Monday, May 21, 2018

A Wee Camping Trip In The Highlands: Part 19 - Goodbye To Green Peas and Bagpipes

Looking back on the Highland adventure, I'd have to say it was the most fun, and the least things went wrong as any trip I can remember. That's not saying it never seemed like things could go wrong.
We did our tour of Blair castle, and that place had more memorabilia than most of the museums I've been to. I can still remember the giant paintings of family members through the years. Mostly, I would stand there and try to imagine what that person was really like. Was it a mean old man that terrified everyone, was it a homely woman that the painter had tried to improve upon? One painting had me stopped for much longer than the others. It wasn't that large, but it was a head portrait of a man with extreme cross-eyes. You'd think that would be something a painter would change, but I remembered well the episode of Outlander where an artist made the crippled Laird appear to have normal legs, and the Laird was furious. I inquired to one of the staff about this, and they whispered that it was either the subject wanted realism or he hadn't paid his bill for the previous painting, no one was sure which.
We could have spent much longer at the castle, but we were playing leapfrog with a large group of French high school students whose eyes seldom left each other. They did find particular interest in the manikins that showed some of the kinds of clothing worn back in the 1700's. Pam noticed that the women must have been much shorter and skinnier.
We were fortunate to have a bagpiper performing live for our group in front of the castle. That is a very interesting instrument and I can see why people are divided on the unique sound it makes. My understanding that the bagpipes were actually outlawed by the English at one point in history. The story goes that it was considered an instrument that was used to march men into battle and was therefore considered a weapon of war, but after the concert that day, I wasn't quite sure that was the real reason they were outlawed.
A final treat at the castle was being led into a large ballroom that contained more elk antlers mounted on the walls than I could believe. We were followed into the room by the French contingent and they got a special extra treat by going to a treasure chest and putting on period costumes. One could learn a lot by noticing which costumes the teenagers picked for themselves. I'd say there were more than a few of the big guys that were walking around with bonnets on, and as they all got together to pose for a school photo, I realized that even though I could understand nothing they said, those kids seemed just like the schoolmates I hung with back in my day.
The real highlight that morning was as we were leaving the large estate. I had noticed sheep all over the place, running loose, which I figured there counted as a Scottish lawnmower. Pam had me stop while she ran up to a mother delivering two lambs right in front of us. The caretakers came running after Pam and scolded her for bothering the sheep, but she did get the shot, so I was proud rather than embarrassed.

From there it was back on the M3, and I was an old hand behind the wheel now. If we could only find somewhere to stay and keep to the outskirts of Glasgow, the day would be complete. Pam was turning into a top notch navigator and guided me perfectly. The only fly in the ointment was figuring out somewhere decent to camp that was close enough to the place we had to return the camper the next day. Pam found a place and was giving me turn by turn directions, which I really needed because as we neared Glasgow, the traffic started getting real. I had to remember that slower cars stay on the left, you pass on the right, all while reading signs that had names I could not pronounce. Suddenly Pam said, "Take this exit!" I was doubtful. "Are you sure?"
"Turn Left Now!" she said. Seconds later we were coming down the offramp and I was feeling the relief that I had mastered the art of driving on freeways and backroads of Scotland, until I suddenly realized that we were smack in the middle of the one place I had hoped to avoid: Downtown Glasgow during rush hour. Gone were the friendly drivers that waved and smiled while they passed me, with a gentle honk from the horn. Gone was the feeling that I knew everything I needed to know about roundabouts and driving on the left. And the google that had been so kind to us only hours before, was now having me drive in circles with taxi cabs and large city busses. In my recollection of this event, I calmly asked Pam to help me find a quick way out of the city, while I settled back into my seat and did my best. Pam does not share my version how things went.
Somehow we got through town and found our campground that unbelievably was in the middle of an urban neighborhood. It was actually more like a trailer park than a campground, but we were happy to have made it in one piece.
We turned in our camper the next morning to a couple of really cool guys about our age that were retired cops that took on the campervan gig as something more interesting than sitting at home being retired. We shared stories about travelling and politics in the states and the UK, and once again found people travel much more than we have....
The Holiday Inn at the airport was awesome and I even got brave and tried blood pudding for breakfast the next morning...the flight home, TSA, and all of it went so smoothly, that I was sure something horrible was waiting around the corner...but, not for the first time, I was wrong.

1 comment:

  1. and so where is the picture of the sheep giving birth?