2003 letter about a visit to Glasgow, Scotland: The weather in England, as the BBC "presenter" said this morning, is only "resolutely cloudy"-- no rain is in sight. But the people we have met in England are "resolutely friendly". The British really do talk – and complain – about the weather all the time, as Thomas & Coral said, but they certainly do not live up to their stereotype as cold and unfriendly.
Let me back up to Glasgow. There were no campgrounds near Glasgow, so we decided to try something new. In the book of campgrounds that is published by the Caravan Club, there is a long list of "certified locations" which each take up to five campers. We called one in a suburb of Glasgow called Milton of Campsie. A very British-sounding lady said she had room, and we arranged our stay. We had no trouble finding the campsite, although I had a lot of trouble figuring out where the T-junction was (since I had no idea what it was). But we found our way to the right street. Couldn’t find the farm road, though, and drove into a residential area that was difficult to get out of. Ron had to turn around. There was a gentleman with a beautiful standard poodle watching us, and sure enough, (a) he noted our plight, (b) he knew where we should go, and (c) he’d meet us at the junction to be sure we got there! The farm road turned out to end in the parking lot of the church hall. Without his help, we’d never have found it.
We pulled in and the expected "little old lady", Mrs Langley, met us. She also was friendly, and she asked where we came from in the U.S. (Picture of Adelle and Mrs Langley discussing Scottish history) Turned out that she had a Connecticut connection. In 1760 or so, her great, great, great grandfather was traveling in the Colonies when he became ill. The family of a blacksmith in Stratford, CT cared for him, and he married the blacksmith’s daughter Glorianna. He brought her home to Scotland when his father pointed out that he was the next Baronet and should be in Scotland, and eventually they had either 17 or 19 children. Our landlady, Mrs. Langley, is now 83, and was the youngest of the children of what I believe she said was the 12th Baronet. Since none of her siblings had children, her eldest son now lives in the big house on the estate we were on and she lives in the cottage at the bottom of the hill and across a meadow. The land was not entailed, so they still own it, but the Baronecy is now held by an American descendant of the male line of Glorianna’s family. He lives in Indiana! She told us that the family came over with William the Conqueror in 1068, and has lived on this land since 1508! So she is certainly Scottish, not English at all. What about her decidedly English accent? "Well", she explained, "we are landed gentry and none of us speak like the Scots do, even though we are Scots." She, and apparently all the other "landed gentry" was/were educated in English schools. When was the last time anyone described herself using that term to you? Hah!
By the way, she also said that some American (Otvinowsky, I think she said) had written a children’s book titled "Gloriana" (the title is vaguely familiar to me) about her forbear. Have any of you heard of this book?
Just to give you an idea of the weather here just a bus ride north of Glasgow, take a look at the picture of the three boys going off to school while we were waiting for the bus just in front of Mrs Langley’s house. In August.
We loved Glasgow. It is totally different from Edinburgh, and very much like an American city, shabby in some sections, elegant in others. Quite dirty with high rising apartment buildings, which we did not see in Edinburg. But we covered more of Glasgow riding busses than we did in Edinburg. We only spent the day there, but it was a busy one. First, we got a scooter. Then we walked to one of the two attractions we wanted to see. It was a terrible walk, up long hills and then down – and when we got there it didn’t open for hours! So we went to the McClellen art museum (scooter and all) and then returned the scooter and got on the bus to go to see the Burrell Collection, another museum devoted to the idiosyncratic – and very discerning – collection of a very rich man. Lots of Degas paintings, three Rodin sculptures, incredible numbers of ancient relics from Greece, Rome, Egypt, China, a large number of the most beautiful Medieval tapestries, old stained glass – and more. The architect of the museum building had built in stone archways, porticos and doorways, even two whole rooms from Burrell’s own home.
We include pictures of a couple of the treasures in the Burrell collection—a mosaic rooster and the handle of the huge Warwick Vase, Roman, from the second century.
We missed the museum devoted to the home town favorite, Charles Rennie Macintosh, an artist and achitect whose Art Deco work you would recognize if you saw it. But we did see one of his buildings and some of his art at the McClellan Museum.
We found Glaswegans’ speech more difficult to understand than that spoken by Scots from other parts of the country. We overheard several conversations that we could understand not a word of.
Ron and Adelle
Back to Glasgow
Intrepid Traveler