Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The Value of Summer Camp by Grace Burrowes

I'm just back from my fourth visit to Scotland, where I gathered inspiration for new books, had some fun, and yes, I did drink me some fine whisky. Did you know there's a Scotch Malt Whisky Society, and they vet samples from distilleries all over Scotland, choosing the finest of the finest for our delectation? Prior to this trip, neither did I.

I also didn't know how to hear the difference between a Glaswegian Scottish burr (from Glasgow), and one from Edinburgh. These cities are about 45 miles apart--an hour's drive at most--and the people sound entirely different to each other. Each city has stereotyped the others' inhabitants (Glaswegians are friendly but they're all named Jimmy, the folk from Auld Reekie are reserved), and while Glasgow is twice the size of Edinburgh, Edinburgh has the busier airport.

I didn't know that you can camp anywhere in Scotland legally. Anywhere. Go ahead, Occupy Scotland--plenty of people do.

I didn't know that the northwestern part of Scotland is an entirely different hunk of geology from the rest of the country. It wandered loose for eons until banging into the larger British island, and thus has its own topography, flora and fauna.

Some words have different meanings here. Many hotels advertised themselves as homely, meaning friendly. To get to the first floor you can take the (usually very small) lift or the steps. What confuses me is heid-picklin' (head pickling) to my cab driver.

I research as much as I can with source materials (I'm on my third biography of Robert Burns), I troll the internet, I listen to Scottish music, and pore over maps of Scotland, but none of that compares to being here. I am so very, exceedingly, wonderfully lucky to have had these two weeks in Scotland.

Wikipedia can't give me the experience of comparing a peated with an unpeated whisky; it can't teach me what the scent of whisky malt is when it's had a day or two for the yeast to work on the wort.

YouTube isn't the same as watching Paul Anderson perform in person, when his fiddle music resonates through you bodily, and his foot tapping thumps the floor beneath your feet.

I didn't want to make this trip. Because of family concerns, I haven't had two consecutive weeks at home since the end of March. I'm tired, I'm not writing enough, and this time next week, I'll be back on the road, heading for a stint with the Age'd P's (another stint with the Age'd P's), in San Diego.

But then I hear Paul wringing tears from that fiddle, I see the redwoods that thrive all over central Scotland--huge, majestic trees that take my breath away--I get a whiff of a good peaty Isla single malt, and I can't wait to pack up and head back to Scotland, maybe some day for good.

Have you ever been dragged, grumbling and muttering, to a concert, a vacation, or a book, only to find a wonderful time despite what you anticipated?  Tried a dish you thought you couldn't possibly enjoy and now you love to order it? Dated a guy you thought was all wrong for you....?

To one commenter, I'll send a $25 Amazon gift card AND Paul Anderson's latest CD of fiddle music (Land of the Standing Stones) AND my favorite Jim Malcolm CD, (Acquaintance) a collection of songs by Robert Burns.


46 comments:

  1. Oh yeah, I've always been a picky eater and I hate trying new foods so it always rubs me the wrong way when people nag me until I try something new. And it always gets my back up when I enjoy it...my family especially if they see me ask for it/order it knowing how adamant I was about not trying it!

    I'd love to visit Scotland one day! I may not eat all the foods there but I'd love to see the sights!

    ahui89 at hotmail dot com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ada, there are so many sites to see, too! More castles than you can shake a stick at, prehistorica burial sites (including the split rock that opens the Outlander series), islands so beautiful they take your breath away, dancing, music, and the words BEST fudge... I'm just back and already I'm homesick for Scotland. Might have to organize a reader's tour, or a writer's tour... Hmmm.

      Delete
  2. I have dragged my husband to several restaurants, cooked "new" meals, planned vacations and dragged him (kicking and screaming) into the world of corgis! It's been a fun adventure. We have shared some great meals, visited a few fun places and enjoy our dogs! :)

    Have enjoyed your photos of Scotland! Such scenery. I think I'd like the music and drink, too.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sue, you'd also love the dogs. There were dogs on the trains, dogs in the restaurants, dogs trotting happily around on the climb up to Arthur's Seat. Nobody was uptight about the dogs, and dogs were uniformly well behaved. Big dogs, little dogs, mutt dogs and breeds. Marvelous!

