Monday, June 17, 2013

An Introduction to Newbold House, Forres - Scotland

We wake up early in Inverness but decide to indulge in the spa and steam room downstairs before breakfast to relax our tired muscles.  It has been a long 2 days getting here and the chance to sit in some bubbles and do nothing is inviting.

After breakfast we will make our way to Newbold House, in Forres - Scotland, which will be our first communal living experience.  We are here as community guests, which means we get board and lodging in exchange for volunteering half a day as well as a small financial contribution.

During our stay in Europe we will travel using local transport wherever possible.  We are fortunate that the bus stop is just outside our hotel in Inverness.  We are told to look out for the No. 10 bus and it arrives soon enough.  Thankfully, we are travelling light, a daypack and backpack each, so catching local transport won’t be too much of a hassle.

The trip to Forres takes us through incredibly beautiful countryside; wide open moors that stretch for miles, ablaze with yellow gorse.   I am torn between wanting to make use of the internet on the stagecoach and enjoy the scenery.   We reach Forres in an hour and decide to walk the 30 minutes to Newbold House. 

It is a stunning village with incredible sandstone houses, each one completely different to the other.  The gardens are a mass of tangled colour and we stop for photographs and to reassure one of the locals who thought we had got lost on the way to the airport.  I guess it isn’t everyday that you see a couple of strangers dragging their luggage behind them on the streets of Forres. 

We can’t believe our luck when we finally arrive at Newbold House.  The impressive sandstone mansion is from the Victorian era and the massive room we are shown into almost big enough to be a studio apartment.  We settle in quickly and relax in the outdoor conservatory, and enjoy the warm weather we seem to have brought to Scotland.

On Sunday we begin what will be a typical day during our stay here.  We choose to go for meditation early morning but this may not be a regular feature.  After an assortment of fruit and cereal for breakfast we have a meeting.  There is a mix of volunteers and long-term community members here and the day begins with a bit of sharing and getting to know each other and then apportioning the chores that need to be done.  We start wiht garden duty on Day 1.  Working hours for us are from 9.30-12.30 with a half hour tea-break.  We enjoy being outdoors in the warm sunshine we have been blessed with.  I feel happy and free from the hustle and bustle of my life in OZ. 

The morning is over almost before it started and we have the rest of the day to ourselves.  It is wonderful to have our meals cooked for us.  They are mostly vegetarian and I enjoy the fresh salads, soups, lasagne…. made straight with produce from the garden.  Our first full day here has been wonderfully relaxing.  We indulge in some rest and a long walk in the beautiful countryside that surrounds us. 

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