Fortunately, the next morning we know where to go, because I still remember the way to Loch Lomond from last year. On our way to the motorway we come through a strange neighborhood. The first thing you notice is that there are so many people just standing around, mostly men. If you look into the inner courtyards, behind a high wall or a high fence, you can see that the houses are one-story barracks with a well in the courtyard. In one house you can see the inside. The floor is made of stamped earth … This is the first time for me that I see slums. I never thought that there could be such poverty in Western Europe. [After the discovery of the North Sea oil, things are better, I have been told by a Scottish friend. The slums are gone.] When we ask an elderly gentleman in very worn clothes for directions, he answers us in a nice, educated English. You can never judge by the outside.
Here it happens to us for the first time that stupid guys want to pick us up: A boy about 18-19 years old with three 10-12 year old boys grinning from one ear to the other. At first we don’t want to go with them because the car is already so overcrowded, then they leave us in the dark whether they are going in our direction at all, ”we might”! In spite of all that, we get in. [Speaking of stupid … I guess we felt safe because of the young boys, stupid, stupid.] On the way the eldest stops again to stow our backpacks in the trunk. This is closed with a wire, which the boy has a hard time to loosen. While he is doing this, he asks us what we thought of sex. When we express our lack of interest, he just managed to untie the wire. Now he has to fasten it all again, without having achieved anything, while we stand by with a sneer. However, we only burst out laughing when they leave. We don’t want to embarrass him too much in front of the little ones.
After a few short lifts, we walk along beautiful Loch Lomond. Unfortunately, the weather is mixed and we are very happy when a small truck finally takes us to Crianlarich. We are lucky that someone stops at all, because the main road along Loch Lomond and through the Trossachs is only just wide enough for two tourist buses to pass each other and shave off the lowest branches of the trees with their roofs.
Crianlarich is a very small, nice place. The youth hostel there belongs to the category ’simple’ and is accordingly cold. So my friend and I go to the village pub to warm up. This pub is the first and last where we hear folk music, albeit from a record player [explain to your kids, what that is … ;-)].
July 10, 1974 (Wednesday)
The next morning we ask the Warden about our mandatory job that everyone has to do before leaving the hostel. This can be something like sweeping the floor in the dormitory or similar small jobs. We are supposed to put the blankets neatly together at the foot of the beds in our dormitory. We take care of it, and when he comes to inspect our work, he starts to laugh out loud. He wants the blankets to be folded in a very specific way. How should I know that? Me foreigner! While laughing, his back bumps against the fire extinguisher that hangs behind a curtain on the wall. This makes him giggle again, and he feels the object, believing that someone is standing behind the curtain. (And then he feels it?) I feel a little queasy when he behaves like that, it’s not completely normal, and I look over to my friend, worried. But he is recovering and we are folding blankets again.
We don’t have to wait long on the street when a young English couple stops and asks us where they are. „In Crianlarich“, we answer, and our ’perfect’ pronunciation makes them wonder if we are Scottish. They take us north-west with them.
We drive past Rannoch Moor and then through Glencoe. A part of the gorge looks very strange, completely flat at the bottom, and green with small puddles or almost lakes interspersed with individual trees and boulders. These rocks are invariably rounded (glaciers?) And are randomly scattered, as if two armies of giants had pelted each other with them. I have to think of the story of the Feinn, the original inhabitants of this area from the Gaelic legend, a people of heroes who lived in the neighboring mountains [I don’t remember, from whom I got that story, I cannot find anything about it now, the Wikipedia starts the history of Glencoe with the Jacobite uprisings] ).
There is also a story that says the sun would never shine here again after the Campbells slaughtered the MacDonalds in Glencoe. In fact, the mountains on both sides cast dark shadows into the valley and the rest of the light is muffled by the low-hanging clouds or the rising fog. I tend to believe that this is due to the general high level of humidity in the valley and that the sun never or rarely shone here before the massacre either.
The couple invites us to the Glencoe Folk Museum, a small, ancient Shieling (a traditional house built from natural stones and roofed with thatch. In addition to the old costumes and weapons, you can look at various books about the legends and historical events. At such moments, I always regret to be dependent on a car owner and that we don’t have unlimited time.
[Now there is also something like this: Before you explore, find out more about the landscape, history and wildlife at the award-winning Glencoe Visitor Center. Including exhibition, viewing platform, cafe, shop and ranger information point. I have no idea, if this existed back then.]
After a while we set off towards the west coast. Fortunate for us, the English couple takes the road along Loch Leven, a beautiful lake situated between steep wooded slopes. Instead of taking the car ferry across Loch Head like most motorists do, we take the Ballahulish Ferry, two crazy, converted ships that have to turn around each time before mooring because you can only go up at the stern and back down again. [It looks on the map like there is now a bridge over Loch Head. Surely a lot has changed!]
[Look what I found, a YouTube movie with the ferry! I was wrong about driving backwards, they had a rotating loading area!]
The couple drops us off in Fort William. This city is just like last year: filled with tourists and souvenir shops. My friend and I get some sandwiches first and then discuss what to do next over hot pie in a pub. We plan to take a closer look at the west coast.
The road to the west is unfortunately lacking any kind of traffic. That wouldn’t be so bad if it didn’t rain cats and dogs. A young man finally takes us a few villages with him to Corpach, which mainly consists of a hotel and a train station. There we stand in a phone booth for a few hours, because it is pouring down and not a single car comes by.
Suddenly two boys join us, French, who tell us that a train to Morar and Mallaig would leave in 15 minutes. We are seizing this opportunity. The two French people are very nice, one long and thin, the other round and small. The thin man is wearing a black and white bonnet and I ask him if that would be the tartan ’Scott black and white’. He is upset and proudly says that these are the national colours of Brittany! (I don’t seem to have lost my talent for creating a scandalo.) – On my flute he plays Breton dances for us, which remind me of old Scottish and Irish tunes.
In Morar we get off the train. The boys want to go on, across the islands. It is only four kilometers from Morar train station to the youth hostel. That is not a great distance, at least in good weather! But it is still pouring and we are soon convinced that we have already passed the hostel. Then we pass houses and when we ask about the way to the Garramore Youth Hostel, they answer us: „Just carry on!“ – So we drag ourselves on, up and down hills, against wind and weather. On the way we meet the young man who picked us up in Fort William. He’s working on a boat with a friend. He recognizes us and waves to us.
Finally we arrive, soaking wet and completely exhausted. However, a hot meal soon puts us in a good mood again. [Yes, back then we were still robust and sporty!]
[I always thought that Cambuslang was a suburb of Glasgow (sorry, Cambuslangers!), but that does not seem to be the case. It is a town in its own right, a town without townhall though, or a very large village, as the Wikipedia mentions … 😉 😀 ]
July 7, 1974 (Sunday)
The next day we want to take a closer look at Glasgow and, above all, buy books. Margaret’s neighbours Julie and Hughie, who invited us to a party in the evening, take us into town in their car. In Glasgow there is a huge covered flea market called ’The barrels’ that is open every day. We really want to go there. Otherwise we walk around more aimlessly but, in my opinion, get a pretty good picture of Glasgow.
Back in Cambuslang we are greeted with cheers because Germany has just won the World Cup in football. ** We also have the opportunity to watch Margaret cutting hair. She didn’t learn that, but she manages to make a totally professional cut. The young man is delighted.
During our after dinner digestive walk we suddenly hear pipes and drums from somewhere. We follow the sound and come to a kind of Greek theater in miniature, where a small group of young people in tartan play music. The acoustics are excellent. „They must be students,“ says Margaret, „if they were soldiers, they would have shorter hair.“ – Some things are the same everywhere.
The evening is approaching, and with it the party and the worries about what to wear. After all, we only own jeans and t-shirts. We are not prepared for a ball. Margaret says it doesn’t matter and that everyone will understand. She lends me a very cleverly cut brown and white T-shirt from her own inventory.
When we arrive, Julie is already drunk. Besides the three of us there are Eddie, two unknown couples and Willy with his wife. We met Willy the evening before. He is at least 1.90 m tall, red-haired or better red-maned and totally tattooed on both arms. One of the pictures in his exhibition reads: “Marriage? – Never more! ” – Does he mean that he wants to stay true to his first love or that his marriage to the pretty black-haired Carol is not very happy? After all, they have a child together. That evening, however, they give each other various slaps in the face. Deary me! According to Margaret, Willy is a guy who works six months and then takes six months off. He and Carol have split up before, but moved back in together because of the child. From him we hear the first gælic sentence, or is it? Maybe it is only gælified English. In any case, he says: I’ll gang haeme noo! 😉
Hughie is continuously scuffing sandwiches with the battle cry „Feed the bear“. While dancing he lifts me up with a crazy cry, but he doesn’t even look at me and I have to think of an animal’s cry for help.
Julie pours more and more alcohol into herself, the others too, and I’m completely sober. A recent hepatitis forced me to abstain for a year. So I feast on delicious orange juice in the kitchen while Julie looks over my shoulder with a stupid giggle and asks: „Does that make you feel sexy?“ – Hughie has fallen asleep in his armchair by now, and Eddie confides to me that Julie makes him drunk on purpose, because then he falls asleep and she can get approach the other women’s husbands all the better. Margaret refers to her as ’flout’, a person who wants to get other people’s attention. Later I am told that this term is more than polite, that women like this are more likely to be called ‚cow‘. Julie would have loved to jump into bed with both men, only the wives disturb. These are very nice to look at and I don’t understand how their men can choose the unattractive, skinny Julie over their own women, even if it’s just for one round. I understand even less, why the wives seem to sympathize with Julie and sit down next to her and try to calm her down. [In my youthful righteousness I didn’t recognize true kindness.] „I am so hot tonight!“ she moans. My goodness, Sodom and Gomorrah, where did I end up here at the tender age of 19?
My best friend and I are fed up and say goodbye. Julie is currently crouching at the sideboard and wants to pull herself up at the tablecloth that is covering it. She tears everything down, records, glasses, everything lands on the floor and she half dies of laughter about it.
