Baileys Take Britain | What We Packed

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Full disclosure over here – I obsessed over what to pack for our trip long before I worried my way through other semi-important details, like where we were staying and how we would get there. You see, when I am thoughtful in my packing I can really nail it. But when I don’t consider it carefully, I somehow end up overpacked in terms of how much I bring, but also under-packed in terms of appropriate outfits. So this time, I erred on the side of being over prepared and perfectly packed. I’ve linked to our favorite couldn’t-live-without-items, a few of which we purchased specifically for the trip, but for the most part we packed favorite items we already owned.

We both brought our phones and used them whenever wifi was available (I also added a temporary international plan with Verizon), and Joe borrowed a tablet from a friend so that he could submit work for his graduate classes while we were away. We each brought a novel for entertainment, plus we snagged a crossword puzzle book in the airport which we got a lot of use (and laughs) out of. I hemmed and hawed over camera gear to bring – I knew that it would probably be best on my anxiety level to leave my 6D at home on account of it’s weight and value to me. I opted to bring my hardworking little guy, the Canon SL1, and after going back and forth on which lens to bring (I wanted to limit myself to just the one), I brought my Canon 35mm. That lens is wonderful on the cropped body camera, and I’m so glad I chose it over the 50 mm, which would have been way too cropped in several scenarios. With that camera and lens combo, I knew I’d get great quality images but wouldn’t be weighing down my bag.

Speaking of bags – we packed in carry ons only! Joe and I both borrowed backpacks from friends for the trip, and packed everything we needed for the trip into those two bags. In addition to the backpack, I also carried this Camera Bag, which was 100% perfect for my gear. I could fit my camera with a lens, my petite wallet, sunglasses, lip balm, cell phone, and could even cram an umbrella in there when I needed to. If you’re traveling with a camera and love a nice leather bag, this baby is the ticket. We also brought along this Collapsible Daypack, which we filled with souvenirs and used as Joe’s personal item on the flight home. It also came in handy during hikes. These Packing Cubes were another winner, and made unpacking and repacking our bags seamless.

Aside from the bags and camera, the other item I worried about the most was our footwear. We anticipated wet weather (but got so lucky and avoided it for the most part) and I wanted to make sure we both had waterproof options that didn’t require lots of space or clunky looks. I rotated through these waterproof and ultra comfy Ankle Boots and a pair of black Nike sneakers that I snagged right before we left. I also packed a pair of Birkenstock sandals, but I only wore them one day and could easily have left them at home. Joe brought a regular pair of sneakers and a pair of waterproof walking shoes. All of our footwear was comfortable for walking 8 or more miles a day, and went well with the clothes we brought. There were no blisters or foot pain at all, which was wonderful.

We stuck to neutrals with our clothing items and packed with layering in mind. Temperatures ranged from 50-70 degrees, and we had wind in a lot of places. I wore these Ankle Pants, these Leggings, or skinny jeans each day. I packed 1 long sleeve top, 3 short sleeve tees, 2 tanks, 2 sweaters, 2 cardigans, and 1 dress for variety. I wore this Anorak Jacket almost every day as my outer layer, and it was perfect for a crossover between active hikes and urban city walks. Joe wore jeans, these Shorts, or these Travel Pants every day with a rotation of 6 short sleeve tees, 1 long sleeve tee, and 1 polo, with a rain jacket and 1/4 zip pullover for outer layers. We went basic on the toiletries, but the MVPs in that arena include the dry shampoo and febreeze. We ended up not needing the bug spray or sunscreen, and I’m happy that I only packed a single jewelry option.

All in all, I think we did a great job covering all of our packing needs, and we were easily able to carry our packs around for our two adventurous weeks.

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In list form, what to pack for two weeks in England and Scotland in June – carry on style:

  • three pairs of bottoms – skinny jeans, lightweight black pants, black leggings
  • eight tops – 1 long sleeve, 3 short sleeve, 2 tanks, 2 sweaters (stripes and neutrals)
  • one dress – for an impromtu garden party or seeing a play
  • two cardigans + one jacket – perfect for layering purposes, jacket = water resistant
  • two scarves + 1 set of jewelry – simple jewelry and scarves for a pop of color
  • three pairs of shoes – ankle boots, sneakers, sandals
  • cotton pajamas – keep warm on the cool highland nights
  • undergarments + socks – with packing cubes, pack enough for fresh undies each day
  • toiletries – super basic on makeup; face wipes, dry shampoo, and febreeze advised
  • converter + portable charger – UK specific converter, plus any chargers needed
  • backpack + camera bag – for all carry on packing needs
  • camera, wallet, sunnies, umbrella – all purse essentials
  • passport – leave in safe, have easy access to a copy
  • travel friendly credit card – Capital One Venture card was perfect for us
  • book + journal – something to read and a place to record everything you did!

