Monday, October 11, 2010

Sturm and Drang

It's 80F here in Roanoke, VA and it snowed a bit in Scotland this morning. If wishes were fishes, we'd all cast nets.

I was attempting to have a meaningful relationship on the North Sea with a good cup of coffee, when I was interrupted by a storm. 36 hours out of Roanoke, and I couldn't smoke. Well, in my pursuit of these, I found out from the friendly fellow behind the bar that everyone else was below decks, ready to evacuate to the life rafts or to stabilize the ship further, or both.

We had a funny moment when I was screaming my name over the sound of the engines, the sea, and crashing cars in the hold, and he was trying to tell me what he was called. ("Stewart! Stewart!" "Steward! Steward!") He must have been really pissed I wouldn't go below and I was slightly less pissed at not getting my coffee. When I realized what he was trying to get me to do, I froze. There was no way I was letting go of MY rail, either.

Then the ship did a belly flop and the stabilizer disappeared. We slipped behind the protection of an island and all unpleasant motion ceased. When my brother, Mark, and the other passengers reappeared, the captain wanted to know why I was sitting at a table, staring at a coffee cup. The steward managed to stay out of trouble and my slight hearing loss from too many rock concerts in high school was explained. And I got my coffee. Free.

While below, Mark met a family from Orkney bringing their new dog home. The dog's name was Storm, and Naomi, the 10 year old, wanted nothing more to do with that dog. Another thing about the Scottish: they are so self-conscious about presenting their country as the greatest tourist destination in the world, they go overboard (no pun intended.) Every dog I saw in Scotland was groomed to the teeth. The people in the villages and rural areas owned Border Collies, and people in the City owned white Scottish Terriers. We saw no labs, German Shepherds, Irish Setters, Poodles, or any other type of dog  the entire 10 days we were there. All horses were native to Scotland or England. It was a bit of a mind-blower. 

On the other hand, the country is so geared toward tourism, that the Scottish will just about put you up in their own home to get you to stay. Which they did. We spent the entire time in Bed and Breakfast homes across the country. We could not have had a lovelier or cheaper time anywhere. We had to be careful not to make jokes like, "I'm so hungry, I could eat a bear!" while we were there. It was not taken as a joke.

The food: I like food. I like to eat, cook and admire food. I like it to be different. My brother Mark, on the other hand, would have eaten nothing but McDonald's if I would have let him.

Next in the series: How Not to Eat in Scotland

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