Posts Tagged With: Scotland

Reflections from an Abbey

I slept in today.  No surprise as I was up until well past 3am reading To Kill a Mockingbird, one of the books left for me under the stairs.  I can’t remember how long it has been since I sat and read a book end-to-end like that. I tried to stop at around 2, but found myself lying awake wishing to continue.  At last I thought to myself what good is it being an adult and free if I can’t continue to read when I want to? With that thought I switched on the little light above my bed, resumed where I’d left off and continued to the end.

While the reading marathon led to my day starting well after 10, looking back over the day, I’m struck by Continue reading

Categories: An Out of The Way Place, General, Scotland, Travel, Words | Tags: , , , , , | 6 Comments

Pluscarden Abbey

Approximately 35 miles to the northwest of Inverness one finds the only historical monastery in Britain still in use. It is, perhaps more than most places I visit, a truly out of the way place. It was only after three bus rides, the last of which was hitched from a local school bus, that I found myself at the start of the small road that winds its way through the woods.

As I walked, the wind began to rustle and Continue reading

Categories: An Out of The Way Place, General, Scotland, Travel | Tags: , , , | 6 Comments

A Day in Edinburgh

Edinburgh has a storybook quality about it.  The architecture, from the imposing castle that overlooks the city to the picturesque Georgian architecture of New Town, gives the whole city a dreamlike quality.  Perhaps this, in part, is what has led to Edinburgh being the creative workshop of so many authors: Robert Burns, Robert Louis Stevenson, Arthur Conan Doyle; the list is long.

Of course another reason could Continue reading

Categories: General, Photography, Scotland, Travel | Tags: , , , | 5 Comments

The Wonders of Scotland

Most visitors to the United Kingdom never get past London, and if they do it’s usually only for a short tour or day trip to the English countryside.  In my opinion that’s a tragedy.  For I have found few places on Earth I would rather be than Scotland.

The reasons I love Scotland are plentiful: it has a rugged beauty the closely matches my imagined ideal; it is an out of the way place, leaving it largely unspoiled by the flocks of tourists that migrate to countries like France and Italy annually; and, it has cheap and excellent shortbread, my favorite cookie.

That would be plenty of reasons to love anywhere, but the truth is that above all else I love Scotland for the people who live there.  I could give countless examples, but my recent arrival and the day I had yesterday are a perfect example of what one can expect from Scotland…

Proving yet again that I’m less responsible than a fifth grader, I failed to transfer money into my bank account and thus arrived in Edinburgh needing not only a place to stay but without even a way to pay for food.  Fortunately I met some wonderful Scots in Sevilla earlier this summer who not only gave me a roof over my head, but food, drink and entertainment.  Hence, I awoke well rested yesterday to yet another wonderful meal, this time of Scottish porridge.

Not only does it taste good, but it comes in an amazing box!


After I’d eaten my fill I’d decided to head out on bike for Glasgow, where yet another friend from my travels awaited my arrival.  That plan went smoothly for nearly an hour when the bike path I was following turned into a gravely trail that chewed through my tire tube like a rat through cheese. After about three flats, someone stopped to help me and give me patches, which came as a great relief as I was out of my own.  I then spent a lovely half-an-hour chatting about traveling before I continued forgetting all about my irresponsible behavior.

Unfortunately, my bike wasn’t done throwing fits and I soon had another flat, only this time the valve broke so patches were useless.  All I needed was a spare tube, which of course, I didn’t have.  So after this tragic and completely foreseeable event, I was stranded.  Still, having watched Cast Away, I knew that if Tom Hanks can survive for four years alone on an island; I had no reason to panic.  I was right too, rather than having to do an Edgar Alan Poe imitation and sleep in the gutter; I managed to flag down another kind Scot, this one on a bike.  I asked for a bike store; he asked what I needed.  One free tube and assisted flat change later and I was on my way – to the train station.  There, yet another kind stranger helped me find the train and then let me use his cellphone to text my friend that I would be arriving, most unexpectedly, rather a bit later than planned. Naturally I arrived in Glasgow to find only more warm hospitality from friend and stranger alike.  All in all, it was just an average day in Scotland, except perhaps, for my extremely poor planning.

In New York and many other places in the modern world, we have adopted an every man for himself attitude.  Strangers are met with skepticism, hesitance and even fear.  To be someplace where you’re membership in the human race is enough to entitle you to warmth and kindness makes Scotland someplace truly exceptional and a joy to visit.

This may look like scenic countryside, but it's actually a park within Edinburgh!


Categories: Biking, Journeys, Scotland, Travel, Words | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments

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