July 8, 1974 (Monday)
We all want to spend the last day together in a peaceful atmosphere. Margaret, the children and we are taking a bus tour through the Trossachs. We drive the route along Loch Kathrine to Loch Lomond, which I already know, but then turn left towards Campbeltown („Campbeltown Loch, I wish you were whisky …“ [by the way, Campbeltown Loch is a bay/short fjord with connection to the Firth of Clyde, and not a lake, ahem … The link leads to a YouTube video, in which Andy Stewart relates the story behind the song, and then he sings the song itself.]).
We visit a ’Weaver’s Shop’, where we get a real impression of the variety of tartan patterns for the first time. Clan-labeled ties hang on the walls and I try to memorize as many as possible. Unfortunately, some of them are so similar that I would only recognize a maximum of ten patterns at once. [Now only five.]
At Loch Long we (the whole tour group) have ’High Tea’, a Scottish evening meal. This includes a warm platter, fried eggs or fish with French fries or baked beans and various small cakes. In addition, white bread and jam are served. You can also drink as much tea as you want. My friend and I are paying for this because Margaret did not allow herself to be dissuaded from inviting us to the bus tour. When we go out we take three pieces of ginger cake for Janet and various bread sticks for Heather along from the next table.
In the evening we go to the pub for the last time to say goodbye. A friend of Pat assures me that if I leave now, it will break his heart. „C’est vrai,“ says Pat. He is a pretty boy, tall and slim with these charming Celtic colors, black hair and dark blue eyes, just like Heather and Willy’s wife Carol (and Donovan [Sir Donovan Leitch now] …). Tom and Pat take us home, and the touching farewell scene then takes place in the back yard. When we finally want to go inside, I can’t open the apartment door with the key, so Eddie, who fell through the door some time before (because drunk), has to get into his pants again to let us in. „That was a nice, peaceful day,“ says Margaret.
(To be continued)
** During all those years I haven’t noticed that this is my checkpoint for the dateline! The 7th July 1974 was the day, when Germany won the Worldcup, and it was a Sunday, I checked that too now. So all my reasoning and calculating of dates and week days in part 1 is herewith supported and found correct. 😉 🙂
Ihr findet die alte deutsche Version hier (Teil 3 und 4 in einem).
July 2, 1974 (Tuesday)
The next day we plan to hitchhike to Loch Windermere. The weather is wonderful and we have no problems being picked up.
Windermere is a beautiful town, with clean parks, rich villas and only older, venerable buildings. Unfortunately it is also ’highly touristic’. In any case, nothing keeps us there for long. We slowly walk back, singing, dreaming and playing guitar.
July 3, 1974 (Wednesday)
We spend another day in Kendal, when we actually want to look at the castle complex, but then we are too lazy and look at it from below, from a distance.
In the vicinity of our domicile we meet a lady who is dragging her dog for a walk, and we start a conversation with her. „You shouldn’t hitchhike,“ she says, „Men are so bad!“
[I think the other nights we slept in the youth hostel in Kendal and not with John.]
July 4, 1974 (Thursday)
We do it the following morning anyway, or let’s better say, we try! There are almost no vehicles on the road we have chosen, not to mention cars. It then starts to rain, and we both regret not having brought our parkas with us instead of the waterproof but cold oil jackets. After three hours we are close to tears. We are really well equipped!
A lovely young couple then finally takes us with them and drops us off at a parking lot after an endless and beautiful up and down hill drive in a breathtaking gorge. A bus full of college boys is parked there. They would love to take us with them, but the driver won’t allow it.
How we arrive at the youth hostel in Patterdale is not recorded. But all sources report that we are reaching it alive. Patterdale is in the heart of the Lake District. There we meet a group of Scottish girls, two Irish and two girls from ’Birmingim’. One of the Scottish girls, Janet, is waving the blue and white flag and pleading for ’Scotland the brave’ to be made the national anthem. I later play chess with her, even though I haven’t practiced it for three years or more. Still, the game ends in a stalemate after three hours and I’m very proud.
In the evening my best friend and I turn pale , when we set eyes on the Scottish dinner. It consists of at least five courses, with vegetables, potatoes, pastry, bread, cheese, everything your heart desires. We, on the other hand, eat our Chinese coolie meal and are happy that we don’t have to stuff our stomachs so decadently. 😉 😀
July 5, 1974 (Friday)
The next day we have to walk a long distance, but then we get a good lift with a large family from Northumberland, all red-haired, all in a good mood and chatting, typical ’Nukassel breed’!
A red-haired truck driver finally takes us as far as Glasgow, and he has to deliver his whiskey in Cambuslang, of all places, on a street parallel to Woodlands Crescent, where Margaret lives [see 1973 diary, we met her and her 2 daughters in Rowardennon and had a remarkable journey on foot over Ben Lomond to Loch Ard, it seems that I have not written anywhere that we planned to go and see her, we did, and we did 😉 ]. If that isn’t luck! No searching for buses in a strange city. In the warehouse, the driver’s cabin is immediately surrounded by the young workers and we are being talked to from two sides. Unfortunately, we only understand every tenth word. This is Glaswegian!
My best friend and I flee and drag ourselves and our luggage up the hill to Woodlands Crescent, accompanied by a happy crowd of children who imitate our slightly bent posture and accompany us to Margaret’s house. That’s a good thing, because house numbers don’t exist (the poor postmen) and the children help us with our inquiries. When my friend unpacks the guitar, they are completely delighted and cannot be moved from our side. Heather and Janet do not remember me, but Margaret is delighted and welcomes us very warmly.
In the evening we all go to the local pub to celebrate our arrival. There we also meet Eddie, Margaret’s friend, our rescuer from Loch Ard, who has put on a lot of fat since last year. In the pub, we again are immediately surrounded and meet some charming young men. It happens that we agree with two of them, Tom and Patrick, to meet again in the pub the next evening.
July 6, 1974 (Saturday)
During the day we are invited to the grandparents‘ home with Margaret and daughters, a lovely, amiable couple. Margaret’s father knows a lot about Scotland and recommends that I read the book ’Kidnapped’ for a better understanding of the highland mentality and atmosphere. (Although this is a children’s book. I remember hearing this story by R. L. Stevenson as a series on the radio.) [There is also a follow-up book called ’Catriona’. I have read both books.] I am particularly interested in the meaning of these often recurring prefixes in place names, such as ‚Aber‘, ‚Kin‘, ‚Drum‘ and ‚Kyle‘. For example, ’Aber’ and ’Inver’ are words for confluence, as in Aberdeen and Inverness. „And Lochaber“? I ask him. He doesn’t know this name, but thinks that two lakes should flow into each other there. One look at the map and you can see that he is right. Unfortunately I don’t remember everything he tells us, otherwise I would have been able to guess the geographic location from many Scottish places by their names. [I did a little more research. With „Lochs“ there are often places with „Kinloch …“ in the name. They’re all at one end of a Loch, not somewhere along the banks, but at one end. Then there are different places with “Drum” or “Drumna”. Most of them are located on a watercourse that either flows into a larger river or into a lake (Loch). But that’s not always the case, so I can’t be sure.]
In the evening we meet our two young men and have a good time. Patrick has a bit of a rough, gruff manner and unexpectedly twists my wrist around. I am really angry about that and he apologizes immediately. Apparently this is ’the Glasgow way of playing’. By the way, Pat works in Alexandria, which I find somewhat confusing. But then it turns out that it is a suburb of Glasgow. Later we accompany them a little further in their direction. But we notice a wild brawl from afar, apparently nothing unusual in Glasgow, and the guys send us back with kisses, which again comes very unexpectedly for me.
Die deutsche Version findet ihr HIER in der zweiten Hälfte des alten Beitrags.
July 1, 1974 (Monday) London – Kendal
We are glad to be leaving the next day. We take the underground all the way to the outskirts of the city to get to the northbound motorway. Unfortunately, there is no access to the motorway at the end station, so we have to take the bus a long way back into town. We are then picked up very quickly, even though the street is lined with hitchhikers. The young couple who picks us up didn’t want to take us with them at first because they thought we were Americans, because of our yellow oil jackets, and “Americans never pick anybody up!” – From that moment on, by the way, everyone thinks we are Germans because of the yellow oil jackets, because they are very much in fashion there in 1974. We will soon be cursing them (the jackets). We were dropped off near the town of Rugby.
Our next ’chauffeur’ is Joe, a truck driver from Wigan. I tell him that I have read George Orwell’s book ‚The road to Wigan Pier‘ and ask him what the ‚Pier‘ is all about, the city is in the middle of the country and no larger bodies of water nearby (or ?). I didn’t understand Joe’s explanation at all. He spoke with a fairly heavy accent (Lancashire ???). [In Wigan there is a canal that is / was probably used for shipping. A district in Wigan, which is on the canal, with storage facilities, is called ’Wigan Pier’. Aaaand there is a restaurant called ’The Orwell’! Googled everything.]
Joe is short, wiry and very nice. He takes us back to his hometown (a great lift, look at the route on the map – yes, we have one with us again: Rugby – Wigan, approx. 160 kilometers) and treats us to apple pie and white coffee on the way. We entertain him with Irish folk songs like “If you want your child to grow…” and “Seven drunken nights”, but only the first five stanzas, because I don’t know the last two. The Dubliners sang the song in the Hamburg music hall without the last two stanzas. [And if I had known them at that time, I would have claimed not to know them.] He kisses our hand in goodbye, even with a tear in his eye, and invites us to a beer if we ever by chance should meet again. Cheers Joe, it’s pretty unlikely we’ll see you again!
Joe leaves us at an extremely disadvantageous spot for hitch-hiking, a roundabout where the cars cannot stop properly. We expect an ominous waiting time, especially when an attractive, red-curled creature comes to our corner. A little French boy jumps out of the bushes and wants to appoint himself to be the leader of our small group. „I wait’ ere, you ’ide, and when a car comes, I“ and he stuffs two fingers into his mouth to suggest a whistle. How cute is the little one! When a car finally stops, he takes us three girls with him, although there is hardly any space, and leaves the little one behind. We do feel sorry for him!
