I was fortunate enough to be Canadian and not need a visa for the UK, making me glide easily into Scotland. On my very first morning in Scotland, I stuck out my thumb. The first car to pass me promptly pulled over. This would prove to be a sign of things to come.
George had dreads hanging far down his back, and three boys in the car, ranging from wee to almost a teenager.
We reached a town along the way, and George mentioned he had family there, so we decided to stop in.
We arrived at his cousin’s place to find the cousin and his girlfriend still drunk from the night before, with coffee ready and waiting. Before long a couple of joints were rolled, burgers passed around (even a veggie burger cooked up for me!), and we were sipping on cider. Megan, the cousin’s girlfriend, had her hair all done up for a wedding the previous night. She pranced around drunk with her hair an epic mane of a mess, sporting kitty cat slippers and a Bug’s Bunny housecoat.
I liked these people.
Eventually we hit the road again, and before long George dropped me off. Unfortunately, I was on the side of the motorway with no way off but to hitchhike as the cars raced by me.
Before long a police car pulled up in front of me. I wasn’t worried, but this was in fact the first time the cops had ever come to pester me. I practiced my sweet, polite, explanatory speech.
I didn’t need it.
No, they hadn’t pulled over to give me shit for my unfortunate hitchhiking spot. They understood that I was stuck, and should be anywhere but where I was. So they offered me a lift.
During our short drive, one cop turned to me: “Have you had many lifts from police?”
“No, this is surprisingly the first!”
“That’s because we care.”
God I love the Scottish.
Meanwhile, my next ride was prepared for me. He’d seen me on the side of the motorway, but not been in a good position to stop. He doubled back, saw the police collect me, and followed them the few minutes until I was dropped off. There he collected me.
Kieron was from Glasgow, and did not much feel like being in Glasgow that day. He was out for a drive.
He didn’t foresee his drive being quite as long as it wound up being.
We got on so great, chatting away and loving each other’s company, that before either of us knew it he’d been driving for three and a half hours.
Of all our conversations, one story shone brilliantly above the rest:
Many years ago, Kieron and a couple mates had the key to their other friend’s house, who was out of town. A few days before he got home, they took all the furniture out of the living room.
Then they lay down plastic.
Next came the turf, which they watered to make it look nice for their friend upon his return.
They put the furniture back in exactly where it had been before.
But then Kieron’s two buddies added the finishing touch: they stole a sheep.
When the friend returned home, he found his living room – laid out as it had never been touched – with a sheep in the middle, eating the grass.
After Kieron dropped me off, I pitched my tent on a hill in the middle of the stunning highlands. That’s when I met them for the first time.
Midges are teeny tiny bugs that like to bite you. They’re like invisible mosquitos.
Although I noticed them as I set up, I failed in keeping them out of my tent, and was forced to spray the inside and wait for a massacre to occur as I took a walk. My mass homicide was successful.
The following morning my second ride was John, a Scottish man living near London, but traveling around the Isle of Skye – where I was headed. We spent the day frolicking around, enjoying such magnificent sites as the Fairy Pools.
Although I’d been unsuccessful on all of my Irish and Scottish pub quests to date, I kept hope alive. You see, I get very, very lonely. I rarely admit this fact, but it remains true. The logical remedy – in my mind at least – to a lonely end of the day before setting up camp, is to find the local pub, and make friends. Of course, I was broke as could be, and the prices were ridiculously high. I’d looked at a post on the best Airmiles credit card UK but alas, no one would accept me with my terrible credit rating.
It began this night with me sitting alone at a table, but concluded having had great conversations with both the bartenders and an American sitting at the bar.
One of the bartenders had also told me exactly where I should set up my tent. You see, not only are the Scottish amazing in every other way, but wild camping is perfectly legal here. I was led to an amazing spot, complete with sea cliff views. I was told that if I was lucky, I might even spot a sea eagle… which sounds like seagull, and left me wondering why people were so excited to see seagulls.
Check out what to pack for Scotland here, because god knows I hate making lists so others do the hard work!