Highlights of Living in Scotland: Our first 3 years

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Why did you move to Scotland from Australia? I’ve heard of the other way round, but, not here?

If only we had a pound for every time, somebody asked us that question.

You can read more about why we moved to the UK here – but here it is in just a few words: We felt like we had out-grown Australia. Don’t get me wrong, Australia is a fantastic place to live, but for us, we were losing our shine.

As multi-passionate people, our life together is about creating beautiful memories and slowing down our perception of time.

One day, our memories may be all that we have or at least be our greatest treasure. So, we plan to fill our hearts and minds with as many emotionally-charged, vivid memories as possible. This is our driving force behind each day. We live life as if we are making our movies.

Sure, it comes with its fair share of challenges but that is what being human is all about. Experiencing the good, the bad and the ugly. After all, every good story arc needs conflict and a protagonist, right?

How to be the writer, director, and producer of your life story

Allow us to share some of our strategies and experiences from the past 3 years that have assisted us in creating a wonderful life.

Plan trips and move to another country

We prepared our minds and hearts for our 34-hour trip from Australia to Scotland by planning for 9 months. We worked out what we needed to do before we left and what needed to be done after we arrived. We immersed ourselves in images and thoughts and created a vision to be living like a local in 8 weeks or less. And we nailed it, in under 6 weeks!

Australia-UK-Google-Earth

Measure the true value of things

As we were preparing to leave Australia, we sold and gifted ‘things’ that we had worked hard to acquire. This allowed us to measure a thing’s true value in our lives. I can honestly say that the vast majority of our possessions did nothing more than mark a time in our life when we thought we needed a thing to make our lives easier, more exciting, or, more to the point, happier. At the end of the day, as long as we had each other we were happy.

Be a tourist in your own country

Scotland and the rest of the UK are overflowing with places to visit and things to do. We didn’t have a car for the first 2 years but we didn’t let what we couldn’t do get in the way of exploring. Instead, we focused on what we could do – walking and travelling by train, bus and taxi. Here are some of the things we did:

  • Took a 2-day coach tour through the Scottish Highlands. My mum was visiting so that was a bonus that we could do it together.
  • Enjoyed mini-stays in Aberdeen, Inverness, Fife, and Edinburgh. We added things to our bucket list every day, like a boat cruise to the Isle of May to see the Puffins.
Aberdeen-beach

  • A friend treated us to a guided tour of Helensburgh – former home to John Logie Baird, the inventor of the television.
  • Day trips to Glencoe to reflect on this beautiful part of the world and to remember the infamous massacre of 1692.
  • Imagined Harry Potter walking through the halls of the Glasgow City Council Chambers.
Glasgow-city-council-chambers

  • Experienced Scotland’s brutal past on the Culloden Battlefields.
Culloden-battle

Culloden-clan-fraser
family-bus-travel
Scotland_England-road-trip-route-map
  • After our Scotland road trip, we enjoyed a second 7-day road trip from Glasgow down to Cornwall in England. On our trip, we explored Merlin’s Cave on the island of Tintagel Castle, said to be the birthplace of King Arthur. We drank from the healing waters of Glastonbury’s red and white springs.
  • Wandered the rocky beaches below Culzean Castle in Ayrshire.
Culzean-Castle-Ayrshire
  • Walked in the shoes of royalty in Stirling Castle and Edinburgh Castle.

Pay close attention

  • Marvelled at the intricate carvings in Rosslyn Chapel, as featured in Dan Brown’s novel The Da Vinci Code.
  • Watched the changing colours of Glasgow City from the snowy hills of Cathkin Braes and again from the Necropolis.
Glasgow-City-snow-Cathkin-Braes
Glasgow-city-view-necropolis-sunset
  • The taste of fresh, soft Scottish water. You don’t need to worry about chemicals or bacteria. You can drink straight from the tap. Your tea tastes great and your hair and skin stay soft.
  • The presence of lichen on trees indicates good air quality. Lichens are very sensitive to air pollution and aren’t found in atmospheres that contain a lot of ozone, sulfur dioxide, or acid rain.
Castle-Mearns-path

Collect stories about people and places

  • Delighted in our friend’s drag performance as Bree Bombay.
Bree-Bombay-drag-queen
  • Treated to a private performance by Scottish Opera singer John-Anthony Graham. He shared fascinating stories about his National Youth Choir of Scotland days, including performing at The Dalhalla amphitheatre, a former limestone quarry in Rättvik, Sweden.

