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The traveler: An expected journey This time it's the Scandinavian countries of Denmark, Sweden & Norway before England again for several weeks and on to Croatia.

Old Friends and New

UNITED KINGDOM | Friday, 6 April 2018 | Views [362]

Since I'd been forced to take the early bus from the Isle of Arran (7 am) due to the road work I arrived in Glasgow about 4 hours before my bus was scheduled to head north. Hopefully I approached the ticket counter and asked if I could swap my mid afternoon ticket for the bus that left about 2 hours earlier. Sadly the answer was "No" (24 hour notice required). Luckily I had considered this possibility and done some reading up late the night before on interesting places to visit. So after lunch in what I recall was George Square, I headed off to the Tenement House and arrived in time to be their first visitor of the day.
Contrary to my (and perhaps all American's) understanding of the word tenement, this tenement house was in fact at the top of it's line when it was built in the 1800s. It was a flat on the second floor with an entry hall/room, bedroom, parlor, kitchen, and bathroom. Quite ahead of it's time an indoor toilet, built in tub and sink were all included! This 4 room flat was actually considered mid size at the time. The young woman and her mother, who moved in in the early 1900s left the place remarkably unchanged through the mid 1950s when the Nation Trust bought it. The two ladies likely took in a lodger to help cover the rent at first while they worked as a typist, and dress maker respectively. With one bedroom though where did they sleep? In the cozy built in beds: one in the parlor, and one in the kitchen. Apparently in the poor tenement houses the supporting bed frames were made of metal, so that people couldn't cut them up for firewood in the winter when it got too cold.
After an hour perusing the early 20th century rooms I set off back to the bus station, and north to a town on the edge of Loch Ness called Drumnadrochit. Unfortunately none of the local buses from the city of Inverness were running down past Drumnadrochit at a convenient time, so I had hire a taxi. Not altogether bad as it usually makes for a good conversation.
I arrived at the house of the friends I'd made on my last trip just in time to change shoes and head out the door with their daughter and son in law for the Celtic concert hosted at the local school. Only in Britain do you arrive for a concert to be offered tea, and then have an intermission with the option for more tea, and cake! The band playing was called The Old Bind Dogs (I imagine the name was thought up one night over some drinks). It was lovely to hear Celtic music in its homeland. The only little girl in audience did a good job of expressing everyone's tapping feet by jumping up and down to the tunes.
When I pulled back the covers to my bed that night I was pleasantly surprised to find a hot water bottle kindly put their by my hostess.
Meals with my friends, especially breakfast, were not the rushed ordeals they usually are and we talked a fair amount as we ate. In keeping with the times they grew up in each meal was prepared and laid out on the table so beautifully before we started. Unfortunately my American accent was harder for my friends to understand at their age, and some questions had to be skipped rather than repeated too many times. However I did get to learn a bit more about the meals in their childhood (1940s, my favorite!), and their family.
The next afternoon I was taken out again by their daughter for a hike near one of the glens I'd been eyeing on the map, but first she stopped to give me a tour of the new house she and her husband, both architects and designers, are building. Downstairs in the living room they have full length window doors that more or less fold open to allow you to step straight onto the patio (yet to be built). Also quit ingeniously they have a fireplace that can rotate 360 degrees around the chimney depending on where you're sitting and where you'd like the heat.

So far I haven't had any terrible weather, but it did rather start to drizzle on our walk up the road between mossy green forests, and open fields. We took the short path down to the impressive Plodda Falls and the deep, dark pools beneath. When my companion was a girl she and her family would come up for a pick-nick when the place was less well known, and then jump into the deep, cold water and swim across to the other side. You can still see the remains of the old metal hand rail that used to boarder the very narrow path clinging to the edge of the rock. The bridge above the waterfall has been replaced with a sturdy overlook, but my new friend told me the old bridge had been quite beautiful with intricately twisted metal railings made to impress during the Victorian era when women in petticoats likely strolled around while the men were out hunting. At least that's what my friend imagined, and I could easily agree.

After dinner and hearing the story of my hostess's original house I was invited up to the house overlooking Loch Ness, which her oldest son and his family now live in. It was quite a lively atmosphere inside with him, his wife and all 3 daughters home from school and work for the Easter Holidays (certainly something American's don't have unless Easter just happens to fall during spring break). On the whole young Brit's seem so very similar to American's, with the addition of the accent. The two boy friends remained downstairs discussing their new cars, which the 2 oldest girls where apparently quite tired of hearing about by that point. One of them offered the piece of advice that when her boy friend started talking about some feature on his new car she'd say "Oh yea, mine does that too", which has thus far saved her from needing to hear more.

The next morning my kind hosts drove me the hour up to Findhorn in Northern Scotland for the next part of my trip where luckily they had a friend to visit nearby as well. So with one goodbye came another hello.

Tags: celtic music, drumnadrochit, glasgow, hiking, plodda falls, scotland, tenement house


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