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Al's epic odyssey "A good traveler has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving." - Lao Tzu

A flying visit home to Scotland

UNITED KINGDOM | Saturday, 15 August 2009 | Views [419]

So it’s back home to Scotland for almost two weeks. I have missed the place I now regard as home. I’ve been a bit nomadic over the past year or so and it’s great to be able to catch up with family and friends all over.

The Nigerian aspects of the job offer have been weighing quite heavily on my mind and the ongoing research that I’ve been doing on the internet doesn’t make it any easier.

I started off with a few nights with very good friends just outside Stirling. The weather was typically Scottish, but being summer, the rain was warm. After spending a year in Dubai rain has become a bit of a novelty.

The UK is so green, it’s almost like you need to wear sunglasses the colours are so intense. I travelled up on the train to see family who farm near Carnoustie. The berry season is in full swing and the farm is populated with a multitude of nationalities primarily from Eastern Europe who come over every year for the annual picking season. All the berries are under plastic tunnels these days and many are planted in trays at waist height, which must make live a bit easier, although it’s not a job I’d personally relish.

After a night on the family farm it was back to Stirling. I then got a lift with a friend up to another mutual friend’s farm near Fraserburgh, which is in the North Eastern corner of Scotland, for a few days with some very good friends. The weather was great, which made for good tourism, however this also meant that the crops needed harvesting. I learnt a lot about rape seed oil. I never realised that the seeds were so small. They are about a millimetre across, hard, black and round and apparently contain about 40% oil. When you walk on the seeds it’s like walking on miniature ball bearings.

The North East is a beautiful part of the world. There are small fishing villages such as Rosehearty, Pennin (where the movie ‘Local Hero’ was filmed), Gardenstown and Banff. Rocky cliffs and sandy beaches separate the towns. Most folk don’t get much further north of Aberdeen and miss out on this part of Scotland.

After the weekend we took a leisurely drive back down to Broxburn, (just outside Edinburgh) for a night. This gave me an excuse to drive past my house (which is currently tenanted) and I was also briefly re-united with my cat, who has now taken up residence with my friend. I’m not sure if she recognised me after a year away, but she purred for me when scratched in the right spots.

The two of us then drove up to my uncles hunting lodge in the Highlands to spend the night with another cousin and his family. It is such a magnificent setting surrounded by mountains with the river running through the glen. Two of the younger boys went stalking for red deer and had no luck with their father on the first day. The following day they were sent out with the stalker and arrived back around lunch time with traditionally bloodied faces having made their first kill.

The youngest boy was off salmon fishing all on his own and arrived back at the house totally distraught with a large one that had got away. I mentioned that I’d never seen a salmon in the wild before and the next day my cousin showed me one just below the fish ladder, literally waiting its turn to head upriver. It must have been nearly a meter long. I was amazed. There were other smaller salmon also waiting below the ladder.

For my last night in Scotland we headed back to Broxburn and went in to Edinburgh for the Edinburgh Festival. Well, we actually went to the Edinburgh Fringe, which is massive. There are literally thousands of shows on all day at hundreds of different venues. I am a bit of a festival fiend and I’ve been going for years. This time we only caught one show, we went to see Rich Hall, who is an established comedian and put on a pretty good performance despite a few idiots in the audience who must have thought that we’d paid to hear them.

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Tags: carnoustie, edinburgh, fraserburgh, scotland, stirling

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