Thursday, July 19, 2007

In Scotland, the ordinary is extraordinary.

Robert Louis Stevenson said "The mark of a Scot of all classes [is that] he ... remembers and cherishes the memory of his forebears, good or bad; and there burns alive in him a sense of identity with the dead even to the twentieth generation." It's true.

My family history is Scottish. My great-grandfather, John Dallas, was born and raised in Cawdor, Nairnshire, before emigrating to the United States. Cawdor is a small village near Inverness, the gateway to the Scottish Highlands. I have visited Scotland twice and love it. When I saw the house where my great-grandfather grew up and when I visited the gravesites of his parents and grandparents in a kirkyard in Cawdor, it just felt right. In fact, when I told someone that my family came from the area, they said, "Welcome home," with no trace of jest or mockery. They were serious. In their mind, as in mine, I had come home.


While most of my pictures of those trips are of the wild, the unusual, or the exotic, some of my favorites are photographs of ordinary Scottish people and places. Image living here and taking these sights for granted:


The village store and licensed grocer in Cawdor is also the post office, a source of Kodak film, tourist information, a public phone, a bulletin board with local notices, and all day tea. A lot of resources tucked into this tiny building.

The red Royal Mail phone box is an iconic British symbol, sadly fading in the modern age of cell phones. In the Highlands, cell towers are few and far between and some homes still don't have regular land lines, so the local phone box may be their only connection to the outside world. This box, in its little niche in Cawdor, spoke to me.

My family laughed at me when I took a picture of this fire station, part of the Highlands and Islands Fire Brigade. I liked the crisp clean lines, the bright red accents, and the way that even modern buildings are designed to blend in with the old. A sense of history and continuity seems to be essential in Scottish architecture.

A Scottish lad, learning the trade of wall building. This boy was waiting with his grandfather for the ferry to take us back to Kylesku after a visit to Kerrachar Gardens.

An ice cream shop in Inverness. Aside from the bright blue paint accenting the putty gray stucco, what primarily impressed me was the name:

No photo tour of ordinary Scotland would be complete without a picture of a Scottish vet's office, like this one in Ullapool. If you can see the street sign on the end of the building, you will notice it is both in English and Gaelic, not uncommon in the western Highlands and Islands.


As they say in Scotland, "Haste ye back."

4 comments:

BT3 said...

Hey KatDoc:

Nice post! Love the blue boat pic. Like a Winslow Homer painting.

I've tagged you for the Eight Random Facts meme.

Here's what I did:
BOTB's 8RF

Good luck!

KGMom said...

We've been to Scotland twice, but not to the Highlands (yet).
Cawdor--that's a reference in Shakespeare's Macbeth--Thane of Cawdor. I didn't think about it being a place name that still existed!
Enjoyed this little trip with you.

Susan Gets Native said...

Aaaiiii!
Here's coincidence for you, Kath:
Geoff and I honeymooned in the UK, and our last two stops were Inverness and Nairn. We chose Inverness because I wanted to stay in a hotel that overlooked Loch Ness, and Geoff chose Nairn because the brochure had a picture of an old man and a goat. Maybe a relative of yours. (The man, not the goat)
We never saw the man or the goat. But it's a beautiful, wild, old area. We can't wait to go back.

Anonymous said...

From Katdoc'smom
for KGmom

Shakespearewrote Macbeth after Cawdor Castle was built. Don't know the year. However, the real Macbeth/Malcom story came long before Cawdor Castle was built. My grandfather was born on the estate of Cawdor Castle. Not royalty, just a poor farmer's family. He had 10 brothers and sisters.