26.10.05

Day 1

Alright, I'm finally writing a post about my trip to the highlands. But I only have time for day one:

We left Edinburgh very early in the morning. The first thing we saw was this bridge. It is very old. Queen Victoria hammered in the last rivet herself; it was made of gold. It replaced a very ancient ferry. The water there is the Firth of Forth and if you were to cross this bridge (on a train) you would eventually find yourself at St. Andrew's.













Next, we went to a whisky distillery. At this point, it was, brace yourself, 11 am! Here's me and Annie drinking whisky to keep warm:














Next, we drove some more and ate lunch at a pub in a tiny town. Annie and I ate haggis! We cheated a little, because it was battered and deep fried... try to wrap your brain around that. For those of you unfamiliar with the legend of the haggis, it is said that years ago there was an animal called the haggis in Scotland. It had evolved to walk around/up mountains in circles until its legs were shorter on one side of its body and longer on the other. It was a small animal, and all hunters had to do to catch one was wait along a haggis path (you can still see circular paths around hillsides) until a wee haggis came along. They couldn't turn around, since their legs weren't built for that, so running away was difficult. Many people think they never existed, but my tour guide claims some builders found one preserved in a bog they were draining. I have a little stuffed haggis called Henry now. He squeaks. I bought him at Loch Ness. Anyway, the modern dish haggis is supposed to replicate what people did with the haggis after they hunted them: took out all the insides, kept the good stuff, mixed it with oats and spices, put it back in and cooked it. Nowadays, they use a sheep's stomach like a sack, taking out all the nastiness and putting inside various organs and things (I try not to think too hard about that) plus oats and spices. It actually tastes quite lovely if you refuse to think about what you're eating.





















Next, we visited a fort that was used by Redcoats to fight Highlanders during the Jacobite rebellions during the 17th century. The fort is in ruines because the Redcoats burned it down when they left so the Highlanders couldn't use it.



















Please note the beautiful scenery behind me in that photo. Next, we went to visit ancient cairns or burial grounds. When I say ancient, I mean more than 6000 years old. These are OLD. This one used to be covered and on Winter Solstice, the sunset would shine right through that passageway and light the little room inside by bouncing off a panel of mica on the back wall.















Next, we visited the Battlefield of Culloden. I'll try and keep the history parts short: the King of England got sick of the Highlanders wanting their French Catholic king back (in this case, Bonnie Prince Charlie) and wanted to maintain the (German) Hannover dynasty. So the Highlanders fought the Redcoats at Culloden and were massacred. Even the Highlanders fighting on the English side were killed. All the women and children were killed and their houses burned. This is a replica of a "black house" a highlander might have lived in:














After the battle, the bodies weren't allowed to be buried for SIX MONTHS. The Redcoats hunted and killed everyone they could. They searched far and wide for Prince Charlie, but no one every betrayed him. He hid on an island in a cave until he went back to Europe, dying in Italy an alcoholic, feeling guilty for raising the standard in Scotland and getting all the Highlanders killed. Meanwhile, Highland language, dress, music, dancing and every part of the culture, essentially, became illegal. You could be put to death for speaking a word of Gaelic or wearing your clan's tartan. The kilt didn't exist until much later, when a guy who was actually English figured out an easy way to sew something that looked just like the long piece of fabric the highlanders used to wear looked after they folded it and wrapped themselves up in it. Anyway, this battlefield is a gruesome, awful place.

After Culloden, we went to Loch Ness. We slept in a tiny town off the loch. I didn't take any pictures of the Loch, but it was really truly beautiful. Here we have a photo of Anne-Marie and Annie posing with the Loch Ness Monster:

1 Comments:

Blogger shug said...

sorry to be correcting your history like some old pedant but you get the England/Scotland thing wrong again. The Jacobite rebellion wasn't England V Scotland. There were more Scots on the government side than there were on the Prince's and the rebellion took place after the Union of the Parliaments in 1707 when Scotland and England became Great Britain. The Jacobite Rebellion was essentially a religious war between catholic and protestant though some who had been opposed to the Treaty of Union joined the Jacobite side in the hope that Scotland might become independent again.

10:19 AM  

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