Thanksgiving in a Scottish Palace!

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Our good friend Kat Lui is spending the fall semester teaching at the Wisconsin in Scotland program in Dalkeith, Scotland. This gave us the perfect chance to not only spend a second Thanksgiving in a row with Kat, but also to spend a few days and have Thanskgiving dinner in a palace. We flew from Dublin to Edinburgh on Wednesday evening, arriving to a rainy Edinburgh. We caught the airport bus to downtown Edinburgh, and my first glimpse of rainy Edinburgh was picture-perfect. It really is an amazingly beautiful city, with the castle and many other old buildings towering over downtown from on top of Castle Hill, all nicely lit at night. We wandered in the rain for a bit, then caught a cab out to Dalkeith House to link up with Kat, her brother Andy, visiting from London, and his girlfriend Elizabeth from Boston.

Thursday morning was a work day for both Kathleen and Kat, so I headed into Dalkeith and explored the town, then came back and hiked for a bit on the estate’s grounds. Dalkeith House sits in what is now a county park, consisting of about 1,500 acres, mostly wooded. There was still a fair bit of color on the trees, and with the colder temps it definitely reminded me of Wisconsin.

Thursday afternoon was Thanksgiving feast time. We gathered in the palace dining area with around 50 other folks at the Palace, students and visiting family members and friends. Henry, the Palace chef, had prepared a full American-style Thanksgiving dinner with the help of a number of students on kitchen duty. We started the celebration with everyone opening their Christmas crackers to find funny hats and toys. We then queued up for our dinner, which consisted of turkey, stuffing, cranberries, green beans, brussel sprouts and roasted potatoes, all in large portions.

After dinner, we had some time on our own, so Kathleen, Kat, Andy, Elizabeth and I went out and hiked around the Palace grounds. We returned to the house in time for the evening’s celebration, a traditional Scottish ceilidh. Yes, there was dancing. Yes, I did. Yes, there is video proof. No, you can’t see it. But you can see some pics below, and I hope to soon have some video of Kat, Andy and Elizabeth uploaded. A good time was had by all, and more importantly, nobody got hurt. Which, given the complexity of some of the dances they taught us, seems like a minor miracle.

Friday and Saturday we took time to explore Edinburgh with Kat. We were fortunate to have mostly sunny weather, a rarity in Edinburgh just like in Ireland. The Christmas markets had just opened as well, so we got a chance to explore those and sample a lot of good food along the way.

Saturday evening it was back to the airport for our flight home to Dublin. We had the good (mis-) fortune to share our flight with about 40 incredibly drunk football fans, so the flight was a little more exciting than we cared for - more on that later, maybe.

Hope you all had a good Thanksgiving!

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