My wife and I don’t take many vacations, but in mid-September we enjoyed a weeks’ stay in the Scottish Highlands. We quartered at a rustic, most pleasant retreat approximately 35 miles south of Inverness and enjoyed the company of hungry ducks, a few shy rabbits and a pea hen who have discovered that the residents of a dozen or so comfortably spaced cabins are a soft touch for a snack.
The Scottish Highlands are a dream come true for those who search for bucolic panoramas of rolling meadows and foothills framed against distant mountains, divided by centuries-old, arrow-straight stone walls and intersected by narrow country roads overhung with ancient trees. And of course there is the occasional castle, either well maintained or in picturesque ruins. The air is crystal clear and at this time of year can be a bit chill. We were fortunate in that we had only one morning of light rain, enjoying partly sunny skies for the rest of our time in country.
The sense of history is implacable, showcased as it is in so many ways. That part of the world has been inhabited since the end of the last ice age (roughly 8500 B.C.) and there are innumerable opportunities to explore and learn of the Celtic culture that developed there. For the avid photographer it is a constant feast of opportunity; for the history fan a never-ending journey of discovery.
For me, in addition to the joy of spending uninterrupted time with my wonderful partner-in-life, the pleasure of interacting with the locals that we met was a true reward. The Scots are a proud people, aware of their history and its global impact over the centuries, hard-working, gregarious, friendly, and secure in who they are. Their history, like other cultures, has its speed bumps and rough spots and yet they have moved forward to improve their lot. At one time, their capital of Edinburgh was a renowned center of education in the British Isles and even today its University is ranked 17th in the world. The city was named European Best Large City of the Future for Foreign Direct Investment by fDi magazine in 2012/13.
But the rural atmosphere (with the exception of a morning spent in Inverness) we explored during our visit was the greatest attraction for me. It gave me a great deal of pleasure to be walking through villages or scenic attractions, or enjoying a good meal in a restaurant and not be surrounded by the incessant one-way chatter of cell phone conversations or bombarded with their intruding ring tones. Good grief – people actually were talking with one another! And the people were most friendly and civil: I saw very little police presence during our stay.
I envy the people of Scotland for their societal integrity and their appreciation of their nation. It is a very saddening counterpoint to the divisiveness and angst that has been fostered in America by amoral politicians, race-baiters, multicultural protagonists, and the anti-Americanism of the academic left personified by such “revisionists” as Howard Zinn and Noam Chomsky
The only television available was the BBC and that was blessedly boring. We were able to concentrate on and enjoy the beauty surrounding us.
All told, I was most impressed with the Highlands and their inhabitants. I’m not sure if I be comfortable with the weather for a long period of time, but there are many, many aspects of the country that I find most attractive. I most certainly will return again, given the opportunity. Until then, I will treasure the memories.
Oh ……. there is considerable talk regarding a referendum to free Scotland from the yoke of the progressive oppression of the London socialist government. The Scots have been resisting English rule for centuries: hopefully they can achieve an independence through politics that the Claymores and clans could not achieve.