Schottland 1974, Teil 8

Die deutsche Version findet ihr HIER.


Achintraid-Gairloch-Carbisdale Castle [At that time County Sutherland, now part of ’Highland’]

July 15, 1974 (Monday)

The next morning greets us once again with a gray, rainy expression. We get to Shieldaig (the beautiful retiree health resort) with an English couple who have an English sheep dog, one of those white-gray shaggy-coated dogs, where you can’t find out what’s the front and what’s the behind. Its dimensions are like those of a one year old Saint Bernard. „But it’s still growing!“ the proud owners tell us. This little doggy sits on my lap for the whole trip and puts his front paws on my unarmoured foot. His blue eye (because the other one is brown) peers at me confidentially from behind a lock of hair, at eye level! At least I’m not feeling cold for once. (He is a real darling actually!)

In Shieldaig they pity us with all their heart because of the weather, but these compassionate people don’t want to change their travel route because of us anyway.

We finally have to take the bus to Kinlochewe, as there is almost no traffic at all and the weather is getting wetter and more uncomfortable. There, too, we stand for a few hours until a delivery truck takes us to Gairloch, another vacation spot popular with the Scots. Suddenly the sun is shining here by the sea and we immediately feel much better. The Scottish hills can be quite depressing in fog and rain. We actually meet a neighbour of Margaret’s in Gairloch, whom we met on a bus in Glasgow.

Kinlochewe, photo:

The Carn Dearg youth hostel is located directly on the cliffs, on a narrow asphalt road that gets lost in the sand a few kilometers further on. [It doesn’t do that anymore.] This is the first hostel we come across, where you can work for a free overnight stay with extra jobs (e.g. window painting). But we are too lazy for that, after all, we are on vacation!

Youth hostel Carn Dearg, Gairloch, photo: Scottish Youth Hostel Association

July 16, 1974 (Tuesday)

The following morning the weather is sunny but cold. We visit Gairloch, about 2 kilometers from the youth hostel, and climb around in the cliffs. On the opposite side of the bay you can see the mountains we came from the day before. Compared to the grassland here they are huge and the low white clouds that cover their peaks make them seem mysterious and connected to the sky.

Gairloch with view on the Rosses, photos: visitscotland.

For me, sitting here in the sun by the water, the mountains are a symbol of the promised land, they are my brothers, big and strong. I feel one with the earth and believe in peace.

I want to:
join the mountains;
listen to the birds and the wind
who tell me their wisdom
without showing off;
let the sun give me strength;
admire the harmony of this creation
and become one with it.
[If there is any doubt, it’s mine. 😉]

[Aquarell von meinem „kleinen“ Bruder nach einem Foto gemalt. Da müssen also doch Fotos von mir rumschwirren. Ich schaue noch einmal nach. Vielleicht habe ich von den Dias Papierbilder machen lassen. Aber da war auch mal ein Wasserschaden im Keller …]

July 17, 1974 (Wednesday)

When we go for a walk again the next day, a car full of girls stops next to us and they invite us to have coffee with them. The female pack consists of Margaret (17 years old) with two younger sisters, who both give me the impression that there haven’t been quite enough ingredients for them,  when they were conceived, as well as a young woman who is a friend of their’s with two small daughters, whom Margaret wants to turn into fine ladies by force. They are all from Edinburgh. Margaret’s parents are both no longer alive, and now she is planning to modernize the house where we are drinking coffee. It is a former school that she bought together with her brothers. On the coat hooks in the corridor you can still see the names of the former students burned in: Gillivray, Farquharson and similar Scottish names. The young woman with her two daughters will emigrate to Australia in a few weeks.

Back at the hostel we meet a skinny, tree high cyclist, who has already caught our eye in Morar because of the enormous amounts of food that he devours. He eats at least three heaped plates full of indefinable cereals and for dessert he slaps green salad on his white bread. He doesn’t remember me when I speak to him, which he regrets very much and accordingly often apologizes. „I can’t remember faces,“ he says.

July 18, 1974 (Thursday)

The next morning we set off north again. We want to go as far up the west coast as possible. We are incredibly lucky and a short time later we are in Ullapool, a nice little fishing village with a nice little youth hostel. Ullapool is very touristy, but not as full of trinkets as e.g.  Aberfoyle or Fort William, but with class. We are advised to hitchhike north with the fish trucks at night, but that seems too risky and inconvenient to us.