The red-haired girl is a student from Glasgow who wants to get there today. That is an ambitious plan! She tells us that she always hitchhikes alone, she did it in Italy too. „You are brave“ I say. – „I’m not brave, I’m jus shtuppid!“ she says. But don’t think that her pronunciation is typically Scottish or in the least bit Glaswegian, oh, no, we should still get to know Glaswegian, so far we have no clue of what to expect!
The driver of the car, John Mansfield, sailor from Kendal, invites us to stay with him. He also hires us to do the dishes, vacuum the carpets and make beds, but that’s fine with us, of course. He has a German girlfriend in Kiel, also a sailor. What I like best is his tomcat, black from the tip of his nose to the tip of his tail. John warns me about him, [„hangovers can be rough“ is the Google translation for the next part, not wrong in any way, but not the translation of the German text which is:] tomcats can be rough, he says. But he lets me caress him for about an hour without doing anything other than purring (the tomcat, that is).
When John sees our space-tested astronaut sleeping bags, he starts to shake with laughter. I’m even freezing with my sleeping bag under a thick duvet! In this case, the aluminum foil probably reflects the body’s own cold.
Die deutsche Version findet ihr HIER. Ich teile die alten deutschen Beiträge wieder in jeweils zwei Teile, weil die sonst zu lang werden.
I had promised at some point to start with the second Scottish saga. It is in a total of 16 parts, as we were on the road twice as long.
So here is the start:
Scotland 1974, part 1, Hamburg-London
As you could read in the 1973 diary, I was very fond of Scotland. So I wanted to go back the following year, all six weeks of the summer vacation. My best friend and I. We shared the pain of the actually quite useful foreign language school, and now we wanted to share the last opportunity to be on the road for six weeks in one go. Because from next year onwards we would have to work.
I did not mention any dates in the second diary, but my research showed that the summer vacation in 1974 for Hamburg took place from July 1st to August 10th.
As far as the ferry is concerned, there seem to have been two different ones in the two years, but they were both called „Prince Hamlet“. That makes sense because the cafeteria looked very different the second time around. There were no longer any padded benches on which one could sleep reasonably comfortable. The second Prince Hamlet was then replaced by the ’Hamburg’ and the ’Admiral of Scandinavia’. On February 28, 2002 the ferry service from Hamburg was stopped and moved to Cuxhaven. This ferry service was then discontinued on November 6, 2005. No more ferry to England from Germany. Since 2014 it has not been possible to sail to Newcastle from Esbjerg either. The flights and the rental cars have become too cheap. Well, that was a ferryology course. But you probably know how it is once you start doing research on the internet …
This diary also contains other gaps. It almost looks like I’ve been busy with other things than writing …
First of all, I will assume that we sailed on June 28th. I couldn’t find any old timetables. Perhaps on the way we will find some clues in the diary about days of the week or something that can give us information. There is a comment from a weekend on the 16th and 17th travel days (July), that would fit with departure on June 28th, because a departure on July 5th would not fit with a return trip within the summer vacation, which ended on the weekend 10th / 11th August.
June 28, 1974 (Friday)
The ’Prince Hamlet’ casts off in the most beautiful sunny weather. Both the ship deck and the St. Pauli Landungsbrücken are evenly overcrowded and offer a summery, colorful picture. My best friend and I don’t really feel like posing for my father’s film camera and we quickly disappear into the crowd. I don’t want to see anything anymore, because I’m actually already on the other side of the Channel.
Unfortunately, even my imagination cannot save me from the monotony of the crossing. But a silent observer can pass the time a little. There is for example the would-be bon vivant and his greasy friend, who chat up two girls and show off loudly on the deck. The better looking one of the two describes himself as ’a clever fox’ (he is German), orders champagne continuously, and is very surprised that the girls do not want to spend the next week in bed with him. The passengers on deck get their money’s worth in terms of entertainment.
In the course of the afternoon we met a very nice Irish woman, a woman from Berlin and two guys from Hamburg. Many of us spend a hard night on the canteen floor, a melting pot of all kinds of beliefs and social classes. For my girlfriend and me, the night is also relatively cold, because our incredibly warm, aluminum-lined (because it reflects one’s own body warmth), light, as without any eiderdown, space-tested astronaut sleeping bags prove to be an absolute disappointment. In plain language: we are freezing our asses off! After much deliberation, we come to the conclusion that we will probably not spend the nights outside, as originally planned.
June 29, 1974 (Saturday)
The weather the next morning is bad, cold and grumpy. I take my flute, which I have with me this time (a piccolo, fits in my jacket pocket) and sit on a rescue kit in a sheltered corner. „Are you Scottish?“ a man asks me. – „No.“ – But you play Scottish folk songs! “ – „Yes.“ That is maybe supposed to be male logic. My friend also comes over and sings on her guitar, which she is determined to drag around Scotland for six weeks. I long for activity, for the ’up and away’.
Once in Harwich we get lost on the way to the train station (that is some achievement in such a small town) and discover a sandwich shop! We buy a small supply to eat on the train. But, oh how deceptive is outward appearance! We find neatly placed thin slices of cheese and ham on the edge of the sandwich and the middle left bare! I feel cheated! Somebody later tells me that this is common in England. Not cheating, but this kind of bread! However, I never ate sandwiches like this again during the next six weeks. However, our trip goes mainly through Scotland, but does that mean that the English are more Scottish than the Scots?
After arriving in London we first go to the youth hostel, a ’summer hostel’ that is only open in the high season. The mall around St. Paul’s Cathedral is now completed and looks just as ugly as any other. By the way, it was the same youth hostel where Susi and I stayed the year before.
I call the brother-in-law of my African friend, with whom we have already agreed to meet, and we plan to meet at the underground station. While I am waiting for him, two English women ask me about the cathedral and I explain the way to them. I think they didn’t even notice that I was a foreigner. Then I notice an African who looks at me carefully as I at him, but then he speaks to a newspaper agent and then hurries away. I rush after him and catch up with him in the youth hostel canteen. It was indeed the brother-in-law. The three of us drive home to him and his wife. My friend’s sister is an extremely lovable creature. She welcomes us as warmly as if we were old friends. The brother-in-law gives me an African tie-dye shirt as welcome present and then we look at the inevitable family photos. All of my African friends have a passion for this. Unfortunately, they generally only take photos of family members and friends, and often not even very well. (I still have some particularly typical specimens.) [O.k., o.k., my family also had such family photo enthusiasts, I admit it. And I myself have a bad reputation for mainly photographing ’flowers in the wind’, more or less sharp, depending on the strength of the wind So we have nothing to blame each other for. In the meantime, ’birds in the wind’ have been added to my photo passion. My husband even thinks that I should have more people on my photos, as I tend to take pictures of places and nature preferably without humans in them. Most Africans in my circle of friends were absolute people persons.]
Finally the brother-in-law brings us back to the bus. Some youngsters shout after us: „Badhe loves the white!“ He is embarrassed about this and asks us to ignore these stupid young people. Well, there are prejudices everywhere. Badhe invites us to eat and sleep with them on the way back. He also wants to help me buy the snakeskin boots that my friend wants so badly, with platform soles, which are all the rage at the moment.
June 30, 1974 (Sunday)
But the next day Badhe doesn’t have time and I can’t get the shoes. (That’s a good thing, as it turns out later.) My friend has the very clever idea of buying them on the way back, then we could take them with us and save the postage, because I do not want to spend six weeks lugging around a pair of long boots. Surely one must be amazed at the problems civilized people have!
I can’t remember what else we did in London that day. I suppose sightseeing and ’lite bites’.
When we come out of the youth hostel on Monday, a car stops next to us: “Hello, ladies, do you want to come with me? I have to go all the way to the northern tip and don’t want to drive alone.“ Apparently one of the many business travelers. We heard it several times also from lorry drivers that they like to have company on the long hauls. We want to go to Edinburgh, but we recall that one of the Dutch boys wanted to go north. We tell the man and describe the boy’s appearance and possible location. We stand on the road to Edinburgh ourselves. And of course we paid the warden, that’s for sure! For the first time we are refusing a lift. A young man who wants to take us a few miles. We want to go to Edinburgh, and sometimes it’s stupid when you’re in the middle of nowhere. We are doing right, because only a short while later a car stops that takes us all the way to Edinburgh. The driver has lost a hand and uses a strap-on scoop that he slips over a ball on the steering wheel. So he can drive very safely. I find that very practical.
To get over the new bridge over the Firth, you have to pay 30 pence. [Actually, it is called Forth bridge, it is the bridge over the Firth of Forth.] Our driver gets upset: “That’s ridiculous. In the past you could cross over for free with the ferry. Now they have built the new bridge with our tax money, and now we have to pay if we want to use it. Ridiculous!“ – Somehow he’s right. But we’re already in Edinburgh by then. He drops us off in the middle of the city center so that we can get to know the city on the march to the youth hostel. We have to walk for about 15 minutes. There is only one boy sitting in front of the hostel. „Because most people don’t know that the hostels in the big cities already open at 2 p.m.“ he says. That is, of course, good for us. We didn’t know that either, but now we’re here. But first we go to a snack bar … [I’ve heard different pronunciations for Edinburgh: Edinborrow, Ed’nbarra with a rolled „R“ and in Edinburgh itself Edinbro.]
Later we meet a guy from Hamburg called Rainer who asks us if he could come with us. I have a bad feeling, Susi probably too, but somehow we feel sorry for him. When we are ready to go, he drags another German along, Wilfried by name. Wilfried gets terribly on my nerves. We go shopping and eating and meet in Princes Street Gardens, below the castle, to sit on the grass. In the evening Susi and Rainer go to the cinema (the ten commandments) and I already see myself burdened with Wilfried in the common room. I say that I want to wash my hair, „Good night then,“ and escape. (Susi later tells me that Rainer had tried to cop off with her, but was totally brushed off instead.) Later on, with ’Androcles and the lion’, I sit down in the common room anyway, with a boy at a table. He is an American and an aspiring writer. He talks a lot about himself and thinks that he can get to know a city in one day. He was in Germany for three months and speaks German pretty well. He’s actually very nice, although I can’t take him too seriously. He smiles and says, “You should have a party here. There are so many young people here who are bored!“ I can’t really see that the people around us are bored, maybe he is. I better remove myself.