      Delete
  3. Good grief, yes -- I'm like this all the time with my cooking classes. I get excited about the idea and the recipes, but come the week or so before the class, I start hoping it gets canceled so I don't have to go through with it! But wouldn't you know, every time I get into the demo kitchen in front of anywhere from four to twelve people interested in what I have to say, I end up having a ball -- even when I make mistakes or don't know the answers. And I'm happy to say -- they do, too!

    So loving your reports from Scotland -- next time you go, I volunteer to tote your baggage! :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jennifer, I wonder if anybody has done a cookbook of "recipes they will love despite themselves?" As for Scotland, I'm thinking of putting together a readers/writers tour. We'd plunk down at some countryhouse or castle, and then hop around as our interests dictate. Could be two tons of fun...

      Delete
  4. Thirty years ago my husband and I decided to pack the kids in the car and head out for an unplanned vacation, having no clue where we were going to end up. We headed west on I-40 (we were living in Oklahoma City at the time) and drove into New Mexico. I had always wanted to go to Colorado, but I was outvoted by hubby and kids to keep going west. We ended up in Flagstaff, AZ then made the trek up to the Grand Canyon (with me balking all the way about not wanting to see a big whole in the ground). You can imagine my delight that I listened to them about going there...I was awestruck on how gorgeous the Grand Canyon really is. I still tell people to this day about that being one of the best vacations we ever went on and, of course, my husband and kids still like to rub it in that I didn't want to go there.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I had never been to the Grand Canyon as a kid, but people told me it's one thing you see when you're young that still bowls you over when you see it again as an adult. So we booked into the canyonside lodge, and holy Ned, everybody was right. Has to be seen to be believed. Each time I go back, though, it's more built up, and more crowded. Fortunately, I can visit Scotland instead, right?

      Delete
  5. For me, it's cruises... I wasn't crazy about them initially but they turned out to be super fun for me!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You know, May, I've heard that about cruises from a lot of people. "I thought I'd hate it, but it was wonderful." Maybe when we've done a readers and writers tour of Scotland, we can do a readers and writers boat tour around the Scottish islands...

      Delete
  6. For my first couple of years of teaching, I felt this way at the start of the new school year. I did not want to go. I resented that all of my time was going to get sucked up, when I still had so much summer stuff left to do. But within a few days, I was back in the groove and enjoying my work again. I'm glad you had a good trip.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And teaching has the benefit of being meaningful work. I also appreciate about the class room that a teacher who will admit that she might not be in her all time favorite place at the head of the class has a lot more empathy for the students, many of whom don't want to be there either.

      Delete
  7. I went on a trip to China with my hubby because it's someplace HE wanted to go, and ended up really enjoying it! Much to my surprise. So now if he says he wants to go somewhere, I'll agree.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The flights to China alone would daunt me. Can't get much farther away, can you? I hope you get to pick at least a few of the destinations, though.

      Delete
  8. Ok lets try again I wrote something brilliant they acidently deleated it while trying to post.

    Yes to Scotland and yes to reluctant trips. I pondered how I have longed to be in Scotland since I was 14. I have family in Hendersons, Fraziers, McClains, Murdochs and my bedt friend is Lindsay. For30 years Ive listened to the Thustle and Shamrock with Fiona Ritchie. I danced a highland flinge in a summer stock production of Brigadoon. My childrem are Fiona and Ian. I study Iona. Admired a friend from grad school who learned to speak the language. Study the brave and tradigic history. So when My Papa was going to take me across the pond for my 15 birthday before I had learned what I kmow now, even then Scotland called. BUT Noooo He took me an a trip to the cultural triangle of Prague Munich and Vienna. Prague was unlike anything I had experienced. Beautiful fulk of history but in 1980 still behing the iron curtain. Munich ah I still recall having dinner across from the opera house and being awed by the attendies seen on the balcony. Viena got me a back stage tour of that grand opera house and intersting After trip was planned I got cast im the Sound Of Music as Lisel I got to visit the famous gazibo on a day trip. I even nought a dirndl and saw the Oberammergau play. So the reluctant trip turned out great. But i still long for Scotland

    Enjoy your time at home and safe continued travels.