City Of Ullapool With Old Fishing Boat At Loch Broom In Scotland, photo: Pixabay [Not my caption]

July 19, 1974 (Friday)

James Munro, an elderly man from Lairg on River Shin, takes us with him from Ullapool, and we will be in touch by letter for many years afterwards. “I like a good knee in the front”, he says when I sit down next to him, which in my naivety I again don’t catch. He quickly convinces us that it would be nonsense to hitchhike further north because there is almost no traffic there. We are already noticing that. Instead he takes us to Invershin** in the heart of Sutherland, where he buys us a drink in the pub. My friend gets a hot toddy (grog with whiskey) because she has a bad cold. My eyes, unclouded by alcohol, rest on her with envy.
**[Something should flow into something else at Invershin, should it not? And it does, about 1 km north of Invershin, the river Shin flows into the Kyle of Sutherland.]

Invershin pub, photo:

The way to the youth hostel is quite unusual. We go to a disused train station, on the driveway of which it says ‚SNP‘ in large, white letters (Scottish National Party. We have reached the arch-patriotic part.) From there it goes on a railway bridge over the ‚Kyle of Sutherland‘, over various fences, through a hole in the wall and up an endless hill. This hostel is housed in a large castle, Carbisdale Castle. Some English nobleman had sidelined his wife here. The adventure trail is recommended, if you don’t want to hike 5.5 kilometers to the next bridge (Bonar Bridge) and then 5.5 kilometers back on the other side.

[Unfortunately, the Scottish youth hostel  Association had to give up Carbisdale Castle, because it was too costly to maintain. It is for sale now.

Carbisdale Castle was built in 1907 for the Duchess of Sutherland (the sidelined lady) on a hill across the Kyle of Sutherland from Invershin in the Scottish Highlands.]

Carbisdale Castle with Scottish flag, photo: Scottish Youth Hostel Association

Since the weather is tolerably warm, we later lie down on a meadow near the hostel. I feel so good that I fall asleep without further ado. So I’m a little confused when a boy calls out to us a little later and asks for directions. I explain it to him in detail, including the hole in the wall. I can’t have made a very reliable impression, because he doesn’t take the route, as he tells me later. He takes the long way over the next bridge. He has only himself to blame! [The railway bridge situation is still the same.]

July 20, 1974 (Saturday)

The next morning I spot the long cyclist again, who this time comes straight up to me with a wash tub full of cornflakes with the words: „This time I recognize you!“

In the afternoon I go on a walk to the nearest tiny village because my best friend needs to be alone. On the way I meet an old lady who tells me that the salad is wonderful this year and offers me sweets from a giant bag. Such a lovely lady!

In the evening we go to the pub (we have to cross the railway bridge again), where we get to know the artist soul of the area, Joe the painter, with his beautiful collie. One of the Scots at our table keeps telling jokes about the Irish, but I only understand half of them. He is the first, and perhaps only, Scotsman to speak at a truly Italian pace. Meanwhile, my friend is talking to a young, drunk and broken guy who she feels sorry for. He wants to get married the next day, but doesn’t seem very enthusiastic about the idea and asks my friend to stay with him. Again and again he shows her cartridges that he is holding in his hand and predicts that in three years there will be no more castle and no more pub, since both belong to English people. “We’re going to kill them all, everyone, with women and children! We have to annihilate them ”, are his words. The others are embarrassed and they declare him crazy and say that he can only talk like that because he doesn’t know how terrible a war is.

Finally my cyclist arrives. After some time of conversation, he asks me if I would come for a walk with him, to pick up his friends from the camping site. That’s the last thing I need, no desire to do so, so I say „no“. As soon as one has left, the next comes: Keith the tooling engineer, the boy who asked for directions to the hostel. He is accompanied by a bearded young man who turns out to be Australian, but only after, I, of course, ask him if he is American, about which he is quite offended (scandalo, scandalo). Keith asks if they can sit down with us and without waiting for the answer he is already sitting next to me and squeezing me between himself and my friend’s chair in a way that makes me stare at her with my mouth open and I am speechless over his cheek. The cyclist comes back, sees us with the others and drowns his grief in whiskey. He also goes home early while his so-called friends make fun of him because he can’t tolerate alcohol. Great friends!

