Letters from Scotland
By Jonathon Farrell
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Jonathon Farrell inside Edinburgh Castle
photos courtesy of Jonathon Farrell
Hello again everyone!
Again, it has been a while since I wrote. But my time has been well spent! I mentioned last time that I had a presentation to do, I believe. Well, I think it went well. My other class was a tour of St Andrews Castle (which is ruins by now), which was very interesting.
As soon as I was done there, the exciting times began. I went off to Edinburgh Airport to pick up Siobhan Burbidge whom I believe many of you will know. She also is from Kincardine and was one of my best friends all through high school, and she came to see me during her Reading Week.
We got settled in here at St. Andrews, and planned our next few days. On Saturday we went to Glasgow where we ate. We met one of Chev's friends who is at Strathclyde on exchange, and went out for a birthday supper with her. Then we had to come back to St. Andrews, so we really did not see much more than restaurants in Glasgow!
The next day was wonderful - we went on a bus tour from the university to the Highlands which are every bit as beautiful as the legends about them say. Mountains, lochs, and glens everywhere, and such rich history and culture tucked in between them all - it is truly a magnificent place.
And there was snow in the Highlands as well - enough that in some places, as the mountains reached up into the white sky, you could not distinguish where the mountains stopped and the sky began - truly an incredible corner of the world.
We also stopped at the Wallace Monument at Stirling where we learned the story of William Wallace, thanks to our tour guide, and visited the Famous Grouse Experience, a tour of a scotch whiskey distillery complete with a free sample - powerful stuff!!
The next day was one that I had been waiting for and looking forward to for a long time - I finally made it to Kincardine, Scotland. Plenty of people at St. Andrews warned me against going there, and suffice it to say, I now know why. Let's just say the younger the Kincardine, the better!
There was no life to be seen in the town, and its only attraction was a bridge across the Firth of Forth. So that was exciting! We wandered for a few hours, and then ran out of streets to wander on and headed back to St. Andrews - a total of four hours on buses to spend two hours in the closest thing I have seen to a ghost town!
The next day was a really exciting one - we were up early to catch a train through the Highlands to Inverness which is now another one of my favourite cities. It is a small city, but very old and the history there permeates the atmosphere - you can feel as you walk the streets that there have been many important moments which took place in the city.
Whether it was in the bookstore which occupies a Gaelic church, once used as a hospital for wounded Jacobite soldiers, or sailing on Loch Ness to the ruins of Urquhart Castle to hear of the valiant Scots of the past defending themselves in it, everything about that day in Inverness was incredible. We capped it off with a viewing of "The King's Speech," an excellent movie for those of you who have not already seen it, and spent one night in the city (in a hotel which had all its notices and signs posted in Gallic before English!).
The next day, we caught a train to Edinburgh. Once there, we wandered the Old Town for a while, before taking a leisurely tour of the castle which was even more of an historical marvel - as a history student, I could easily have spent all the open hours of the place, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., just meandering in and out of every room and dreaming about the characters who occupied those places in days gone by. We came back to St. Andrews that night and had some well-earned sleep!!
The next two days, Thursday and Friday, were less busy. We thoroughly explored St. Andrews, and had some nice Scottish foods, such as the infamous deep-fried mars bar, and explored the beach for several hours.
Friday morning was exciting at St. Andrews - Prince William and Kate Middleton were here to kick off the 600th anniversary of the school, and we managed to catch a glimpse of them as they proceeded down the street. Let me tell you, William is developing an impressive bald spot for a young man!
On Friday night, we had one of the lead events of the week - Hall Ball. The theme was "Indulgently Scottish," so a lot of people were in kilts and trews and all manner of Scottish dress. We ceilidh-danced for hours, to the point of exhaustion, and then a DJ played for a few hours after that, and I must say it was one of the best nights so far! I managed to lose my voice entirely, since I was putting so much effort into the ceilidh-dancing! I like to think I have become pretty good by now!
Urquhart Castle, overlooking Loch Ness
Jonathon Farrell, son of Geoff and Sandra Farrell of Huron-Kinloss, is studying at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland this school year, through a student exchange program at Queen's University, Kingston, where he is a third-year student.
Saturday, we were both so exhausted that we just watched movies and recovered, which we both felt was somewhat of a waste of the last day, but definitely felt was needed - in the words of Siobhan, we needed a vacation from our vacation! So this morning I dropped her off at the airport, and now I have work to do again which really will be a shock!
books, sports, movies ...
Sunday, February 27, 2011