Scotland Adventures Denouement and a discussion of juju

We got up early, at 0530, and ate some hasty bran before taxiing to the Glasgow Airport. The flight to Amsterdam was nominal and not at all unpleasant; the flight back to the Twin Cities was considerably more taxing, for obvious reasons. We still had a lot of biscuits from the lot we bought for train journeys, and on top of that I decided (perhaps in a temporary fit of insanity) to take the attendant staff up on their offer of ice cream and orange juice. Orange juice does not particularly agree with me at the best of times, and so I alighted from the airplane feeling like my head had been stuffed with hot and subpar porridge. Thus I decided I would like to refrigerate my head somewhere humid, dim blue, and very quiet. MSP will insist on playing thumping pop music, though.

At the point when I post this, I have been awake for approximately 24 hours straight, although my circadian clock stalled for a long time in the sunny afternoon above the Arctic Circle. For this reason I wasn’t very sleepy at midnight GMT, but I ended up nodding over my book on the flight to Colorado. Of course, as with all airports, there was a lot of tedious rubbish with bag-fetching and shuttle-wrangling, and finally we arrived home, where I collapsed gratefully into my own bed.

My parents were, for some reason I have not yet determined, miffed when I sat in a seat somewhat distant (directly kitty-corner) from where they were in an airport waiting area. The reason for my placement was that the nearby chair where I wanted to sit had a lot of crumbs all around it (and thus very bad juju) and the other nearby chair had bad juju for some unspecified reason. I only at that moment decided that juju is the best word for it.

Let me explain in more detail: juju is a personal term for the irrational uckiness I feel about some things. Sitting with my back facing a room; drinking from a glass someone has accidentally used (but not one they have used on purpose); the existence of feet; some chord progressions. They’re utterly illogical, and they just make me feel bad in a sort of obsessive-compulsive way. Often after I mitigate them I can then feel bad about indulging the juju compulsion, because it’s socially weird and sometimes inconveniences others.

As for the terminology, I haven’t done any research into its origin–I have a vague feeling it might have something to do with hoodoo, but originally I heard it used as a phenomenon similar to cooties. At this point I’m using it to mean essentially a vibe I get from something. I don’t know how much explanation this actually needs… In any case, I’m curious as to whether any of the few Best Beloveds who read this have similar problems, or any solutions.

Scotland Adventures 4 and a brief discussion of accents

Today was a castle day! In the morning we visited Stirling Castle, which is very tourist trappy but also very large and well preserved. It has been continuously inhabited more or less since James VI made it his seat. Really it wouldn’t be all that interesting to describe, except the tapestry reconstruction project they’re working on. A group of expert weavers is replicating a series of seven tapestries about a unicorn hunt, with all kinds of delightful religious and romantic symbolism, and in the case of one tapestry that was only found in fragments they took the rest from a different tapestry of a maiden petting a unicorn. It seems that they’re quite common. Anyway, that is the one we saw them working on today, and it was wonderful.

After, we went down to a pub in Stirling, which was the first one I’ve seen to have macaroni and cheese. And terrible service. This is irrelevant, because it was a very nice day, if a bit windy (EXTREMELY WINDY) and the sun came out for a lot of good photographs.

With fuller stomachs we went to Doune Castle, which I liked much better. It hasn’t any food vendors or massive throngs of people. It is much smaller, and more like a ruin because it hasn’t been used for one or two hundred years. I had a good time getting a bit lost going up and up and up the extremely steep and narrow spiral staircase to the outer wall, and humming in the halls with the most delightful acoustic properties. The grass was wonderful, the air cool and damp, and the sun out in full force. The weather has been almost perfect, at least by my definition, the entire time we’ve been here, except the awfully hot second day. I was expecting more rain.

We went back to Dave’s house, and since we didn’t feel like going all the way into Glasgow for dinner he made chili and we had burritos. Very good. 

One of the most edifying and occasionally amusing things about being in a foreign country is listening to the language. I was delighted on the first day to realize that actual Scottish people sound like they do on television, which I had always figured must be a bit of an exaggeration. The real fun starts, though, when I began to be able to distinguish between different Scottish accents. I couldn’t tell you exactly how, Best Beloved, but there are differences in strength, inflection, vowels, et c.

Our innkeeper, Kenny, was quite amused to find out that we would be spending time with Dave and Rosie, who are from Yorkshire and Ireland respectively. I was surprised to find out how similar Rosie’s accent is to the Scottish (and also how inexplicably angry it makes her sound–I derived great amusement from hearing her shout repeatedly “IT’S A SHITE CAR AND I DON’T WANT TO DRIVE IT!”), but their accents are more obviously distinct from their son’s–pure Scot. He says that a lot of the farm kids he can’t even understand, and that they use words he’s never heard before. It’s encouraging to know that homogeneity in language still hasn’t progressed too far. 

More notes on cultural lessons learned at the supermarket later, perhaps!

Scotland Adventures 2

We spent nearly all of today in walking to the Botanic Garden, wandering around the Botanic Garden, and walking home from the Botanic Garden. Other than that, we had breakfast in a little café (and found out that bacon rolls are not as much like jelly rolls as they sound) and bought some toffee in a little corner shop.

My feet were utterly exhausted by the time we got halfway through the Gardens, which have an amazing glass house section, and something called a cryptogamic garden. As well as the amazing variety of interesting plants, there were at least two Botanic Cats, one of which was very friendly and drooled all over us. In any case, because our feet were so tired, on the way back we sat for a while in Princes Park between Princes Street and Edinburgh Castle. The Tattoo (whose purpose I am still not entirely certain of) was going on in the castle arena above us, but all we heard of it was a children’s choir singing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” with more gusto than skill.

Tonight’s dinner was at the Garden Cottage, a literal cottage that originally housed the groundskeeper for some manor or other. Now they have a kitchen garden and a fixed menu based on what is fresh, Their food is about three quarters as expensive as Castle Terrace’s, but I like it so much better because it’s homey and simple, but very well composed and executed. I also enjoyed the fact that we were seated at a long table with a party of six, who we talked to quite a bit during the second dessert (did I mention it was a six-course meal?), and it struck me that people in Scotland seem very friendly and ready to chat, and that this might be due to the culture that allows strangers to get close to each other. Food for thought as well as for belly.

And now, seeing as it is midnight point five–and we only got back half an hour ago!–I am going to sleep. Good afternoon, Americans!