Probably a common error, I sadly had lazily assumed that Scotland was just a baby brother, an extension, of England. I was so wrong!
Fiercely independent and rightfully proud of their incredible heritage, the Scots are unique – definitely a population that deserves to be regarded separately from the English people. Sure, they share the same big island in (mostly) genial harmony, I also noticed some mild tensions….. especially now when England is pulling out of Brexit by March 2019 and Scotland voted to stay in the EU. This is a big deal for these countries. Scotland will this become an entirely separate country in it’s own right, no longer to be part of Great Britian.
Consider, also, the ramifications of this as it will affect the Irish. Northern Ireland is still deciding their political future, but it is speculated that the currently popular Republicanism movement will convince the region to join up with Ireland to the south, stay in the EU, and leave their association with England entirely. After the IRA and Ireland’s turbulent past, this is an interesting future evolving from England’s choice to withdraw from Brexit.
Not that these political issues colored my visit, but I saw them headlined in the local newspapers (not to mention the articles expressing incredulity at our POTUS). For me I blissfully ignored it all and did the tourist thing: visited castles, waterfalls and the wistfully beautiful purple-blooming heather on the moors of the Highlands.
I took the touristy easy route. Wanting mostly to see the moors in bloom, and not wishing to take on the challenge of driving on the left side of the road, I took a day long tour with Heart of Scotland Tours, LTD, in their “wee red bus.” For easy touring I highly recommend this approach — leave the driving to someone else, select a small bus rather than a mega-bus, and learn some cool stuff from the driver as you relax and enjoy the beauty and sights during the 10-hour day out from Edinburgh.
Castles: I kept trying to visualize life lived over the many centuries within their stone walls. If only the stones could play back a video reel of what they have witnessed over centuries! Major battles fought here and there, maids serving royalty, men on horses in full armor and carrying impressive weaponry, logs the size of whole trees heating the great halls, court jesters, queens doing needle work to pass the time while having special screens between them and the log-fire heat to keep their wax-based makeup from melting off, kitchen staff remaining hidden behind blinds until summoned, and all things real in each of their respective and very different lives.
The Scots do a great job presenting the castles in real life. They even have a dress up box of kilts and gowns in the great ballroom to try on, prance around, and take photos. I mused that if one only closes ones eyes and reflects back in one’s reincarnational annals, it is easy to visualize all the various roles we have likely animated through time. Been there, done that!
All in all, Scotland was a very enjoyable place to visit for three days, highly recommended. Scotland is unique unto itself, the people are friendly and helpful, and you can’t beat that lilting Scottish accent!