We spent a blissful 2 weeks at Bernie and Estrelita's, in Livingston, chilling out and informally house-sitting their lovely home while they were in the USA.
Bernie and Estrelita's house in Livingston
View from their front door
These 2 weeks simply flew by, with us not doing very much other than catch up with ourselves and enjoying a spacious, peaceful, fab-u-loos, non-moving home.
This reflective time allowed us to review how we were doing on our walkabout and we decided that prolonged periods of camper-vanning, with short overnight stops wasn’t ideal for us. We decided we need to spend longer in an area, and occasionally we need to have our feet on the ground, with a clean toilet at hand [hence the fab-u-loos reference]!
Out of this review grew the idea of formal house-sitting. So all systems go, we planned to line up a few sequential house-sits in France, Portugal, Spain and Italy, our intentions being [if we got such assignments], to spend a few weeks in each place, and to fill in the gaps between assignments in the van. So we subscribed to 2 online websites and started creating a website of our own, as a forum to advertise our services. Other than the text, we needed pictures to illustrate our abilities and credentials, so that Speedy-Jamie-the-Webman could get creating. Selecting pictures and writing words was quite fun, as can be seen below.
Gardener Sandi says: "What a lot I got."
Gardener Dave, fondling the produce!
With Jamie and Lis's Bali trip imminent, there was no time to waste.
Lis and Jamie
Jamie secured us a domain, and in record time, voila, www.goodhousesitter.com
was up and running, and we were ready for offers!
By now our B and E had arrived back from the States and we were enjoying some great friend-time with them.
For the next few days we engaged mainly in some excellent astrological consulting with Bernie, checking to see whether the stars and planets would provide clarity for us on several issues about which we had to make decisions.
In between we did a bit of gardening, helping Bernie put in some berry bushes and harvesting some fresh vittals!
Bernie working up an appetite!
Sometimes we just watched Estrelita take advantage of a sunny spell, while we sipped something fine, and she worked up a thirst!
Estrelita hard at work
Working 9 to 5, what a way to make a living!
Sandi and Bernie foraging for food
A Livingston Lovely lurking in B and E's garden
At night we had wonderful chats around the kitchen table, gorging on the delicious suppers Sandi cooked:
the old stand-by, Roman lamb, seafood chowder, Nye veg and ribbetjies bake, honey-glazed chicken wings etc. These feasts were declared so good that B and E declared they did not want to let us leave! What a way to make friends feel good!!
Bernie and the breakfast bib
Rude boy! Why do boys always play with their food?
Before leaving we visited Queen’s Ferry for brunch with Bernie.
Queen's Ferry is a cute village on the river Forth situated between two impressive bridges.
Queen's Ferry quaint high street
The road bridge over the River Forth
The River Forth rail bridge
At brunch we tried haggis for the first time! It is like a spicy, nutty mincemeat [made from sheep’s heart, lungs and liver with oatmeal and suet, all cooked up in a sheep’s stomach] - sounds a bit vile, but is actually rather delicious.
The much-maligned HAGGIS!
Wandering down the street we came across a little bookshop overflowing with used books.
The caretaker said to take as many books as possible, and to leave a small donation only if we felt like it.
What a dream! We staggered out there, laden with masses of reading material for the months ahead.
Who needs to pay a quid+ per book at the charity shops?!
We finally tore ourselves away from our South African pals on the Sunday, but not before being treated to a splendid traditional Scottish breakfast prepared by Estrelita - haggis and all, nog al!
Our first stop en route to Newcastle-on Tyne, for a few more days with our Bracchi pals, was the now famous Rosslyn Chapel, not far from Edinburgh.
In the past 2 years since Dan Brown included the chapel in his book [The Da Vinci Code] the number of tourists visiting has multiplied ten-fold.
The whole chapel has been covered with a “roof” for the past 10 years, while they work on restoration and drying it out.
Rosslyn Chapel with preservation works in situ
Rosslyn Chapel as it could be without the scaffolding!
Inside, it is small and as there were lots of people, it was not easy to move about freely.
The carvings and details are quite exquisite, inside and outside, and well worth the visit.
Rosslyn Chapel details of stonework
Rosslyn Chapel - part of the exquisitely carved interior
The Apprentice Pillar is so-named, according to an 18th century legend involving the jealousy of the master mason in charge of the stonework in the chapel, and the skill of his young apprentice. The apprentice carved this beautiful column in his master's absence, and on seeing it the master was so enraged with envy that he whacked him on the head with a masonry mallet and killed him. As punishment for his crime, the master mason's face was carved into the opposite corner to forever gaze upon his apprentice's pillar.
Apprentice Pillar inside Chapel