Ten Things Books Have Made Me Want to Do After Reading Them

1.) Write – Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott

My mentor at L’Abri this past Spring, upon learning that I write, got me hooked on Anne Lamott.  She leant me Bird by Bird and after tearing through it (laughing all the way), all I wanted to do was write for days.  Her writing style felt like coming home.

2.) Become a wizard – Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling

How can you engage in Rowling’s world and NOT want to become a wizard?  (Have you seen the new Fantastic Beasts trailer yet?  Doesn’t it look amazing?!) Continue reading

Edinburgh: City of Light and Dark

I’ve spent the past couple of days exploring Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland.  Now, this isn’t my first visit.  I was here a few years ago while studying abroad… but a weekend just wasn’t enough.  The historic city stole my heart and I knew I had to come back.

I spent two full days in the city and was easily able to see all I wanted, and then some.  I Now, I decided to avoid paying for things I’ve already done, which means I didn’t go into Edinburgh Castle or take an underground tour.  I learned about the turbulent, divided history during my bus tour, so I skipped doing a walking tour.  Sightseeing in Edinburgh is easy and my hostel is well positioned on the Royal Mile, which means everything was a short walk away.

During these two days, I did all sorts of things.  I climbed Arthur’s Sat, the volcanic mountain in the middle of the city.  I toured Holyrood Palace on a whim and was swept away into Scottish history.  I spent hours in the National Museum of Scotland and Scottish National Gallery.  This morning, I attended church in the historic St. Giles Cathedral.  I went for evening strolls up to the castle in the rain.  I walked up Calton Hill and visited all the monuments.  I lingered in coffee shops, cafes, and pubs.

Some of my favorite time, though, was spent lingering in quiet places–sketching the city on Arthur’s Peak, reading poetry in the Princes Street Gardens, wandering solo through narrow streets.

I feel as though I’ve drunk my fill of the city, but I’m sure I’ll be back someday.

It’s time to move out of English speaking waters.  Next stop: Amsterdam!

Over the Sea to Skye

Scotland, you have stolen my heart once again.  My past three days have been spent exploring the Highlands and Island of Skye.

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Being a single explorer with a desire to explore the vast wilderness of Scotland, I decided that the best way to taste my fill of nature was by taking a bus tour.  The thing about but tours is that they’re expensive, but they provide all kinds of facts I never would have known on my own.  Instead of fretting over catching busses and figuring out train times, I sat back, relaxed, and absorbed thrilling tales of faeries and Jacobite rebellions.

Two of the days were spent traveling across the Highlands, with one full day on Skye.  We spent the night in the adorable coastal town of Portree.  Although known for its rain, the first two days of the trip were sunny and gorgeous.  The visibility on the island was incredible!  At points, we could see all the way to the outer Hebrides–a rare feat.

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I saw a lot during my trip… attempting to go into everything would suck up time that I don’t have.  So, here are some photos from the Isle of Skye.  I’ll post more from the Highlands later.

In the meantime, I’m in Edinburgh for a few days and look forward to exploring the capital of Scotland.

European April

Once again, I find myself beginning a journey.

Leaving L’Abri yesterday morning nearly broke my heart.  I don’t feel up to writing about it at the moment… partially because it’s still so raw.  Also, I stepped straight into another adventure and haven’t had time to process everything.

So how about we talk about my travel plans?  You see, for the month of April, Keep Your Feet is becoming a travel blog as I make my way across Europe.

I’ve been waiting my whole life for this trip.  Yes, I travelled as much as I could during my semester abroad two and a half years ago.  This is different, though.  I have no school holding me back.  In fact, I have nothing holding me back!  It’s just me, my backpack, and a small carry-on with wheels for the next month.

My itinerary is PACKED.  I’m spending approximately a week in Scotland, Holland, Germany, Austria, and four days in the Czech-Republic.  When I head back to America on April 29, I’m going to be two things: broke and exhausted.  It’s going to be worth it.

Technically, my journey began last night.  I’m currently located in the village of Portree on the Isle of Skye in the Scottish Highlands.  Last night, I caught a bus from London to Edinburgh… which almost was a terrible idea.  The bus was supposed to get to Edinburgh at 6:30 AM.  Due to a series of delays, it actually got there at 8:40 AM–ten minutes AFTER my bus tour was scheduled to leave.  Thankfully, I’ve been to Edinburgh before, knew my way around, and was able to catch my tour.

Although I’m physically and emotionally exhausted from leaving L’Abri, I’m already having a marvelous time.  After spending three months surrounded by people, it’s nice to be independent again.  It’s also nice to have Internet!  The Highlands are absolutely stunning.  I’ve recognized several stops from my last time through, but there have been many unexpected surprises–such as a photo-op at Eilean Castle.  I get to tour it on Friday, so this is just a sneak peak!

  
Stay tuned for more #EuropeanApril

Halloween in Scotland: A scary story from my time abroad

I kind of dropped the ball on Halloween this year.  After briefly considering slapping together a “Hipster Belle” outfit, I abandoned the idea after an unsuccessful thrift store run.  Then school took over my life, and holidays were out of the picture completely.  It’s been a blast, though, seeing my fellow students wandering out campus in various costumes.  I’ve passed Loki, demonic bunnies, Anna from Frozen, pirates, Homestuck characters, Mario and Luigi, Link, Catwoman, and many others.  I did a double take as I passed one of my former professors dressed in a gorilla suit.

