January 16, 2013

It was COLD last night, a perfect night for curling up on the sofa and watching old movies on television.  My husband and I were clicking through channels (hmm, is clicking still the right word? remotes don't really 'click' anymore with those soft buttons...) and we happened upon the movie Braveheart.  That started us reminiscing about our trip to Scotland and I mentioned that just yesterday I had written about how much I had enjoyed sharing a cup of tea with our hosts at our bed and breakfast.  Jean and Angus, who run Gruinard Guest House in the Fife village of Burntisland (a short train ride outside of Edinburgh) were absolutely amazing people, warm and friendly, and they made us feel a part of their family while we stayed with them.  Their son got engaged while we were there, and we were invited to share in the celebration with wine and conversation long into the night in their beautiful backyard which overlooks Gruinard Bay.

Gruinard Bay at sunrise

Travel abroad always brings its share of "holy cow, I am so NOT in Kansas anymore" moments, and Scotland was no exception.  Since they speak the King's language, we naively assumed we would understand what was being said.  Not always!  Jean and Angus were kind enough to SPEAK SLOWLY to the Americans, but when our rental car driver showed up at the B&B it was a different story altogether.  I had arranged for the driver to bring our car to the B&B and then we were going to drive him back to the next village--a much easier way of getting a car than picking one up in Edinburgh, and then trying to drive a shift car (on the 'wrong' side of the road) out of the complicated twist and turn roads of the city.  When he arrived, it turned out he had gone to school with Jean, and they excitedly started to talking.  Please don't ask me what they said, I have no clue.  Their accents got thicker and thicker and they started talking faster and faster and my husband and I stood there trying not to look like baffled American tourists.  We finally got in the car and the driver gave us lengthy instructions on how to drive the car, how to manage the round-abouts, and what villages to visit while we were in Fife.  My husband was sitting up front with the driver, and kept saying 'uh huh' and nodding his head, so I was quite relieved that he was getting all the directions and I was free to sight-see from the back of the car.  Once we dropped the loquacious driver back at his home, off we set on our grand adventure, with me enthusiastically remarking what a great job my husband had done understanding the accent.  He looked at me and said...."I didn't understand a single word he said." 

We nonetheless survived driving in Scotland, in spite of lots of ambling sheep, baffling round-abouts (does anyone remember the round-about scene in National Lampoon's European vacation??) and narrow winding roads that took us down into amazing little fishing villages nestled in the Kingdom of Fife, villages with lovely names like Pittenweem, Crail and Anstruther.  We visited St. Andrews and drove past rolling fields of heather, and for most of the adventure, we understood very little of the conversations spoken!

Fields of heather
I thought I'd leave you with a small understanding of what we experienced in beautiful Scotland, with this charming but completely non-comprehensible poem by Lewis Carroll.  Enjoy!


'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
   Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;All mimsy were the borogoves,   And the mome raths outgrabe. "Beware the Jabberwock, my son
   The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
   The frumious Bandersnatch!" He took his vorpal sword in hand;
   Long time the manxome foe he sought—So rested he by the Tumtum tree,
   And stood awhile in thought. And, as in uffish thought he stood,
   The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
   And burbled as it came! One, two! One, two! And through and through
   The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!He left it dead, and with its head
   He went galumphing back. "And hast thou slain the Jabberwock?
   Come to my arms, my beamish boy!O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!"
   He chortled in his joy. 'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
   Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;All mimsy were the borogoves,   And the mome raths outgrabe.

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