I can honestly say I have never felt more British than now on this trip and, of all places, it’s only to Scotland.
We live in the North West of England, so to anyone who doesn’t live where we do may already think we are practically Scottish. This is not the case. In fact, we are just as British as the rest of Britain. I do have to admit, I am part Scottish and part Welsh. It helps with the accents (although, saying that, the rest of the family are useless at understanding any accent that isn’t distinctly from the North West of Britain and even then, they have trouble understanding anyone who isn’t part of the family. We aren’t foreign, just middle class people who wish we were top class. My family don’t accept that they are common and they refuse to believe this simple fact.)
We spent most of the day on the main roads and motorways. My mother was driving and my younger brother in the back seat of the car, with the typical squashed environment that comes with a two-week family holiday. We were actually not doing the navigating this year as we were going with my Grandmother and step-Grandfather (who I shall refer to as David for the rest of these memoirs, as that is his name) who were leading the small procession all the way to Scotland. At least there wasn’t the usual argument about which of the many roads we could have possibly taken, why we took the wrong one and whose fault it was; somehow, it always managed to be my fault even though the driver never takes the directions I give…
Back to the reasons why I feel most British in Scotland: although I usually read or watch a film while we are in Britain whereas I take a sudden interest when we cross the border into Scotland. It seems as though, instantly, everyone has a different attitude and different ideas. It just feels different, even if you don’t talk to anyone. This is pretty obvious, when you look around.
In Britain, there are functional signs for the use of drivers, such as ‘Give Way’, ‘Crossroads’ and ‘No Entry’. These are all signs that are perfectly clear and have a purpose. Why is it that about 200 miles away from all these perfectly sensible signs, I came across one that was in the shape of a triangle with a thick red outline so crude that looked as though it had been drawn by a small child with a large felt tip pen, with a sheep in the middle? Did the Scottish really feel the need to erect a sign showing that, yes, there were sheep in Scotland? If this is so, why do they not have one with a cow on it? Surely, that’s some form of discrimination. Even so, I think a more necessary sign is one of a silhouette of a person wearing a kilt and clutching bagpipes. In the years I have travelled to Scotland, I have never had a problem with sheep, or other livestock for that matter, I do think a warning about the locals is more appropriate. After all, it is Scotland.
Another moment, which I eventually had to write off as just being ‘Scottish people’, was when we saw a couple of men walking down a regular road. Another couple (a man and a woman this time) closely followed them. One of the men in the first two turned around, pointed to somewhere where a dog had fouled and exclaiming it so loudly I could hear his broad Scottish accent through the closed car windows and over the music I was playing. Now, not to blow my own horn, but I am a logical person, yet, for the life of me, I couldn’t explain what was going on.
My own personal goal for the holiday is to be able to replicate a believable Scottish accent. This, I guarantee, is going to be hilarious for any innocent by-standers who happen to be listening in on my conversations and feeble attempts to fulfil my goal, seeing as any accent I attempt that I haven’t had immense practice at, it comes out sounding Indian. Seeing as I am in no way Indian, have had no Indian influences and have no connection to India, this is a feat in itself.
An overview of our very long journey to Tarbert, Scotland consists of starting the day at home and then leaving it. We joined all the other various cars travelling to be on their various holidays and shared looks with the other people in the other various cars travelling to be on their various holidays, showing that, yes, we too were going on holiday and that it would also be a long journey for us as well. Soon we got onto the M6 and kept going down the M6, stopping at a service station for a very classy ‘toilet break’ and to pick up some snacks to keep us going until lunchtime. We then got back onto the M6 and travelled for a while, stopping again, this time for lunch. Eventually, we got into Glasgow, (specifically Dumbarton at this next point) filled up the tank with petrol and I got a can of Monster, which put me in a very cheerful mood (cue music and awful, loud singing). Next were the winding roads past Loch Lomond and then onto Loch Fine, where we stopped again for tea and cake and another, still extremely classy, toilet break. After that, we continued up to Tarbert and (technical term coming up) a bit further on, turning off into Rhu House (not literally into the house, just onto the premises). This is where we would be staying for the night.
For dinner, we headed back into Tarbert and ate in a place called Scott's Bistro. I ate some focaccia with tomatoes and basil, then for mains a very nice lasagne and for desert I had three scoops of ice cream – vanilla, chocolate and something called ‘Scottish Tablet’ (I was intrigued by the name, but in essence, it is vanilla ice cream with bits of biscuit in).
Right now, as I type this, I am sitting in the room we are staying in for the night. The curtains are drawn, pyjamas are on and the only light in the room is my computer screen and the two very dim lights on the bedside tables. My little brother and my mum are (very loudly) doing word puzzles from one of those books you only ever buy to specifically shut up clever children on holiday. Once I save this, I will put my laptop to charge, read a book on my kindle and then sleep (hopefully).
Joke of the day:
Joke Teller – "Why do bees have sticky fur?"
Me – "Do bees have fur? How would you know? Do you feel bees in your spare time? Is that not abuse?"
Joke Teller: "It’s a joke."
Me – "Abusing bees is no joke."
Joke Teller – "It’s because they have honeycombs. Why could you not have just guessed?"
Me - "That is an awful joke and you should be ashamed."