Half an hour before midnight, various French girls storm into our room. They continue making noise until long after midnight until I finally remark in French that I would like to sleep. Calm descends on the dormitory.
July 24, 1973 (Tuesday)
The next morning we wait for Rainer. But when he still doesn’t show up at 10 a.m., we leave. Maybe he is mad about the brush off from the night before. Fortunately, Wilfried has left. The sun is shining and we are content. In front of us is a young woman with a child in a pushchair. We hear that she speaks German with the child. All of a sudden she stops and we almost run into her. „Sorry!“ she says. “It is o.k.,” we answer in German. She looks up in surprise. Then she comes after us. „You are from Germany? Do you live here? “ We tell her about us. She, Heide, has lived in Scotland with her husband and children for three years. This year in September they will go back to Germany. When we tell her how little money we have left, she immediately invites us to dinner. A feeling of elation overcomes us. Another nice person in our acquaintance.
We go to the castle, where the grandstands are already being built for the Highland Games. (By the way, one of the most important locations for the Highland Games is Braemar. It is there that they are officially opened by the Queen.)
From the castle you have a great view over Edinburgh. There’s a loan from the Acropolis over on Calton Hill. Or? It actually looks like a sun temple.
The tourist crowds are of course annoying. Some pose on cannons, some standing beside guards who wear such a beautiful uniform: kilt, black jackets, shoes with white gaiters, tartan hats and stockings, and the inevitable sporran. What a beautiful picture must that give: a happily grinning, fat tourist next to a young guard, who looks away in embarassment.
Susi and I slide sideways into a dark alley and take a look at the Grassmarket, where people used to bargain for horses and the like. In order to wet the dry throats of the traders, the most wonderful pubs have been built around the square, unfortunately all of them too expensive for us.
A guy is renovating a house. I wouldn’t even have stepped blindfolded up the wooden ladder he uses: not a single rung is unpatched. Our way leads us through a sinister area until we come back to a main street and a bookstore. An exemplary bookstore, a wonder of the world in Great Britain, let’s go inside! The books are not only sorted alphabetically, but also according to subject. In other bookstores, if they exist at all, it is a coincidence that someone finds the books they are looking for. [This has greatly improved during the years after our visit.] But I’ve already bought two books in London and three in Elgin. Now the money is gone. Then we end up in Princes Street Gardens and listen to the entertainment that is put on there every day. After the Highland dancers, three girls perform what is declared as Scottish folklore: an American song, an Irish song, a Scottish song, an American song. In between, an older man plays the organ. He has an impressive repertoire spanning all types of music genres and eras. Young and old, foreigners and locals meet here.
We also meet Rainer, who is now trying to cop off with me. No, no, no, no, no! When Susi says that she is bored, he says: „If you don’t like it here, why don’t you leave!“ – Susi and I look at each other and have to laugh. What a cheaky jerk! When he hears about our invitation from Heide, he naturally wants to come with us. [Why on earth did we tell him?] He is grating our ears the whole day, even in the evening in the youth hostel, until Susi finally withdraws herself: „I still have to wash my hair!“ – Now I am alone with the plague, but I manage to get rid of him. He is so infinitely taken with himself, it is unbearable. [Funnily enough, both Susi and I meet him again later. Susi in France, not so long after the trip to Scotland. I on a hitchhiking tour with my best friend from Berlin back to Hamburg several years later. He was just as pushy and blabbing as in Scotland. He didn’t recognize me and I didn’t say anything. I didn’t need that. The Berlin tour is also a story in itself… It’s actually amazing that we both meet him again by coincidence and in so different places. The man gets around. But maybe one meets other people again as well, one just doesn’t notice them because they don’t behave in such a dominant way.] The evening at Heide’s is very nice, and we get permission to leave our backpacks with them the next day and an invitation to eat haggis because I raved about it so much. [I never seem to have had contact with Heide and Mike afterwards. I can’t even remember sending a „thank you“ card for all the good deeds. They wanted to go back to Germany in September and we didn’t have the address, but anyway. Somehow atypical for me, I hope.]
July 25, 1973 (Wednesday)
After depositing the backpacks, we are drawn to Thistle Street, where, according to our hosts, a junk auction takes place every Wednesday. We sit down on a staircase until 11.00 a.m. when Heide approaches. She would like to go to the market with us. A mahogany sideboard that no one wants goes for 10 pence, while some idiot gives £ 2.40 for two stupid pots. In any case, you can furnish an apartment there cheaply if you are lucky.
Then Heide invites us to coffee and cake: “Today everything is extremely free of charge. I was just at the bank! “ – Shortly afterwards we take the pilgrimage to the Royal Botanic Gardens. I wanted so much to see them. A wonderful area: well-kept, bright tropical houses, veritable flower hedges, carpet-like lawns, sunshine and few tourists.
And, best of all: there is a tearoom! I notice some bizarre shaped trees, apparently conifers, that I have never seen before. Hungry for education as we are, we visit the Modern Art Gallery and then rush into the tearoom and steal pieces of sugar. A huge range of gourmet salads laugh at us next to a shelf full of cakes. Oh, this looks tasty.
There are some sculptures in front of the building. I like this one: The Risen Christ, by an artist whose name is like a Beatles manager’s. [Jacob Epstein] I’m taking a brilliant photo of the black thing. It is standing in the shadow, so one can only guess that the risen One is there.
We roll around for an hour in sunshine and green grass, before we make our way back to Princess Street Gardens.
Far in the distance we see the castle. Man, did we walk far!
The way leads us through quiet little streets to the destination of our wishes: For the third time the tourist program. Sitting on the lawn, we meet a totally crazy Italian: bowlegged, sun glasses, with a chimpanzee face, Reno is his name. He tells us wild stories about how stupid some Italians behave. He himself completely changed during his stay in Germany. He says the Scottish girls don’t really love their friends, they just say, „He’s okay.“ And on the bus, they start kissing total strangers and go to bed with them without having exchanged a single word with them. “They are very hot, the Scottish girls. Twelve year olds ones go with sailors! ”I’m just thinking: oh, man!“. He talks incessantly and then asks: „Do you actually like talking to me?“ – We had not gotten a word in sideways yet! Fortunately, he soon disappears and so do we.
A groan comes out of my throat, because as a result of the hike through the city, eight thick, water-filled blisters can be seen on my feet, which I prick at Heide and Mike’s. Susi, in her selflessness, lends me her grayed tennis socks so that the shoes don’t pinch so much. I can still hardly walk, and in the evening we are supposed to march to the main train station, because the bus was again not affordable. Heide and Mike have pity and decide to visit a friend who is then supposed to drive them home and us to the train station. That’s what he does. His name is Garry, and he drives an ancient Mini [Morris Minor]. We actually fit in with our cargo.
We don’t have to wait long for the train. It fills up with tourists and other animals (us for example). We storm a compartment in which four other people are already sitting. Susi almost kills a young man with her backpack, which triggers a loud laughing fit in me. The four look at me ’bewildered’. Everyone wants to sleep, except for the young man to the right of Susi, who is still reading. I come to an agreement with my counterpart when it comes to stretching my legs, very sensible man. The train starts. How I would have loved to jump out; tears came up, shit. Calm settles, everybody is half asleep already. Then the ’reader’ begins to loudly prepare his bed or his seat. ’Rattatattatat’, the blind is down; ‚Bang‘, the door is closed. Then a busy digging in various bags. After half an eternity, he is done. He loudly proclaims “Good night”. I wish him a pleasant suffocation. Again it is quiet. I’m almost asleep when ’bump, bump, bump, thump’ ”Tickets please!” – Another suicide candidate.
July 26, 1973 (Thursday)
We arrive in London early in the morning. Squander the last pennies, strap on the backpack and then off to Liverpool Street Station, on foot of course, every step a tortured scream of eight blisters. Susi isn’t exactly in a bright Sunday mood either. Not only did we sleep miserably, but we don’t feel like going back home at all.
Liverpool Street Station: Panic, from where is our train to Harwich leaving? Who can tell us? Nobody! After a diligent search, we find the right platform. Real boulders roll off our shoulders. Backpack down, onto the train, Harwich, out of the train, backpack up, into the customs building, out of the customs building, up on the ship, backpack down, into the cafeteria. It was bad weather. The ship rocked a little. In my stupidity, I eat apple and chocolate, mixed with coffee and tea.
The ship casts off. It rocks a little more, oh how funny! But then, but then on the English Channel, my goodness! You can only pour the coffee mug half full if you want to arrive dry at your table. Susi feels bad. I’m trying to get her a pill. The man at the bar asks: „Are you seasick?“ – „No not yet.“ – What is not can still be, I think to myself. Oh yes, an hour later the time has come for the big puke. Shortly afterwards again. I decide to stay in the toilet room, as it is not worth the while to go back to the cafeteria all the time. It is easier to bear lying down, so I lie down on the floor in the toilet room. There are already two other girls lying there. Every half hour I get up and empty the bile from my stomach, because nothing else has been in it for a long time. I expect my stomach to come up at any moment. From 9 p.m. I have peace, fall asleep, unlike many others. So I’m still lucky. Susi brings me my sleeping bag. She feels better now. Somebody gave her a pill after all. Some are also given out by the crew. However, they are suspected of being placebos.
July 27, 1973 (Friday)
So the next morning I still have some of my precious last two Deutsche Mark, and I’m not exactly hungry either. So the fears I had in Perth were unfounded: not hunger cramps, but vomiting cramps. I never would have believed that seasickness was so awful.
Susi tells me that around midnight the storm was once more extremely terrible. I was already in a seasickness coma by then. She slipped on the floor with her sleeping bag and landed on a guy at the other end of the cafeteria. He just grabbed her by the feet and pushed her back.
We’re going on deck. Gray, cold, rainy morning. We all stand at the railing and pray that we will soon sail into the mouth of the river Elbe. The breakfast café is not very busy.
During the whole crossing, meaning the moments when there was no vomiting, Susi and I are whining: „We will swim back!“
End of the first Scotland saga.
I think I was a bit grumpy and uppity these last two days, everything was getting on my nerves. Maybe because our holidays were about to end, and we really did not want them to, so I lashed out. And then, Edinbro is a beautiful city, but a VERY touristy place.