 

Well folks, that’s a wrap! Thank you so much for following along.

Until the next adventure,

Cheers!

 

Photo | Megan + James

Oh, my heart! Joe and I have been so blessed by this sweet couple and their friendship. They’re salt of the earth and truly delight in each other. The path they’ve journeyed up to this point could only ever be created by God, full of challenges and trials, but with love always triumphing. Megan and James, it has been a pleasure to walk along part of your story! We’re beyond excited to celebrate you this weekend.

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Megan – you’re positively angelic! We actually busted out these shots in a quick twenty minutes before we headed over to that night’s main event – the Greek festival in downtown Baltimore! I wanted to get in some practice with a new lens I was trying out before a scheduled shoot that Sunday, and after asking around, Megan and James were free to model for me. These two were such naturals that I barely even had to direct them, and I know they’ll look stunning for my photog friend, Kira Nicole, on their wedding day!

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Congratulations, lovebirds!

The One with Prayer

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As I sit in the middle of piles of photos and laundry to sort through, I’m struck with a wave of sadness.

Another shooting. Senseless violence and loss.

And honestly, the simple thing to do would to just keep my head down and go about my business – that’s the benefit of privilege. But that’s not the life Christ has called his people to. He continually called his followers to hard places, fighting injustice and giving voices to those being silenced. I am just one person, with a very limited reach for how far my voice might project, but speaking up here is the right thing to do. Let us all say something – share our stories and experiences. Let us listen to our neighbors, what they’ve been through and how their experience has shaped their views. Let us engage in respectful dialog about what it looks like to make things better for our world right now, exactly where we are.

And for the love and grace and mercy of God, let us pray.

 

When terrorists attack our churches and nightclubs, let us pray.

When our friends and brothers are killed because of their skin color, let us pray.

When our police officers are killed because of their job, let us pray.

When our headlines are filled with deaths, let us pray.

 

A few things that have helped me process, and that might help you, too:

Around this time last year when the Baltimore riots were fresh, our church held an open dialog about what it looks like to discuss the issues of injustice in a way that is reflective of Christ. Something that stuck with me from that conversation is that as Christians, people against injustice and in support of public servants, is that we are called to hold tension between being against police brutality and being for the police. These things are not mutually exclusive. Here is the podcast link if you’re interested.

What has also helped me is gaining an understanding of the #blacklivesmatter posters that sit in my neighbor’s yards. At first, I thought that #alllivesmatter was probably a better statement, that no one life was more important than the other. But through conversations with neighbors and friends, I realized that #alllivesmatter undermines the entire point of #blacklivesmatter. The concept behind #blacklivesmatter is that throughout history, black lives have been held at a lesser value. And while in the 21st century we would like to think this isn’t true, cracks in our justice system show that black lives are devalued to this very day. #blacklivesmatter is a symbol that brings this issue to the forefront – it states that this injustice exists in modern society.

This article by Design Mom has helped me gain a lot of footing here, and this article on Sojourners gave great points from a biblical perspective.

A disclaimer that likely belongs on all of my posts: these are my thoughts and opinions, never absolutes or even always the right answers. I encourage further conversations about this from different perspectives, and appreciate respectful language in that regard. What I hope and pray for at the end of the day is that we can work together towards a more complete understanding of the issues at hand, so that while building our future we can do better. In these hard and painful times, let our words and prayers bring us together. Now is the time for unity, at the throne of God, begging for healing for our broken world.

 

Baileys Take Britain | Scotland

Scotland was hands down our favorite part of the trip. Heck, it might be the most beautiful place I’ve ever been to. It is so lush and green and wonderful, offering endless places to explore. We spent a very full week in Scotland, starting and ending in Edinburgh, and driving our way through the highlands in between. Scotland is our must-go-back place, if only for the scenery.

We began with two days in Edinburgh, and stayed at the sweetest little bed and breakfast right near the city center. I would go back and do my entire honeymoon at this bed and breakfast, it was just that great. With Bells Brae as our home base on the Water of Leith, we made our way up and down the Royal Mile. We spent a solid two hours touring Edinburgh Castle, followed by the Scotch Whiskey Experience, then walked down to Holyrood Palace, which was unfortunately closed because of royals in residence. We then climbed Arthur’s Seat for an incredible view of the city (and a face-full of wind). We found some great pubs in Edinburgh for food, and were easily able to walk everywhere we needed in the city. Edinburgh was our favorite city that we visited because of its history and the overall feel of the city – not too stuffy, easy to maneuver, and just friendly all around.