In light of my lack of plans, how about I tell about what happened to me around Halloween last year?  It’s a pretty good story, and fits the holiday well.

A year ago, I was in Edinburgh, Scotland.  We took the morning train up from London and spent the afternoon wandering the streets, touring the castle, and dining at the Elephant House (the cafe where J.K. Rowling wrote the first few Harry Potter books.)

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View from Edinburgh Castle.  Photo by me.

Once the sun had set, we did a ghost tour of the oldest parts of the city.

Guided by a charismatic young Scotsman named Hugh, we wandered around St. Giles Cathedral, down some of the closes, and learned about public hangings, beheadings, and the nightly gardyloo (where everyone dumped their chamber pots into the street).  We then went indoors and Hugh showed us a room filled with medieval torture devices.  He explained how all of them work.  Let me tell you… Edinburgh was a VIOLENT city.

Then, we went into the secret underground vaults.  These vaults had been used way back when for tons of different purposes, varying from illegal pubs, hiding spaces from fires, and a place for homeless people to escape from punishment (apparently, it wasn’t legal to be homeless in the medieval times).  Then, at some point, they had been locked up, forgotten, and left to fester for over a hundred years.  They were rediscovered by some students in the 1970’s.

When I hear ghost tours, I usually expect interesting historical stories mixed with the occasional story about a creepy incident that happened there.  There’s a hint of reality to the hauntings, but mainly shameless tourism and fun history.

Yeah… that’s not the case in Scotland.

The vaults we entered were home to all sorts of horrific events.  Murders, cholera, famine, plague, rape, violence, brawling, people locked in and left to go blind and die, and countless cases of violence followed by rape followed by gang rape followed by murder.

There was a Wiccan temple in one of the rooms, all lit up and decorated in colorful banners and trappings.  There was a room with a stone circle where the Wiccans had supposedly trapped a demon.  In one of the rooms, Hugh made the girls stand on one side of the room and boys on the other.  Apparently, people were frequently tossed about violently by unseen forces and separating the genders sedated the activity.  We were then told that the room we were in was the most haunted room in Scotland.  At this point, my friends Mackenzie, Anna, and Marisa and I huddled close together.

It was, without a doubt, the darkest place I had ever been.  The very air felt evil.  As Hugh guided us from room to room, telling us story after story of the ghosts that haunt the place, I could feel their dark presences.  Being a Christian, I knew that I was protected from all forces of darkness, but that night I learned all too well what it feels like to be in the presence of demons.  I could feel them reaching out at me, scraping at my spirit like fingernails on a blackboard.

When the tour finally ended and we stepped into the cool Scottish night, Anna turned to us and said, “That was the worst place I’ve ever been.  I need a drink.”  So we finished the evening at the hostel’s bar sipping cider and thinking about our tour of the Highlands the next day.

This all happened the night after Halloween.  It’s the scariest story I have to tell, and I hope it stays that way.  The thing about my encounter is that forces of darkness are real and coming face to face with them changes your perspective.  It’s not something you easily forget.

So there you have it, readers.  My scary Halloween story.

What’s the scariest thing to ever happen to you?

Or, here’s a lighter question: What did you dress up as for Halloween?

Friday Favorites 8

It’s the final day of my school week and after a two and a half hour lecture on media literacy, you could say I’m trying to cling to whatever bits of joy I can.  So, what better way to cheer me up than with another Friday Favorites?

This book:

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Originally recommended to my mother by extended family, I recently picked up the novel Outlander by Diana Galbadon.  It tells the story of Claire Beauchamp, a nurse recently reunited with her husband in the aftermath of World War II.  While vacationing in Scotland, Claire touches a mysterious stone and finds herself transported back in time to the year 1743.  Alone amid the tribal clans of the Scottish Highlands, she finds herself torn between returning to her own time and the love she finds in her new life.

I’m not very far into the book yet, but so far I’m enjoying it!  After studying abroad in the UK, I tend to latch on to anything that brings me back.  The characters are interesting and engaging, and the story definitely appealing. I love the historical elements, especially Claire’s perspective and experience from WW II in contrast with the warlike Highlands and (impending) Jacobite rebellions.

My main issue with the book is the amount of steamy romance.  I enjoy a love story as much as any other girl, but the constant sex is more than mildly irritating.  I find myself skipping pages at a time to avoid all the passionate bits.

This kitten:

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My older brother keeps sending me pictures of the kittens at home, resulting in me squirming around on the floor because they’re too adorable for me to handle.  (Much to the confusion and amusement of my roommates.)

This show:

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I started watching Arrow last Spring, having heard good things and seen bits and pieces about it on Tumblr.  However, with the semester ending, I only made it a couple episodes in until giving up.  Sometime this summer, though, I over heard some of my fellow camp staff gushing about how great it was.  My older brother, a comic book enthusiast, told me that it starts out slow and gets better as it goes along.  All parties insisted that season two was mind-blowingly-amazing.

I just finished the second, and most recent, season yesterday.  They were right.  Oh my goodness.  All my fandom “I CAN’T EVEN HANDLE THESE FEELS” urges are hard-core triggering.  It’s SUCH a fantastic show.

This song:

I first started listening to Bastille this summer, and this song has been in my head all week!

Have a great weekend!