This was quite an adventure at that time for two 18 years old girls. And, we can’t say that we had any really bad experience with anybody, how lucky we had been! I wish I had kept in contact with Heide and Mike though. But, as my uncle once said to me: You don’t have to pay me back, just help somebody else in need instead, when you get the chance.
Die Deutsche Version findet ihr HIER (zusammen mit Teil 8).
PART 7, Elgin-Lossiemouth-Elgin-Aberdeen-Braemar-Inverey-Braemar
July 18, 1973 (Wednesday)
The next day the weather is bad again, but we don’t let ourselves be dissuaded from our plan to hike to the coast. [5.6 miles one way] For the first time in a long while, we see brown cows that are mooing at us. We moo back. The highland cows are black and have no horns. Further down the coast we even get to see a group of these long-haired ‚King of the Glen‘ cattle. The bull has impressive horns.
We heroically decide not to hitchhike and finally arrive at Lossiemouth, where the sun is shining. There you go! [Hold it, Lossiemouth is there, where the river Lossie flows into the North Sea, so why is it not called “Inverlossie” or “Aberlossie”? Ha, Wikipedia tells us that in Scottish Gaelic it is called: Inver Lossie (Inbhir Losaidh)] I find the town very attractive. A nice little harbour, lots of old houses and, of course, a tearoom.
The most beautiful beach is available, and we get intoxicated by the sea. We sit down on the wall of a park and eat bread rolls. We talk to an elderly lady and her dog before we go on a further expedition and shopping tour (groceries of course). Unfortunately, we cannot get tea in the tearoom because all seats are reserved for lunch. So we switch to a light bite, and then move towards Elgin. „But this time we hitchhike.“ The diary doesn’t mention who of us said that … but we do.
Somebody stops right away, a farmer from Forres (Elgin is about halfway from Lossiemouth to Forres, good for us). A tire bursts on the way. „Sorry ladies,“ he says. As if it’s his fault. After changing tires, I take my seat again in the trunk in the company of yoghurt boxes. We tell the farmer that we were not picked up on the way there, but that we actually didn’t want to hitchhike. „You’re still waiting for a handsome young man,“ he says with a wink. Embarrassed silence. Should we say “Now we’ve found him”? Susi and I are really a little clumsy at times. But then he says: “I’m fishing for a compliment here. Do you know what that is? “ Tense laughter.
After he unloads us, we paint Elgin red. We visit the old cathedral, which some crazy robber chief burned down once upon a time.
Next to it is the city park, with a tennis court, children’s playground, a huge grass area, the ’green’, and a pond for rowing. Susi is very surprised how bad they all play tennis and they mess up the whole court. Alas, I can’t comment on that, I have absolutely no clue about tennis. Susi has been playing for a long time. Puppet theater is played for the little ones. But we see just as many adults as children in front of the tent.
Then it is time to eat. We go to a small restaurant after having ogled the China Palace and the First Class Hotel. I eat haggis, a Scottish national dish made from sheep’s innards and barley grains, while Susi tries her hand at half of the chicken again. The animal is very unruly and almost jumps off her plate. A young man at the next table asks us if would mind him smoking. We say no, but I wonder what he would have done if we had said ’yes’. Afterwards we go to a self-service restaurant and eat ice cream with fruit. Then we prowl around a bakery five times, until we finally hold two pieces of cake in our hands (two each).
Behind the youth hostel we later discover a terrace garden that goes down to the river and where the Warden keeps rabbits. From there we see a fair that we visit in the evening. It consists mostly of slot machines, but there are also three to four carousels and a fishing game. A football game is taking place one lawn further, which we also honour with our presence. Before we go back, we take a look up to the youth hostel, which is enthroned above the river Lossie. I am amazed at how beautifully most of the youth hostels are situated in Scotland. I’m not complaining! It suits me perfectly!
July 19, 1973 (Thursday)
Farewell to Elgin in the rain. Endless waiting at the exit of the village. At least a baker’s car comes by. In the end, someone stops, a business traveler from Lossiemouth. When we tell him how much we like his city, he is immediately friendly to us. He is originally from England but prefers to live in Lossiemouth. I can understand that! We have a very serious conversation about guest workers. He doesn’t like Pakistani. “They sleep with 10 people in one room. When someone comes home from work, they lie down in a bed that someone else has just got out of to go to work. This is their life! “ – He seems to think that Pakistani people like this way of life. However, I don’t want to upset him with my opinion as he wants to take us as far as Aberdeen. I look over to Susi; we are in agreement.
On the road he bought us a coffee, and when I asked him if he didn’t mind loading two wet hitchhikers with two wet rucksacks into his beautiful car, he said: „It’s not my car!“ – Apparently in Scotland people rarely drive their own cars …
In Aberdeen the first way leads to the post office and then on to the inevitable ’Light Bite’, where I can finally relieve my bladder, which has nearly been bursting for four hours. Then the endless, now often tried and tested march to the outskirts of a city begins, because there is no money for the bus (food is more important). We don’t stand for long when a yellow sports car rushes up and stops. „Hi“, red-haired, red-bearded. „Hi“, short-haired, lincolnbecapped [wearing a Lincoln cap] They want to go to Braemar, we actually to Ballater. Definitely a really good lift! After a short while we decide to go to Braemar too. On the one hand we are fed up with the ’simple’ hostels with their cold water, and on the other hand, the two seem to be very good company. „Are you Scottish?“ – „No, we are Germans!“ – „Oh, you look Scottish!“ – “We are definitely Germans! Are you Scots! “ (the car has a Glasgow license plate). „No, I’m a German from Dortmund,“ says Mr. Redbeard (in German). – „Don’t believe him, he’s a lyer!“ it comes from Mr. Cap. I’m getting a little unsure because Mr. Redbeard speaks excellent German. Of course, Susi has immediately caught at the first ’Hi’ that the two are Americans „And the accent, really, Birgit!“ – In my ignorance, I have almost created a ’scandalo’ again … [To my excuse it might be said, that I had never met Americans by then, and we didn’t watch American television at home either.] So we find out that Mr. Redbeard’s name is Quinn and he is from Boston, while Mr. Cap’s name is Wesley, aka “Scotty” and he is from Chicago. Wesley learned German at the Goethe Institute in Dortmund. That means, of course, that we can’t talk about things that they shouldn’t understand. Unfortunately, they both understand French as well.
They stop at a gas station. „Do you want to drink something?“ They ask us. „What have they got?“ – „Orange, lemon, black currant.“ – „I would like orange!“ – „Cherry for me!“ – „They don’t have that.“ – Then lemon, no, rather black currant. “ – „And you?“ – „I am fine.“ The latter was probably me, because I still remembered my bladder problems from Aberdeen. In the end, there is orange for three. While Wes is walking around outside, Quinn leans back with relish and sips his juice. ’Wamm’, Wes slams the door where Quinn’s arm is halfway out and the juice pours over all his stuff. „Come on now“! calls Wes. Ah, the tires still need air. „You sit in the car and I do all the work!“ he complains. – „What do we have you for?“ asks Quinn. But in the end we get to Braemar.
In the evening Wes and Quinn come up with the good idea to go to the pub and order ’a pint of bitter’ for all of us. Tastes good. Since I’m not a beer drinker, I don’t know what to compare it with. With Guinness maybe? It’s very dark beer. You can play darts (an arrow throwing game) in any decent, self-respecting pub. Susi and the boys have fun with it. I sit it out because of my shortsightedness. But we’re hungry again and order two pies and sausage rolls. I have a very serious discussion with Wes about languages, our respective homes, prejudices against peoples and finally about the meaning of discussions. Then I can’t take it anymore; I have to get out in the air. (Too much cigarette smoke, my eyes are watering.) Since we are a bit tipsy, we jump down the wall instead of taking the path.
We stare down at the dee. Susi and Rob Roy, as Quinn calls himself, start to throw stones. Rob hops around like the cripple from the ’Dance of the Vampires’ making „Hng, hng“ noises, and throwing stones around. I almost pee my pants with laughter and somehow have to think of the ’creepy splasher’ from the Pichelsteiners. [A German comic about prehistorical humans, but there are also mammoths and dinosaurs … 😉 ] Four little boys look over to us fearfully. „He’s a little daft,“ Scottie calls over to them, which they acknowledge with a tense smile and then they quickly run away. Scottie has a penchant for the Scottish accent, which he is constantly imitating, and is amazed that I understand everything. [It is not Glaswegian … ] And another compliment: „You are not a real German!“ Meaning that I do not correspond to the general prejudice one has of Germans. Above all, I can’t take beer. We cross the street to stare at the river from the other side, while Wesley talks to a woman we had greeted, unsuspecting that we would never get rid of her again.
We’re going back to the youth hostel because it’s already late. We play cards and the conversation is in three languages. Then the female Warden comes, grabs Scottie by the shoulders and says: „You cheated enough for today!“ No more, that’s it, good night, to bed. Up the stairs, look sadly at Scottie, give him ’five’ and off to the bunk.
July 20, 1973 (Friday)
Sad Friday morning. Goodbye Scottie, goodbye Rob Roy. Farewell photo under the tourist information sign. We don’t exchange addresses, don’t expect to see each other ever again. Scottie rubs his eyes jokingly. I laugh even though I don’t feel like it.
Susi and I make our way to Inverey [4.8 miles] along the beautiful Deeside in bright sunshine. The hills are covered with heather. A purple sea punctuated by light green spots. The river meanders through the valley, and the higher we get, the more we can see at a glance. In the direction where Inverey must be, we can only see forest. Before we reach it, we are surprised by three rain showers.
We pass a magnificent white bridge that belongs to a luxury hotel that is probably hidden somewhere back in the forest.
Inverey: 10 houses 1 phone booth 2 mailboxes (why two?) 1 tiny youth hostel with 14 beds 1 camping place 1 bridge 1 bed and breakfast Lots of fences, trees, sheep and forest All of this spread over 3 kilometers.
