Our Twenty Third Year - A Season of Giving.

Scotland Memories

Sunday, August 13, 2006 - written by Joanne Vician

Today our journey takes us via the Caithness Glass Factory in Perth to Dunkeld for our evening concert. Christopher Fox informed us last night that we would have a leisurely start today, allowing those of us who are traditionally late(r) risers to sleep in, or just take advantage of the beautiful weather and hike around, go to church (as Ginny and Kelli did) or perhaps send some email at the Reception Center.

After a comfortable night in the residence hall (with a terrific shower, Yes, Thank You!), breakfast was in the cafeteria of the Residence Hall complex that offered fare hearty or healthy, or both. The campus complex was particularly busy that weekend and by 9:15 when I finally ambled on down to the cafeteria, the line was out the door. Things moved quickly, though, and the wait wasn't long. The fellow with the counter/clicker was on 1,347 when I came in. There were eggs, bacon (Canadian bacon, not American-style smoked bacon), smoked fish, haggis, canned and fresh fruit, yogurt, porridge, toast, cold cereal (Snap, Crackle and Pop are VERY strange looking fellows on their version of Kellogg's Rice Krispies), juice, soft drinks, milk, coffee (thank goodness), tea and more I can't remember. I shared a table with Sue, Tim, Gina, Phyllis and Kris.

After breakfast I sat outside and wrote a handful of postcards. They ended up being the only five that I sent. We climbed onto the bus at 11:30 and headed out. At this point in our travels, some folks were feeling congested and not 100%. Unfortunately, one of them was Jean.

Christopher provided his usual informative running commentary on Scottish history, linking it to the sites along with way. I regret that I did not make note of the "Christopher Joke of the Day". I am sure it was amusing and probably made us groan. He explained that Perth was the pagan heart of Scotland hundreds of years ago. He discussed the Plantagenet period was dominated by three major conflicts at home and abroad. Edward I attempted to create a British empire dominated by England, conquering Wales and pronouncing his eldest son Prince of Wales, and then attacking Scotland. Scotland was to remain elusive and retain its independence until late in the reign of the Stuart kings.

Near Perth, fifteen hundred years ago, Scone was the capital of the Pictish kingdom and the centre of the ancient Celtic church. In the intervening centuries, it has been the seat of parliaments and the crowning place of Kings. It has housed the Stone of Destiny and been immortalized in Shakespeare's Macbeth. (Thank you, Google - I was listening to Christopher but not that closely.) The clan Campbell had significant influence in the area, described by Christopher as a "most murderous lot". He also discussed the modern-day United Kingdom relative to the European Union; in his opinion, trade rules are not being uniformly applied throughout Europe. He mentioned this in conjunction with the fact that the Euro is not used in the United Kingdom. (Joanne's note: I finally got all the coins straight and could pay for purchases with something other than paper and then it was time to go home! Bummer.)

We stopped for photos of the Firth of Forth. From there we could see the Kingdom of Fife, Jean's home. We then drove through North Queensferry. There were many beautiful flowers. Christopher pointed out that when the Broom flower is in bloom, men should kiss a lassie. (He didn't mention that Scotch broom is used in beer makings and flavorings - I found that out on my own!) We arrived at the Caithness Glass Factory at 1:15, where we had lunch and time to visit the gift shop. Unfortunately the factory itself was not open for tours, but I was pleased to be able to add to my collection of glass 'eggs'.

Back on the road at 2:55 to Dunkeld, located on the north side of the River Tay. The River Tay is in the southern Highlands of Scotland and the longest river in Scotland. The town is quaint and the grounds surrounding the Cathedral Church of Dunkeld were green and peaceful. The Cathedral was built in several stages over a period of more than 200 years from 1260 to 1501. It twice suffered desecration and destruction, in 1560 and 1689.

It was a beautiful day in Dunkeld, sunny and warm. We had plenty of time to tour the cathedral, grounds and town before our group photo at 6:00 and rehearsal. We were given space to change in the rectory near the cathedral.

The concert was at 7:30 p.m. Many of Jean's friends and family made the trip to Dunkeld. Sadly, Jean's congestion had worsened and developed into a severe case of laryngitis. She greeted her friends as they came to the cathedral but was unable to sing that night - the first time in 45 years of performing. It was frustrating for her and for Julie, who wanted the concert to be particularly special. (Jean had paid for equipment to record the concert.) Kent stepped in and played a beautiful Liszt piece, as Jean could only talk for a short while to the audience.

The Chorale members had the opportunity to talk to many guests as they left the concert. Many of them expressed their appreciation and enjoyment of the concert and our music. It was a special treat to talk to everyone. We met a woman from Chicago who sang in a choral group who was interested in where we got our skirts and tops. The women of the church had a reception with tea and cookies for the Chorale in the rectory, which was greatly appreciated. It had been a long time since lunch in Perth.

9:45 and back on the bus for the ride back to Edinburgh. It was another wonderful day in Scotland. Each day has been special in its own way. One thing I found regardless of where we went, people are friendly and gracious.

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