The Scots give a whole new meaning to the English language. There are even websites that give translations, the expressions are quite hilarious. (The websites are for the “eijets that dinnae ken what we’re sayin”.)
It’s been a long, cold, dark, winter in New England – more so than usual. Folks in the northeast, especially those who haven’t had a chance to get away to warm climates this winter, are very “over” winter. For myself, having been chained to my desk since November the only thing that will get me out of my funk is planning a summer vacation. This year I find myself drawn to Scotland.
I’ve been dreaming of highland mists over the mountains, cool clear rivers, endless green valleys, castles, lochs, sunsets and miles of winding roads – sigh. These little pictures started to form a couple of years ago while I was watching a funny little BBC series called Monarch of the Glen (2000-2005) on Netflix. The series is set in modern day Scotland and is about a young man who reluctantly takes over responsibility of his family’s highland estate when his father is no longer willing or able to do so. The characters are funny and eccentric and I enjoyed watching it, but the scenery drew me in and kept me.
One of the benefits of an interminable winter is time to read. While thinking about Scotland I started reading the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon. Although her books are fiction I was intrigued by the history, and insight into the everyday lives of the highlanders back in the 1700s. The books start with what leads up to the Jacobite battle against the British at Culloden , the consequences of the defeat, and the end the clan system in Scotland. I read all 8 books this winter getting to know the characters as they moved from the highlands of Scotland, to 18th century Edinburgh, Paris, then to the Americas and the revolutionary war. The author mixes history into the story of the fictional Fraser and Mackenzie families and the reader begins to understand more about how life might have been during that time in Scottish and American history. I’m leaving out the little twist that make the books really interesting. The characters not only move geographically throughout the series, but also in time. The characters use modern day standing stones (megaliths) to move back and forth in time from the 20th century to the 18th century. It makes for a very interesting story.
My friend Gail is keen to go in July so we’re in research mode. We’ve decided on July 23 to August 2, summer in Scotland but not the high, high season of August when the country is quite full of tourists. We know we’ll start and end in Edinburgh, go to St Andrews, Inverness, and the Isle of Skye but we’re not sure what to see inbetween. We know we want a small automatic car, local inns and B&Bs rather than chain hotels, local roads rather than highways as much as possible, and pubs. The hard part is filling in the inbetweens and not missing something off the beaten path. That’s where, we hope, a website called Secret Scotland comes in. Apparently they have off the rack self drive road trip itineraries with themes like Highlands, Romantic, Whiskey, Scenic etc. They also have a customized option, you tell them what you want, how many days, if you want a leisurely trip or move to a different area every night type, what you especially want to see and do. With this information, and for a modest fee, they give you an itinerary including the drive directions and where to stay and what they recommend based on who we are and what we’re looking for. We’ve emailed them so now we’ll see what they come up with.