Friday, May 11, 2018

A Wee Camping Trip In The Highlands: Part 17 - Digging Into The Past

It was beginning to seem like our trip might be over before we had enough of Scotland. We started getting that feeling that we needed to get up earlier, get moving faster and get on to the next great thing to see. There was a problem with that and our whole idea of having a list of things to do. The weather is miserable about 98% of the time in the morning and even when I, the early riser, manage to get out from under the covers and venture outdoors, it is past 9am, and you could be sure that I was one of the first people stirring. The second part of the problem was that Scotland just “is”. It’s not like there is something awesome to see in one exact place, the whole journey is epic. But, we are Americans after all, and we needed to chase something. That day it was to be a ‘free’ outdoor Highland museum. We took that destination in mind and headed off briskly around 11am after our morning bowl of porridge and hot coffee. I can’t say the coffee was the best or worst there. There were plenty of Starbucks, but nobody had anything like cream. I think that is because their milk is so thick that nobody needs cream. The stores did not carry skim milk.  At least it worked for me. Pam was making coffee on our gas stove and warming up whole milk with Garibaldi hot chocolate, so I was drinking café lattes the whole trip.

My driving on the trip to the museum was more confident and I began to think I could actually handle driving in the city, as if I were a bus driver. That feeling lasted until our road suddenly went from an A road to a white road filled with trucks. If there was anything scarier than a narrow road with a logging truck coming at you down the center, it was coming around a hairpin turn on a narrow road and seeing that truck. Another highway feature of Scotland which reminded me of Maine back in the states, was the repair crews blocking half of a  busy 2 lane road to affect repairs. However much time it takes to sit and wait your turn to go, they definitely needed those roads fixed, so I’m sure nobody complains much about the temporary traffic lights in the country.

The museum was interesting. It was a non-profit that said free entry but requested 12 pounds per person to come in…that’s $18 dollars and it was in the 30’s with the wind blowing hard and a light rain. Pam negotiated $8 for the two of us and we began an excursion that was more like two people walking around the north pole than two people learning about history. Pam loved the place while I felt like it was too much about the late 1800’s in Scotland. I was way more interested in the middle ages. I’d loved to have found out more about the PICTs and the stone circles, and how they lived in this place without heaters. I think the problem is that the really good records were not kept until the Celts came along. The PICTs just left some beat up stone carvings. Also, I think the Celts kicked their butts and you know how history gets written by the winners. One that that continually surprised me was the Jacobite history. There is quite a bit of that in the places we visited, and they got stomped by the English and the population in Scotland seemed to have morphed from people of Celtic descent to folks that moved to the country from England.  I’m kind of surprised that modern day inhabitants haven’t tried to erase the Jacobite history. You could compare the Jacobites  to  the Revolutionary war in the USA, if we had lost. I was wondering how long it would be before people wanted statues taken down and streets renamed.   It was more complicated than that, just like history and politics are in the states, but if you compare to our conservatives and liberals, you would get  the idea. Pam started getting really interested in finding her roots. Supposedly there were some Snodgrasses in the history books in southern Scotland and there even used to be a Snodgrass Village. I knew that my family came from England and were pretty well-connected, so it was quite possible that one of my ancestors came and took some land from those country-bumpkin Snodgrasses. Pam was not amused about that possibility.

The best part of that museum in my mind was the café and once again, I had really good food and a good opportunity for people watching. This was definitely a family place and there were lots of kids about, and they were not at all interested in the history stuff. There was a playground, and that was something they did like, even in the rain and cold. Yes, kids are pretty much the same wherever you go.

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