Monday, 26 June 2017

Scotland #10 - Some Last Random Thoughts

Our twenty days in the Scottish Highlands are at an end. They were never disappointing. It is an incredibly beautiful part of the world.

A few last random thoughts as we leave:
·                     Red hair – I’ve never seen so many redheads in one concentrated geographical area in my life as we saw in and around Edinburgh.
·                     Road signs – In the Highlands all road signs are in Gaelic first with English under the Gaelic. Gaelic has more odd symbols over letters than any language I’ve ever seen. The minute you leave the Highlands, the signs are in English only, as if the Highlands and the rest of Scotland are two different countries. And perhaps, in a way, they are. The Highlanders are making a concerted effort to re-introduce and preserve their native language.
·                     The sparsity of the population in the north and west is astounding. Miles and miles of beautiful mountain scenery with scarcely anyone living on it.
·                     The scarcity of the Highland Cattle. These wonderful, furry, tough little beasts with their snout-like noses are featured on postcards everywhere, but just try to find a live one! The Queen has a herd at Balmoral, but cattle farmers are breeding only standard cattle such as we see in the U.S. or Canada. If the Scotts want to keep this unique animal as a symbol of Scotland, somebody better start breeding them again.
·                     Driving – I wasn’t driving, Jeanette, as always, was – but this time with a twist. She had to learn in a matter of minutes to drive on the wrong side of the road. Actually it wasn’t as hard as it sounds, because many of the roads we were on were only one lane wide anyway. Fun when you meet an on-coming car.
·                     There are vast remote areas in the highlands, with lots of wind, but we saw no wind towers, no evidence of solar power. Heat for houses comes from oil shipped in by tanker and is very expensive.  One has to wonder why. We needed heat in our rooms even in June.
·                     The Scotts print their own money. They’re pound notes equivalent to the British pound, but with Scottish scenes and heroes on them. It is rather as if the state of New York or the province of Ontario printed its own currency.
·                     The Scotts have their own Parliament. They write their own laws. And they voted overwhelmingly to remain a part of the EU in the recent Brexit vote. But if they remain a part of Great Britain, they will be forced to leave the EU.
·                     The divide between the Lowlands and the Highlands of Scotland is more than geography. The last vote on Scottish independence failed by a small margin. If the same vote were to be held today, it might well pass.
·                     And finally, the Highlanders really do say “Aye” for yes, and “wee” for small, and “ye” for you and “bonnie” for pretty.

Scottish Money
This trip was taken ostensibly to find locales for the book I’m presently working on. I think I’ve come away with far more than just locales.   

Watch for Blair's newest thriller, Fatal Charm 
Coming in 2017

A perilous scheme to thwart ruthless adversaries hurtles successful jewelry designer Caitlin Abernathy from her comfortable California studio to the streets of Paris and the beaches of Brittany as she attempts to return a priceless stolen heirloom to the Louvre.

Colin Stryker, the devastatingly handsome history professor from Ireland who has appointed himself her protector, fights to rescue her before her captors add murder to their crimes, while at the same time unraveling the torturous train of events that led to the original theft.

With every moment fraught with danger, can the chemistry already between the two ignite into passion?

Praise for Fatal Charm:

"If you love well-crafted romantic suspense where the mystery is every bit as mysterious as the romance is romantic, check out Blair McDowell's work.  I found her through a book tour 5 years ago, and she is one of my happiest discoveries."
-  Marlene Harris,

"The elegance and beauty of Paris as the central backdrop for the intrigue, adds color and movement to the drama.... I particularly liked the attention to food as a gathering point and motif throughout. I was drawn back to my memories of Paris -- the sights, sounds and aromas. It's these small touches that inject an extra dimension, a 'je ne sais quoi' into the mix."
-  Heather B,

"Fatal Charm is well-written and engaging.  The book has a fast pace which makes it easy to read and enjoy.  Blair McDowell is an illustrative writer which allows readers to visualize the scenes in their head.  This brings the characters and story to life for  me.  I thought the mystery was complex and intriguing.  I enjoyed the many twists and turns."
-  Kristina Anderson,

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