When I was a child in Scotland each year there was a huge Highland Gathering. People would come from all over Scotland for the games, the dancing, and the massed pipe bands. Memories of thousands of bagpipes being played by huge men with bearskin hats still give me shivers – but that could be stress from the day my four-year-old self got lost in the crowd.
Anyway my family is gathering, initially in Glasgow. If you start from me leaving Australia two months ago, everyone has been spiraling closer step-by-step. Minerva has been in Glasgow a few days, Martin and Kevin arrived yesterday, Skye got in this morning on an overnight bus from London, and I’m writing this on the Eurostar speeding through the French countryside towards the Chunnel and then a five-hour trip northwards.
Now three hours into a five hour trip on British rail. Overcrowded train, nowhere to put luggage so people standing while their bag occupies a seat, incredibly hot, and a delay in Crewe because ‘Charlene is running late to take over the on-board cafe’. And as we crawl northwards the skies have darkened and it’s started to rain.
A bit of family history needed here. When I was about a year old, my mother got terribly homesick. My parents decided to leave Australia and move closer to Scotland, but my father also wanted somewhere no too far from his Croatian roots so they settled on Malta. They detested Malta and so after six months moved again – this time to Scotland. That move is why we’re all going into the rain on a crappy train – it could have been Malta…
With the border crossed into Scotland things inevitably got bonnier. The rain has faded away and we can see sheep grazing on rolling hills. There re windmills following the train lines and sensible gray stone houses in little villages.
And then Glasgow and we all are in one place and have a lovely Greek dinner. No bagpipes.