If you were wondering where the hell I’ve been, I’ve been to Scotland! And in addition to that I’ve been going through the process of interviews and accepting a new job, and then getting back into the swing of things here at home – result being that I’ve not posted in a while.
Things I learned in Scotland:
- Hills go up
- My scotch cabinet has pretty much the same selection as your average pub in Scotland.
- Anything can be made better with a jaunty tam o-shanter.
- The length of Wallace’s sword increases each day.
- People can spell my name in Scotland.
- It’s not “cow”, it’s “coo”.
Before we even got on the plane, we had our first entertainment. Going through security at Pearson, the lady in front of us got stopped for carry-on inspection. The reason became clear when the inspector pulled out the family-size fruit salad in tupperware, the side salad, the can of sprite, and a full bottle of ranch dressing. I’ll go out a limb and guess that she doesn’t get out much. Most surprising of all though, was that she got to keep the salads.
We landed at around 8:30 in the morning Glasgow time and it was pretty easy to find a bus to take us downtown to where our hotel was. Conveniently located not too far from George Square and the train station, so that worked out well. There was a big bed and a little bed in the room, so I took the little bed for this part of the trip. They did well to get us a room that early, and we were much relieved to be able to freshen ourselves up a bit before assaulting the city. Even though we didn’t sleep much on the plane, we like to hit the ground running and go all day to get on schedule as soon as possible.
Weather was already heating up for what would eventually be a 27 degree day – enough to send the natives into paroxysms of glee, rip off most of their clothes to reveal milky white skin and lounge about the commons.
Up at George Square, we got to see Wellington in his Glasgow hat – always some version of a traffic pylon, and currently a sporty orange stripe number with a green base. We speculated if the colour choice was on purpose, since we were there on the actual day of an Orange walk in the city. As far as we can tell, the modern incarnation involves a bunch of buddies getting together and singing defamatory songs, drinking lots, arguing about footie, and then buggering off back home on Sunday. Not a lot of people wearing green that day, in any case.
We caught the hop-on/hop-off tour from George Square as a way of getting around the city. You’d never know that it wasn’t high season yet – it was a struggle to get to the top deck and we had to wait a few times at the stops to get back on the bus. One of our stops was the cathedral, necropolis and infirmary.
The cathedral, also known as St Mungo’s (which, best Saint name evar), was one of the few to survive the dismantling of the reformation. True to form, some belligerent of the faith surrounded the cathedral when the reformists came a calling and threatened to do in kind if they touched a stone. The cathedral has some interesting features, and a whole white chapel in the basement, as well as a “Blackadder” walk. It’s also where I took the megacool shot that ought to be on a book cover.
We wondered up into the necropolis, which is still very much in use. Gorgeous place to go for a walk if you don’t mind crypts and headstones. We got accosted by an old amateur historian (who was possibly a history professor from nearby Strathclyde Uni), who told us all about the Deacon/President of Strathclyde who got to meet Queen Victoria twice when she visited.
The infirmary is famous for being one of the foremost medical training facilities in the UK and beyond.
From there, we caught a bus over to Glasgow Uni – very nice campus, and home to the Macintosh House Museum – they basically packed up the house and moved it into the building. Unfortunately, we couldn’t take pictures inside, so I have one shot of the door and that’s about it. You can see some of the contents at the museum site. The dining room was pure noms.
By this point, our inertia was fading in the sun and we went back to the hotel for a bit of relaxation before heading out for dinner. We ended up at City Merchant in the Merchant District, who specialize in fish. I had Pollach with blood sausage mash. They like to put blood sausage and haggis in everything – mash, meat, breakfast, lunch… It was quite good, and I paired it with a Chilean merlot that worked out quite well. Dessert was Scottishy scots – I went for sticky toffee pudding and a whisky I’ve never had before – Caol Ila. Think a clod of peat dipped in oil, dragged across some Islay dirt and distilled with some mineral water. That’s the stuff, man.
In the end, I grabbed a bottle of it from the duty free on the way home, which was a good choice, since it’s available in very limited locations here in Canada.
By this time it was 9:30 and we were tired and anxious to get our sleeping schedule fixed, so it was back to the hotel.