I think it is about time for a more reflective post. Such posts are a lot harder to write because they require, well, reflection! But as I said to my friend Jess recently, since this blog is on the THC website, I feel a slight bit of pressure to appear amazingly intelligent. No promises that this post actually will be “amazingly intelligent,” but hopefully it will be slightly thought-provoking.
(The following thoughts have been wandering around in my head for a while, but I haven’t tried to make a coherent whole out of them before. Apologies in advance if this all seems a bit disjointed.)
I can’t decide whether to love or hate the ease of communication and contact that has been made possible by the internet. I’m here in Scotland, and with a few clicks I can email, instant message, or even speak face-to-face with family and friends in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Devon, Australia, Kazakhstan, Spain. It’s amazing to realize that it takes mere milliseconds for a message to travel from me to a friend 3000 miles away. Usually I think this is absolutely wonderful, and am so happy to be able to stay in close contact with these people. Sometimes, though, I sit back for a minute and wonder what would be lost if such instant and frequent communication was not possible. What if the only way to stay in-touch with distant friends and family was through telephone and letter (think back only 20 years ago)?
Just based on my own experience with long-distance communication over the past seven months, it seems that internet communication tends to cheapen the quality of contact I have, and allows staying in touch to be less intentional. For example, I log on Skype in the morning, only to see that a friend I haven’t spoken to in a while is also online. I send her a quick message saying, “hi! how are you?” (notice that half the time I’m too lazy to even do her the courtesy of proper punctuation and grammar). We chat for a few minutes, neither of us giving the other person’s thoughts our full attention, because we are internet multi-tasking, as usual. The frequency of messages gradually peters out, until one of us finally thinks to appropriately end the communication with “bye, ttyl”. Since we’ve made some sort of contact with each other, however superficial, we both feel satisfied that the friendship is being maintained. And since internet communication is free, I will rarely if ever pay the money to do a long-distance phone call to that same friend, to have a more focused, intentional conversation about what’s going on in her life. I know that she will happen to be online again soon, and we can just have another session of “conversation-lite”.
What would have been different about staying in-touch during my time in Scotland if I hadn’t had the possibility of internet communication? For one thing, I would have had to give more thought to who it was important to stay in-touch with. Phoning or writing letters takes a lot more time (and money) than sending a short email or text message. I also may have felt the need to make friends more quickly here, since it would have been a lot harder to simply fall back on the support of distant family and friends when I got lonely.
There are a few friends and family members that, whether by choice or necessity, I have chosen to stay in touch with solely by phone and snail mail. Yes, my overall contact time with them has been less than with those who I stay in touch with via the internet. But choosing the “old-fashioned” modes of communication has in all cases been a positive thing. It is odd (or maybe not), but I have ended up feeling closer to the friend with whom I exchange letters every two weeks, than to the friend with whom I “chat” every two days. In the former case, our friendship has been able to develop and deepen, while the latter has kept our friendship rather static.
I think there would be much gained through the revitalization of more traditional methods of staying in-touch. But we have become used to the ease and frequency of internet communication. While I would gladly stay in-touch with all of my friends only through phone and letter, I know that not all of my friends would reciprocate the feeling. The internet is here, so why not use it? Why should I bother taking forty minutes to scrawl some thoughts out on paper, walk to the post-box, and wait 3-5 days for you to receive it, when I can contact you online in seconds? And yet in that very sentiment it seems to me there is an (unintentional) cheapening or devaluing of the friendship: speed and ease preferred over quality and intentionality.
Of course I have had several good conversations with friends thanks to the internet during my time abroad. I am thrilled to get an email from a close friend, or to hear Skype make that funny “szchoop” sound signalling I have a new message. This post does not mean that I want to stop being in touch with any of you online (otherwise I’d have to stop blogging!). All I’m saying is that I think it is important to reflect on our use of the internet as the sole means of keeping in contact with those distant from us. Is it humane? Is it respectful? Does it help to cultivate the friendship? For me at least, the people who are dear to me are definitely worth an hour-long phone call or a five-page letter. I can’t be a good long-distance friend to 500 people on Facebook, but I can write a few letters to those friends that are worth keeping.
Hopefully that all made some sense. Any thoughts?
As promised, here are the links to the pictures Arielle and I took during our trip in January. Some of these pictures are silly and a few are just embarrasing – hopefully you get a couple of laughs out of them!