    Best regards,
    Michelle Johnson

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good heavens, what a consolation prize for being denied the trip of your dreams. I can tell you, though, Iona is still there, and will wait for you for a while yet. The geological age of the next island toward the Mainland (Mull) about 30 million years. Iona? Upwards of 300 million years. You have time.

      Delete
  9. Almost everywhere I go I have to be dragged. More times than not, I end up enjoying myself. But I'd always rather stay home. I hate, hate, hate traveling. That said, I want to go back to Scotland!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I wasn't so keen on traveling when Beloved Offspring was along, complicating logistics, increasing expenses, and adding the "will she like it?" worry. Travel by myself is MUCH easier.

      Delete
  10. Absolutely DIDN"T want to be gone a month from my flowerbed. Yes, I'm an idiot too----but this was the "leap" year for my poppies (sleep, creep, leap). I DID have a wonderful time away---with friends and family---and I did get to see the remains of the poppies. Maybe next year we can go away in May instead. We still have SNOW on the ground in May, and I won't miss anything..... Donna Sopsich

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Donna, I saw snow in Scotland on Ben Nevis and in the Cairngorms. Lotta funny little micro-climates there, but the poppies I saw were in riot. When I left, the sky never got entirely dark, but the sun went down around 11 pm and came up by 4 am. The flowers were going crazy. And there are garden tours, too, you know.

      Delete
  11. My husband is what you'd call a comic book enthusiast. He loves all things comic book related; the comics themselves, authors, illustrators, etc. Due to his passion I was recently dragged to Phoenix ComiCon. In Phoenix, in June; it was 100+ degrees out. Despite my lack of enthusiasm, I had a surprisingly good time and actually got to meet Charlaine Harris (author of the Sookie Stackhouse/True Blood novels) and have her sign a book.

    My friend and I have a 10 day trip to Scotland planned in October that I am impatiently waiting for! It's going to be glorious!

    I'm so glad you ended up enjoying your trip Grace, and thank you for the giveaway!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. October will be wonderful there. Most of Scotland's weather is more moderate than ours--not as hot, and also, surprisingly, not as cold. The midges are gone by then, and there's still plenty of daylight. I'm envious!

      Delete
  12. Love all the interesting facts. The redwoods surprised me the most. My husband would love trying all the different Scotch lol. I cannot believe how expensive it can be! I don't think I've ever turned down a chance to go on a trip anywhere. It always sounds exciting to me and since we don't really have the chance now, I hope someday maybe we can get back out there.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm particularly puzzled by the heavily peated whiskeys, which, as one of our tour managers put it, tastes like drinking the remains of a campfire. If you watch the airfares closely, you can find deals into Edinburgh airport, especially if you're willing to leave from a Canadian airport. I was surprised--total miles between Newark and Edinburgh only about 3500.

      Delete
  13. I hauled an willing spouse on several trips around our wonderful country. We now thoroughly enjoy driving through the mountains, especially the Rocky Mountains!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sue, I like the Rockies too, provided it's high summer and I don't have to linger up in the passes. Just driving through Breckenridge I can get queasy and altitudinous--while my daughter runs marathons at 5000 feet.

      Delete
  14. My cousin dragged me to a Keane concert. I like some of their music, but not really interested in going, but seeing them live made a fan.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Every time I hear good live music, I think, "I love this. I must get to more live performances." Then another year goes by... If they made you a fan in one concert, they must be good!

      Delete
  15. Honestly, I am a home body so I would much rater stay home. There have been times when my husband had to drag me somewhere and I ended up enjoying myself. I usually won't try new foods, I eat what I know

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sheryl, am the homebody to end all homebodies. Sometimes we get snowed in during the winter, and my favorite, favorite days are when the governor declares a state of emergency so I know the courts and Department of Social Services are CLOSED and I couldn't go anywhere if I wanted to--which I do not. I'm not proud of this, but it surely helps get the books written.

      Delete
  16. I'm a hermit but I can truthfully answer yes to all the questions, including a trip to a little place called Corn, Oklahoma once upon a time...on a whim and it turned out to play a big part in the next book I wrote. LOVED your post, as usual, Miz Grace! Thank you for sharing the pictures. I've always thought if I should come out of my hermit-ism, I'd like to visit Scotland or Ireland.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They're both wonderful, and closer than I'd realized. The west of Scotland was settled by the Irish nearly 2000 years ago, hence the similarity of language, and there are parts of Ireland where the kilt is worn. You could get a lot of inspiration, even if you didn't touch the whiskey, promise!