July 21, 1974 (Sunday)

The next day we hike to the Shin Falls. The road that leads up to them is wonderfully laid out: quiet, mountainous, grand! At the wayside we find wild strawberries that I see and eat for the first time in my life. A surprise awaits us at the ’summit’, because there is a lunch stall, a souvenir shop and a large number of cars. I feel reminded of the trip to Loch Kathrine last year. People flock to the falls on the weekend (it’s Sunday) to watch the salmon jump. In any case, the Shin falls are spoiled for me. I don’t even look at them. [That was very stupid, girlie! It is not the fault of the falls … ]

Culrain, south of the castle, must have been the village where I went alone; there is nothing else on that side of the Kyle within the same distance.
Shin falls, photo: Trover

My friend bought a postcard, with a salmon jumping on it, of course. It’s such a clumsy trick shot, however, that it just makes me grin. The salmon is not only almost as big as the whole waterfall, but it is also clearly visible that it is painted on (the salmon). But the card has an absolute kitsch value.

Leaping salmon at Shin falls, photo: Flickr

There will be a few more posts about this, as we are only half through the trip … ;-), among others we spent a few interesting days in the pretty county of Fife.

Schottland 1974, Teil 7 … Scotland 1974, part 7

Die deutsche Version findet ihr HIER, zusammen mit Teil 6.

July 13, 1974 (Saturday)

The next morning, Margaret and Malcolm give us a lift to the main road near Fort William, for which we are extremely grateful, because the road leading there is totally ’deserted’. Apart from us there is no vehicle to be seen far and wide. A couple is already sitting at the side of the road and when we ask whether they want to hitchhike too, the answer is: “We’re waiting for the bus! Hitchhiking is WORK! „

We get picked up pretty quickly by two young men from Glasgow, David and Joe. In the meantime, the ’Glasgow Fair’, the industrial holiday in the second half of July, has started. During these two weeks the Glaswegians can be found scattered all over Scotland. David and Joe turn out to be very nice. David has long, straight, blonde hair and apparently a gentle nature that my best friend is immediately attracted by. Joe, on the other hand, is short and stocky, with dark, thick hair and a gorgeous mustache. His eyes sparkle with joie de vivre and humour when he jokes or tells stories.

Actually, the four of us want to go to Skye. „Failteach an Eileann“ is written on a sign, „Welcome to the island“, which I can easily translate later thanks to my little booklet „Gaelic without groans“. [At that time there was a ferry from Kyle of Lochalsh to Skye. The Skye Bridge has existed since 1995.] Unfortunately, all youth hostels are occupied (yes, yes, Glasgow Fair) and we have to go back to the mainland. There are still beds in Kyle of Lochalsh, but we are asked to continue to Achintraid as we have a car and they want to consider hikers. We’ll call them beforehand to see if we would find accommodation before we set off. David and Joe are so nice to take us with them all the way.

On the Isle of Skye looking over to the mainland.

Achintraid is a tiny place  on Loch Kishorn, overlooking the Applecross Mountains on the other side of the loch. [Applecross is also a very popular vacation spot with the Scots. The county was then called Ross & Cromarty, but was dissolved in 1975 and divided into ’Highland’ and ’Western Isles’.]

Achintraid, photo: visitscotland I think …

[Apparently not much has changed in Achintraid. One of the houses right on the waterfront used to be the youth hostel. It’s low tide in the photo.] Idyllic in sunshine, which is rarer here than cows. There are only sheep, and of a special kind, with thick, very white, neatly curled up fur, unlike the usual shaggy highland sheep.

We offer to cook for David and Joe. We want to do something special, curry bananas on rice. I’ll take care of the meal. Next to me, a young man is cooking a lonely clam. He looks into my pot with interest and thinks the contents is very ’exceptional’, after all, people are polite in Great Britain. I like him right away! I think he’s in his early 30s, his face is very masculine, but not macho, and his hair is like sheep’s wool, just black. We talk for a while longer until I bring the results of my cooking skills to the table. Joe and David are not very enthusiastic. I have to say that we have neither curry nor salt left, and I don’t have the presence of mind either to ask my new acquaintance, the one with the clam, for salt at least. Probably his blue eyes distracted me too much! Our two ’chauffeurs’ find the food “very filling” and only pick out the raisins and the bananas.