Part 1, St. Andrews: https://picasaweb.google.com/115330078329004130371/AriSVisitP1StAndrews?authkey=Gv1sRgCLHUm8rLhvmGPw&feat=directlink
Part 2, London: https://picasaweb.google.com/115330078329004130371/AriSVisitP2London?authkey=Gv1sRgCKvY9Jf0_bqg6wE&feat=directlink
Part 3, Oxford & Woodbury: https://picasaweb.google.com/115330078329004130371/AriSVisitP3OxfordAndJillSHouse?authkey=Gv1sRgCM3c4KTrnYW1tQE&feat=directlink
Part 4, Bath: https://picasaweb.google.com/115330078329004130371/AriSVisitP4Bath?authkey=Gv1sRgCI32gaXs1KnaqwE&feat=directlink
Part 5, Dublin & Edinburgh: https://picasaweb.google.com/115330078329004130371/AriSVisitP5DublinAndEdinburgh?authkey=Gv1sRgCK-O7tG2xsa1vAE&feat=directlink
Part 6, St. Andrews again: https://picasaweb.google.com/115330078329004130371/AriSVisitP6StAndrewsAgain?authkey=Gv1sRgCIPukvWtu82WFQ&feat=directlink
Somehow we managed not to drive each other crazy. :] Actually, we had an incredible time together; I can’t even begin to describe how much fun it was. I especially enjoyed our long discussions about everything from gun control to academia to infant baptism. You know someone is a good friend when the two of you can spend an hour considering some question, conclude in disagreement, and love each other all the more because of it. I hope you have friends like that.
Hello, all faithful readers who have been checking my blog for the last two months, only to find that I am apparently still in January exams! Please accept my sincere apologies for the static state of my public life. I could enumerate excuses (I have some good ones), but you’d probably prefer that just I get on with telling you about my second semester in beautiful Scotland.
The highlight of the last few months was definitely the visit of my childhood friend Arielle during the inter-semester break. We visited London, Oxford, Bath, our friend Jill in Woodbury (near Exeter), Dublin, and Edinburgh, and still managed a few days in St. Andrews.
Memorable moments from the trip: On the eleven-hour bus ride to London, making pb&j sandwiches with a pen because we’d forgotten a knife; receiving communion at Westminster Abbey; coming across an ancient bust of Socrates in a corner of the British Museum; at the same museum, Ari’s pronouncement that Alexander the Great was “so cute! I would totally date him!”; Ari dragging me all over King’s Cross Station in her search for Platform 9 3/4; several hours, several drinks, and wonderful conversation at the pub in Oxford where the Inklings met; sprinting across Oxford in order to make our train; a delicious Nepalese dinner in Bath; a hilariously silly photo-shoot at St. Stephen’s Green in Dublin; sharing a deep-fried Mars bar on a bench in St. Andrews.
Memorable people: A very intoxicated young man on the streets of London who hit me in the back of the head with a Malteser in order to get my attention, then proceeded to jabber at me in some Scandinavian language (I think my blonde hair confused him); the elderly Irishman who found Ari and me wandering on the streets of Dublin, and walked up and down the road with us several times until we discovered our hostel; another intoxicated man at the Eagle and Child pub in Oxford, who gave Ari bunny ears during a picture; the chatty old lady on the train to Bath who told me that I ought to take advantage of any British man who likes me, even if I “see no future in it”, because he will pay for my plane ticket to come back and visit (I couldn’t believe someone her age was giving such advice!); the Spanish owner of the Edinburgh hostel who, after learning that Ari is fluent in Spanish and that I don’t have a facebook, declared that we were “smart Americans”, not “Barbies who trip around in skinny jeans and pumps” (he was even more surprised the next morning when we got up “early” to go to church).
Of course, the pictures we took tell the story so much better than I ever could. Once I finish organizing them, I will post the link.
I’m continuing with my Arabic studies this semester, as well as taking a course in modern philosophy and a classics course on Hellenistic thought. Arabic is still the most enjoyable, but the philosophy courses are much better than the ones I took last semester. Having lived here now for six months, my life has settled into a comfortable routine that involves lots of harping and drumming, letter-writing, poetry, baking, beach walks, star-gazing, theological debates, random trips to Edinburgh, afternoons in antiquarian bookshops, and dinners with friends. Dani, Emily, Jess, and Marissa from my THC cohort are all studying abroad here this semester, and we have enjoyed many delightful evenings together. I am glad however that I was alone last semester because it forced me to form close friendships with people here and to “chart my own course”.
