Drizzle, fog, dark clouds, and cool temperatures welcomed us to Glasgow. Our dreariest day so far. On the up side, a bag piper piped us ashore. On the downside it was pouring by the time we left the ship.
Just like her predecessor, our tour guide did not disappoint! She introduced the bus driver and gave us a warm invitation to come to them with any and all suggestions for making our day as wonderful as possible. She followed, very deadpan, with, “In all probability we will do nothing about your requests.” She wove the word wee into her narrative at every opportunity. As in wee stop, wee bit of time, wee snack, wee building, wee baby. We learned that a punch-up is a fist fight and chucking it down means pouring rain.
Our tour started with a short car ferry ride across the Clyde River. On route to today’s destination our witty, wisp of a guide told us about Glasgow’s hay day. Sugar from the Caribbean, in fact, put it on the map and shipbuilding followed. At one time there were a whopping 42 builders along the river. Only 150 people work in the industry today and their jobs are now in jeopardy. We drove past highland cows for which I am now a groupie. They have thick floppy bangs and comically cute babies. Sidebar: a group of highland cows is called a fold. They do well here on the poor quality grass.
The narrow two-lane road hugged one lach after another, some freshwater and some saltwater. We passed Holy Loch and learned that it got its name when a small boat carrying soil from the Holy Land sank during a storm just shy of its destination. Of all things, Holy Loch was home to a Polaris submarine base during the Cold War. There were sheep at every turn as well as beautiful small pastures and fields. We passed a stand of California red woods that had been planted at the entrance to a botanical garden 150 years ago. They seemed to be thriving. From time to time we’d see a sort of bald area on one hill or another. The Funny One explained that Ireland was once covered in wild woodlands made up of slow growing hardwoods. The valuable hardwood is long gone with fast growing softwoods, a cash crop, now in their place. The bald areas are where the trees have been felled and the soil has been left to rest and recover for five years.
The point of our scenic bus ride was to visit Inveraray Castle, home to the 13th Duke and Duchess (a Cadbury [think chocolate] by birth) of Argyll and their three children. Here’s the backstory. Clans ran the show in the highlands for centuries. Clan Campbell was the dominate one in this area and lived and worked out of a fortified castle. About 300 hundred years ago when most of the fighting, plundering, and general warfare gave way to diplomacy, the clan leaders, some of whom were by then lords and dukes, decided to build modern homes (as in small castles) that were not fortified. The leader of Clan Campbell was by this time the head of the second most prominent dukedom in Scotland and addressed as the 3rd Duke of Argyll. He tore down the old castle and started construction of a modern, unfortified home in 1746. Sadly he died. The 4th Duke had no interest in living so remotely and left the unfinished project alone. The 5th Duke not only completed the castle some 40 years later, he also built a small loch-side community right down the road. This charming, small, planned community was built to support the castle and the people who worked in it.
After a quick lunch we explored the narrow streets of Inveraray and then drove across the one-lane bridge to the imposing green stone castle. We explored the beautifully appointed public rooms and found it interesting how the very old, think 1,300 piece of armory, have been integrated with pastel rugs, bright tapestries, and antique furnishings. One of Queen Victoria’s daughters married into the family, so there are gifts from the queen on display. We found of interest a collection of pins that men in the family wore to secure the swath of cloth tossed artfully over their shoulders when they were wearing traditional kilts of days gone by. The old kitchen was so big it looked like a movie set. Three ornate gold sailing ships were on the dining table. These ships had wheels and could be rolled from diner to diner in a self-serve fashion. The lids with their sails, masts, and flags would have been removed to reveal what delight was inside. A similar ship was designed to house a bottle of wine.
The grounds were just as impressive as the interior with beautiful views of water, woodlands, hills, and formal gardens. No other buildings were in sight.
Back on the ship we rallied for cocktails at 5:00 followed by our usual four-course dinner. Oh poor us!
Tonight’s seating was brilliant: Walter used the letters in my name. Going clockwise around the table the person whose name started with an S sat first. Next was the person whose first name started with a C. Next was H. At this point the women were all seated. With me so far? for the E, L, and final E Walter asked the guys to use the 5th letter of their own name and sit at the appropriate spot for that initial. Genius!
This evening’s show highlighting the music and traditional dance of Scotland was fantastic.
FOR WHAT IT’S WORTH
The origin of the kilt is actually Egyptian.
The game we recognize today as golf can be traced back to Scotland in 1457.
The first courses, clubs, and rules came from Scotland
as well as the world’s first tournament (1860).
China and Rome had rudimentary versions of similar games far before that however.
Scotland has a population of 5.4 million.
Glasgow is on the same latitude as Moscow, but the Gulf Stream guarantees no extremes in weather. A hot day is 68 degrees.
Scotland comprises 34% of Britain’s landmass.
2 thoughts on “Glasgow, Scotland (August 18, 2019)”
That Walter! He is so creative! Kilts originated in Egypt? How disappointing!
Welcome home! Thank you for sharing your wonderful trip! 😊
I was stunned by the kilts too. 😉