  • Walked in subterranean passageways beneath Glasgow’s streets, heard tales of the famous and infamous who have travelled the tracks and stood on the platforms during the official tour of Glasgow Central Station.
  • Enjoyed drams of whisky with beer chasers while swapping stories with American tourists on their annual whisky distillery pilgrimage.

Look for novelty and excitement

  • Experienced the world-famous Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo from the Edinburgh Castle Esplanade.
  • Attended world-class performances at the Scottish Events Campus (SEC) on the banks of the Clyde River: Jeff Wayne’s War of the Worlds, Frankie Valley and the Four Seasons and Marvel Universe Live. Went to the theatre and enjoyed the musicals Wicked and Little Pet Shop of Horrors.
  • Celebrated the festive season three times, including Hogmanay (Scot’s word for the last day of the year) and The Bells (when the clock hits midnight) while watching the fireworks (on TV) over Edinburgh Castle.
  • Grabbed a Cineworld Unlimited membership so we can see unlimited movies for an affordable monthly price throughout the year.
  • While walking randomly, I found a street in my father’s name: Bentinck Street in the West End.
Bentinck-street-glasgow
  • Viewed the lights along the River Clyde before sunrise and after sunset.
glasgow-night-lights
  • Enjoyed a motorbike/trike ride around Edinburgh City and the Firth of Forth.
edinburgh-trike-ride
  • Perused the collections and attended special events at the Mitchell Library.
  • Enjoyed the tastes of fruits and vegetables from around the world, including Spain, France, South Africa, Costa Rica, and New Zealand.
  • Collected cherry blossom petals to make pink waterfalls in the wind.
  • Enjoyed the Highland music of Clanadonia in Buchanan Street. They are Scotland’s high-energy blend of tribal rhythms, bagpipes, and tartan-clad mayhem. Their members have been entertaining for over 20 years with countless credits on stage, screen, radio, and TV – including playing at the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in 2014.
clanadonia-music-glasgow

Support your local community

  • Walked my first Pride march to support the LGBTQ+ community.
glasgow-pride-march
  • We support the preservation and protection of Scottish Heritage with our memberships with the National Trust for Scotland and Historic Environment Scotland. Our oldest son is also a member of the Scottish Wildlife Trust.
  • In 2013, we purchased a 200 sqft souvenir plot of land at Highland Titles Estate in Glencoe. The estate is owned by more than 200,000 people, so it can never be used for commercial purposes. Instead, the aim is to plant more trees, build more shelters for the animals that inhabit the reserves, and conserve the land for future generations.

Get Physical

  • Climbed more than 250 metres up the massive pinnacle of the Old Man of Storr on the Isle of Skye.
Isle-of-Skye-Old-Man-Stor
  • Played in the snow and trekked home in a blizzard when the weather put an end to all public transport.
  • Walked most of the streets in Glasgow City, including when they are nearly deserted once a year on New Year’s Day (1 January). There are no trains or buses until later in the day.
  • Climbed the 162 wooden steps up to the top of the Lighthouse designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh.
lighthouse-mitchell-lane-glasgow-charles-rennie-mackintosh

The Challenges

  • Paying 6 months’ rent in advance to secure a rental property, as we didn’t have a credit rating when we arrived.
  • Being served with a notice to vacate when our private landlord decided to sell the flat. Having to find a new 3-bedroom rental at short notice that was conveniently located and affordable.
  • Finding employment that pays the bills and gives you a good work-life balance. For the first 2 years or so, we worked shifts across 7 days, including bank holidays. We only recently moved into jobs working Monday to Friday that pay the bills and allow us some play money to enjoy our weekends.
  • Financing a car loan was not possible until we had been a resident for about 2 years. So if you want to buy a car straight away, bring the cash. Also, car insurance is very expensive during your first 12 months of residency. You’ll save a bag of money if you can wait a year.
  • Adapt your ear to the local accent and words used. It took us about 3 months before we were comfortable with most people. After 3 years, we are still learning new words and phrases.
  • The weather. It is cold most of the year. Fortunately, we had experienced similar weather where we lived in Australia but not for as long.
  • Unfortunately, many told us that our Australian wardrobes would not be warm enough and we’d be better off buying UK-weight clothing after we arrived. This is simply untrue. Most buildings are very warm, sometimes too warm, inside. All you need is an overcoat and wet weather gear, including waterproof shoes and bags. To be honest we enjoy the seasons and the cooler weather – except for the slippery ice. It hurts to fall.

There’s probably a lot more to include as good, bad or ugly. But for now, that’s all that quickly comes to mind. I will update this post from time to time.

What would you add to the above list?

If you’ve lived in Scotland, please share some of your vivid memories and tips for newcomers.

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