Back from the Old Country

It was decided long ago that James’ first Christmas should be in Scotland so that he could meet his great-grandparents as such a trip must be planned well in advance whereas we can do New Brunswick with half a day’s notice.

So, for the first time in either of our lives, we took a baby overseas and somehow, we made it there and back without any major disasters. Such a trip usually takes about 24 hours to complete, when you consider airport connections, delays, and train rides to Scotland. But I am in awe of our son’s ability to roll with whatever our trip threw at him.

This is my second Christmas in Scotland and didn’t find it as dark as last time. Britain in winter is indeed dark, cold, wet, and generally miserable. The temperatures are higher than in Canada and yet I prefer our -15 degrees to their +2.

It’s not to say that it’s an ugly time of year. The low winter sun stays close to the horizon and looks almost white. Being driven through the hills, I saw three horses, standing on a frost covered hill as the sun rose over it. It was one of the most beautiful sights on that trip. And I didn’t get a picture. I did get a sheep, though.

Sometimes I wonder if we should give up Canada for the pastural life in rural Scotland. I like the country air, the endless comfort food, the wool sweaters, and BBC television. But then I actually meet the people who live there and worry that our kid’s going to grow to become a 30 year old who wears a track suit and sports a Russian mobster hairstyle and who hangs around the pub in the morning, waiting for it to open.

I love pubs for their variety of beers and spirits and general atmosphere but over there it seems you can’t just go in for a quiet drink or two and leave. No, you must drink to the point that you are thrown out. I rarely get drunk these days but I do like a drink. March was the last time I drank to excess. In Scotland, this makes me an agent of the Temperance League.

I think next time, however, the trip will be in summer and maybe we’ll visit other parts of Britain where people who have cell phones are not burned as witches.

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