Friday, June 22, 2007

Scottish Music

These are more quick notes. Full details when I can get on a computer that's not in an Internet cafe.

Wed 20

After a quick check on the Internet at Kinloch Rannoch, we went to Aberfeldy. Skipped the Menzies castle. Walked the Birks of Aberfeldy and sat in the Robert Burns seat. A good steep hike up, but still just path, no pitons or ladders.

I had my first good root beer, but it turned out to be from Australia.

We stopped in at Dewar's but decided to skip the tour, since we would be touring a different distillery tomorrow.

Scotland is really unspoiled beuaty. No billboards, very few signs, no crass commercialization, unless one walks into a tourist center, all of whom look alike and all of whom sell the same stuff at higher prices than a supermarket in town. No McDonalds (fast food, anyway).

At one point, Rachel was driving and asked me what MOTS painted on the road meant. Heh. Took me about two seconds.

We tried Birnham (ala Macbeth), but everything closes so darn early in Scotland (open from 10 to 4:30 or so). The Cathedral was closed. We saw a tiny garden in honor of Beatrix Potter, surrealized by a group of 14 year old girls fascinated by the S word, which they repeated around 200 times.

Lots of places here serve venison.

Avoid "Perth Visitor Center". Nothing but more shopping.

But thank goodness for Walker's shortbreads (O-U).

Back to Aberfeldy in the evening for a singer in the local pub. Some of the locals were a little strange. One woman exclaimed "A Jew!" and patted my kippah. Others believed in the stereotype of tight-fisted Jews (this coming from Scots, no less). I was a little uncomfortable, as one of them was quite drunk.

We heard the singer Andrew Gordon. His first set was a little slow, but the second was quite lively. Apparently, you're required to sing songs like Loch Lamond and so on. This stuff is still accepted culture; kids in Soctland are not like kids in London.

I had a ginger beer and liked it.

Driving back at night, we saw an owl standing on the road, followed by a rabbit. Closer to our place, we kept having to honk the sheep off the road. You would think natural selection would be at work here.

Thur 21

We went rowing in the morning and then motoring back. Pleasant, but not worth the expense, I think. The water was like black plastic (a Hefty garbage bag I think was my description).

I went back to Blair castle to try to find a raincoat I had misplaced and I think I gave it short shrift last post. I must have been expecting something else. It's a bit nicer than I made it out to be. Also, we didn't get to the falls in the same location.

In Pitlochry, we toured Edradour distillery, which is not only the smallest distillery but also offers a free tour, unlike any of the others. Very nice. Then stopped for "the best beer in the world" at Moulin Inn: Old Remedial beer, brewed on the spot.

In the evening, Macnab's pub has Scottish folk music and dancing. Some quaint but nothing inspiring music by Benachally Ceilidh Band, and some tremendously bad attempts at dancing by the tourists.

Almost everyone in these parts are tourists, either from lower Scotland, England, or America, or Europe. But apparently, even if there were no tourists about, this is still what they would be doing, so I don't feel too pandered to.

In general, however, the more geared toward tourism something is, the less appealing it is.

Rachel went to a satirical play at the festival theater while I did the music. She said that, for what it was, it was very good. The Americans around her complained that they couldn't understand the Socttish dialect.

I'm now in the Crieff local library (free internet), and we're off to Stirling castle and then to Glasgow. I will be missing Edinburgh altogether, but I need to save something for next time, right?

If you want to meet in Glasgow, leave a text message at my Israeli cellphone, +972-545-987-034 . I may also get to check my email. I don't use the phone or computer on the sabbath, however.

Away wit ya,

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