Alistair Maclean's Web Site
Scotland '01

What's that yellow thing?

Days 1, 2 and 3

Approximate map of journey

It is May 2001. Work is slow. Maggie, our old dog, dying gave us the incentive to go and see older relatives in various places, this trip was to visit my family and friends in Scotland, and take in the scenery.

The preparations started with the phone calls. AT&T loves me, I made about 20 calls to the UK, most lasting hours over the course of 48 hours. What evolved over the two days was a travel plane that had us flying over much of Scotland, with a day resting at the begining and one at the end.

Dawn, seen elsewhere on this site is a traveloholic, she knows bargains, so taking a leaf from her book I hunted for flights, cars and hotels on the web. I found a Continental flight to Glasgow International Airport (a cute place, a very personal airport), an Avis rental car that was an automatic (We drive manual/sticks here but the time taken to train the left hand in shifting - again - is too much. The automatic transmission worked out fine for most stuff, except the really fast work - but more later!), and a stay in one of the Hilton hotels in Edinburgh in a suite no less (Oooh!) And none of it was too expensive.

The flight is about an hour shorter to Glasgow than it is to London. This is good. At Glasgow airport, we quickly got our car and headed south to the English Lake District, where we met up with my immediate family. An odd thing was happening though... the skies were clearing.

Ulswater. Ducks, cottages and lake We were in Kendal for 2 days, getting over the Jet lag and seeing the Lakes. It was the middle of the Foot & Mouth epidemic and the hills were showing the obvious signs of mass slaugthers. Whole areas were devoid of farm animals (no, they were not in hiding because I was coming), you could drive several miles without seeing sheep or cattle, then suddenly the fields were full again. The sterilizing mats laid in the road were frequently dry, a sure sign people were getting blasé about the whole thing. A little from Penrith we found the smoke from pyrs. It was not a good feeling. I had been at school the last time this happened in the 60's and remembered well the mass exterminations.

The Kirkstone Pass in the Lake District The Lake District was beautiful, though. May is a time of growth, of flowers and blossom. The countryside was radient, if quiet, because people were scared away by all the path closures.

Soon we were heading north, along as many bye-ways as we could go. We were headed for Newarthill a town just to the south-east of Glasgow.

Above Moffat, and north of the Devils Beef Bowl

The outskirts of Glasgow were once a caldron of heavy industry and coal mining. The towns were black, the air filthy, the people drab. Then the mines closed through the 60's, 70's and 80's. I had seen areas of Birmingham raized after the industrial fiasco of the Thatcher years, I was not ready for what had happened here. We were close to our destination when I realised that I had been through some of the area, many years before, except that the farms were, well, new. Gone were the mines. The bings had been landscaped, some flattened, and replaced by farms. Talk about recycling!

We stayed with my cousins in Newarthill seeing two Uncles and an Aunt, enjoying seeing them for the first time in 15 years. In the morning we awoke not to the sound of the trains and factories, but to tranquility and twittering birds. This was a revelation. Of course there are few jobs here anymore, everyone (including my cousin) commutes into Glasgow. But the improvement in the quality of life cannot be argued.


© Copyright A. Maclean 2001 -
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