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After two wonderful days in Edinburgh, we headed north. Or really, northeast and then northwest, with a stop at St. Andrews before moving on towards Inverness. We putted our way through the Himalayas at St. Andrews, just adjacent to the old course. After a quick round, we moved on towards Inverness with a stop at Blair Castle (not totally worth it, but the bagpipes and narwhal tusks were cool) before making our way to Culloden, the battlefield where thousands of highlanders lost their lives for the Jacobite cause. We loved getting to experience that piece of history by walking through the moor. We opted to stay in Drumnadrochit instead of Inverness, which afforded us a great view of Loch Ness and proximity to the Urquhart Castle, which we did first thing the next day. We briefly explored Inverness one evening and found it to be nice and quaint, but were very pleased with our choice to stay in Drum. Urquhart Castle was our favorite castle stop, with the stone ruins set against the sparkling blue waters of Loch Ness. At the suggestion of our Edinburgh hosts, we opted out of a Loch Ness cruise and for a hike to Glen Affric instead. This was totally worth the stop as the views of Glen Affric, appropriately named the most beautiful glen in Scotland, were nothing short of stunning.

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One of my favorite things about Scotland is just how pretty literally every corner of the country is. We spent a fair amount of time in the car driving from Loch Ness to Isle of Skye, and then once on Skye, there’s really no other transportation option than to drive by car, but even with all of that drive time, it never got old gazing out the window at the green cliffs and mountains that would spring up from nowhere. Isle of Skye was absolutely breathtaking, with some of the most unique rock formations and scenery in all of Scotland. We loved our time there, and could easily have spent an entire week exploring the landscape of that curious little island. When we could finally tear ourselves away from the views, we hit the road back towards Edinburgh (this was our longest driving day, a total of 8 hours when all other days were 4 or less), making stops at Stirling Castle and Rosslyn Chapel. Rosslyn Chapel was my favorite abbey/chapel/cathedral that we visited. It’s a tiny gem of a place, filled with ornate carvings and intrigue. I loved every second of our tour, and am so glad we got to see it. After our stop at Rosslyn, we made our way back to Edinburgh for a final evening of gathering last minute gifts before making our way back to London the next morning.

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Our must-see Scotland stops:

  • Edinburgh, specifically the Castle and Arthur’s Seat
  • Culloden Moor
  • Urquhart Castle and Loch Ness (stay in Drumnadrochit)
  • Glen Affric
  • Isle of Skye, specifically Kilt Rock and Quiraing (stay in Portree)
  • Rosslyn Chapel

Our Scotland tips:

  • Secret Scotland Tours – this site has extensively detailed driving tour itineraries of Scotland, and is seriously incredible. We purchased the Scenic 4 Day Tour and Accommodations Guide for a mere twenty pounds, and used that as the basis of our trip. We varied a lot from the tour, but having all of that wonderfully detailed information made me feel confident enough to plan an itinerary that worked best for us. We highly recommend using this company!
  • Drive carefully! There are a lot of roads that don’t even have room for two-way traffic, so get used to proceeding with caution. Also, don’t pop a tire like we did.
  • Be productive with your drives. Getting around Scotland via rental car is an easy way to travel, but there’s no use in just driving from Point A to Point B in a day – check out sights that are along the way and stop at a few! This is how we planned our driving routes, and it broke up the trip and we got to see a lot more this way!
  • Stay at bed & breakfasts and get to know your hosts. They’ll have great local advice on where to eat and stops to make.
  • Pack for wet weather. We never actually got soaked, which was awesome! There were a couple of times where it would rain lightly, but it was always when we were walking from one place to another, so it was never bad. We got super lucky with this weather, but it’s always best to be prepared!
  • Plan for as many days as you can, then add a couple more. The only thing we would change about our trip is that we wished we had spent more days in Scotland and maybe a day or two less in London. While we got to see the things we wanted, there was easily more we could have packed into an extra couple of days.

For the long-story-short version: we loved every inch of Scotland we got to explore. I’m so glad that our trip planning evolved into what it was, and that we were able to learn and see and do so much! Shout out to our dog-watching family, house-watching friends, and all of our many cheerleaders along the way – we couldn’t do it without you!