      Delete
  17. I know you wanted to stay. I visited that place right at the foot of Edinburgh Castle's bridge that gave tastings of the various whiskeys. Purchased a cassette there that just set the mood for my trip - Broadsword Jethro Tull. Couldn't get it out of mind for ever! I bought a piece of property there to camp on and I'm looking forward to it. I'll lend it to you next time you go - it's in the highlands in Glencoe. I'm a Lady I can do that! As far as eating, I had the most fantastic salmon and haggis and actually liked it. And we had a Scottish soap opera star for our bus guide. What a wonderful experience. Hope this trip spurs a whole new series! Welcome home.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Lovely pictures. I want to visit Scotland. My doctor had to drag me kicking and screaming to physical therapy to help with fibromyalgia symptoms. I was sure the PT would hurt me worse, but it has been one of the best decisions I was forced into doing.

    ReplyDelete
  19. I was cajoled into a longer hike than I was comfortable with but it resulted in the most beautiful panoramic views and a marriage proposal at the peak, complete with a bottle of champagne he had hidden in his rucksack along with a picnic of baguette, brie, pate, and fruit.

    ReplyDelete
  20. I'm sure I could find some fun about camping but you have to drag me kicking and screaming to get there. I not usually such a big baby about things, but camping just doesn't appeal. I camped a lot when I was in my twenties so it's not as if I haven't tried it. If I could jump on an airplane right now, I'd love to go to Inverness. Now! thea

    ReplyDelete
  21. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  22. I'm not always open to new things, but I have found that when I agree to a new experience, no matter how reluctantly, I usually have a great time and enjoy myself. And I try to keep that in mind for the few times that I haven't enjoyed a new experience.

    ReplyDelete
  23. It's great when you come across something you didn't think you'd enjoy. I was that way with dancing, which I ended up doing for 8 years :-)

    ReplyDelete
  24. Sounds like an amazing trip, Grace. One day I'll make it to Scotland.

    More than once, I've been 'forced' to go out an socialize when I'd much rather stay at home an vegetate. The majority of the time I have fun, but making the effort to get out is hard some days for an introvert like me. :-)

    ReplyDelete
  25. The summer that I was seventeen, I spent six weeks in Macon, Georgia at the Governor's Honors Program for advanced students. My band director had submitted my name for it, even though I really was not all that interested in it. I was also madly in love with my future husband (true story), and we had already made plans for spending a lot of time together that summer since he had just completed his freshman year at college. I was NOT interested in going away to a summer camp!

    LONG story made much shorter, my parents insisted that I go to take advantage of the opportunity to learn what it was like to be involved in classes very similar to college classes.

    We had to choose a major and minor field which gave me the chance to fully explore music and music education, being totally immersed in the subject. It opened my eyes to music education as a career in ways I had not yet considered, and I had a marvelous time that still puts a smile on my face forty-one years later.

    And, yes, I'm still doing what I loved back then - teaching music. :-)

    ReplyDelete
  26. I'm pretty open-minded about things - I like all sorts of foods, would love to visit more locations (if I had the time!). I just love the experience of trying new and different things.

    ReplyDelete
  27. Hopefully 3rd tine will be the charm in trying to post!
    When my hubby tries to take me places, I literally go kicking and screaming. I am so much more comfortable at home due to health concerns. But once I am at our location, I am SO THANKFUL that he gets me out of my comfort zone so that I can appreciate the beauty of our world.

    ReplyDelete
  28. Occupy Scotland!!! That is awesome. I have yet to go there even though I have friends on the Isle of Lewis. I have been dragged to many a thing and yes, half the time I end up having a blast.
    lattebooks at hotmail dot com

    ReplyDelete
  29. I tend to be reluctant about going to events that are going to be full of crowds but USUALLY once I am there I have fun. Sounds like you have a hectic schedule...try to take time to rest also and travel safely!

    ReplyDelete
  30. No, I haven't

    bn100candg at hotmail dot com

    ReplyDelete