Scottish Highlands 2

posted in: Serendipity, Travel, Weaving | 0

A welcoming sight in a B&B: a well-behaved rescue Border collie who knows where to hide herself when there are guests who are not comfortable around dogs . . . and where to get comfortable (below) when the guests display a distinct fondness for good dogs (and might possibly be missing their own). (Trying to link to Larick House in Newtonmore, but the internet here is too slow.)

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The Highland Folk Museum has been on my wish list of places to visit for several years, since a friend came back from Scotland with enthusiastic reports about it. It’s an excellent place to spend parts of two days, even in a gray drizzle.

Buildings and equipment have been relocated to the site or constructed here to represent several periods in highlands life. The structures extend along a pleasant walking path that covers quite a distance (about a mile), so we got a strong sense of transition between the periods and focal areas.

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We began in the afternoon of our arrival with a simple reconnaissance trip to get the overview, check out the shop (and buy a guide to read that evening), and see the sheep. Several Scottish Blackface and one Soay share a pasture. We asked about the sheep, and there used to be more Soay but just the one is left. A friend of mine is looking for a no-kill home for some young Soay wethers, so I wrote her and suggested she might get in touch with them. . . . We’ll see what happens. . . .

The next morning we began with the early- to mid-twentieth-century buildings. Most of these were from a generation or two before mine.

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The intimacy of the museum impressed me.

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The site includes open areas, sheltered spaces, and woodsy sections.

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I wanted to inflate the bike’s tires and take a ride. Although I’m guessing I’d need to install new tires first. (I miss my bike, too.)

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One of the reasons I enjoy having a focus when I travel is that I can follow a theme. That (usually) keeps the constant flow of new information from being totally overwhelming. It’s easy to take looms for granted; most people take textile technology so much for granted that it’s completely invisible. In this trip, I’ve enjoyed noticing a variety of weaving systems, from warp-weighted looms and tablets through “standard” four-shaft looms (counterbalance, countermarch, and jack) to pedal looms and later, more fully mechanized mill equipment. (I’m thinking here of Shetland and Wales, the latter still awaiting a write-up, although I’m also undoubtedly forgetting some specifics because I’m an hour from departure from Reykjavik and the past weeks have been full to overflowing.)

If I’m recalling correctly, this loom, in use, occupies the Craig Dhu Tweed Shop (center section of the museum).

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After we’d wandered through all the available buildings at the 1900s end of the site, we headed down the forest path toward the eighteenth-century township, looking for red squirrels. There was at least one!

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This busy soul offered photographic challenges. It’s amazing that any of my images worked out. I have a lens that does zoom but loses resolution rapidly after a certain point, which I had to exceed by a lot in order to catch any squirrel imagery at all.

Within the woods is a Travellerscamp.

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The tent, unexpectedly spacious inside, in shape and function (if not materials or construction) resembled buildings we saw later in the township.

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Late in the season as we were, only one costumed interpreter needed to hang out in the light rain of the township answering visitors’ questions.

One of the roofs was being reworked. Smoke drifted from a chimney.

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I love seeing the details of how people solved construction and living problems, often with elegant and aesthetically pleasing combinations and arrangements of materials.

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The weaver’s space seemed very dark when we first stepped into it, but as our eyes adjusted I could see how it would be possible to work there, although I’d still prefer more light.

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On our way back through the woods, we caught sight of what might have been the same red squirrel—or not.

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In addition to the museum, we visited the Wildcat Centre back in the town of Newtonmore. Scottish wildcats are endangered, and people in Newtonmore have thought of several good ways to bring attention to the situation while also increasing visitors' reasons to come to and stay in the area. They have a facility with excellent information, and they’ve created a walking tour focused on the cats. . . .

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. . . and also community members have painted cat figures that are located over an extended area. The figures are the size of an adult male wildcat, which is pretty large. Each is different, and you can pick up a map at the centre and mark the number of every cat you find at the appropriate location. If you locate a certain number, you get a certificate or prize. Kids apparently love it, and I could see having fun with it as an adult. We found one next to the Travellers’ camp. Others are easier to discover: in store windows, for example.

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It was time for more driving. I enjoy the critter signs along the road.

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Especially these. . . .

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. . . and there was one for a frog crossing that I didn’t get a snapshot of.

We turned in the rental car a day early in order to have a bit of time to regroup (repack, do laundry, take a walk that was just a walk).

Note: I drove more than 500 miles in the highlands, in a righthand drive car. On two occasions, there were headlights coming toward me on my side of the road. Both times, the other driver was the one in the wrong place and all positioning got straightened out in time. Whew!

Magnus accepted some affection, within his limits (while guarding knitting).

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And generous friends even got me to the train station to catch the sleeper into London, for the next leg of my journey (in a light rain). The train to Aberdeen had been cancelled, but my train was fortunately running, and on schedule.

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Scotland : London Euston station : London Paddington station : Heathrow : Reykjavik.

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