Going home? A reflection.

 

George Square, Glasgow on election day.

George Square, Glasgow on election day.

For the past 12  years, every third year or so, I have gotten a group together, mainly folks living in the Big Bend, and taken them on the 10-day tour of Scotland, my country of birth. This summer, due to the added interest of the Referendum on Scottish independence, I took two groups, one following the other.

Pitlochry Highland Games

Pitlochry Highland Games

Everything went well with both groups: the weather was fine, the food was excellent (we ate many 3- and 4-course meals), and all the tour arrangements went as planned. I was particularly struck by the countryside: the fields being ploughed for a winter crop, the well-maintained farms, and the new agricultural equipment. The Scottish economy seemed to be doing fine.

Group outside of Ord House Hotel (1th century)

Group outside of Ord House Hotel (17th century)

"Sheepdog Julie" with Border Collie pup.

“Sheepdog Julie” with Border Collie pup.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The mood of the Scots people was upbeat. At the Commonwealth Games, held in Glasgow in June, Scotland scored more medals than India, a country 250-times larger, by population.In September, the Ryder Cup was played in Scotland, known as the home of golf. Then there was the referendum on Scottish independence on September 18 and, for a while, the eyes of the world were focused on which way the residents of Scotland would vote.

Oban Bed & Breakfast (left)

Oban Bed & Breakfast (left)

The first group was in Glasgow on September 18. A large crowd gathered in George Square, the city center. They were mainly young, many carrying banners saying “Yes” (for independence) and Scottish flags. For a while it seemed the vote might be close. In the event, the “No vote (a vote to remain linked to England) carried by 10.6%. This is how I would have voted. Voter turnout was 84.5% of the population.

Isle of Mull, woman and cow

Isle of Mull, woman and cow

When the groups returned to the USA, I asked for photographs of the trip. Eight persons in both groups had taken photos, numbering altogether several thousand. I looked through them, trying to find the 10 which best told the story of Scotland today.  Doing this caused me to look at my own feelings towards the country of my birth. And to my new home.

Iona, sea, Isle Mull

Iona, sea, Isle of  Mull mountains

I’ll always remember my first arrival in the USA in the fall of 1961. I disembarked from a ship in Montreal; delivered a car to Vancouver, and presented my immigrant’s papers at the US border near Seattle. Then I hitchhiked to New York, and shortly after got a job on the front desk of the St. Moritz Hotel on Central Park South. Every day was an adventure in noisy, exciting New York. Everything was newer, bigger, faster, brighter that life in the U.K,

Eildon Hills

Eildon Hills

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dryburgh Abbey

Dryburgh Abbey

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This was in the fall of 1961 and, except for the period 1969-1980, I have lived in the USA ever since – a period of 42 years. I became a US citizen in 1986, although I still have a valid British passport. I arrived in Texas in 1980 and this is where I will remain; I was surprised and greatly honored to be included in a recent book about Texans (Authentic Texans, People of the Big Bend, UT Press, 2013). After 40 years, I recognize what I left behind and miss, and equally what I look forward to when I return to west Texas. Regarding the former, it is: history going back 5,000 years, family connection, bagpipes, and the quieter and more subtle sense of humor of Scotsmen. Equally, on the other side, I love the look-in –your-eye directness, the can-do spirit, the desert and mountain terrain, the truly remarkable variety of people of the  Big Bend – and  not forgetting the weather.

Going for a snifter at Glen Order Distillery

Going for a snifter at Glen Ord Distillery

War Memorial, Oban

War Memorial, Oban

Clava Cairns. Bronze Age

Clava Cairns. Bronze Age burial mound.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photos by: B.Richerson, M. Brewen, C. Price, S.Ness, L. Meade, C. Rhudy.

Jim Glendinning About Jim Glendinning

I am a Footloose Scot who has traveled to 136 countries. "I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel's sake. The great affair is to move." Robert Louis Stevenson
Read about Jim Glendinning and his book Footloose Scot: Travels In A Time Of Change

Comments

  1. Stewart Campbell says:

    Hi Jim. Enjoyed reading your narrative and looking at the photographs of Bonnie Scotland! Don’t be showing them off to too many people or we’ll be overwhelmed with tourists!!
    You do a great job organising these trips and I am very pleased to have played a wee part in the Scottish experience! Keep up the good work! You are included in my top ten special people I have met in my lifetime!
    Kind regards and best wishes, Stewart

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