As someone who sees himself as British first, then Scottish, I am sometimes hesitant to tell people that it's one of the greatest places in the world. I know it to be a fact, as I don't think I would live somewhere that I didn't enjoy, but at the same time you have to understand there must be a bias in that statement and one that you must be careful not to over step. Indeed, in September at Connie's sister's wedding I exclaimed to a Canadian some of the highest praise I can give anywhere:
"So, how do you find Canada, do you like it?" he asked.
"Yeah, I love it – it's live a big Scotland!"
His reaction wasn't what I expected, as it was very suspicious and confused. I think he might have half expected it to be an insult, not realising that it's pretty much the best way to describe something; a bigger version of the Best.
|The Lecht, Aberdeenshire / Cairngorms|
In my opinion of course. I have a personality trait that I am slowly realising is not helping my personal relationships, and that is one of furious stubbornness. I have examined it a lot recently, and I know that I have to get better at appreciating and coping with other peoples view points – all you need to do is look at my barrage of posts in the last year concerning atheism and they reek of a self satisfied smugness that, even so recent afterwards, I am a little ashamed of.
It is when you are given the gift of new eyes do you suddenly see a place for what it is. Aberdeen, of course, is much maligned by friends, family, colleagues and complainers; even I am known to off handedly suggest that the city is, for better or worse, a bit crap. In saying that though, when someone new comes to the city and is suddenly giving you the view of someone who doesn't see this day in and day out there is a feeling of warm love that spreads from your heart.
Connie's mother Dianna was recently in Scotland on her first (and most certainly not last) trip to Scotland. We gave her a grand tour, starting in Glasgow, moving to Aberdeen, then the Cairngorms, Fort William, the west coast, Mallaig, and then the Lecht. After that we hit Stonehaven, Braemar, and the Aberdeen beach, which was followed by Edinburgh, Crathes Castle, and finishing at Rosslyn Chapel. For 11 days it was good going.
|Dunottar Castle, Stonehaven|
The impact that the trip had on her was different to the impact it had on me – firstly, it was a connection between the two distinct worlds of our family. Canada and the Canadian family and the Scottish family had never mingled, and the felt like they might exist in their own little bubbles. Once I saw Dianna walking off the plane into Glasgow Airport I was extremely happy that this barrier was vanishing. Secondly, our parents met for the first time. And thirdly, she got to see why exactly Connie and I love the place so.
As I said before, seeing places through new eyes is amazing – her reaction to Aberdeen and the hills were exactly how I think people should react to them, with awe and shock and amazement. We have some stunning geography and it's wasted on those who live in the cities all their lives. Her enjoyment of the small streets and old signs and dainty pubs was also gleeful, as it showed her a world she'd not seen before and shared a world that I take for granted.
In the end, I didn't want her to leave. It gives me confidence to share Scotland a lot more with the Canadian family.
|Rosslyn Chapel, East Lothian|