Thursday, May 15, 2008

Day 14 Fort Wiliam to Glasgow, Farewell

The last day of our tour we headed south from Fort William through the stunning scenery of Glencoe glen. A number of movies, including the 3rd Harry Potter, have used this area as a set. The tragic massacre of the MacDonalds of 1692 continues to give this area of natural beauty a tragic air. Richard played a recording of "Glencoe Massacre" sung by Alasdair Macdonald which made us all quietly contemplate. Much of the land in the glen is now owned and protected by the National Trust of Scotland. We stopped at the view point of "The Three Sisters" mountains. Margaret's finally agreed to pose for my camera.

Our last bit of nature before heading back to Glasgow was a stop on the shores of Loch Lomand where sang “The Bonnie Banks o Loch Lomond” It was penned by a prisoner of the Jacobite campaigns before he was executed. He believed that his spirit, upon execution, would travel back the spirit world via the “low road” to the place of his birth, Loch Lomond, while his prison mate, who was to be set free, would have to walk back home to Loch Lomond. So this gives new light to these words: “You’ll take the high road and I’ll take the low road and I’ll be in Scotland afore ye. But me and my true love will never meet again on the Bonny bonny Banks of Loch Lomond.”

Upon returning full circle to Glasgow we visited the Burrell Collection, housed in a museum in Pollok Park. Sir William Burrell amassed great wealth in the shipping business and spent his money on collecting artwork from all over the world. There are many tapestries in the collection. Helen Hughs, the textile conservator, allowed us a veiw of the conservation room where the work of studying and preserving the embroideries and tapestries take place. She feels "textiles are at the heart of Glasgow's history. The raw materials, like Turkey red dye, and cotton, came here because of the shipping industry. The Textile Department at the Glasgow School of Art continues to train designers who go into the interior fabrics trade."

Dina Ward, guided us through the tapestries on display. The collection includes large and small tapestries from Flanders, Brussels, and France. I really enjoyed Dina's insights on "The Dishonest Miller" tapestry, made between 1300 to early 1500's. I have seen this tapestry many time, but when she told us about the reputation of millers, pointed out the dress of the two couples depicting different social status, the story began to reveal itself to me. Entry to the museum is free and walking around the park which has a large herd of Highland cattle, flowers, and trees, is a green peaceful retreat in the middle of the city.

I want to thank Richard, our coach driver/guide from Rabbies Trail Burners once again for driving us 1692 miles around the country. He was still smiling at the end. He is always off scoping out good scenes as soon as he drops us off and cleans up the coach. He sells photographs of scenic Scotland on his website.
How do I summarize 2 weeks on the road in search of threads, ruins, and tunes? We had no major illness or mishaps, and so much sunshine that some pale skinned northerners got sunsburned. It was wonderful to share the best of the sites, places, and people I had met on 5 previous trips to Scotland with the 15 travelers on this tour. Some were seasoned travelers, having been to Scotland numerous times. For others this was their first venture out of the U.S. You may enjoy reading newbie traveler, Bob's take on the trip at his blog site

Travel is a wonderful teacher. We leave our framework of our normal, everyday lives, and are thrust into a culture, which may not seem so different from our own. But as we talk, eat, ride on ferries, visit museums, breath in deeply, we learn in subtle and sometimes not so sublte ways, that every culture has unique things they offer to the world.

Scotland has always offered her friendly people and welcoming nature to me and I believe my travelers felt this too. We fly back home and leap back into our lives, but we are not the same. Our being has been touched and changed. I always come home so thankful for the affordable food, fuel and energy we are privileged to have in North America . And I’m reminded to give back the hospitality to visitors in our communities and homes that we received in Scotland. Thank you for blogging along on this journey. If your interest has been peaked, I invite you to come along in person next year. I'm taking reservations now!

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