But we finally meet a young, well-built Scot in a kilt (so far it was only older, fat ones). We have a meal in the forest. It’s relatively dry there. But we feel drawn back to Braemar and are off to the Italian cafeteria. Then back to the youth hostel, write postcards, go to bed, close your eyes, good night. (Somebody has enormous gas. It sounds like machine gun fire!)
July 21, 1973 (Saturday)
We get up extra early and go to the road extra early because six other girls want to hitchhike to Perth or Edinburgh. The success: during the first 45 minutes no car at all passes by. Then one every half hour, but full of coffee aunts (weekend !!!). The result: standing from 9 am to 11:45 am; Lunch in the Italian cafeteria; standing from 12.30 pm to 1.45 pm; inquiring about a bus. Huh, there’s only one in the direction of Aberdeen. „We can still try to hitchhike until the bus arrives,“ says Susi. And lo and behold, two Scots stop: „We’re going to Perrithth!“ – Oh, man, what’s that? Susi gets it faster again: „Yes, that’s where we want to go!“ – „Are you sure?“ I ask her. We get in the car: Beautiful Glenshee! Unfortunately indescribable, go there yourself, please! Along one of the very picturesque Old Military Roads. [There are several old military roads; this one leads from Braemar to Grantown-on-Spey.]
Perth is a really lovely little city, very clean, very friendly. We want to stay here for two days because in our immense wisdom we are trying to avoid hitchhiking again on a Sunday. In our immense stupidity, however, we forgot to exchange more money. Now we are out of British money, what to do? „We can tell the warden that we will go and change money Monday morning and then pay.“ Susi must have said that, it sounds so sensible. The plan is approved. First of all we have to wait because the hostel is not open yet. In front of the door there is a horde of Dutch people who seem to think themselves very witty. We decide to explore Perth a little bit more. For some inexplicable reason we expect a bank to be open somewhere, until we remember it’s Saturday. The insight comes with a drumbeat; we can’t do anything. Man, we are daft.
But the Warden is a kind soul. I haven’t even explained the entire problem to him, when he comes up with the proposal that we want to make him. In addition, he puts 5 pounds into our hands! So everything is fine. But we still have to budget, because we wasted an unnecessarily large amount of money at the feeding orgy in Elgin. I realize that I would only have 2 DM left on the ferry home and I am already seeing myself writhing in hunger cramps. (I can’t know what’s going to happen on the ferry. But everything in good time!) We then go for a walk near the youth hostel and I select what I want to photograph the next day. I can’t get enough of the front gardens. They are very individually designed. There are roses in almost everyone, just different in color and quantity. One garden overflows with roses in the most wonderful colors, many of which I have never seen; the other shows a spartan lawn with a gravel border. Still others look like the grave sites in Ohlsdorf [a large cemetary in Hamburg). The Greek statues and pots on marble plinths, framed by wild hedge, are particularly tasteful. The residents seem to let off steam in their free time in the gardens, which obviously reflect something of the nature of their owners. There is also a single totally asphalted ’front garden’.
July 22, 1973 (Sunday)
On Sunday we go on a discovery tour. Perth is really very pretty. The door and window frames in Scotland are often painted in bright colors, and apparently also with self-mixed colors, which gives an extremely individual picture. So now I see a fenced lawn in Perth, and the fence is painted olive green, you can hardly see it against the grass. I’ve never seen this color anywhere in Scotland, where we’ve been, of course.
We try to find some places of interest that are in the guidebook, e.g. the ’Fair maiden’ house, but then we are quite disappointed. The houses that are not in the polyglot are much nicer; the Royal Bank of Scotland or the police station for example. [These are modern buildings now, so nowadays the Fair Maid’s house certainly is the prettiest of them.] We move to the northern park, where I take a beautiful photo of the Tay and the opposite bank.
An unemployed man with his dog comes to us and talks to us. The dog’s name is Nehru, called Nehru-Zero, and immediately becomes trusting. “You have a good character. A dog notices that immediately! “ – The man is originally from Poland and tells us all kinds of stories where and against whom he has already fought. I can’t understand everything, because after all he speaks Scottish English with a Polish accent, but one thing I do understand: he never fought against Germans. He doesn’t like Scotland, “no work”. He doesn’t want to go back to Poland because of the communists. He also reports that there are many mulatto children in Perth whose fathers have left in a hurry, and that the bridge over the Tay dates from the Middle Ages by the Romans … [Information: The Romans did not come to Scotland at all, but have entrenched themselves behind the Hadrian’s Wall in northern England. The said bridge was finalized in 1771 only. No need to comment on the Middle Ages …] Later comes his friend Jim, a Scot from Fife, also unemployed. He smells terrible, but is so touchingly happy that he can talk to us.
We visit the park called „North Inch“. It mainly consists of a huge lawn and a huge golf course. There is also a tennis hall and children’s playground on the edge. The inevitable monument at the entrance to the park looks a bit lost in front of these large areas. Then we move towards „South Inch“, also a park. The Pole told us a joke about it: which town is the smallest in Scotland? Perth, it fits between two inches. There’s more going on here. A band is playing and the youngsters frolic in rowing boats on the pond.
We sit on a bench and watch two boys playing some kind of adventure. In the end they include us in their game. We seem to be enemy Indians or something similar. Finally, we stroll along the front gardens again. Cheerio Perth, I hope to see you again!
Die Deutsche Version findet ihr HIER (zusammen mit Teil 5).
Part 6, Fort William-Alltsaigh (Loch Ness)-Inverness-Elgin
July 15, 1973 (Sunday !!!)
We try to get away from Fort William in glorious sunshine. After a long, patient wait, and after me trying again to stop a police car, two guys from Glasgow take us to Spean Bridge. (I am short-sighted, but vain. That is why I have already tried to stop an ambulance, a garbage truck and other vehicles over the past few days, and Susi has begged me to please put on my glasses.) Their babbling is almost incomprehensible; Glaswegian is really terrible and only distantly related to English.
Spean Bridge seems like a hitchhiker’s paradise. In any case, the four already existing can hardly part with this place. Susi and I shoulder our luggage and move 50 meters further to a parking lot full of cars. But of course we forgot that it is Sunday. Nobody has room for us because everyone has their cars full of worthless junk. [Ahem]
So we wait for an hour, two hours, three hours (one hitchhiker couple gives up and takes the next bus), four hours. One of the rest of the hitchhikers comes over to us. He is Scottish from Glasgow and has school holidays. We stand with him for the fifth hour. I have a lively conversation with him, but only understand a fraction of what he is saying. He is very nice and kind. After every second word he says ’you know’. He tells us endless stories about some American, but unfortunately I don’t understand what it’s about. Maybe that it is about an American is already misunderstood. We only understand one thing: last night he slept outside, somewhere near a church, and it rained terribly. „I have to talk a terrible slang if you don’t understand me!“ he says sadly. His luggage consists of a fishing rod and a pouch that looks as good as empty after he takes a newspaper from it. „I’m trying to get to Skye to fish, you know!“ We wish him the best of luck. Of course he gets away before us, alone and with the mini-luggage he is carrying.
We have to put up with some gleeful looks and silly remarks from motorists who stop at Spean Bridge to eat, facing a soldier memorial. The very active make a pilgrimage the 50 meters from the parking lot to the memorial and let themselves be photographed there. One should also have a good view of Ben Nevis from there, but we can’t find out which of the many mountains it is. None of the people we ask, seem to know it.
We can see many, many tourist buses. Let us take a closer loot at two of them. In one of them the explanations are given in English and German. That catches our attention. And there they come, the tourists with their empty stare that they attach to two poor, desperate hitchhikers and only allow themselves to be distracted by the presence of the monument.
Then another bus, full of Scots: An elderly man explains to us that today is a bad day for hitchhiking, because it is Sunday, but that someone will pick us up and „good luck“. A young man with speech impairments stands next to me. He points to every newly arriving car, certain that it will stop and pick us up, bitterly disappointed that it isn’t happening.
In the end, an English couple takes us to Invergarry. On the road we see our angler from Glasgow, who is sticking his thumb out again.
In Invergarry we meet a real horde of hitchhikers, a French guy; 3 girls who have been here for 7 hours already; a couple and another boy. We flee the scene once again. We meet another couple on the country road. The girl’s name is Linda and she comes from Glasgow. Linda predicts a bus that will actually come. I can observe, why the Scottish matches are so powerfully built: you have to scratch them on the asphalt, not on the box! The weather is more beautiful than ever. But in spite of all that, we take the bus. Now it is enough with kicking our heals. For the first time we enjoy Scotland from the bus. We pass Fort Augustus, which looks very nice, and end up in the youth hostel in Invermoriston, which consists of a church, a shop, a hotel, a gas station that also functions as a post office and then the youth hostel called Alltsaigh. The latter is very nicely located, right on Loch Ness with a pebble beach. The water washes ashore close to the house. Unfortunately it is a ’simple’ class hostel, which means that there isn’t any hot water for showering.
But even worse: 75% of the hikers are Germans, and what kind of them! One huge group, five boys, 3 girls and a group leader couple. (That’s a really large group for a small youth hostel.) The group mum requisitions all the cookers with her potato pancakes, which get cold afterwards because nobody comes to eat them. She snatches cutlery from an Englishman with the words “everything private, everything private”.
Then there is a married couple with a child who is really naughty and impertinent and who irritates the other people. Next to us are two German boys, who do nothing but complain about anything and everything. Gosh, I’m shirty. [Who is complaining???] I withdraw to the Loch. There are another three Germans sitting there, a forever smooching couple and the girl’s friend. I am taking to the bushes. You can walk along the gravel strip along the Loch to the bridge. Later Susi and I lay down on the gravel in the sun and dream. In the evening the people from Bonn who we have already met in London arrive, and two more girls who have been to the Orkneys.
