Maybe It’s Okay To Speak Your Mind in Scotland, part VII

Things about Scotland.

The garden at Edinburgh Castle.

The garden at Edinburgh Castle.

1.The Scottish prefer Americans to blurt out crass comments they agree with, but would never say and politely keep to themselves.

I mentioned to a Scottish lady ringing up my purchase that I found the Scottish people warmer and friendlier than the British, who seem more reserved. She quipped, “You said it. I didn’t.”

2.The salesclerks in Scotland neatly wrap your purchases in paper before putting it in a bag.

The Scots never ask you, as sales people in America often do, “Do you want a bag?” The Scottish know you want a bag and that you would like it wrapped with perfectly folded edges. The salespeople in America ask if you want a bag with your purchase and then shoot you a facial expression that threatens, “Don’t make me get a bag for you. Don’t make me hate you for wasting a tree.” It’s not easy carrying things without a bag. If we don’t bring our own bag and we don’t accept a store bag, then we can only hope we wore a big, baggy shirt to stretch out and carry our items in. If I forget to wear the baggy shirt, I refrain from buying cantaloupes or watermelons.

The Royal Mile in Edinburgh has lots of charming shops and cafes.

The Royal Mile in Edinburgh has lots of charming shops where bags are given without question or threat.

3.There are lots of castles in Scotland, from the world-famous Edinburgh Castle, where you stand in line one-hour before making it to the ticket office, to many others dotting the Scottish landscape.

Bring a book while in line at the Edinburgh Castle. You will have lots of time winding the roped line back and forth before arriving at the ticket office one hour later. Having no book, I chatted with the man standing behind me in line and listened to his gripe that his family never wanted to do what he wants to do. So he stood alone in line as his family members were off doing other things and waiting in shorter lines.

4. Scottish humor gets the point across.

At the Carbisdale Castle, (which I didn’t visit, but admired from my bus seat), I learned that Duchess Blair once resided there. I don’t know who Duchess Blair was, but our tour guide told us that none of the clocks in her castle face the south because her in-laws lived in the south and she wouldn’t give them the time of day.

 

The Carbisdale Castle where no clocks face the south.

The Carbisdale Castle where no clocks face the south, (and probably where no mother-in-law apartment exists.)

Jodee and I came across this sign in a shop in Dornoch, Scotland.

5. Scotland offers variety in its landscapes, with not one, but two kinds of heather,

Bell heather and Ling heather. Our tour guide got off the bus and picked the two kinds to show us the difference. We could only see patches of heather in bloom here and there, but our tour guide told us how beautiful the hills would soon look when the heather blooms and covers the hills in glowing purple. Again, we had to use our imagination to mentally picture the scenic splendor we would miss.

Bell heather.

Bell heather.

6. No shooting allowed in the U.K. on Sunday.

Therefore, every Sunday, the deer dance in the streets tossing confetti.

Some deer like to relax on Sundays in U.K.

Some deer like to relax on Sundays.

7.Lakes are lochs. Valleys are glens. Shinty is a sport using long hockey sticks.

This is Scotland 101.

These boys played their bagpipes on a street corner and not asking for money for their entertainment.

These handsome boys played their bagpipes on an Edinburgh street corner and were not asking for money for their entertainment. This is when I knew I wasn’t in America.

8.The Scottish are civilized and behave quite properly… except in August.

That is the month when the Edinburgh Festival is held. Clowns, fire-eaters, and all kinds of bizarre behavior are allowed. I did see a mime balancing a chair on his head with a man seated on the chair tottering above the crowds. What a clever way to find seating space.

In August, bizarre behavior in Edinburgh is allowed.

In August, bizarre behavior in Edinburgh is allowed.

9.The Maison Bleue Cafe on the Royal Mile serves the best coffee ever made.

My niece, Rebecca, ordered coffee and when it arrived she poured in cream (real cream, not creamer or half and half) and quite a few lumps of sugar. After tasting it, she said, “Oh! My! Gosh!” That’s all I needed to hear to know how good the coffee with real cream was.

