Thursday, December 29, 2011

Thursday Travels.... Poolewe, Scotland

     When I was (much much) younger, all I knew about Scotland was that the Bay City Rollers came from there.  Many years later ~ long after I had gotten over my teen lust for men in kilts and tartans (Well... I never outgrew the one for Sean Connery) ~ I went to visit my Mum and Sis in Poolewe, Scotland. 

     A portion of our trip was on a small commuter plane from Glasgow to Inverness that was entertaining to say the least... there was a group of drunken 'football' fans on the plane whose team had won and they sang team and school songs the entire flight.  Fortunately, the flight was just long enough for us to enjoy their celebration, but not so long that we became annoyed.  In Inverness we took a train to Gairloch where Mum met us at the station.  I hadn't seen her in twelve years and I felt like a child again.

     It was then that I truly fell in love with Scotland.   Water seemed to flow from the rocks, and while it was late October~early November it was bitter cold with no snow to show for it.  The hills were covered with a thick green grass, and rocks covered with moss.

     Sheep and the occasional cow freely roamed the small town on the northwest coast of Scotland.  It was a year before I stopped seeing bits of  sheep 'pebbles' on my shoes.

     There was just one radio station, three television stations and twice a year they all went down at the same time for 24 hours of maintenance.  There were no video rental stores, no movie theaters, and one or two pubs that closed at 10pm.

     Mum's house, just across a bridge on the outskirts of town, was within walking distance of the pub she ran.  Her electricity was paid for on a daily basis by putting coins in a machine in the back of the house.  She paid  enough most days to just keep the small refrigerator under the kitchen counter running, and maybe a few lights during the day.

      Almost all the roads were one lane... so if you rounded a curve on the hills and came face to face with a car going in the other direction, one of you would need to back up until there was room on the shoulder to pull over enough to let the other pass.  I think that I kept my eyes closed every time we took Mum's car somewhere.... okay, so some of those times I was sleeping because I never did get over my jet lag and hypothermia was setting in, but there were times when I was terrified because Mum drove like the devil was after us.

     We rode in the mail van to Gairloch (stopping to deliver mail along the way) where we caught the train into Inverness to stay a night in a bed and breakfast.  Another day we drove to Aviemore to spend a night with one of Mum's friends in a 100 year old croft house that had thick sod walls and roof.  It was the warmest I had been the entire trip, sleeping in a room heated by a tiny coal heater under piles of down comforters.  I didn't want to leave that bed.

     Now... remembering the beauty of the country, the friendliness of the locals, and the incredible history in every stone and building... I'd love to go back one day.

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