Scotland – 5 Things I learned

I recently visited my ancestral homeland on holiday. It was the second leg of our trip, which also included Paris. My wife and I had beautiful weather (for Scotland) and spent a lot of time on the busy streets of Glasgow and Edinburgh. We also took a bus tour of the highlands, Loch Ness, and Glencoe.

1. Scots don’t know how to spell McEachran.

Some do, but most don’t. It’s as rare a name there as it is here in the States. There’s at least one semi-famous soccer (football) player with the name, but he’s playing for an English team.

Josh McEachran

Josh McEachran in October 2010, receiving advice from former Chelsea assistant manager (and guy with enormous head) Ray Wilkins

2. A lot of Scotland’s locals prefer Jack Daniels.

In the land of beautifully tasty drams of single malt whisky, a lot of Scots prefer some old fashioned Tennessee sour mash. The surprise I felt with this fact was right up there with seeing Budweiser on the premium import list of beers.

Jack Daniel's Whiskey

Old Number 7

3. Scottish tartans have an incredibly colorful history dating back to at least the 3rd century AD.

The clan tartans didn’t emerge until the 1800s. My clan, the MacDonalds) has red and green pattern. I know – you were expecting yellow and red with a golden arch.

Scottish tartan for the Clan MacDonald of Glencoe

Okay, there’s a little bit of yellow in the pattern, but no arches!

4. Some highlanders distrust the lowlanders, specifically the folks in Edinburgh.

Edinburgh is the political capital of Scotland and distrust of the government, and more importantly England, is pretty high in the mostly rural highlands. The ancient Hilton of Cadboll Stone, which was recently unearthed, is in two pieces in different parts of the country as a result of this distrust. Think about that next time you’re sipping a dram of Glenmorangie – the distillery used one of the glyphs from the stone as their logo.

The Hilton of Cadboll Stone... well most of it.

The 9th century Hilton of Cadboll Stone… well, most of it.

5. Scots love to tell stories.

They get it mostly right, and sometimes completely wrong. This is probably how the Loch Ness Monster legend has been perpetuated. I went to Loch Ness. It’s big, it’s wet, and it rained. If anything I’d say that Loch Ness is the monster. It’s the largest body of fresh water in all of the UK. It’s so voluminous, in fact, that it could contain all the other fresh water lakes in the Kingdom. By the way, Loch means Lake – it’s that simple.

Scotland's Loch Ness Monster

This was the only monster at Loch Ness.

Looking past the whisky, the tartans, the feuds, and the storytelling, Scotland still holds a lot of magic for me. I will return again.

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