Essays From A Dysfunctional Life

Murmurings about life as it is and as it can be.

7 Things I Learned While In Scotland

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Recently I returned from my first trip to Scotland. Although I learned a lot about history, it was the unexpected cultural learning that really made the trip. So, dinna fash yerself, and read on.

  1. Kindness has no cost.

With only one or two exceptions, each person I met in Scotland was warm, friendly, and genuine. People routinely apologized for the wet weather, which was particularly funny since I live in what can be affectionately referred to as “the Great Pacific NorthWET.”

  1. People with gluten intolerances or allergies have it much easier in the UK.

Gluten free options are available everywhere, and I was never charged an extra fee for requesting gluten free bread. Not once. Gluten free high tea? Not a problem. Gluten free groceries. Asda, Morrisons, and Tesco all had entire aisles of “Free From” foods where amazing things like gluten free crumpets and tea cakes lived. Oh, the delight!

  1. You can walk almost anywhere. Where you can’t, you can take the bus.

Cities such as Glasgow and Edinburgh as well as small villages encourage walking by making it simple to get around. Small grocers and shops are tucked into urban areas so that city dwellers can pop down to the corner for a loaf of bread or jam. Small villages often had sections of their downtown which was pedestrian only, providing the opportunity to walk to the butcher shop, bakery, and veg shop before strolling to the bookstore and stopping for tea. Can’t find what you need within walking distance? Public transportation was simple to figure out and busses ran regularly allowing ease of movement throughout the larger cities.

  1. The beach is everywhere.

Okay. I know that this might seem silly, after all Scotland is on an island. However, the coastline of Scotland has many inlets, bays, and peninsulas as well a whole host of smaller islands with their own coastlines. As if that wasn’t enough, there is an estimated 31,460 freshwater lakes (known as lochs) in Scotland.

  1. You may have to drive on the left, but you can park anyway you want.

I must admit that I did not drive in Scotland. I was fortunate to have a designated driver. However, as a passenger in a car that seems to be consistently on the wrong side of the road, things can get a little hairy in traffic. And that’s without the sheep and hairy coos interrupting the flow of traffic. The one thing I had difficulty getting used to, yet decided that I love, is that the Scots park any direction they want. Basically if you can squeeze your car into a space, then it doesn’t seem to matter which way the car is facing. More than one residential street looked as though a massive game of Tenzi was going on.

  1. Old things are amazing.

Every corner of Scotland had churches, libraries, homes, cobblestone streets older than the United States. Walking through the countryside or through a close and you feel grounded. You are linked to history nearly everywhere. Standing in the courtyard outside the Edinburgh Writer’s Museum, I could feel the depth of all that had come before.

  1. Great words and expressions go a long way.

English is spoken in Scotland. Just not American English. Nor British English, sometimes. The Scots just have their own way of expressing themselves.  Some of my favorite word include tattie (potato), chips (french fries) and of course, crisps (potato chips). I am particularly enamored with the phrase “wee little.” You can take a “wee little rest,” have a “wee little snack,” or even buy a “wee little gift” at the shops. Of which I did all three.

Cheers!

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