Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Southwest Scotland

Hi Folks. Here's the promised entry on our road trip to southwest Scotland. But first a couple of updates.

You might wonder how the coalition government I've written about is getting on. So far so good. They're planning to balance the budget within four years and create a surplus by year five. We'll be having cuts that will make Margaret Thatcher's government look generous, like Santa Claus even. There's no need to do this on such a tight timeframe, so it would have to be something political, like the fact that there will be another election in five years. Hmmm. I suspect that combining once opposing forces is causing some fuzzy thinking. The normally clear and concise Nick Clegg, leader of the GlibDems, wrote a recent Op-Ed piece in the Guardian. He trumps any of my bad sentences and wins the award for Best Incomplete Sentence Using Both a Colon And a Semicolon:

A new government but, more important, a new kind of government: plural, diverse; a Liberal Democrat-Conservative coalition that defies the rules of old politics.

Wow, Nick. Congratulations!

In other news, the little laptop I've been using for the last 18 months (kindly updated and supplied by my wonderful partner) has had a nervous breakdown. Too much writing. As we have much to do to prepare for our upcoming move to Scotland, and as I can access the internet by hiking up to the University library, we are not in a hurry to replace it. So if you are not getting replies immediately to your fan letters, that's why. Just thought I'd let you all know... all four of you.

Our trip to Scotland was very good. We drove (and when I say that I mean my partner drove while I assisted with the map) up to Dumfries and Galloway to visit the flat we'll be moving to in a couple of months and to check out the area. If you have not been to southwest Scotland, it's lovely. After being in busy Kent for the last ten months, the first thing I noticed was how much less crowded that part of Scotland is. There is a lot less traffic, though they still drive like bats out of hell. At least they have more space in which to do it.

The landscape is generally rolling green hills sectioned by stone fences and dotted with sheep. Lots of sheep. There is a wonderful big hill in the area called Criffel, which is (brace yourselves) 1,868 feet high. It stands alone near the sea, so it actually is a very dramatic sight. Dare I say it? It's the Mt. Rainier of Galloway! Truth be told, it's a ways north, and even something as modest as 1,800 feet can humble you at that latitude if inclement weather strikes. So I won't poke too much more fun at Scottish mountains.

We visited the lovely shell beaches near Kippford. We spent time in New Abbey, where the world famous Sweetheart Abbey is, and where we visited a beautiful backyard garden that made us feel as if we were miles out in the country rather than on the main road of a busy little village. We drove inland to the Samye Ling Tibetan Buddhist Centre, the first such place in the western world, established along the River Esk in 1967. It is lovely and I look forward to going back there. It's in a sparsely populated area and you do have to work hard to find it. It's both desolate and lush at once, and you really feel as if you are up in the high country somewhere. They have big hearty gardens there and they are working very hard on new construction of their buddhist college. They are also building a mandala shaped herb garden around a statue of Tara where they will grow Tibetan medicinal herbs. Apparently the climate in this part of Scotland is compatible for a number of Tibetan plants. The statue of Tara is very powerful. I think you'd have to be spiritually numb not to notice her and want to gaze at her.

The little town of Dalbeattie we will eventually call home is charming. It has a fairly bustling high street for a town its size and it is located in a beautiful area. I'll report more on our adventures there in future installments. For now, enjoy some photos from our trip.

This is generally what the countryside looks like

Sweetheart Abbey, founded 1275

A backyard garden in New Abbey with Criffel in the background

The same garden as above, looking toward Sweetheart Abbey

Detail of the shell beach at Kippford
Yes, the entire beach is like this.

The beach at Kippford

Entry gate at Samye Ling (complete with traffic cones)

A garden at Samye Ling

Prayer wheels at Samye Ling
Oddly, they are electric and spin on their own, so those among us who are very tactile were a little disappointed. But we're glad to know the prayers go out non-stop.

Tara keeping watch above her herb garden which is still under construction

1 comment:

  1. Hello old friend! And, when I say old, I am not referring to the years of wisdom that you have ahead of me. ;) To comment on your ears burning, I saw Deb and Lois, yes, THAT Deb and Lois, and they miss you and have asked for your blog info. I don't have their email, so maybe you have it? I saw them at Ned's place, at Mike's life celebration. I don't know if you were aware that Mike passed away earlier this year. Anyhoo, would love to hear how you are doing! What's the equivalent to Erin Go Bra (snicker) in Scotland?


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