A rainy start as we boarded the bus for the scenic journey through the Sma' Glen, along the narrow roads through the villages of Amulree and Aberfeldy to the Scottish Crannog centre. This historic site gave us a 'taste' of what Scotland was like nearly 2500 years ago with exhibits, storytelling and the opportunity to have a go at traditional skills such as fire making, making a hole in rock or stone, weaving, using a lathe etc while wearing a traditional cloak. The sun came out (at times) and we were taken with the beauty of Loch Tay and the village of Kenmore reflected in the water.
We enjoyed our packed lunch on the bus and decided to return to Crieff on a less windy road, stopping at the Hermitage on the A9 for a walk and to allow us the time to reflect on the study visit. "Ossian's Hall was built in 1757 to 1758, to spark excitement as a viewing platform for the dramatic falls of the River Braan.". As there was a model photo shoot at the Hermitage, the Hall was being used as changing room and we were unable to experience the full atmosphere of the Hall but continued walking and delighting in so many different meaningful natural experiences on the way. Some of us strolled and enjoyed just 'being' in this environment, some used their cameras to record experiences while others saw this as an opportunity to go for a walk.
Claire called us together on a sheltered rocky outcrop and asked us to reflect and share our thoughts with each other. I feel that some of us were not yet ready to share as we had not had the time to fully absorb and reflect while others were ready to talk about their journey. Claire pointed out that sometimes we rush to reach a destination instead of enjoying the journey, that with cameras we may be so busy trying to capture rather than 'be' in the moment. Marg thanked AISWA for contracting me to be the photographer and blogger freeing her and colleagues up to really experience the environment. I pointed out that the flexibility and attention to detail and delegate need was important to the experience and thanked Claire for accommodating this hoping that we can offer similar flexibility when working with individual children. Other delegates shared how the study visit will change their practice and again I felt that for many this trip may have brought life changing moments.
We left the beauty of this magnificent forest behind and returned to Crieff via Perth. We had time to relax and prepare for the dinner party at the Crieff Hydro Hotel as this was our last evening as a group.
Beautifully laid tables and a scenic view completed the setting with everybody arriving for a before dinner drink and chat. Logan arrived dressed in his magnificent kilt playing his bagpipes while Claire's daughter, Emily, delighted us with her Scottish Highland dancing. (I spotted a few tears, this experience often evokes strong emotions). Claire also introduced us to her husband, Andy, and her son, Chris, - both looking very dapper in their kilts!
After dinner Valerie thanked Claire for hosting the AISWA study visit and presented her with a gift, Stacey thanked Sabine for all the work she has put in to make the visit such a success and presented her with a gift, Wendy thanked Emily for her beautiful dancing and presented her with a woven wicker heart, thanked and presented Logan with a gift of appreciation and thanked me for doing the photographing and blogging for the group. Claire then thanked and presented Scottish gifts to Valerie, Wendy, Stacey and Gail. Claire introduced the traditional Scottish custom of passing around the friendship Quaich .
Watching the group I was aware of very mixed emotions, delight at new or renewed friendships, happiness to be back with loved ones soon, sadness at leaving behind Scotland and many of us needing more time to reflect and plan for the future. I am sure that many of us will return to Scotland in the future.
The next morning most of the group departed on the coach to Edinburgh, lots of waving, tears and promises of keeping in touch.
Thank you to AISWA for funding such an amazing and life changing experience!