Wednesday, September 25, 2013

First things first....

Did you get the flag? Did you know it was Scotland? I thought I was being all like, "Take a guess on this, people!" but then realized a day later that I actually said "...back to the UK" in the description of the title.  So you had one of four choices: England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. I hope you chose wisely. I know I did. Scotland is amazing, and I'm here to tell you all about it. Of course I know it won't always be great - and that will be shared as well.  But right now Scotland and I are enjoying our honeymoon, thank you very much.  And just like the friend you are, you're stuck hearing all about my new relationship.

You'll notice some change in my spelling, as some posts will be written from a computer purchased in the UK.  So, for example, I type "favourite" without the 'u' and spellcheck automatically changes it for me.'s another: colour. I didn't type the 'u' in that either. I think there will be some funny business with the letter 'z' as well.  So it's not me posing as a Scot.  It's my computer, and I'll alternate between this one and my US one. 

So you want to know all about it, right?  Where should I begin?  Well, you should know that Scotland isn't a huge place.  It is 30,414 square miles, which is about 2,000 square miles smaller than South Carolina, or about 6,000 square miles larger than West Virginia. And since Americans are so adept at geography, let me put it another way: South Carolina and West Virginia are number 40 and 41 in the ranking of states by area - and as most Americans know, there are 50 states.  So there are only 10 states smaller than Scotland. Does that put it into perspective?

There are about 5,314,000 people in Scotland. If you look at that ranking of states again - this time by population - then Scotland compares to Minnesota, which is 21st on the list of 50. 

There's not a blog big enough to describe the history of Scotland - it's beyond anything I'll ever be able to cover.  It's certainly nothing I can summarise, and definitely nothing for me to compare to the United States to provide some perspective.  The only commonality America shares with Scotland in regard to history is past 'issues' with England. Otherwise they're vastly different by virtue of age alone.

Everyone always thinks of Scotland as cold and rainy.  So far, that's not been the case.  I've been warned over and over about the winter coming (it's like Game of Thrones without the three-eyed ravens and the carnage) but I can't see how it could be much different than winter in Missouri or Oregon, so I'm okay with winter coming.  Because of the location being so far north, I'm told there's about a month of extremely short days in the winter.  Conversely, the summers here have incredibly short nights.  As it is now, I'm seeing daylight by 6:15 am and it's staying light out until after 7:00 pm. If I head up to the northern part of the country (a short drive - about 60-90 minutes) I can see the aurora borealis.  Not too shabby.

You're probably wondering about the castles.  Everyone thinks there are castles all over the place here.  There actually are a lot of castles - like right in the middle of contemporary life there can be a castle, just there like any other building.  Some are museums, some are converted to be used for other functions, and some are preserved and/or restored.  Many are just ruins and are open for exploration. Obviously there are huge ones - estates with acres and acres of land and giant, storybook-like castles.  But there are also many smaller ones - small in terms of what we think of when we consider a castle, that is.  The smaller ones are the ones that pop up and they're randomly about, wherever you go.

Another stereotype is that there are men in kilts with bagpipes on every corner.  The kilt part is kind of true - men wear them here as formalwear, such as to a wedding or other formal event - think 'tuxedo'. But there are also casual kilts...there are ones to wear to sporting events, for example.  And there are ones that are in-between formal and casual - I saw a man in one at the antique mall on Sunday, presumably coming from church. I don't see them every day, though. I'll tell you more about kilts in a future post, because there's so much more to them than the average American realizes.  As for bagpipes - I've heard them coming from the weddings that were held at the resort we stayed at when we first arrived, but those are the only times. They do offer it as an instrument to learn at Son 2's school, but he's not planning on taking that up anytime soon.

There's much more to come, so stay tuned.  And if you think I haven't messed up with the language here, you're so very wrong - I totally have and will share it with you in future posts. I'll give you a sneak peek:  One incident involves me telling someone that I've only got one pair of underwear and have worn them four times in a row. Another includes giving a baby the finger, and yet another has me using two words in a sentence that implied I have a porn career. So yeah. 

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