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Published: March 28th 2017
History was my least favorite school subject. It just seemed like an exercise in memorization of unfamiliar names and irrelevant dates. Looking back, I think it had something to do with my teachers and their approach and presentation, but also I now see that the real way to learn something is to DO something. Science grabbed me because we did experiments. Math was interesting because we solved puzzles. And as an adult, history has finally become interesting as I tour significant places, eat food named after towns, or meet people that embrace tradition, all of which I found in Scotland.
Scotland is one of those places where history is still a part of everyday life. A drive along the highway passes centuries old distilleries, castles, and farms. The churches and pubs in the local neighborhoods have been serving the townsfolk since the end of the Roman Empire. And the pride of this rich history is evident in the local conversations, names, and even snacks! For example, there is a local meat pie that can only be called a Scotch pie if it is from the specific town famous for making them. (Kind of like Champagne, and actually many other foods
that are named after their town of origin. Yes, I am looking at you Cheddar, Edam, and Roquefort.) The story is that the meat was wrapped in a sturdy (and delilcious) dough in order to keep it fresh and warm for the workers lunch. Also, not to be confused with the Steak Pie, which is more like the potpie with roast beef and the flaky top. Bloody brilliant!
My lovely friend George has just recently moved back to her native country of Scotland and has scored an amazing home just outside of the town of Perth. As a matter of fact, her address is "By Perth." As in, not in town, but just by it! The entire area is part of an old estate of the Dewer's scotch whiskey family (Hmmm, wonder why they call it SCOTCH?) and her idyllic house was the Head Gardener's house. OK, so actually from those last three sentences, you can derive her entire address....but I digress. The house frame and it's major components are ORIGINAL - as in original windows, original one foot thick stone, and even the exact same doors that someone used to keep the heat inside over one hundred years
ago! In her backyard is a family cemetery that pays homage to Christianity, architects, and even a few namesakes that are in her own blood line. Bloody hell!
We spent the weekend exploring the river running through her backyard, eating local homemade foods, jams, cheeses, and meats, and sitting by the cozy one hundred year old fireplace. (Probably burning hundred year old trees too.) George made us a homemade classic tradition - the Queen Victoria Sponge Cake - and served it with tea or coffee and well an entire plate of other Scottish traditions (like the Millionaire Shortbread - OH. MY.) One of the highlights of the weekend (besides the amazing company) was visiting the Stirling Castle. It was the home of - and mostly built up by -King James IV and again, watching the history come alive was so informative and fascinating! His lineage is chock full of characters I have heard of including his Uncle King Henry VIII and his daughter Mary, Queen of Scots, crowned as an infant and used as a pawn in power struggles for most of her life. I mean, usually I'm like, WHO CARES!?! But seeing their faces in a family tree,
reading stories and seeing short movies about some of their day to day battles, and standing in the place they called their bedroom -- it just makes it all so -- personal. Personal to them, and personal to me. Another human, who lived hundreds of years ago, and probably just wanted the same as any of us. To be happy and healthy. (And stop bloody fighting for freedom!)
Don't miss the three pages of photos, most courtesy of Miss B! 😊
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