In return, they invite us to the pub in Strathcarron. It is very crowded there. Strathcarron is probably a kind of ’district village’ where everyone meets at the weekend.

Strathcarron pub, photo: Pubs Galore

I have the feeling that David and Joe have divided us up among themselves, my girlfriend to Joe and me to David. But that doesn’t work out, because I stick to Joe, as I know that my friend has eyes for David, and I’m actually thinking of the clam man. However, they make a good face to the bad game and the evening develops into a very nice one. A band is playing folklore, but only when we are on the way back to the youth hostel, because the front doors are being locked at 10 p.m. David and Joe are a little tipsy and drive extra slowly to extend the time together with us. „If the door is closed, we’ll just spend the night outside!“ they say. We are not so excited about that. But we arrive on time. Hardly anyone is in bed either. I ask black sheep hair about his clam. „I threw it away, it didn’t look good!“ he says. He made a drawing of the lounge, including the wet clothes drying over the stove. I think it is very good, and he shows me others too. „Is drawing your hobby?“ I ask him. – „No, it’s my job, so to speak!“ – He doesn’t give any further information, and I find it impolite to ask.

July 14, 1974 (Sunday)

The next morning my only worry is whether he is already gone or not. He is not! My girlfriend and I accompany the two boys to the intersection. On the way back we meet the curly black haired man. „I thought you left!“ he says. – ”No, just the boys”, we answer. – „I thought you were together!“ he again. – „No, they only gave us a lift up here,“ we clarify. A little banter follows, where from, where to next and a mutual, deeply regretful look.

We spend the afternoon in Shieldaig (approx. 15 km from Achintraid, on Loch Torridon). A German tourist takes us with him. „There are two girls standing all by themselves in the middle of the moor, it’s like Shakespear!“ he says. He clearly sees himself as our savior and protector. Shieldaig is a four-house health resort for retirees. But the tearoom is wonderful. (Pensioners always know where to get the best food and the best cake, especially the elderly ladies.) I also buy my Gaelic guide ’Gaelic without groans’ there. Due to bad weather, however, we are soon on our way back.

Shieldaig, is it not simply gorgeous?

Towards evening it clears up, sunshine and blue sky over the bay! My girlfriend and I sit on rocks a little further apart from each other and play music. I’m afraid my flute can be heard across the loch. I have to admit, however, that my instrument has a good tone and it sounds wonderful outdoors over the water. This evening was really a nice closing of the weekend.

Loch Kishhorn, photo:
Torridon, Applecross and Eilean Donan castle, photo: Klook Travel
[That was our trip that day, 313 km, wow. From Morar to Fort William it was 68 miles already, we were so lucky that the kind couple drove us there. It also seems like there is a ferry to Skye from Mallaig. But how would we have gone on from there? We would most probably have ended up in Kyle of Lochalsh and never have met neither David and Joe, nor the clam man. 😉 ]

(To be continued)

Schottland 1974, Teil 6 … Scotland 1974, Part 6

Die deutsche Version findet ihr HIER, zusammen mit Teil 7.

Scotland 1974, part 6

This map is just to show you, where in Scotland we were moving around after Glasgow. As far as latitude is concerned, Morar is in the middle between Aarhus and Aalborg in Denmark. The islands on top of the tip are the Orkney islands. The Shetland islands are even further up north.

Morar and Loch Ailort

Morar, photo: Pixabay

July 11, 1974 (Thursday)

The next morning the sun is shining! So my friend and I sit down in the landscape to play music. On the opposite bank of the bay I see the stripes of the white beach ’The white sands of Morar’, which has made Morar popular as a seaside resort (at least with the Scots). We have hardly unpacked our instruments when it starts pouring again.

In the next moment of sunshine we hike to Morar, four kilometers away. Seen in the light [the day before we walked it in vertical torrential downpour, if you remember …], this route is very picturesque, but I would still have frozen if I, like some Scots, had been sitting on the beach in a bathing suit. But they are used to their weather. I’m dressed in a turtleneck. At the end of the trip my face, hands and a small piece of forearms are tanned …

In Scotland they say that the weather is fine, when there is a piece of blue sky big enough to make a kilt out of.

