Vacation; Vacance; Vacating Your Mind From Worries

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I’m still swaying with a heady enchantment over the 4-day Easter weekend spent in Scotland with Will’s family. On Thursday afternoon we left work at 5pm, dashed to King’s Cross with our baggage — mine filled with practical yet presentable clothes, a springform cake pan to make an Easter cheesecake with, a wrapped-up bottle of Laurent Perrier rosé champagne to give as a gift, and a zip-pocket full of anxiety — and just 5.5 hours later we were out of the bustling city and surrounded by fresh soothing scenery of rolling green hills.

My idea of paradise isn’t a beach with azure waters, sandy sand and palm-treeish palms under a blazin’ hot sun. My idea of peace and relaxation is Scotland — idyllic countryside in a sea of fresh green grass, freshwater lakes (or, since we’re north — “lochs”). Woods to roam, hills to hike and drink in the scene below. Just enough of a dewy snap in the air temperature to instigate lots of canoodling under warm fleece blankets near the fireplace, or bundled up on the porch with a tumbler of watered whisky while drinking in the lake view.

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Up in Clunie, Perthshire — north of Glasgow and Edinburgh — we took walks every day, played golf and cooked delicious lunches and dinners. There was too much chocolate, everywhere and in all shapes, bakes and form (that ain’t a complaint).

It sounds like there isn’t much to do, no sights to tick off a jam-packed guidebook. That’s kind of the point — this is a real vacation, one where you can vacate your mind of the stresses of city and work life, which seem so far away and so inconsequential when you’re faced with the beauty of the land. And what therapy could be better than home-cooked meals (and a bountiful pantry and fridge) shared with family, rather than stressful restaurant-h(a)unting?

Having sung my praises, here’s the downside: it’s no fun if you don’t have your own home there or don’t know a good friend who does. Scotland can be really remote — I barely saw another face aside from our group the whole weekend! — an having your own place means having somewhere really comfortable to return to if it starts raining, or if you’ve had enough of the outdoors and just want to sit on the couch with a hot cup of tea, cookies and the U.S. Masters (golf) on the telly. And you need a car. It would be very difficult to wind down as comfortably if you had no car, and stayed at a dinky bed-n-breakfast not near a scenic lake, as Will’s house is.

So the top tip here is: see which of your friends’ parents have countryside houses, get on their good graces, and then move in. That last procedure is my current fantasy. But if you can’t get there, hope you enjoy these photos.

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