Spring is truly in the air. Snowdrops and crocuses are everywhere, and daffodil shoots are beginning to appear. The weather has been exceptionally sunny, and the wind carries with it the smell of dirt, flowers, rain, and chicken manure (it’s good field fertilizer). If only there were more trees in St. Andrews, most afternoons would find me, book in hand, settled at the base of a trunk. The base of the dunes is not such a bad substitute, though.
I will post again soon, I promise.
Eleven study-crammed days and three philosophy exams later, the end is finally in sight. I have an Arabic oral exam on Wednesday and an Arabic written exam on Thursday, and then two lovely weeks to breathe freely, walk aimlessly, and travel with a friend.
Before reviewing those several-hundred vocabulary words and clarifying those slightly-slippery grammatical rules, I want to let off a little bit of steam about some of my academic pet peeves that have been particularly aggravated this semester. Having not yet done a post specifically on St. Andrews’ academics, perhaps I ought to say some positive things first. The scholarly prestige of the philosophy department here is world-renowned, and apparently in the UK it is second only to philosophy at Oxford (not sure what happened to Cambridge). The student-run Philosophy Society is huge, hosting speakers from all over the world and in all different branches of philosophy. The doctorate program in philosophy is supposed to be quite excellent, despite the fact that PhD students often complain about the size of the library. And, last but not least, the philosophy department is housed in a craggy stone building perched on cliffs overlooking the North Sea – no bleak, sterile modern architecture there!
Okay, having politely kowtowed to the institution, I will proceed to enumerate my grievances.
1) If a professor assigns students reading material in preparation for a class, he does them a favor if his subsequent lecture assumes they have done the reading. I have sat through way too many lectures this semester in which the professor simply summarized the passage from Plato that I had read the night before! I am not an idealist – I know that most of the students don’t do the assigned reading. But it is difficult for me to respect a professor who caters to those students who don’t complete assignments. I wonder if more students would read if they knew they wouldn’t be getting a SparkNotes lecture….
2) What happened to good old-fashioned chalkboards, or at least a whiteboard? I have spent the last several months looking at PowerPoint slides and computer screens. In my logic course, Dr. Hjortland spent the first part of the semester doing all of his in-class examples on the computer or using a 21st-century-type projector. One day, horror of horrors, the computer stopped working, forcing him to roll out a teeny white-board that had been standing dejectedly in one corner of the room for way too long. Well, he used it that day, and the next, and the next. About two weeks later, as he rolled the board out of its designated corner, Dr. Hjortland declared with some surprise, “You know, I really like this thing!” I was fit to burst from grinning! A little bit of chalk dust flying around at the front of the room wouldn’t be so bad either.
3) ‘Philosophy’ and ‘exam’ are two words that do not belong together. This obviously has been particular irksome to me recently. Part of the reason that I initially chose to study philosophy is that it offers a slightly better chance of requiring thought, as opposed to mere regurgitation. So I have been very miffed at having to cram my head full of Plato, Aristotle, Epicurus, Hume, Barcan, Hempel, and Russell, not in order to engage in a critical discussion or written critique, but in order to spit out the correct answer for an exam essay question. Blech, blech.
4) I have not printed out a single essay this whole semester. I have not received any essays back with hieroglyphical scribbles in the margins crying out for interpretation. ‘Handing in an essay’ has come to mean simply hitting the submit button on the Blackboard website. My tutor sends me her comments via pdf, and my grade shows up a few days later on my electronic report card. Is wanting something more tangible and personal than lines on a screen completely irrational? I think not.
5) Last point, I promise. While home over Christmas, I had a conversation with someone who seemed confused by my mixed reviews of the teaching quality here. He kept saying things like, “But their scholarship is amazing;” “But she’s the one that wrote that fantastic book on Aristotle;” etc. Because of the circumstances of our discussion, I was not able to make my point as clearly as I would have liked. What many academics, including this gentleman, don’t seem to understand is that good scholarship does not equal good teaching. It may, but not necessarily. Just because someone has his brilliant articles regularly published in journals does not mean that he can handily engage with students in and out of the classroom. There is a place in universities for both good scholars and good teachers, and it’s wonderful when both qualities are found in one person. Nevertheless, the philosophy classroom demands particular dexterity and wisdom, which are in no way guaranteed by having an excellent dissertation topic.
