I am going somewhere steeped in mystery for our Summer hols this year, exotic, broooding and epic.

After the Lockdowns, that could of course mean a trip to the local cinema, but no: this is the real deal, and it’s not the Old Rectory in Aylesbury, fun as that was for a couple of years as our main holiday. We have to spread our wings (without flying for a while longer).

Scotland.

No Lochdowns.

I have had limited exposure to Scotland, including having gone to Glasgow in the late ’90s as part of a delegation from Hong Kong impressing the participants about the promised 50-years-unchanged-until-at-least-2047 Rule for Hong Kong and the stability that it would have after the Handover. How young I must have been to believe any of that, but that’s another story, right? My other visit to Scottishland was to Edinburgh with the Aged Ps, again a long time ago. All I can remember of that visit was me taking them to see Riverdance. I think the trauma for me has wiped my memory, all that line dancing, cavorting and chirpiness, and from the wrong country.

On with the proper Scottishness.

Fog settling in the glen, tartan, and Mel Gibson in heavy make-up. And of course whisky distilleries.

We are planning to take the sleeper up to Glasgow from London – giddy excitement and probably no sleep. But at least a safer bet than the Trans-Siberian, where a few years ago I was warned that, if I traveled on that journey, I should wedge damp towels in the cracks in the sleeper cabin door to head off any tear gas that might be used in an effort to flush us out and rob us. I’m not expecting the same treatment heading for Scotland, despite my being resolutely English.

A day excursion out of Glasgow, from Fort William – Lower Left of Scotland – to Mallaig. Further left.

The Jacobite.

On another train. A steam train! How exciting is that?!

Over the viaduct that leads to Hogwarts, doubling as the Hogwarts Express, past where they shot Highlander and Local Hero. Sadly, not past Balamory, so we won’t find out the story even though we would like to know; nor past where one of my favourite Wombles – Tobermory – lives, he’s on a different line. To arrive in the shadow of Ben Nevis. Epic.

Then a scoot back to Glasgow. After a proper mooch around, Edinburgh beckons.

In particular, the Scottish National Gallery. I want to see The Skating Minister, a bizarre creation attributed to Henry Raeburn in 1784 that is as mad as anything Dali would have produced using a clergyman on an iced-up lake as subject matter. The Reverend Robert Walker was the man captured skating on Duddingston Loch.

What was the Reverend thinking at the time and more puzzlingly how did he hold that pose for Raeburn long enough to paint him? A remarkable balancing feat. Dancing on Ice? Pah! The Rev is all 10s…

Hold still just a bit longer, please, Rev…

We have also booked The Witchery restaurant in Edinburgh, in the shadow of the Castle. “Opulent eccentricity”, according to The Observer. All red leather seats and oak panelling, like Game of Thrones, with better food, I hope. We must see if the Macbeths are available to join us for a cauldron roast.

Very much looking forward to our Summer hols.

We’ve had the joy of planning the trip, whatever happens…

I will report on the reality in due course…

Cheers,

Alan

Alan Camrose

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