Three days left in Scotland, then home to Minnesota to sleep in my own bed for one night. The next day I would drive to northern Wisconsin to a resort called Garmisch USA that some heiress from Chicago had built to resemble the German town of Garmisch, with an “Irish Castle” thrown in.
The giant carved androgynous figure at the entrance? It’s anyone’s guess what that’s about.
This would be the annual cousins’ weekend in a big cabin on a lake, sponsored by my aunt. I so look forward to it every year. We would eat, read, make bonfires, take the boat out and fish, eat, play Scrabble, talk, hike, eat, and not sleep much. It would feel surreal, being in Scotland one day and at this resort two days later.
But first I had to push myself to finish the attic, my second proposal, and the book by my new favorite author, Kazuo Ishiguro. How had I never read him? Lynn and Richard had two or three of his novels in their library, and I started with the most famous, The Remains of the Day. I am a big reader, and I found Ishiguro’s character, the butler Stevens, one of the most movingly described characters I’ve ever read described. I bought two more of Ishiguro’s books at Heathrow and as I was plowing through them at home, Ishiguro was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature. I felt like a genius.
There were a few more excursions to fit in. We took Lord Parker and drove around, first stopping at a ruined church.
There was a sad plaque in honor of a 15-year-old soldier killed in WWI.
We visited a Pictish tel. A tel is a hill composed of layers of settlements. I had only ever heard tell of tels (ha ha) in Israel, where you have the Romans building on top of the Arameans, who had conquered and built on top of the Whosiwhatsits, and on and on. Don’t bother looking up “Whosiwhatsits,” I just made that up.
Nearby was this road sign. I’m fairly certain I am not the first person to have my photo taken in front of it.
“It has to be done,” Lynn commented.
There was yet another war memorial plaque, to the Gordon Highlanders, nearby. In the US, it seems you have to go to Washington, DC or a state capitol to see war memorials. They are ubiquitous in Britain—in parks, street corners, and department stores. I prefer the British approach. We should be reminded about the cost of war all the time, everywhere we go.
The following day Richard dropped me off in town to get a haircut at Cassie’s salon. My stylist had extremely short, brassy red, spiked hair.
“I’ll just have a trim,” I stated unequivocally. She went to work and talked away but I could only understand about half of it.
Another customer was seated in the chair next to me and when I heard her Spanish accent I asked, “Are you Maria?” And it was Maria, the Peruvian wife of Lynn and Richard’s friend Nigel. They had met when he was working on an oil company project in Peru. We chatted, then Nigel came in with their nine-month-old son, and Nigel and I chatted.
The hair cut was good and it only cost £9—about $12!
The next day Richard and I went to the Lonach Games. There are Highland games all over Scotland, but I’d like to believe that the Lonach Games were the best. They’ve been an annual event for 175 years and are a source of much local pride. The men start early in the day and march in clans, playing the bagpipes and drums, from one town to another for hours, stopping for “wee drams” along the way. Their grand entrance onto the grounds in the early afternoon is a highlight of the games.
There was lots of piping, dancing, and competitive throwing of very heavy objects over very high bars. Richard and I had a pint and people watched.
This couple looked like movie extras. “Probably American or Canadian tourists,” Richard remarked.