When we started volunteering for Helpx stays a couple of years ago we knew we would get to see new and different parts of the world, and we knew we would get to learn a few new skills working in these new locations. What we never ever imagined was that we would get to meet and become friends with so many wonderful people.
Let me quantify that a little, perhaps we realised that we might get to know our Helpx hosts as we worked with and for them but we didn’t appreciate that there would be other helpers staying at some of these places. This has been especially true in Scotland where our annual summer stays in Pitlochry and Aberfeldy have enabled us to meet so many travellers.
Now you may think that ‘Kosta and Jazz’ is some sort of new cheese-based pasta dish. Or it could be a new-wave acoustic guitar duo from New Jersey. Or maybe even a crazy new Starbucks offering involving caffeine and muffins. You would be wrong on all counts. ‘Kosta and Jazz’ are a young Australian couple from Melbourne that happened to be working in Scotland at the same time as us.
When you’re thrown together with other couples you can never be sure if you’ll click and get along let alone become friends. Throw in the huge age difference of well over 35 years and it could be even more complicated. But from the moment we met we really liked them and I think they generally thought that we were ‘okay’.
Kosta’s family are from Crete hence the Greek name so he isn’t your normal Aussie guy, and Jazz comes from Frankston near Melbourne which we know well from our visit there. From sharing a lodge for a few nights to working alongside each other, we spent a lot of time in their company. And it was great.
Ben Vrackie and the Moulin
With the unreliable Scottish weather this year we had to make the most of the good days so decided to take our young Aussie friends up to Pitlochry’s biggest mountain, Ben Vrackie. A beautiful afternoon for a walk even if it was a little breezy and we made it up to the lake at the foot of the final climb. The views were incredible and it gave us a real feel for the size of the Cairngorms. Absolutely stunning.
Coffee and a Cathedral in Dunkeld
Another afternoon saw us all leap in the Fiat and head south down the A9 to the little town of Dunkeld. Another coffee stop in a tiny little cafe where Jazz once again confused everyone with her non-coffee, non-specific, not-entirely-sure drink order. Funny to watch but probably very annoying for Jazz never to get her weird-sounding drink!
Blair Atholl and the Watermill
We had decided early on that we would all go along to the Highland Gathering at Blair Atholl on the final Sunday of their stay as it would be great for them to experience some real traditional Scottish Highland Games and see what all the fuss was about. We’d tried to explain what ‘tossing the caber‘ was but I think it’s something you just have to see for yourself isn’t it?
Unfortunately the weather wouldn’t have it and the rain was torrential on the Sunday morning. Gutted, we went to Blair Atholl anyway but headed for the beautiful Watermill cafe instead. Three of Kostas friends who happened to be in Scotland met us there for a coffee and a chat before the five of them eventually braved the weather and went to the Gathering. Jo and I gave it a miss as we’d seen it last year in much better weather (Atholl Highland Gathering).
Coffee and Annies in Pitlochry
Our final trip out with the Grozzies (Greek and Aussies. Grozzies? Does that work?) was into Pitlochry for a relaxing coffee stop, a bit of a wander around the shops, some jewellery shopping in our neighbour Annies shop, and a slow river walk. Loads of laughs, lots of mickey-taking, and memories to last a lifetime.
A Greek Tragedy
Here’s an incredible story. As you now know, Kosta is of Greek descent although he was born in Australia and lives in Australia. Greece however has a strange law regarding national military service whereby they consider anyone with Greek heritage or parentage to be Greek and thus liable to be called up. Kosta was planning on visiting relatives in Crete in June and needed proof of Australian residence otherwise he would be detained at the border and forced to serve 2 years national service. Crazy huh?
To get this residence form he needed to get the train to Edinburgh, walk to a private residence, get the Greek Embassy lady who lived there to verify his passport, and fax the form to his Mum in Melbourne to deliver to the Greek embassy there. So complicated and a real worry but after a long day he got it sorted. Much relief all round.
Travel and New Friends
Once again we’d met some wonderful people from the other side of the world and made some fabulous friends. This really was something we had never ever envisaged when we first set out over four years ago. So it was with heavy hearts that we dropped Kosta and Jazz at Pitlochry station as they set off for the next stage of their European tour. Hopefully we’ll all keep in touch and get together again in the future.
10/05 – 26/05/2019