Enough. Please do not misunderstand – there is much to be admired about philosophy at St. Andrews. It is merely that I am saddened to see what has the potential to be the most humanizing discipline being taught so inhumanely. Many of the ‘problems’ could be solved simply by de-emphasizing efficiency, fairness, and objectivity, and by cultivating more serious in- and out-of-classroom discussions, requiring more essays (hopefully none of my fellow students are reading this!), and encouraging faculty to engage with and respect their students.
It is amazing to me that yesterday evening I was in Newtown Square, Pennsylvania, and now a mere fourteen hours later I am in St. Andrews, Scotland! During my two weeks home, the last few months in St. Andrews seemed a distant dream. Now, it is hard to believe that less than a day ago I was with my precious family.
The most valuable thing about the last three months in St. Andrews was the perspective I gained on my life back home. It has made me more thankful for the unconditional love and support of my family, and for the many sweet friendships that are the result of years spent growing and learning together. Such a feeling was not surprising to me; what was more surprising was realizing how valuable the numerous acquaintances and comfortable places that surround me back home are. Having lived in the same town my entire life, and having studied at a university in the same area, the subtle network of relationships is unbelievable. There is a deep need for ‘belonging’ that is met when one’s primary identification is not “transient student” but rather “member of Marple-Newtown” or “daughter of David and Lisa.”
My studies at the university here have also made me aware in a new way of what a special academic community the Templeton Honors College is. Such a community -where both liberal learning and Christian faith are central, and are considered to be complementary, rather than opposed – such a community is a rare gem.
And the size of the UK has given me a newfound appreciation for the vastness of everything American. American “big-ness” is not limited to Texas! We have big roads, big cars, big people, big meals, big houses, big yards, big suburbs, and a big country. There is no pressure to use every square inch of space for something; rather, our communities and culture sprawl innocuously over more than 3.5 million square miles.
On the other hand, one of the many reasons that going home over Christmastide was so wonderful is that it in turn helped to give me perspective on my life in St. Andrews. Having been caught up in the midst of several stressful situations towards the end of the semester, I was simply looking forward to relaxing and spending time with my family. While “getting away from it all” provided that much-needed break, it also made me realize how much I am enjoying my life in St. Andrews and am starting to settle into the culture of this little corner of Scotland. The constant breeze from the North Sea; the gorgeous seascapes and towering ruins; cafes where one can order a proper cup of tea; evenings of jazz, wine, and letter-writing at the Byre; other evenings spent curled in a corner listening to my new friends read poetry; these have all become treasured parts of my experience here. Most of all, I am unspeakably grateful for how distance from the usual pressures and responsibilities of home and college has allowed me to enter into the love and knowledge of God in a more profound way than ever before, both in private and through the liturgical cycle and ritual of my church community.
I pray that you have experienced the joy and peace of Immanuel during this Christmas season. May our desire for and delight in the precious, cleansing Body and Blood of our Lord, and our hope in His glorious Resurrection, abound to overflowing. Let us praise Him for being, as my church says every Sunday in preparation for Communion, “the same Lord Whose property is always to have mercy.”
I wonder how long until the jet lag sets in.
I’ll bet you didn’t know that “bagrock” was a musical genre. It is the perfect combination of traditional music and modern groove. I had the awesome opportunity to hear the band that originated bagrock in concert at the end of November. Since my piping brother listens to bagrock all the time, I was already familiar with the unique sound of the Red Hot Chilli Pipers. So when my friends at the St. Andrews’ pipe band told me that the Chilli Pipers would be giving a live, outdoor concert as part of the St. Andrews’ Day celebrations, I was thrilled (not sure what St. Andrew would have thought, though).
The concert took place in the middle of South Street, in a long white tent so densely packed with people that the crowd spilled out into the street on either side. A “rock” band never attracted such a diverse group of people: uni students, school children, young couples, families, tourists, golfers, and not a few gray heads. While the teenagers around them shook their hips and clapped their hands to a traditional tune with a revamped beat, one sprightly old couple made a small space in the crowd, solemnly faced each other, and danced a lively jig, never cracking a smile. Not something one would typically see at a rock concert with strobe lighting and deafening music!