July 16, 1973 (Monday)
On Monday Susi and I hike to Invermoriston to go shopping again. On the way we meet an old man whom we saw the day before. He seems to be hiking through Scotland, only with a small bag as luggage. We first buy apple jelly and rolls, then take a look at the Royal Church of Scotland and then go to the hotel for tea. We order two sandwich packages (= 4 triangles) each. „You must be very hungry,“ comments the waitress. After this extensive meal, we decide to move a little. The first stop is on a bridge. And I don’t have my camera with me, what a bummer! A little further there is a cottage settlement for tourists. Let’s get away! Susi would like to visit the old Invermoriston cemetery. At the petrol station we ask for a path through the forest, because it is a very beautiful forest: two meters of steep rock above the road, spruce forest above. The gas station attendant speaks German, but there is no path. It’s a shame, because without a path, even a tiny one, I don’t know, it’s too easy to get lost in Scotland. [You don’t say …]
From the cottage settlement I see houses on the mountain. What a life: a lot of forest, a lot of mountains, a house, but no paths! Give me such a life!
On the way back we walk around the bushes on the right, then up the mountain to the left. We are sitting two meters above the street, and we get a little dizzy. I have the opportunity to observe that the Scottish flies are just as slow as the Swedish ones; that must be due to the humidity.
The German invasion awaits us again in the hostel. Susi and I are both a little melancholic. We decide to take the bus to Inverness the next day so that we can arrive early enough to drop off our luggage. At eleven o’clock two German girls come into our room, one from Berlin and one from Dortmund. The one from Berlin is really getting on my nerves, especially when she starts to explain to us how one hitchhikes. Good night! – Then comes the bug panic: I have two small black dots on my upper body that turn out to be solid, hard-armored insects (ticks). I probably caught them on the lumberjack meadow (right in the bushes) because they sit on my stomach (I’m not wearing an undershirt) and on my leg, exactly in the spot where my pants are torn.
July 17, 1973 (Tuesday)
The road to Inverness is beautiful. One meets many strange looking Scottish names, like for example Drumnadrochit. Inverness welcomes us with a gray haze and drizzle. My first impression is: old and tight and romantic; and that it is. Only the bridges over the river are new. Flower pots hang on every lamp post and at the gas stations. On the main road, traffic police fight with cars and swarms of pedestrians. The Castle looks relatively new. From there I shoot a nice picture onto some old houses. [Strangely enough, the sun must have shone at that moment, although I can’t remember it.] At the youth hostel we put our luggage in a storage room and try to discover Inverness. Unfortunately it is covered with tourists, we cannot find it. We go to the museum, where I see books with Gaelic ghost stories for the first time. Later I try to get the books in paperback, but outside the museum not even the author (Sorche Nic Leodhas) is known.
When we get back to the youth hostel at two o’clock, we catch our breath. The entire forecourt is overcrowded with young people, like at an open-air festival. Once again we flee the scene and decide to hitchhike on to Elgin, the next stop on our journey. Well, this gives us the opportunity to get to know Inverness in more detail and with the backpacks on our backs. At the first roundabout outside the city, at a gas station, we set ourselves up and, as a precaution, we go to the Ladies‘ again. I stand waiting at the exit, Susi is not back yet when a dark blue station wagon stops to pick us up. The best part: that philanthropist lives in Elgin!
We get into his adventure car, which is mainly loaded with newspapers and empty and full lemonade bottles. The driver turns out to be an expert in hitchhiking! When he was still young, he hitchhiked all over Europe and Australia, with no luggage except what he was carrying on his body and a small bag for soap and food. This seems to be a specifically Scottish way of traveling. He is the third of this kind we’ve met, first the Glasgow angler, then the old wanderer, and now he. He recommends that we eat only once a day, because that is better for the stomach. And then we have way too much luggage with us in his opinion: “You carry too much stuff around with you. You spoil your vacation. You’re killing yourselves! “ – He is very concerned about us and gives us other good advice: „Buy cheap and then THROW it away!“ – We also learn that as a girl you shouldn’t hitchhike in Italy, France and Australia, while it is safe everywhere else, especially in Scotland. „In Scotland it’s perfectly safe even for one girl alone.“ – He describes the area around London as dubious. „Too many tourists.“ – For him, however, the English are also tourists, at least on Scottish soil. “And I don’t pick up long-haired boys. The long-haired ones are drunkards! “ – We can’t convince him that there are decent long-haired guys too. When we drive into Elgin he shows us his house that he had built himself and then he even drives us to the youth hostel.
The Warden almost gets a heart attack when we say we want to stay two nights. „Nobody stays in Elgin more than one night!“ – Yes, we do. We have decided to go to the coast for one day because Susi longs for the sea. We’ll do that the next day, but first we get a shock. My tote bag is gone, and with it Susi’s camera and my new shoes from Inverness. Left in the car, that’s how it was. „Lucky the Mac showed us his house.“ – So we make our way to our benefactor and get the opportunity to look at New Elgin. We pass a horde of young construction workers who immediately start yelling: „Hello, girls, give me a smile, just a smile!“ – „Come here, I’m a very nice boy!“ – They still call when they can no longer see us.
Unfortunately, nobody is home when we arrive, although all doors are open. So we sit on the garden wall and wait patiently. After ten minutes he is already driving up with his son. „The Warden must know me, he showed you the way.“ – But not really; he showed us his house himself. The warden never saw him. But we don’t tell him that, why should we?
Then we go back, a bag richer and, out of relief, eat an apple first. „Birgit, if we pass there again now and all of a sudden have a bag!“ And right, loud laughter from the construction site. „You must be very hungry!“ – Somehow we always give the impression to Scots of being very hungry.
When we get back to the youth hostel, we first get something to eat. The Warden crouches in his glass cubby hole from morning to evening, playing his guitar. Four girls from some religious community and two others from a large family are also sleeping in our room. When they see us washing ourselves „scantily clad“, they have gabbing material for half the night. The other half is filled with conversations about boys. Obviously, they haven’t noticed that we understand English. They wash themselves in turtlenecks and change under their maxi nightgowns. Well, everyone in their own way.
Die Deutsche Version findet ihr HIER (zusammen mit Teil 6, ich habe daraus wieder zwei Teile gemacht).
PART 5, Kinlochard-Aberfoyle-Trossachs-Loch Achrey- Loch Venachar-Callander-Fort William
July 12, 1973 (Thursday)
The next day everything develops very quickly. A Scot takes us to Aberfoyle. On the way we overtake the two young Scots from the youth hostel (the shy ones) who had left earlier than us [walking].
The road that leads from there to the Trossachs, a national park and our next destination, is once again very steep, of course upwards. The sign telling us that we are entering the Queen’s private property gives us no relief. Just as we finally get to the top of the hill, an English couple stops to take us with them. Various rearrangements are necessary. Puppy sits on the lap and off we go. The man had been stationed in the Orkney Islands for six years during the war. He had vowed never to return to Scotland. Now he’s here after all and regrets not having returned sooner.
They drop us off at 9.30 a.m. at the Trossachs Youth Hostel. There we meet two Englishmen from Loch Ard who are just amazed at how quickly we got over from there. „You broke the record!“ says one. Since we are so well on time, we decide to walk to Loch Katrine [pronounced: Katreen with stress on the second syllable]. I have romantic expectations, think of ’The Lady of the Lake’ and the like. But strange things await us there: First a huge parking lot, littered with cars; Susi and I look at each other: What’s going on here? Folk festival? But then we understand: a tourist attraction. Loch Kathrine is now the water supply for Glasgow, so the whole once beautiful Lake has been neatly fenced in and surrounded by an asphalt road.* On it, the tourist hords amble to the stone that announces that Princess Margaret has done something meritorious, remain in holy silence for a moment and then go back to either eat in the restaurant or to buy souvenirs.
I’m completely upset, and then there are so many Germans here. We didn’t come to Scotland to meet Germans! [*This is actually not true, we were just so unlucky to get to this tourist arrangement, which is only a tiny, tiny part of Loch Katrine. Look here for more about that beautiful lake.]
Susi and I flee from the scene and walk to one lake further on, Loch Achray, the name is difficult to pronounce, but it’s beautiful here. It is only a very small Loch, and of course there is no tourist to be seen far and wide apart from us. We sit on a bench in front of an old church and enjoy the surroundings.
After a while we continue along the lake and finally end up in a place called Brig o’Turk. There we sit down in the tearoom because it is starting to rain. First we modestly order tea and sandwiches. But after writing five postcards, it is still raining. So we also order a high tea and indulge in victuals: first something warm with eggs and french fries and then cakes and more sandwiches, the little triangular ones. All in all a nice, peaceful day. You can’t say that about tomorrow, but tomorrow is Friday the thirteenth.
July 13, 1973 (Friday)
The next morning we walk on the country road, singing along. Loch Venachar is beautiful and so is the weather. A Frenchman takes us to Callander, not very far, but better than walking. After all, we have to walk for a while until we discover an ideal new hitch-hiking spot, a parking lot. Strangely enough, there are two Scots dressed in kilts and with bagpipes, playing ’Amazing Grace’ all alone in the landscape. We say „good morning“ politely and stand a few meters away from them. But oh shock in the morning hour: three buses are approaching, stopping across from the parking lot, and three busloads of excited Englishmen pour their way onto the street with their cameras drawn and block the traffic, which doesn’t seem to bother them. We are surrounded in no time. But of course the real interest is in the two Scots. We grab our luggage and flee to the other corner of the parking lot. When the horde turns back to the buses, Susi and I get some curious looks: Two real hitchhikers in the wild! Then the spook, which only lasted about three minutes, is over.
Then two Scots pick us up. At first they seem a little suspicious to us, but they turn out to be very nice. We tell them about the incident with the buses. Their comment: „They’re crazy, the English!“ And they inform us in a contemptuous tone that the bagpipers were beggars. They take us to Strathyre, from where we can drive with an old camper to the Killin-Crianlarich intersection. He’s trying hard to get us to come to Killin where it is so beautiful! But we have a schedule and we cannot afford too many detours or delays. From the intersection we come with two more Scots to Crianlarich and from there again with a Scot all the way to the Oban-Fort William intersection. After a long wait, an English photographer finally takes us to Fort William. There we are immediately surrounded by the wild throng of civilization. But first of all we need sandwiches! We then have to walk almost two miles to the youth hostel. That is a piece of cake for us now, but it’s raining pretty disgustingly. The youth hostel is located in the middle of a gorge, surrounded by impressive mountains. The clouds are almost hanging on the ground and it is accordingly extra humid. It’s nice there, but unusually noisy. It’s a big hostel. The crowd is getting on my nerves a bit after a week of country life.