The salmon streams we pass are all fenced in and private owned. They are mainly owned by aristocrats or influential Englishmen or the royal family, as is practically everything valuable in this country. That must be a remnant of old times, despite the SNP (Scottish National Party) and „A man’s a man for all that …“. That just seems like wishful thinking. It is the title of an old song (for those who don’t want to read the whole song, here is a brief summary of the contents:

Better poor than a slave;
an honest man, even if poor, is a king;
a man who thinks independently laughs at titles and medals;
Let us pray for sense and self-worth to prevail and for people all over the world to become brothers.

(Pretty progressive ideas for the 18th century in Scotland, where there was still a rather strict hierarchy, also in the clans.)

Full song text:
Is there for honest Poverty
That hings his head, an‘ a‘ that;
The coward slave-we pass him by,
We dare be poor for a‘ that!
For a‘ that, an‘ a‘ that.
Our toils obscure an‘ a‘ that,
The rank is but the guinea’s stamp,
The Man’s the gowd for a‘ that.

What though on hamely fare we dine,
Wear hoddin grey, an‘ a that;
Gie fools their silks, and knaves their wine;
A Man’s a Man for a‘ that:
For a‘ that, and a‘ that,
Their tinsel show, an‘ a‘ that;
The honest man, tho‘ e’er sae poor,
Is king o‘ men for a‘ that.

Ye see yon birkie, ca’d a lord,
Wha struts, an‘ stares, an‘ a‘ that;
Tho‘ hundreds worship at his word,
He’s but a coof for a‘ that:
For a‘ that, an‘ a‘ that,
His ribband, star, an‘ a‘ that:
The man o‘ independent mind
He looks an‘ laughs at a‘ that. 

A prince can mak a belted knight,
A marquis, duke, an‘ a‘ that;
But an honest man’s aboon his might,
Gude faith, he maunna fa‘ that!
For a‘ that, an‘ a‘ that,
Their dignities an‘ a‘ that;
The pith o‘ sense, an‘ pride o‘ worth,
Are higher rank than a‘ that.

Then let us pray that come it may,
(As come it will for a‘ that,)
That Sense and Worth, o’er a‘ the earth,
Shall bear the gree, an‘ a‘ that.
For a‘ that, an‘ a‘ that,
It’s coming yet for a‘ that,
That Man to Man, the world o’er,
Shall brothers be for a‘ that.
(1795, Robert Burns)

Very fitting that a man with the name Burns sings it.

[For those interested in Scottish history I can recommend John Prebble’s books: The Highland Clearances, Glencoe and Culloden.]

In Morar we sit down in the doll house like, really cute little pub. Our music  [that must have been my friend’s guitar] soon attracts a young Scottish couple, with whom we have a lively conversation. Their names are Margaret and Malcolm and they come from Bannockburn. For the next day they invite us to dinner in their caravan. Malcolm is in love with my girlfriend’s guitar. He would like to take it with him.

July 12, 1974 (Friday)

In the afternoon, Margaret and Malcolm take us on a sightseeing tour of the area, and we visit a salmon nursery  at Loch Ailort. Malcolm would like to find work here on the coast because his dream is to own a fishing boat.

There is not so much to see, the salmon cages are out in the loch. So at least they don’t get artificial water.

In the evening we sit comfortably together. From the caravan you can see the bizarre outlines of the islands (Hebrides), with the strange names ’Rum’, ’Eigg’ and ’Muck’. Margaret shows me a typical Scottish handicraft, gemstones from pressed heather (heather gem). It looks very nice, and depending on which parts of the plant are used, the rings or cufflinks or pendants are mostly green or purple. Later I’ll buy a ring, the ’stone’ of which is made from sliced ​​heather stilks. That is, of course, in shades of brown.

Heather gem, my own gems, my own photo.

Malcolm went to Glencoe once too. There the landlord in the pub asked him: „Are you a Cambalaich?“ – „No, I am a MacInnes, why?“ – „Because I am not serrrving a Campbell over this counter!“ – Almost 300 years after the massacre, still such an irreconcilable hatred [13 February 1692; in 1974 it had not been 300 years].