Only in Scotland would I find myself at a concert in the streets of a 600-year-old university-town, where the musicians are rockin’ out on bagpipes, the snow is falling thickly all around, and there is the expectation of a big helping of fresh chips afterwards. Later, I walked back to my hall in the snow, feeling the cold flakes brush my face and savoring the mouth-watering smell of vinegar and salt wafting up from the warm box clutched in my mittened hands. I knew that there was no place I’d rather be at that moment.
I was too short to be able to get a good video at the concert, but the girl standing next to me recorded quite a few of the songs…and she posted them on YouTube! So here are a few selections for your listening pleasure. Take your pick:
- “Clocks”, originally a Coldplay song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SuZd42gUbF0
- “The Flower of Scotland”, Scotland’s unofficial national anthem: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ga8W1SX1LM0
- “Hellbound Train”, some wicked good piping: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=81Os2us53us&feature=related
- “Baba O’Riley”, originally released by The Who, a 70′s British rock band: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lb_LtbODgAw&feature=fvsr
- “We Will Rock You/Eye of the Tiger”…. : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=itvJARw9Rgk
Definitely a unique sound, and I think it’s kind of cool. Let me know what you think.
Since I last posted a week and a half ago, it has been the rare day that has not had at least a few flurries. The accumulation in St. Andrews has been only a few inches because the sun comes out in between snow showers and melts the top layer of snow. The town has not been so great about plowing side streets and putting salt down, so with all of the melting and freezing going on, there are some very slippery patches of ice (as I learned the other night – my back is still sore!). Although I have not been out of St. Andrews recently, rumor has it that the amount of snow on the ground farther inland increases dramatically. I do know that the bus and train schedules have been thrown completely out of whack, and that Edinburgh Airport was (maybe still is?) closed.
Despite all of the snow, I have been able to enjoy several unique experiences in the past few weeks.
First, in the middle of November, I took part in the craziness of Raisin Weekend, a tradition found only in St. Andrews. All freshman and study-abroad students are adopted earlier in the semester by an academic father and mother. These academic families can become quite large, and some people take pride in their ability to keep straight all of their brothers, sisters, cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents! In the morning or early afternoon on Raisin Sunday, students go to a party at their mom’s flat. Later in the day, they go to another party at their dad’s. Although most of these parties involve excessive drinking, I was blessed with parents who actually wanted to remember the weekend! It was not the healthiest weekend of my life – I don’t think I’ve ever eaten so many crisps and slices of cake – but it was really fun! The weekend culminates on Raisin Monday with a foam fight in the Quad. Moms dress their children up in various costumes, dads provide them with “receipts” in exchange for a gift (traditionally a lb. of raisins, now a bottle of wine), and spectators line the streets to watch the strange proceedings. I was dressed as a bishop, and had a DVD case for a raisin receipt (one of the more tame receipts, to be sure!). The foam fight was bizarrely exhilarating: who knew smushing your friends’ faces with shaving foam could be so much fun?
This website has some great pictures of the foam fight (including one of a relatively-clean me smearing Nora’s neck): http://www.zimbio.com/pictures/Od_nrzVvZjd/Students+Celebrate+Raisin+Monday+St+Andrew/xnA5Fni6rfJ.
And the “official” video can be found here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rMYUFREUSNg.
It took several showers before my hair no longer felt like shaving foam!
To be continued…
Unfortunately, the sea of essay writing swallowed me before I had a chance to post about the final days of my travels. But now, having cleared my mind of all content related to “the theory-ladenness of scientific observation,” I will try to provide you with an albeit tardy recap on those last few days of adventure.
Wednesday evening and Thursday were spent in Fort William, and I don’t think the sun showed itself once while I was there. I braved the rain on Thursday morning to walk a mile down Glen Nevis towards Ben Nevis, the tallest peak in Britain. After getting my jeans soaked to mid-thigh, I finally admitted defeat and turned back (at which point, of course, the rain stopped!). A detour through a hillside graveyard offered an excellent view of the mountains. Then it was back into town to hole myself away in a used-book store that I had spotted the previous evening: really tiny, really quirky, and the perfect place to dry off.
