend 12 days without my kids and be ok. I can travel through foreign lands and be ok. In fact, all of these scary things have actually emerged into beautiful and lovely gifts.

What a facade they used to dress themselves in.

Jerks.

You guys, I did it scared. It’s crazy how we can build up scary things until they “appear” bigger and stronger than us when in fact they aren’t. And if you really want to go there, it’s me that made them big and scary. I gave them power to defeat me.

I can assure you that it won’t be another 16 years until the next trip. How do I know? Because each day I will conquer little things that scare me and little by little, these scary things will begin to serve me instead of me serving them. They will have less power to defeat me because I am in control of what I give power to.

Mic drop 🙂

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Traveling 12 days through the UK pretty much makes me an expert now (LOL) so I’d love to share with you what we learned through our travels (aka what worked and what didn’t). The plan is to publish a post on each country and I’ll try to include everything I can remember to help anyone that might travel to any of these countries. 

Thanks for following along! 

Next up, Ireland!

Love, Audra 

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