(To be continued)

Schottland 1974, Teil 5

Glasgow – Crianlarich – Morar

Die deutsche Version findet ihr HIER.

July 9, 1974 (Tuesday)

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.

HERE you will find some more beautiful photos of Loch Lomond.

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 … ;-)].

[HERE you can look at more photos of the hostel. They got some nice new beds.]

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] ).

This is quite breathtaking!

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.

Glencoe Folk Museum, photo:

[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.]

Picture by SANDY McCOOK 9th April ’19 The refurbished and extended National Trust for Scotland visitor centre in Glencoe which opened this week for the season.

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.

Fort William, main street

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.

Corpach: The old railway station, which is not in use anymore. Photo:

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 remember Garramoare House very well, it is a beautiful building.
Photo: © Copyright Anthony O’Neil and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence. (I have not made any changes to the photo.)

(To be continued)

Schottland 1974, Teil 3 … Scotland 1974, Part 3, Kendal – Patterdale – Glasgow

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.

Foto: Wikipedia

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.

(Kendal Castle, aerial photo by Jonathan Webb)

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.

One of the few youth hostels (in comparison to earlier years) that still exists.

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.

This is a Google Earth photo of Cambuslang with Woodlands Crescent in the centre of the photo. It looks the same as in 1974.

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.

Glasgow, river Clyde,

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.

(To be continued)

Ein Dienstagslächeln … A Tuesday smile

Dieses Mal etwas Romantisches, schlicht und liebevoll … 🙂

… This time something romantic, simple and loving … 🙂

Der Film spielt im schottischen Hochland, das passt ja gerade.
The film takes place in the Scottish Highlands, very apropos.

Habt eine schöne Woche! … Have a pleasant week!

Schottland 1974, Teil 2 … Scotland 1974, Part 2, London – Kendal (Lake District)

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.

Rugby market place, looking west from Church Street
Photo: G-Man at English Wikipedia

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.]

The pub is housed in a former storage facility..
Photo: jonnywalker at

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.

The Chocolate House in Kendal. The cafe is in one of Kendal’s oldest buildings dating back to 1657.

(To be continued)

Schottland 1974, Teil 1 … Scotland 1974, Part 1

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:

Hamburg, Landungsbrücken und Michaeliskirche
Hamburg, embarcation quays and St. Michael’s church

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.

Summer hostel near St. Paul’s Cathedral

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’.

(To be continued)

Schottland 1973, Teil 8 … Scotland 1973, part 8

Die Deutsche Version findet ihr HIER.

PART 8 Perth-Edinburgh-London-Hamburg

July 23, 1973 (Monday)

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.

Forth Bridge
Foto: Wikipedia

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.]

I think we stayed here, it fits with the distance to the Princes Street Gardens.
Foto: Tripadviser

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.

View from Calton Hill over to the Castle.
Foto: Wikimedia

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.

Edinburgh Castle, seen from the Princes Street Gardens.
Foto: Wikipedia

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.

Princes Street Gardens
Foto: Wikipedia

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.

Thistle Street
Foto: Google Streetview

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.

Inside one of the greenhouses, Foto:
And from the outside, Foto:

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.

The Risen Christ by Jacob Epstein
Foto: National Galleries of Scotland

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 blue dots show, where we walked. I am not sure though that we walked in such a straight line 😉 .

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.

Princes Street Gardens
Foto: Gardenvisit

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.

London Liverpool Street Station

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.

Something like that …

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.

Schottland 1973, Teil 7

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.

In this case a queen of the glen, photo: Pinterest

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.

Photo: Wikipedia

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.

Invercauld bridge over the river Dee near Braemar (my own photo)

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.

River Dee (my own photo)

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.

Breamar Youth Hostel, photo: visitscotland

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.

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.

Inverey, photo: Wikipedia

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.]

A photo of Glen Shee only a few days ago:
The old military road from Braemar to Grantown-on-Spey, here following Glen Shee.

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.

Fair Maid’s house, Perth

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.

Tay bridge, Perth
Photo: Wikipedia

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.

Below the red dot is the South Inch, and above, the longer green, along the river, is the North Inch.

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!

Photo: Pixabay