I have a passion for Scotland. I've visited fairly often since my first weekend trip when I went to England with a college group in 1978. I headed there by overnight sleeper train from London, and spent three days between Inverness and Fort William. Since then, I can't get enough of it, especially when the New York summers grow too long and too hot for my comfort. 

Though I've been all around the country, I have a special love for the Highlands and Islands. As soon as my train from Glasgow Buchanan Street Station brings mountains into view, I feel like my soul is truly home. I spent a few years studying the language of the Highlands and Islands, Gaidhlig, which today is spoken by only several thousand people in the "Gailteachd" of Scotland, in Nova Scotia and around the world where people have simply taken an interest and find it worth their while to study. 

Scotland's place names are often of Gaidhlig or Old Norse derivation, especially in the north or on coastal regions visited long ago by the Norse. Accents and usage vary from place to place in Scotland just as they do in the much larger US, and the region around Aberdeen has it's own special way of speaking a language based on English but that is called "Doric".  Shetland and Orkney also have their own native languages, which are derived quite directly from Old Norse.

Whatever you do, don't pronounce Edinburgh "EdinBURG".  "Burg" is Germanic. The "r" in Edinburgh is rolled/trilled once briefly, and the "gh" is not pronounced at all! It's only there to suggest the treatment of the "r".  Glasgow is pronounced by locals more like "Glaz- go" than the American "Glass- gow" with the "gow" rhyming with "cow". 

And don't you DARE call the Glennfinnan Viaduct "Harry Potter's Bridge"!  It overlooks an important monument to Bonnie Prince Charlie that stands on the shores of Loch Shiel.

While I love all of Scotland, I have a special love for the islands of the Inner and Outer Hebrides, especially the Uists, which are chock full of archeological sites, wildlife, lochs, sheep, heather, the smell of peat fires, and the morning sound of oystercatchers. The heavy cloud cover can make sunsets of unbelievable beauty, you may see two rainbows at once, and if you get lucky enough (very) for a brief period of clear skies one night, you will be dazzled by the diamond-studded sky! But don't expect it! I've taken walks at the beach in July and gotten back to my lodgings with my pantslegs frozen to the back of my socks by sleet! As they say, "There's no such thing as bad weather in Scotland, only inappropriate clothing." You must be ready for ANYTHING. 

"Beach Near Durness, Sutherland"        x     Watercolor

"Beach Near Durness, Sutherland"        x     Watercolor

Near a Sutherland Beach"          x     Watercolor

Near a Sutherland Beach"          x     Watercolor

"Eigg Afternoon"                                X      Watercolor

"Eigg Afternoon"                                X      Watercolor

"Highland Heather"                   X                  Watercolor    (Highland Wildlife Park)

"Highland Heather"                   X                  Watercolor    (Highland Wildlife Park)

"Esha Ness, Shetland"                          X    Watercolor.     (During heavy seas the crashing waves hurl boulders weight tons up onto the cliffs of volcanic rock.)

"Esha Ness, Shetland"                          X    Watercolor.    (During heavy seas the crashing waves hurl boulders weight tons up onto the cliffs of volcanic rock.)