The clientele is very international, Switzerland, Finland, France, Italy, Japan, Denmark and a very strong German delegation. The rain forces some campers into the youth hostel. We meet two guys from Hamburg, who suddenly found themselves with their tent in the middle of a mountain creek. The water rose so quickly that not even everyone could save their tents. While we are having dinner we hear a helicopter. We also meet old acquaintances again. On the one hand the German Englishman from Loch Ard, the one with the terrible accent, and a couple we already met in the Trossachs. She is Scottish and he is Danish. The two met in Vienna and speak Austrian German with their respective accents. That sounds very charming. The Dane tries to flirt up with us. He seems tired of his Scottish girlfriend. It’s a shame, because she’s really nice, and, of course, we don’t respond to it. Stupid guy. The two from Hamburg also notice it and look surprised.
July 14, 1973 (Saturday)
The next morning we hear that an accident has happened in Glen Nevis, hence the helicopter. Someone didn’t get off as lightly as the two guys from Hamburg.
We spend the day in Fort William and the surrounding area. Fort William itself is very touristy. Souvenir shops, tartan shops and tearooms alternate. Of course, everyone wants to look into the shop windows, which annoys some locals, because here is left hand traffic, obviously also for pedestrians (a lady to her husband: did we switch to right?). I don’t remember what we actually did there. We probably ate sandwiches 😉 … In any case, we didn’t go to the mountains, the highest peak of which is Ben Nevis, the highest not only in Scotland but also in Great Britain. I guess the experience on Ben Lomond was enough for years to come. [We also got some snarky remarks about our footwear everywhwere we went. Real mountaineers have real hiking boots, blah, blah, blah … 😉 😀 … „I would leave everything else at home, but bring my boots“ nyanyanyanyanya … „The Scottish hills are treacherous“, you get the picture.]
Maybe just a short word explanation: Loch = Lake, but also a fiord (Loch Linnhe) or even a bay (Campbelltown Loch) can be named „Loch“ Ben = mountain/summit of a mountain Glen = Valley or gorge Aber and Inver = water mouth (e.g. Aberdeen, where the river Dee flows into the North Sea; Inverness, where the river Ness flows into the Beauly Firth. I don’t know how it is with Aberfoyle (Aberfoil in old times), I have not discovered a river Foyle or Foil flowing into the river Forth.)
Ganz zum Schluss noch zwei Karten, damit ihr sehen könnt, wo das Ganze vor sich ging:
Die Deutsche Version findet ihr HIER (zusammen mit Teil 3, ich habe daraus wieder zwei Teile gemacht, weil ich den alten Text zu lang fand).
Part 4 : Rowardennon – Kinlochard – Aberfoyle
July 10, 1973
On Tuesday, the Dutch guys leave at five in the morning. Susi and I have decided to walk 12 kilometers to Kinlochard. Climb a little. Margaret McNeill and her two daughters Heather and Janet are coming with us. We became friends. Heather is a little Celtic beauty with black long hair, fair skin and huge dark blue eyes. Janet is the older one, has reddish hair, but is also pretty and at 10 years old already interested in boys, much to the sorrow of her mother.
So, then five molly-coddled tourists set off, two of them loaded with insane weights. When we get to the place where we were with Albert the day before, Susi and I have our tongues hanging out of our mouths already. After an hour the suggestion of a path stops and we are moving on a pebble slide. And it’s going up, up, up. Twice we encounter a blue mark that is supposed to show us the direction. Margaret had received the information the day before that at the so-called half-way-well, i.e. halfway to the summit of Ben Lomond, we should „turn right“. But there are so many small becks on the way up … When we get into the low-lying clouds, it gets wet. The children are freezing in their shorts and put on long trousers. A strap on Janet’s sandal is torn, and the white knee socks are already looking quite worn. Margaret walks on wooden slippers, only held in front by a strap. How does she do it with the prevailing upward direction?
We’re passing another mark. „Is it blue?“ Susi asks, „it seems more like pure rust to me!“ Well then, we march on and rest in the wettest place we can find. There is a typical Scottish signpost there: three signs and all broken off. [I am not kidding!!!] Only the first letter is left; that is basically enough. There is all kinds of stuff in the direction of Loch Ard, but no path. Mainly I see moss. I probe the terrain and find various rusty tin cans: „Somebody went up here!“ I exclaim happily. „The only question is when that was and whether the people survived!“ So Susi’s remark. A local who, according to Susi, ’happens to be passing by’ (on Ben Lomond, in the middle of a thick cloud, it is quite common that people are passing by by chance) confirms that we have to go in that direction. “You have to try to walk straight or you will come to the steep side, it is dangerous there. Then walk down past the new forest and the river. It will then lead you to Loch Ard. ” Crystal clear!
So we are on our way again. We might as well have waded through a stream, it’s that wet. The sheep that hobble around are bleating at us. We refresh ourselves at a spring. I have never drunk such wonderful water! We drag ourselves over two hills more, when we see the river. Deep down below us. We got to the steep side with determination. There is no coming down. It is so slippery that we lie on our butts after every second step. Heather starts crying; Margaret is losing her nerve; Janet is tough. And we? We just keep moving because we can’t stay here. We crawl along the top of the ridge until we come to a shallower point. We are only separated from the river by a two meter high wire fence and the new forest behind it.
So we climb over. First Margaret, then the children, Susi, the luggage and then me. Our path leads us directly through the newly planted trees. [Good that nobody saw us!!!] Well, there is no path, we are just moving towards the river. Our marching rhythm is: one step, one leap; one step, one leap; every jump goes over a drainage ditch. And all this with this insane backpack! In the end we no longer feel the them and only move forward mechanically, thoughts switched off. I don’t care at all anymore, I would love to drop myself into the swamp to sleep. We rest on a large rock. Margaret sighs: „We are lost, totally lost!“ At that moment, Susi’s eagle eyes see a wide path! We rush there as fast as we can and come across a true wonder of the world: a real signpost with all the signs still intact. Further down we also see real forest. We de-mud us in a mountain stream. I get in with my shoes on and actually can’t tell the difference to the outside.
We have already been on the road for eight hours and about three hours are still ahead of us, but Margaret’s friend Eddy comes towards us in a car. First he takes the children and the luggage, then he fetches the three of us. Gosh, we are grateful! Eddy drives like a madman saying, „It’s not my car!“
In Loch Ard our first act is a long hot shower, then a good dinner and finally a deep sleep.
July 11, 1973
The next day, Susi and I take the heroic decision to have a good rest. We have breakfast with Margaret and her daughters, and we also study types. [I visited Margaret and her family and Eddy on my second trip to Glasgow. After that we still corresponded for a while, but that also ebbed out.] Two South Europeans have coffee and cigarettes for breakfast. Two Scots are sitting at the next table, apparently nice but incredibly shy. A boy is standing in front of the window making sandwiches. He belongs to two English people, but his pronunciation is German. Obviously he wants to be taken for an Englishman and yells around in his terrible accent. The volume is probably supposed to compensate for the quality. But the most wonderful thing is the extended family from the backwoods: dad, mommy, son and daughter, who looks like son no. 2, and grandpa. Grandpa is polishing all day, first the table, then the dishes, then the table again. Later you can see him swinging the duster and polishing the banister. He whistles and sings all the time; so I find him extremely likeable. The children are bursting with energy and release it in the form of volume. Dad reminds of a Canadian lumberjack. Mommy creates an impenetrable mist in the shower room with the comment: „This is my first shower in ten years!“ [They lived somewhere in the mountains without running hot water.]
Susi and I decide to hike to Aberfoyle (5.2 miles, one way) [didn’t we want to rest ???]. As far as I remember, Rob Roy [an outlaw to the English, a hero to the Scottish, who seems to have fought in all the Jacobite risings there were] was „active“ there among other places. We also have to go shopping, we have almost nothing to eat. So we are on our way. The road is bordered with a stone wall on the lake side. There is a wonderful view of Loch Ard and the opposite bank. In Aberfoyle, civilization invades us in the form of souvenir shops and English coffee grannies [Coffee? Not tea?]. We go into a shop and ask for tea towels. „An ordinary tea towel?“ we are asked. – „Yes, please!“ I say. We get astonished looks, because most tourists buy those with a bagpiper on it or ’Bonny old Scotland’. They then cost four times as much.
We feast on coffee and sandwiches in the town’s huge cafeteria. Warm food is only available from noon. We tuck the box with the groceries we bought under our arms and take a look at Aberfoyle. But there isn’t much to see, so we sit down on the municipal playground. I decide to sleep and lie down on the grass. We get plenty of amused looks. An hour later we are headed towards the cafeteria again to have lunch.
Then we think it is the correct thing to do, to hike back to be at the youth hostel in time for afternoon coffee. I photograph a beautiful old country house. The various construction workers whom we are now meeting for the third time have a disruptive effect. They make quite a noise and express the urgent wish to be photographed for posterity. My comment that I would like to take pictures of the house and not the gentlemen triggers a real cacophony of remarks. Fortunately, we don’t understand anything because they’re all roaring at the same time. We prefer to remove ourselves. The rest of the way back is quite harmonious. We come to the deep insight that cardboard boxes are very impractical for transporting food, especially over long distances.
Back at Loch Ard we meet a couple of hobby painters. We talk to the woman for a while. Her daughter has a German pen pal. She tells us that anyone can paint, you just have to try.
Some new overnight guests have arrived at the youth hostel. There is a German with a daughter, who lives in England, and a strange woman who tiptoes through the shower room and looks through open doors. She tells us a lengthy story about a hanky that she didn’t have in an emergency situation, but that’s the only thing we understand of the whole story. Finally, Susi asks: „I beg your pardon?“ And we get the whole thing served again. Not that we understand more the second time around.
Willkommen auf dem Bikini Atoll, meinem Testgebiet für Schreibübungen, Buchstabentänze und Wortgemälde. Warum das Ganze? Damit ich nicht nur für mich selber schreibe, sondern vielleicht auch jemandem eine kleine Freude mache. (unkorrigierte Basisfassungen, ich habe leider keinen Lektor)