23 May 2009

On the woad (part II)

I first met Donn not long after my wife and I split up.

Okay, exactly zero items in this statement are true. a) I have known Donn for at least twelve years now; b) I'm not married, c) the Very Understanding Girlfriend and I have not split up, she is out of the country on a research trip, and we are still blissfully and happily together. However you can't really write about a Road Trip without referencing Kerouac, and I thought it good to get it out of the way nice and early.

Donn was the foolish volunteer who had elected to drive to Edinburgh to see our good friends Dan and Yaz. I met Dan through the Very Understanding Girlfriend many years ago, and he and his partner Yaz are two of those people that I only ever seem to meet for three hours every year or so, most memorably and randomly once almost by accident in Istanbul as they were traveling overland to Syria together. They are both a source of constant inspiration and frustration, a reminder of all the positive things that I could be doing in my life but never manage to actually get off my arse and do. Every time we meet we say that a) we should do this more often and b) we should actually spend a longer amount of time together when we do.

Donn, on the other hand, had probably had more than enough of me, my inane chatter and inability to effectively read a map by the time we reached our last port of call on the island of Ireland, the picturesque and scenic harbour of Larne*, and was thinking that a) we should never do this again and b) we should actually spend a much, much shorter amount of time together in general.

Luckily we only had a two hour ferry crossing and a three hour drive to Edinburgh to go.

The drive through Scotland was amazing, the countryside was like Ireland, only better. In fact, that is a reasonable description of almost everything to do with Scotland, and one they should consider adopting as a new tourism slogan. Thanks to my map reading skills we took a slightly more leisurely route, punctuated by breathtaking glens, inspiring hills and 30 mph speed limits. It was thus with a sense of overwrought anticipation and what I took to be companionable silence that we finally breached Edinburgh's city limits at around 9:30 pm, a mere 11 hours after I had set out from Connolly Station.

However time and tiredness could do nothing to dilute that raw sense of excitement that arises anew each time I step forth into the streets of a new city, walking upon the soil of a new country, eager to reach out with all my senses and experience all that its culture has to offer. I wanted to immerse myself in Scotland, to understand it's psyche, to live and breathe its history and understand why it has touched the lives of all my friends who have lived there so deeply and positively.

And thus not ten minutes after arriving I found myself sitting in Iman's Punjabi restaurant, caught in the crossfire of a heated argument on the inherent worthlessness of Christian apologetics between two exiled Iraqi writers.

As a theologian I stayed silent, and ate my naan.

* disclaimer, Larne is neither picturesque or scenic. It is a transition space that exists purely as an enabler of transit from A to B, the Luton of the ferry world.



At 9:09 pm, Blogger Damian said...

Larne is indeed a hole. The armpit of Northern Ireland. Stranraer and Cairnryan aren't much better, mind.

Is that Ailsa Craig in the background of your photo? My family live just around the coast in the Glens of Antrim, and the view of the Mull of Kintyre and the islands can be incredible.

At 9:16 pm, Blogger Unkie Dave said...

It is indeed Ailsa Craig - what a spectacular sight indeed. On the way back to Larne on Friday as we drove past it an aircraft carrier was conducting exercises in front of it with helicopters doing low passes around Ailsa Craig before landing on the carrier deck.

Really beautiful part of the country.


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