Scotland is a beautiful country, heavy with history. But the present political, economic, and social problems that plague this beautiful country are real. Real enough for Pete Wishart to quit a successful music career and run for office, striving for continuing devolution from the United Kingdom. Real enough for Bill and Christa to get whistful as they hear about the Hubby’s and my life in the States. Real enough to read about the lack of private property rights underlying it all. I find it ironic, in seeing these monuments advocating freedom, that the people of Scotland are still fighting for, still desiring, freedom in the 21st century. Such is the beauty and joy and sadness of Scotland and her people.
Sunday, May 28, 2006
After the drama of getting to Scotland, the return to the States is blissfully ordinary. At the Aberdeen Airport’s duty-free shop, we buy whisky (didn’t make it to the local distillaries this time around — it wasn’t on Bill and Christa’s “to-do” itinerary for us). Short flight from Aberdeen to London Gatwick. No hassles there at all — the Hubby greatly prefers Gatwick over Heathrow anyways, and after what happened two weeks ago, he’d prefer to avoid Heathrow in the future.
Longish layover in Gatwick, so we eat lunch and talk about how the wages in the UK are like many non-Left Coast, non-Right Coast states in the US, but the cost of living is twice as expensive. Staying with Bill and Christa (as opposed to hotels), we get to see how the locals live. Unless one is rich, living paycheck to paycheck is the norm. They live in a bottom floor flat, with neighbors who live in the second floor of the house that’s been separated into two apartments. Their flat is TINY — one bedroom, a study, a sitting room, a tiny kitchen, and a bathroom. Their mortgage for that flat is 32,000 UK pounds (equivalent to about $60,000 in the US). Bill, as an industrial painter in the manufacturing industry, makes comparable wages to somebody in the same position in the US. But that US guy would pay twice as less for housing as Bill does. A house like the Hubby’s and mine (which our mortgage is a little over $100,000) would go for nearly 200,000 UK pounds, or $350,000!
The flight from London to Dallas/Fort Worth is *long* — nearly eleven hours. Passport control at DFW has a long line, but unlike Heathrow, is efficient, and we go through quickly. After some minor confusion, we see our ride — Boxing Alcibiades and Janus Gate. Sight for sore eyes.
After early tea and supper, we go to Aberdeen Airport. Bill takes the Angus Coastal Tourist Route, so we get plenty of tourist time on the way to the airport. Outside Stonehaven is the ruins of Dunnottar Castle. It’s built on an isolated, steep, rocky outcropping, with sheer cliffs dropping to the craching North Sea below.
We bade farewell at the Speedbird Inn, next to te airport. After watching Bryan Singer’s The Triangle on BBC1 Scotland, we get some shut-eye.
Friday, May 26, 2006
It’s raining again. But the Hubby’s new passport arrived in the morning mail, so alles gut! Today we spend the day at Forfar: the Meffan (the local historical museum and art gallery), a couple of “charity” second-hand shops, and some errand-running. We have Forfar bridies (the local meatpies) for dinner (i.e. lunchtime in the US). Because of the rain, we have a quiet afternoon and evening with tea, coffee, food, music, and conversation.