Scotland is never far away from their history. Everywhere if you look are visual reminders of their past. Crumbling towers bring to mind a Medieval style of living that we can scarce imagine. Stand in the center of a castle keep and picture yourself drawing water for the only well, scrubbing linen clothing in wood ashes until your knuckles are raw. Ragged openings in meter thick walls give way to vast panoramas of rolling green hills and soaring birds.These rock piles built in the 900s protected the lord and his servants from the predications of neighboring lords on the lookout for booty and larger possessions.
Constantly warring with Cromwell, the castles were built on the steepest hills the Scots could find, surrounding their homes with crenellated battlements and thick oak doors.Preserved castles reveal more of the way of Scottish life. Intricate tapestries adorn the walls with portraits of the then Queen and her relatives done up in monster oil paintings. Royal bedrooms, however exquisitely furnished, gave hints of the primitive accommodations. Toilets consisted of a hole in the wall leading to the outside court. Running water was non existent and the large kitchen areas must have needed dozens of workers to keep it going.
Aware as the Scottish people are of their heritage, the gray stone buildings hide an up-to-date infrastructure involving the usual TV's, computers, washers, dryers and electric stoves. The citizens I met seemed full of humor, practical and quite literate. Slightly amused at lost travelers needing directions, they nevertheless selfishly took the time to steer them in the right direction.
Any inquiries in a shop would generally be followed up with a grand tour of the establishment and a canny sales pitch in the bargain.Driving on the left side of the road takes a little getting used to and some roundabouts can be scary but the Scottish drivers take every slow down in stride. Bicycling is quite popular in the summer and many local trips are made this way.
There are few bicycle paths bordering the narrow streets as there are in Germany so care must be taken when barreling along their winding avenues. The Scots are in love with building stone walls probably due to the plethora of rocks in the tilled fields. Stone masonry reaches a high plateau with exactly fitted gray granite everywhere you look.Also predominant are the lovely gardens and borders in public areas as well as in private yards. The story book image of a rose covered cottage is a reality in Scotland.Though the temperature rarely goes below freezing, the long months of winter and spring are filled with stiff winds, a cloud filled sky and weather that can change from nasty to sunny in an instant.
Like Florida, if you don't like the weather, just wait a moment. This climate can support many hard and not so hardy plants in the garden. Everyone has a herb garden and the size of the vegetables is almost unbelievable.
Summer temperatures hover around seventy degrees but a handy jacket is advisable.Edinborough is the center of most activity, but bus tours are a must have for a complete look at the country. You may encounter a few unfamiliar dishes but mostly the cuisine is delicious. You will dine in an old world atmosphere that is poorly copied elsewhere. Scotland will open your mind and create indelible memories..
Retired portrait photographer. Love to travel.
By: Kenneth C. Hoffman