Friday, June 1, 2012

Scotland through the Senses

Clean laundry: slightly damp, still hanging on the line to dry; floral; fresh.  This is what Scotland smells like to me.  Every time I step outside I want to bury my face it in and inhale.  We walk into town each day just to enjoy breathing.

*FYI- Haggis bottom center.
The only rivals to the scents are the sights.  The town of Helensburgh is full of interesting views for the consummate window shopper: the butcher, the fishmonger, the green grocer, and the baker- all have plenty to see.  Then, as we walk out of town the colors hit us.  From the deep lavenders and pinks of the mountain laurel that dot the landscape to the pure yellow of the buttercups that cover yards and roadsides, spring is in full bloom.  As we walk to the top of Sinclair Street, we see flowers in every hue of the rainbow and trees in every shade of green.  Our destination is The Hill House, appropriately named for being at the top of a very long hill. 

{Architectural History Break:  Built from 1902-04 by the famous Scottish architect, Charles Rennie Mackintosh, The Hill House was ahead of its time.  Touring the home, it is obvious where Frank Lloyd Wright got some ideas.  The interior design and furnishings feel more jazz era than Edwardian.  With a rose motif throughout, there is not a tartan or stuffy ornate woodwork to be found.  Having just seen The Mousetrap, I can easily picture a 1930s Hercule Poirot mystery taking place here.  Can’t you see the body lying just in front of the fireplace?}

White is a color we often forget to see, but when you watch your children feed two white swans along the Firth of Clyde, you’ll remember the color forever.  Anabel has been obsessed with swans all spring after doing an interest project on ballet for school.  She read the story of Swan Lake and was hooked.  With her birthday money (and a little help from her little sister), she purchased a Swarovski crystal swan necklace, which she has worn around her neck ever since.  So when two enormous swans swim up to her while they are walking along the rocks, it seems like a dream.  Greg throws some bread down for the kids to feed them as we watch from the bedroom window.  Amazing!

When I remember our trip to Scotland, I will recall two sounds: the lovely, lilt of their Scottish brogue and the rumble of the trains (and the bubble of the tea kettle in 15 seconds flat, but that’s a third sound, so forget I mentioned it.)  Listening to people talk is a treat to the ear.  One afternoon, we stopped in the shop, Anne of Loudounville’s, and had the pleasure of conversing with the owner.  What a delightful lady!  I could listen to her trill her Rs for hours!  To hear the Gaelic is even better, but I have no idea what they are saying.  (I don’t think there is any connection between Gaelic and English at all! At least, not that I can gather from the road signs.)  Then, there are the trains.  While I like to sit and listen to the Scots talk, the trains come and go in a flash… always sticking to their strict schedule.  Just the whoosh sound rumbling by is all you hear, and poof, they’re gone.

Our comfy bed: snuggle ready with duvet and teddy.
The overall feel of Scotland is welcoming.  We have met many locals and they have all asked us very jovially where we are from or how can they help.  The people are like the duvets that cover each bed: nice, warm and very practical (it’s quite chilly in the evenings.)  So, to the clerks at the local co-op, the porters on the trains, the people on the street, the pizza deliveryman, and especially, our Tolsta hostess, Isabel: thank you for making us feel at home though we are far, far away. 

*You may have noticed that I didn't mention taste... No meal worth mentioning, yet; but, Greg seems to enjoy the haggis.  He's had it twice so far... and lived to tell the tale.


  1. Another FEEL I remember is slow....peaceful.... (I guess that's two, so choose one). The daily life is such a slower and enjoyable pace. Can you bring some of that back with you?

    1. You are absolutely right, Beverly. You know me and how I struggle with slowing down, but I am willing to learn. Hopefully, I will be able to bring some back.

  2. So glad you are enjoying Helensburgh Jennifer. I was googling to see if anything came up on home schooling and there you were right here in my home town of Helensburgh! It is a beautiful place to be isn't it? I was born here and have lived here most of my life. I hope you and your family continue to enjoy Scotland - I'll be following your blog - God speed you on your way. Kind regards, Jan

    1. Thank you, Jan! We are loving Scotland and especially, your hometown. We are in Edinburgh now, but will be returning to Helensburgh next week. Are you home schooling? I would love to talk to you about your experience.


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