Scottish Adventures

Trip Start Aug 29, 2005
Trip End Aug 01, 2006

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Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Continued Scottish adventures

Cannot believe the 11 months are almost finished and have gone so quickly. Either we will never be writers for a living or we have been much busier in Scotland... So here is a little update to end our monologue.

Glasgow, for many, conjures up the image of the industrial heartland (ship building of Scotland) but really its name 'Dear Green Place' tells of its parks, its loveliness, its welcoming friendliness (ye aw rite hen?) and of course its 'city of culture 1990'. With the evidence of history along the Clyde; the ever present pipers (Isla is instantly searching for them at the first hint of music); the Indian take-aways; the 'colourful' language on the streets; the convenient public transport - especially trains; the brilliant parks; the stunning countryside ..... we will defin'a'tely miss Glasgow and Scotland. Aye...Even Aidan recognized that the Glaswegians speak English/Scottish although for the first week he did tend to clarify whether it was English or Bulgarian!

On another less glowing note - lots of statistics out there about Glasgow being the most violent place in the UK, the high number of knifings etc etc. Visit Buchanan Street any evening and apparently you can see some action....

If you remember our hunt for molasses in France at Xmas time to make gingerbread (with no success) - we were told that it was food for horses! - anyway, found treacle here, so we have had our gingerbread loaf!

After reading Hamish McHaggis and the Ghost of Glamis Castle, Aidan was convinced he had to investigate the castle for himself. Great visit - no ghosts found but stories of hidden passageways and a photo of the Queen Mother as a young girl - could have been a photo of our young friend Jane in Whitehorse - hmmm.

Ben Nevis - Scotland's (Britain's) highest mountain at 1344m ( 4435ft ). Towards the end of May, prior to the midges, we ventured up to Fort William by train through vastly different terrains. From the shores of Loch Lomond to the moors of the highlands (Rannoch Moor) with a bridge that conjured images of Harry Potter and trains. Met numerous people at the Youth Hostel - great spot for sociological studies!! Despite the rainy climes we managed halfway up the mountain. We had hoped to get higher, but still we were impressed (with the children and with views) - with one child in a backpack, another ½ walking ½ riding on shoulders. The eldest even managed to walk all the way down with minimal whining!! Even those who made it to the 1 ½ foot deep snow covered summit said there was no view given the thick cloud cover. Completely different than Jan's hike a few years ago - hot, sunny, brilliantly clear views. Ah well, the next visit to Scotland...

Falkirk Wheel - Yet another example of Scottish ingenuity! (among many) The only one of its kind in the world. Essentially an elevator for boats operating on the principle of counterweights. Built to eliminate the need for 10 or so locks in the Forth and Clyde canal (that would require an entire day of a boat's journey); it is truly a remarkable invention. Truly so simple and brilliant - it just needed a Scot to dream it up!!! Now if only we could get the folks in Falkirk to visit what is in their backyard!

Glasgow subway - an experience all its own. We have renamed it the Hobbit Express. Literally a tube that just allows the orange ROUND train with curved doors - even we felt we needed to duck to enter it off the wee platform. Great fun, round and round the circle.

Going to the Glasgow cinema: Another experience (some might say only because we come from 'way up north in Canada') Up 8 floors to 1 of 18 screens. First we were met by a large area with a huge array of food choices - ice cream, hot dogs, chocolate, popcorn - sweet, salty, plain, bulk sweeties - and all self serve. Then on to another hallway with 5 screen entrances - each with its own mini screen of technical data: projection size of 10.3 x 4.4m, 192 seats, Kinoton FP3D projector type, and all important 1.2 m of leg room space. Compare that to Air Transat! Then we were led through a dark maze to re-enter at the base of the screen where we climbed to our seats. WOW! And all for a mere £15 ($30) for 2 people - with popcorn! What an outing!! Okay, so we haven't been to a film together in about 4 years and we didn't have to pay for a babysitter (thank heavens for grandparents - how lucky we are).
Oh - we saw DaVinci's Code.

June/July saw World Cup fever and the ever present sentiment (at least in Glasgow) - never cheer for England is the motto of the Scots - instead cheer for Trinidad and Tobago because the surname of one of the players is Scotland!! Congratulations Italy - too bad for the French.

Islay and Island Life. Spent the first 2 weeks of July in Islay, the furthest south of the inner Hebridean islands. We had a stone house (painted white as were the majority) at the end of the lane with spectacular views of ocean, hills, Mull of Kintyre..... Our TV - watching from the window the frolicking bunnies, lambs, deer, and cows through the foxglove, clover, daisies, thistles and gorse while enjoying (us not the animals) a peat and coal fire while drinking a wee dram. On second thought, perhaps we will start to write travel books - we all know that they are full of flowery (ha ha) language and not necessarily 100% true, right???!! No electricity meant we were experiencing 19th century living at its finest. Visits to the beach ( a short wander from the house) gave opportunities for digging; fishing; watching seals, swans, and otters; and shivering in our fleece (on the odd occasion when we weren't burning 'neath the tropical sun). Actually we had brilliant weather at the beginning and even required sun cream!! Slept well and woke at 4 am to the lambs telling us that we had yet again closed the gate and they couldn't work the latch!!
Visited the woolen mill where all the tweeds for 'Braveheart' were made; educated ourselves on the whisky distilling process; walked/slogged through the boggy grounds; flew kites on a deserted 7 mile sandy beach; explored 15th century church grounds that holds one of the earliest Christian/Celtic crosses still standing.
Peat - used for burning, flavouring whisky, and providing colour to our drinking and bathing water! Peat filtered bog water - we're told it is safe to drink - even the cows and sheep sharing the same source think it is good......hmmm cryptosporidium?? Tasted fine!!!

As Aidan summed up his year to the distillery tour lady, he provided yet more evidence that this year's hope (one of) of expanding the children's horizons is 'complete' (?hopeless): 'I stayed in France, I liked it there, there are French people in France you know.' !!!

Jumped back across to the 'mainland' island to Glasgow on the 14th when we were very fortunate to be able to celebrate Jan's cousin's wedding with the rest of the family - what a treat to see the Scottish style! Congratulations Helen and Robert - hope your holiday was fantastic!

Et voilą. Will finish off the remaining time with family, final tourist visits, Indian food, enjoying big city living etc etc. Looking forward to returning home to Whitehorse, ... how much time before we start mulling over maps again....hmm??!

Thank you very much for taking the time to read our ramblings and for the responses. We hope we have provided a bit of entertainment.

All the best to all
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dgunter on

To Coming Home!!!
I can't say how much I have enjoyed living vicariously through your travels... all looks fantastic! As soon as I am off probation (end of the month) I am going to apply for deferred leave!

Things in Whitehorse have relatively stayed the same, all but my house... you'll have to come to take a look. It has been a cooler summer though, so lap up the hot weather in Scotland while you can.

Hope to see you all soon upon your return!

xoxo Diane

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