You can't see the coffee because of the candle-lit ambience. But here is the best coffee in all of Scotland, I believe.

You can’t see the coffee because of the candle-lit ambiance. But here is where you get coffee that makes you say “Oh! My! Gosh!” after one sip.

10.Scotland has scary schools, such as Fettes Prep, one of Scotland’s boarding schools.

Our tour guide, a kind lady with short-cropped white hair and rimless glasses, pointed to the castle-like boarding school Fettes Prep, which had a haunting and lonely look, and said, “Tony Blair went to that school. It’s a scary place for little boys 5 or 6.” I had to agree. It did look scary. Poor Tony Blair.

This scary boarding school reminds me of the kind of school Roald Dahl writes about in his stories.

This scary boarding school, Fettes Prep, reminds me of the kind of school Roald Dahl writes about in his stories.

Roald Dahl, 1925, writes about a scary boarding school in his autobiography Boy.

Roald Dahl in his boarding school get-up in 1925. He writes about a scary boarding school in his autobiography “Boy: Tales of Childhood.” (wonderful book)

11. The Scottish Highlands measures slightly smaller than the country of Belgium.

You would need to know the size of Belgium to get the proper perspective on the size of the Highlands. So, if you’re like me, this means nothing.

Here's a scenic view of the Highlands, where you can possibly imagine Braveheart hollering, "Freedom!"

Here’s a scenic view of the Highlands, where I can imagine Braveheart hollering, “Freedom!”

The Scottish Highlands. You can see how easy it is to get lost.

This is the forest in the Scottish Highlands. You can see how easy it is to get lost.

12. The Falls of Shin in the Scottish Highlands can be confusing to get to if you follow a lady from New York.

“This is the way,” the New York lady said confidently as Jodee and I and some others from our group followed behind her. Who wouldn’t trust a blonde lady who proudly smiles and announces she lives in New York? We followed her, hiking down, down, down, down through thick forests of Scottish trees and purplish spiky wildflowers. Suddenly, the lady turned around and smiled at me with the kind of smile that says, I’m sure you’ll forgive me if I smile at you. “We’re at a dead end,” she said. We hiked back up…and up, up, up. Pant, huff, gasp. We met our tour guide at the top as he pointed to the correct trail. The New York lady shouts loudly, “Our tour guide should have made it clear which path to take.” Yes, let’s blame him and not her. And so,  down, down, down until we reached the Falls of Shin. We spent so much time hiking, that by the time we arrived at the falls it was time to return to our bus. I felt like kicking myself in the shin at the Falls of Shin.

The Falls of Shin.

The Falls of Shin.

Salmon leap up these falls. I saw two.

Salmon leap up these falls. If they would have popped out of the water a little slower I could have had a picture of them. But no, they had to leap fast.

13. Road signs in Scotland are all about your safety and looking forward to your return.

“Haste ye back” the sign says. Road signs in America are all about warning and consequences. “Click It or Ticket,” or “Get Hammered, Get Nailed.” I haven’t seen a road sign in America expressing a desire for my return. Can you imagine a sign on a U.S. freeway stating, “Hurry back. Hugs”?

haste ye back

The stairway from the River Shin leads to a winding trail and back up to the bus at the top.

The stairway from the River Shin leads to a winding trail and back up, up, up…

 

♥♥♥the end of part VII

2 thoughts on “Maybe It’s Okay To Speak Your Mind in Scotland, part VII

  1. Stephannie

    I come from Scots ancestry AND my birthday is in August. I’m going to feel a little extra Scottish today, and smile knowing my kinsmen are getting up to no good at the same time as I.

    Reply
    1. Bronwyn Wilson Post author

      Stephanie~ Happy Belated Birthday! You would love the Edinburgh Festival because it’s all about fun. However, it’s very crowded. I enjoy your blog Stephanie!

      Reply

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