March 28th, 2003
good night’s sleep, we woke to a seriously misty, moisty morning. But,
again, by leaving around 10, we gave the weather a little time to clear.
After breakfast we headed
toward Stirling via Forfar. We passed roads leading to the little villages
of Johnshaven, Laurencekirk and Edzell. I took a moment to reflect on 38
years ago when I met John about the tenth of April through John’s Chief
and his wife based at the US Naval Security Group Activity at RAF Edzell
and John’s friends and their wives and families living in the areas around
Forfar, Brechin and Montrose.
Steve stopped in Forfar and
we took an hour or so to walk around this friendly little market town, buy
bridies (of course) and cakes and, once more, catch the spirit of my
I found a little pet shop
where I bought my Skye terrier, Angus, a Black Watch collar and lead and
joined in a conversation with the owner and one of his customers whose son
is in training nearby at Barry Buddon to go to the Gulf to war. He’s a
young Black Watch soldier. I pray he comes home safely.
We got to Stirling (via Dundee) about 1:30 in the afternoon and elected to
go to the Castle. That suited me fine because I’d visited the Wallace
Monument with my family. On the way to the Castle, past Stirling Brig and
through the town, we saw University students and their families
celebrating this great milestone in their lives. Made me think of my own
and of my son-in-law, Denny (Alys’ husband) who will soon be graduating
himself from Arizona State University West, with his mathematics teaching
degree and credential. I’m proud of him and I’m proud of my fine daughter
and her small children who have supported him as he’s worked so hard to do
this. He’s a good husband to my daughter and terrific father to my
grandchildren. God bless them both.
Stirling Castle is
definitely worth the visit – especially the kitchens, the Argyle and
Sutherland Highlanders Museum, the Royal Apartments and the Great Hall. I
usually don’t like guided tours because they can make me feel too
“organized.” I lose my sense of adventure and discovery from being able to
roam around, but I took the tour here and was really glad I did.
The tour was very
informative and attention keeping – especially about recent excavations
and discoveries and the ongoing renovations to depict the castle in its
James V and Mary of Guise heyday – especially the tapestry weaving
demonstration and re-creation that’s progressing on site right now. But
the sight I loved the best was one, taken from the ramparts, as I looked
down to the courtyard of the Castle, where a mother and granny were taking
a wee lass for their tour. The little girl’s granny was holding her firmly
and safely not by the hand, or by a wrist strap as I’ve seen in the United
States, but by the bands of a little harness over her chest. I had to take
this picture because I had just one of these very same safety harnesses
for my children. Tina and Stephanie particularly remember wearing theirs,
and swear to this day to me that they hated it passionately and such
action of mine should be considered under the term of child abuse. So, my
lovely daughters, this wee photo is for you.
I was wearing a University
of Oklahoma/Portland, Oregon Indian Health Services conference tee-shirt
today and on my way out of the Castle a young man, by his accent American,
made a comment about having gone to university in Portland. I asked him
what brought him and his friends to the Castle and he replied they were
football players with the Scottish Claymores.
I knew about the Claymores
from my Internet wanderings exploring cyber-Scotland. This is an American
Football team in the European League: they sometimes play on ESPN on our
cable TV channels. I grabbed him and his buddies and made them come with
me to where I knew Belinda and Kari were waiting for me and rest of the
gang. Roping in the Castle security guard as our guest photographer, we
got some snaps. I have to send the mighty driver Steve copies – he follows
rugby and says he doesn’t know much about American football game rules –
neither do I, you know – but Steve did know who the Claymores were.
After touring the Castle
and being able to see the Wallace monument and Stirling Bridge once more,
we headed into Glasgow about 4 p.m. Steve said if we’d waited any longer
we would have been caught up in the nightmare slow downs of Friday night
rush hour – something we never had back in my day in Scotland.
Glasgow will be busy this
weekend. Steve tells me there’s a soccer match between Rangers of Glasgow
and Inverness tomorrow. That wouldn’t be too bad – except Inverness has a
very small, less powerful team and they beat Rangers 1-0 last week.
Tomorrow is the return match that he’s sure Rangers will be determined to
Nicky, Robbie and I had
dinner in a pub in the walking plaza that is now Sauchiehall Street – far
changed from the days my mum, granny and I would walk down it after
getting off the train at Buchanan Street Station – we’ll see how happy the
crowd is tomorrow night after the game.
Girls Road Trip starts
separating tomorrow. Belinda, Kari, Robbie and Nickie go back to Edinburgh
on an afternoon train. Lia, Suzanne and I stay to go to a comedy club show
at night. Robbie and Nickie leave Sunday morning for two days in London
.(Can’t understand why they’d want to do that and miss two days in God’s
country of Scotland.) The others leave for the US on Monday, the 31st, and
I leave on the 1st of April, meeting Robbie and Nicky at Gatwick.
We’re talking about doing
Girls Road Trip IV in San Francisco (the others having been Lia and me in
Arizona and New York/Canada, and this being III) in 2005. That’ll be fine
– leaves me free to head up another trip back to Scotland, hopefully, next
Tomorrow Glasgow will
belong to me as I make my “pilgrimage” to the Willow Tea Room and the
Tenement House to honor another Mackintosh and to remember the McIntosh’s
of Dundee and my growing up in our own tenement lands.
A wee moment in time in Forfar
Outside the walls of Stirling Castle
Looking towards the Forth and Stirling Brig and Wallace Monument at Abbey
The River Forth
Stirling Castle’s Great Hall
Representative of the Thrones in the Great Hall’s restoration
A family day at Stirling Castle
From the ramparts – Castle and Cannon
A different set of Claymores
Glasgow’s War Memorial at the City Chambers and Central Station