The end of Scotland

I am very tired. And I have so many other things to do. SO MANY OTHER THINGS.
But, blogging has become my new ‘Sex and the City’ re-runs, so I come home and think, ‘I have so much to do,’ and then I stare at my computer and forget all the things I have to do and instead open my blog page and do some public navel-gazing.
So, when I last left you, we were on the second night of the Scotland tour to the Isle of Skye. We packed up the next morning and headed out on the bus, after returning our fantastic gangsta costumes to the place we borrowed them (as a side note, we never actually got to the gangsta party, so we just sat, looking like idiots, in a pub where no-one was even attempting to dress-up).
I can’t even remember where we went first now, my mind is a blank. NO, that’s not true, my mind is a fuzzy screen of stress. Its like one of those black and white TV signals, where the TV can’t actually tune into anything in particular, its just going ‘bzzzzzzzzzzz.’ Well, that’s my brain right now. Its just going, ‘ssssstreessssssss, stress, stress, stress, stress, stress, ssssssttttresssssss……..’
I don’t know, do you even want to hear anymore? Do you care? Do you care, impersonal internet world? Or am I talking to nobody? Am I talking to thin-air? Is this modern-day equivalent of imaginary friends????
Ok, Scotland.
Umm… I can’t remember. We were on a bus. Oh, yes! Ok, we were on a bus! And we drove past Ben Nevis, which is the tallest mountain in the UK! It was very tall. Very, very tall. You couldn’t see the top. Though, that may have had more to do with the fog than the fact that it was so very tall (its not that tall, after all). And we went to a place that had whiskey tastings, but that’s not very helpful, because everywhere had whiskey tastings. I mean, it was Scotland. Oh, and I went to a little exhibition about the…. army people…. oh, they had special names. Commandos? No, that’s American, right? Oh, I don’t know, the hard-core dudes they flew into Norway and other scary, occupied territory during WWII. Yes, I could look it up, but I’m too tired, do it yourself.
Yeah, so I looked at that. But the only thing that I can really remember at the moment is that I bought two hard-boiled, peeled eggs from the supermarket there, and that just made my day. More supermarkets should have hard-boiled, peeled eggs for sale. I’d forgotten how much I liked eggs. Mmmmm… eggs. Ooh, I’m a bit hungry, actually.
Umm… yes, then we saw Glen Coe, which was a very beautiful place, but was the site of a horrific massacre in the… in the… olden days. This clan, the MacDonalds, were holding from signing their loyalty to the King of England, and they left it really late, and then the forts they were going to sign at were all closed (just like modern-day government departments, really), and so the King decided to make an example of them, and sent this other clan, the Campbells up to kill them, but when the Campbells got there, they were tired and hungry, so the MacDonalds took them in and looked after them and fed them for, like, 2 weeks, and then, when they were good and rested, then the Campbells murdered all the MacDonalds. Its more than a little crappy, and the locals in the area still spit when they hear the name ‘Campbell’ and you won’t be eating anything but Heinz soup up that way.
There was lots more lovely scenery, as well as Hamish the Hairy Coo (Cow in Scottish) with his girlfriend, Heather and their new born baby, Honey. Very cute.
Anyway, eventually we got back to Edinburgh, and that night I headed out in search of good folk music… on my own. Strangely enough, the other au pairs did not wish to join me. I am still at a loss as to why, but, oh well, their loss. I had gotten a recommendation from my guide (and the Lonely Planet) that the place to be was the “Wee Folk Club” at the… Royal Oak (I did remember that on my own! Be impressed!). There, in the downstairs room (it really wasn’t much bigger than someone’s living room), was packed in about 30 older folk, many with big beards or flowing skirts, listening to a group of older folk (with big beards and long skirts) sing songs about glens and birds and water and whiskey, all in 4 part harmony. Delightfully relaxing. It finished at the relatively early hour of midnight, so I headed back to the more commercial, but still lovely, ‘Whiski’ bar, for a change of pace, listening to some old-timey American bluesgrass music, where I did my usual trick of convincing myself of the love the band members had for me. Look, I had already had a Thistly Cross that evening, so you can’t blame me. After it became obvious (because they packed up and left) that this was not the case, I returned to my hostel, had a free hot chocolate, and read the start of a very bad sequel to ‘Pride and Predjudice’ (and when I say, ‘read’, I mean, I flicked through to the sex scenes, which a reader on the back cover had said, ‘made her blush’. Oh, ok, I probably would have skipped to the sex scenes anyway, but, it sounded much more intriguing after that).
