Sunday, December 6, 2009

Scotland in Detail: Part 2: Family History Lesson

Sorry to neglect all of you that I know were hanging on by the edge of your seat to hear all about my second day in Edinburgh. Ok, maybe not, I just like being dramatic every once and a while. So I suppose there isn't a better way to start my day then by reminiscing about my trip still, despite having a final tomorrow that counts for 100% of my grade in my econ class :(

Day 2 started bright and early, as we booked a tour that included the nearby city of Stirling to see the Stirling Castle, a National Forest and Loch Lomend. Being the 'slow' season for tourism at the beginning of December- our 16 coach bus only had 7 people in it so the three of us got some great information just chatting with our guide Dereck, who was great! He was very animated telling his stories with plenty of sound effects. The only thing that made me nervous was that he kept pointing and looking at the map that was pinned up at the front of the bus trying to further illustrate and give us reference points during his stories and to show us where we were at and such. The roads in Scotland aren't much different than the roads in Ireland - narrow and curvy on the country roads and crazy busy on the major motarways. Even with Dereck's long arms and very capable driving abilities, I would have preferred that he kept both hands on the wheel, 10 and 2 preferably as well :)

First stop was Stirling Castle which was a lot like Edinburgh's Castle in that it was built on an old inactive volcano in the middle of the town. Stirling is known as the 'key' to Scotland as it was the major thorough fair between the highlands and the lowlands. It has a fair sized river flowing through the town and back in the day, Stirling was the only good crossing point and you had to do under the shadow of this intimidating castle. Even though it was freezing- literally around 32 degrees (Fahrenheit), we took the little guided tour of the castle and our guide was a very cute little Scotsman that was very enthused to tell us all about the castle. The most interesting thing I learned from the tour was that the chapel that was built by James the VI I believe for his son, James the VII to be baptised in was exactly 3 and a 1/3 smaller sized scale model of the temple that King Solomon built. This chapel was fairly impressive on its own, so it got my mind imagining how magnificent King Solomon's temple must have been to be three times bigger, especially when technology was even worse back then!

It was also in the Chapel that I had a 'deja vu' experience. No, I didn't see my horse from home (our Arabian is named Deja Vu), but one of the tapestries on the wall was the culprit to triggering this experience. My Mom is a nut about Scotland and all the history of the old time Kings and Queens, seriously she would have been a great tour guide and I could have saved a lot of money, not paying guides to tell me stuff she could have, but she's not here. So, our house if you have ever been to it has a um, 'unique' style of decor. Sometimes I feel like mom was decorating a palace when decorating/ designing our house with rich paisley patterns, a heavy metal fireplace, a huge stone wall in our family room, open wood beams in the family, dining room and kitchen, are you starting to get the picture? Well going down one of our hallways there are tapestries hanging as well. Not near the size of the ones that I saw in the chapel in Stirling, but one of them was the same image. A unicorn surrounded by small circle fence with a single tree. I was taken back at first and then just had to chuckle to myself as I realized how legitimately my mom was into this stuff.

After Stirling we were off through the forests and flirting with the highlands and lowlands divide along our route. There is a definite difference between the two and how people can live up there, especially without modern day heating systems, is beyond me. I mean the cows can survive because it looks like they literally have a shag carpet for their hair! The forests had an old-time, ancient feel to them. I was ready for the trees to get up and start moving as the woods also had a magical feel to them as well. At one point we were hiking around Loch Lomend and I just took a minute, looked up and around myself and once again, couldn't believe I was in Scotland! It was also along this ride that I found myself translating the questions and answers between a fellow tourist who was from South Korea and our guide. They were both speaking English, but just imagine a heavy Asian accent and a heavy Scottish accent, now you can see the need for translation. Dereck was trying to tell the guest that there were deer in the forests and my translation to the guest was 'Bambi.' He then nodded and smiled! Leave it to Walt Disney to be the ultimate translator!

It was after our lunch stop as I was going into the gift shop that Dereck told me part of the history of my family's name, Campbell. Campbell is my mom's maiden name and my middle name and will be the name of my daughter if I ever have one. As I was going into the gift shop, Dereck told me that it was the normal tartan stuff, etc., but then that's when I told him I wanted to pick up something that represented my clan and told him how my mom's maiden name was Campbell. He kind of chuckled and said I'll tell you some stories of the Campbells when we get back on the bus.

So there was this 'incident' where a good amount of the MacDonald Clan got wiped out and the majority of the guilty party were people from the Campbell Clan. See, the MacDonald's had not pledged allegiance to the new King in a timely manner and the government wanted to teach them a lesson and decided that they could blame it on clan warfare as the MacDonalds and the Campbells were not the best of friends. But Dereck informed me that it really was the government's fault as the Campbell's were just following orders and the order was found signed by the King and is now on display in a museum in Edinburgh. But Dereck then sang a little childhood ditty to me that Scottish children sing on the playground that wasn't the nicest about the Campbell clan :(. So yes, I still want to name my daughter Campbell someday, despite this little tale. They were a powerful clan back in the day, knew how to sway with the politics and obviously still produced some good offspring ;).

The rest of the tour was a little walk down by the loch and then, back to Edinburgh. We had about a 2 hour turn around until our show, "We Will Rock You," which was the time we had designated to try us some Haggis :) YUM! I'll save you the details of what haggis is on here and just trust you to google it, but I will tell you this, hot dogs are made in a similar process. But, I love hot dogs and the haggis turned out pretty good too! Then it was off to the show! It was great! Great music, good acting, awesome dancing and the actors weren't sore for the eyes either, even from our balcony seats!

Then it was back to the hostel as we had another jam packed day in Scotland. After our hot chocolate and tea it was off to bed! Phew, and we still had a whole other day to go in the city! The palace was the only thing for sure on our agenda so we decided to sleep in a little bit and go with the flow. But, our 'Royal Day,' as Mariel likes to put it, shall be saved for another time as I have yet successfully procrastinated some more from studying by writing this :)

Econ final tomorrow morning worth 100% of my grade! We'll see how this goes - say a little prayer please!

Oh and update on Grandma- she was moved to the Bennett Rehab Center in St. John's Hospital where she is going to receive the needed therapy to her vocal chords where apparently the tear is and if that works, then surgery will not be needed. In the mean time though, the feeding tube has to stay in until the surgery site is totally healed, as everything in that general area is very fragile. The general thought is that she had a minor stroke or something that caused damage to her vocal chords and that is what caused the 'pouch' to grow in her throat. So during the MRI's and such, early signs of Alzheimer's were found. But, the doctors and case workers still felt like it would be okay that she stay in her apartment at Southdale Towers as it is a retirement complex, so that gives her her independence for awhile longer now, but still means that we'll have to keep a closer eye on her. She's where she needs to be though in Bennett, but also means that she won't be going to my brother's wedding :(. That's disappointing, but traveling that far is something that the doctors vetoed. We'll have to take some extra pictures then for her.

The extra's:
- Picked up two copies of the Irish Field yesterday that had my article in it!
- 10 days til home!

Cheers from Dublin,

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