Scotland pics

Ok, getting them online took a wee bit longer than expected. But there are sheep, castles, and McCondoms galore.

The entire big photo album!

Funny story: On our 2nd night in Stornoway, I ran into our driver*, F, having a smoke outside a pub. We went in, had a few drinks and met some people**, then the crowd we’d assembled moved on to another place, and had a few more. I got hit on by an older woman…older meaning damn near 50. So we danced a bit (hey, any port in a storm, right?), then I went back to our tanked-up bull session already in progress. About 2am, F and I decide to call it a night…apparently F had had a few before I met up with him too; I ended up pretty much leading/carrying because he was falling-over drunk and didn’t know the way back to the hotel. Anyway, we get there and there are these girls kind of half crashed-out in the lobby. F starts chatting with them (leaning on a couch for balance, heh) and they ask if we got to see the concert that day… F says no, but he was really looking forward to seeing this one band that he loves, and just starts going on and on about them. Meanwhile I’m noticing these funny backstage pass type things around all their necks, and a couple guys hauling equipment up the stairs. As a heavily inebriated F continues to gush about this band he wanted to see, one of the girls comes over, leans in and whispers in my ear: “Hey…when your friend wakes up tomorrow morning, tell him that he met us…”

Meanwhile, this same night, my bro was out on the town and fell in with a drunken local, and together they decided to try to sneak into the concert–an open-air Big Top tent-thing with a huge fence all the way around– “hey, I know all these trails back in the woods! They might be a little overgrown though; it’s been years since I’ve been back there…” A little overgrown was an understatement – the “woods” apparently consisted of solid bramble and sticker bushes. Anyway, they fight and claw their way through the woods and make their way to the fence, at what looks like an unguarded little section. Kind of half-crawl, half-dig their way underneath, come out the other side, and…hey, it’s the secure backstage area. All of the sudden about four security guards are coming at them, so they turn tail, dive back under the fence and take off running. One unforgettable story, and one torn-up pair of pants that can never be worn again.

Some random stuff:
Like probably many Americans who watched cartoons when they were little, I thought castle moats were filled with water, alligators, piranhas and all sorts of other vile man-eating stuff to keep people the hell out of the castle. Inquiring at the Campbell castle however (“how long since the moat was functional? And how did they keep the water from seeping in?”), I was told that it was actually an architectural feature to get sunlight and fresh air to the lower level. (Since the basement level also held a full kitchen with four blazing ovens in the days before air conditioning, this seems pretty reasonable.)

The sheep with colored dye on their backs: Occasionally an owner will mark his flock with a pattern or color to help identify them when they get loose, but there is another reason: A dye pack is strapped to the underside of a ram before he’s released into a bunch of ewes. When he “covers” a ewe (i.e. does his ram thing), it leaves easily-readable signs that he’s doing his job…and which of the ewes are knocked up.

When Earl Patrick Stewart (no relation to the starship captain) had his castle built, he designed in a secret room, accessible only by climbing up the chimney of the fireplace in the porter’s room. Only one builder knew about it, and he was killed after construction was finished to keep it a secret. Anyway, some shit went down, he was a wanted man, everyone and his brother was after him, so he went into hiding up in the room. The castle was scoured top to bottom, but he wasn’t to be found. After three days though, he decided he had to pull out his pipe and have a smoke (either deep into the nic fits, or just getting overconfident about not getting found out). Some people laying out on the castle grounds noticed little wisps of smoke coming from a tiny slit in the side of the castle, and figured out that there must still be someone in there. The castle was re-scoured; this time he was found and (eventually, after a bunch of additional shenanigans) executed. Let that be a lesson – smoking is bad for your health!

* because I don’t want to get anyone in trouble, I won’t name any names (F or the tour company…although ironically, their name is an anagram for “blog us”)

** yeah, in that area it’s perfectly normal and expected to randomly walk up to someone at the bar and strike up a conversation with them. Kinda cool. I think if you did it in Boston (unless, possibly, you’re hot and too-obviously attempting to hit on them) they’d just look at you with that “do I know you” look.

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One Response to “Scotland pics”

  1. Seth says:

    Your father bears a striking facial resemblance to Howard Dean.

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