The next morning, I woke to a lovely sunny Scottish morning and a full day ahead of me in Edinburgh. I started by walking up to the castle, but decided that I actually had no desire to go in, so instead, I went to the park below it, and admired it from that angle. I went to the Scottish Writers’ Museum, which was fantastic, and I discovered that me and Robert Louis Stevenson are, like, so the same, because, like, he liked to travel, and, like, I like to travel, and like, he used to carry around a notebook and write things in it, and I just started doing that when I was in Scotland as well (I finally caved and bought myself a red Moleskin – they’ve been calling to me for years. So beautiful). Then I went to see a 16th century tenement, which I assumed meant it was like a slum, but a tenement actually meant an apartment block. It was very interesting, not least of all because of the entertaining volunteer guides in each room who would greet you and tell you information about the places you were seeing. I like volunteers because the quality of information/presentation etc. is so much more varied than if you were paying them. My favourite dude was an old guy who told me about how they used to make stock in the old days and let me sit on one of the 400 year old chairs, even though the National Trust paper-pushes said I couldn’t, because he thought it was a stupid rule and it was a very well-made chair, as I could tell, because I was sitting in it. Then I headed to the Scottish Storytelling Centre and Theatre, which I have decided is probably the best place in the world, and I haven’t even seen anything there yet. I made friends with the guy at the counter (Jim), who told me he was coming to Cork in a few weeks, and so I invited him along to my Cork Midsummer event, which was all very amusing, and I hope he does come because he was nice and that would make a great story. I then popped my head into the Museum of Childhood, before sitting down to an incredibly lovely, organic lunch, which I had intended to follow up with a deep-fried Mars Bar (this, however, didn’t happen, as the chippy was closed. So, if you receive a postcard from me saying that I was about to eat a deep-fried Mars Bar, PLEASE IGNORE IT. THIS DID NOT OCCUR).
At a bit of a loss as to what to do, I went for a wander, and found myself a few streets away from Holyrood Park. After checking with Lonely Planet that this was not an area that I was likely to get raped and murdered in (my usual first step for new places), I decided to head into the park and go for a walk. I ended up climbing all the way to the top of Arthur’s Seat, the highest point in Edinburgh, giving me a fantastic 360 degree view over the city. I felt so fantastic after sweating and puffing and wheezing my way up there, I felt like a Norwegian Mountain Woman, gazing down on the land below and claiming it all for myself. I was reminded so strongly of how much I used to love hiking and how little of it I have done recently, and that made me sad and I resolved to do more.
After coming down the hill/mountain again, I decided to take out my trusty Moleskin and write about my wonderful mountain woman climbing, and that’s when I realised I had left the blasted thing, barely 4 days old, in the Museum of Childhood. I raced back, ignoring 3 fudge stores along the way, and just managed to get it back before the museum closed. I then went straight back into the fudge store next door and bought a silly amount of fudge (with a few notable exceptions, I have been hugely disappointed by the quality of fudge in Ireland, so the fact that Edinburgh has excellent fudge stores, as well as several of them, is another mark in its favour. Jesus… is everything I ever write about food? I swear I have other interests…. like…. oh, I forget).
By the time I had gotten the fudge I was pretty exhausted from all the walking and the running, so I decided to sit down at ‘Whiski’ again and have one last ‘Thistly Cider’. Those things are dangerous if you’ve been exercising all day and haven’t eaten anything more than a couple of pieces of gluten-free bread and some organic dips. I swayed my way up to the local chippy and bought vegetable pakoras and chips, seeing as I had not been able to get my deep-fried Mars Bar. After that I really only felt like curling back up in the bed called Guinness, but unfortunately, it was time to go. So, very reluctantly, I packed myself onto the airport bus and proceeded to sleep off my Thistly Cross in every place I could from then on – the bus, the airport internet desk, at the duty free store, at the gate, on the plane…
And therein endeth the story of Jenny in Scotland. Let us hope it continues again sometime soon… like in August, maybe.

Me and one of the Au Pairs. You can just see the side of the glorious, ‘Thistly Cross’ Cider

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