Another bleak sky greeted me as I stepped off the train in Stirling on Friday afternoon. Dropping my bag at the hostel, I walked up the road to the impressive Church of the Holy Rude. It is the only remaining active church in Britain, other than Westminster Abbey, to have been the site of a coronation. As it was too dark and wet to see much of the castle, the rest of the evening was frittered away in a cafe (with free wi-fi) and a pub (with live music).
Saturday morning was spent in nearby Dunblane. Its magnificent cathedral was my favorite church building that I encountered during the trip.
The final day-and-a-half were devoted to seeing more of beautiful Edinburgh. I enjoyed visiting the John Knox House, a fascinating museum on the Royal Mile that describes the life and work of John Knox and the fate of the Catholic faithful in Scotland. Afterward, I stepped inside St. Giles’ Cathedral, hoping for a few minutes of quiet prayer in its solemn grandeur. To my disgust, I found that it had been turned into a regular tourist hub, replete with gift shop, audio tours, and picture-taking fees. However, when I returned to the cathedral later in the evening for a performance of “French classics” by the Scottish Chamber Choir, I was pleased to find it in a more appropriate state. Most of the rest of my time was spent strolling up and down the Royal Mile: I ate lunch at a Turkish restaurant (the owner really took to me, telling me that I was “like his daughter”; he almost kissed me on both cheeks as I left!), listened to an amazing street piper play “Thunderstruck” (have a listen to it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_EwDlUHoDFo), and gave into my weakness for fudge (for the first time in my life, I had no one to share it with!).
Unlike some travelers who bring home bags bulging with souvenirs, my backpack actually weighed less at the end of my trip. In typical fashion, I managed to leave a towel on the Isle of Skye and a hairbrush in Fort William! Although I didn’t bring home lots of physical souvenirs however, I learned a lot during my nine days in the Scottish countryside. I became quite skilled at navigating public transportation, living out of a backpack, wearing the same dirty jeans over and over again, and not getting lost in strange cities. There is one really important thing that I learned about myself, however, which I will take to heart next time I hit the road: I actually don’t like traveling very much. Seeing lots of famous places and taking lots of pictures is fine. But there is something to be said for settling down in one place for a while, meeting some of the local people, getting a feel for the essence of the place. So when I come back to the States, maybe I won’t be able to say that I visited many places; but hopefully I will be able to say that I visited a few places well.
Pictures from the final days of my trip can be accessed here: http://picasaweb.google.com/115330078329004130371/ReadingWeekDays69?authkey=Gv1sRgCNj4zY7L-a7BjAE&feat=directlink.
I spent the last two days on the Isle of Skye, a beautiful land of mountains, waterfalls, lochs, and moors. Although one of the best places in Scotland for hill-walking and hiking, the public transportation on Skye is very limited. In planning my time there, I had resigned myself to being confined to the island’s towns and central tourist hubs. However, on the bus from Inverness to Portree, I met an Australian backpacker named Nathan who was also planning to spend two days on Skye – and he was an experienced hitchhiker. My plans changed.
Arriving at the hostel in Broadford around noon, we dropped off our bags, grabbed our “hiking” gear, and headed out to the road to waggle our thumbs. Hitchhiking is not something that I would have considered doing on my own, but with Nathan it worked out quite well. Apparently, a guy and a girl is the best combination for getting people to give you a hitch. Drivers perceive the guy providing a sense of protection for the girl, and the girl seems to guarantee the decency of the guy. Also, Scottish Highlanders are some of the friendliest, most laid-back people you could ever meet, and are more apt than many to take pity on car-less young’uns.
The best thing about hitching was that we got to meet some very interesting people. Our ride from Broadford to Portree was with a businessman who lives on the island and did his own share of hitchhiking in his younger days. He dropped us next to a bakery in Portree, where we bought lunch for 75 pence. On the road out of Portree, the second vehicle we thumbed stopped for us, a small, green, battered cargo van. When the couple slid open the door to the back, we discovered that it had been converted into a tiny home, complete with kitchen, miniature pot-bellied stove, bed, television, and sofa. I enjoyed a tense ride perched on the edge of the bed, trying not to bump my head on the shelf above, listening to the musical clatter of the kitchen utensils swinging on their hooks. The van dropped us off at the base of Storr, and from there we hiked up to the Old Man of Storr. On the way back to Portree, we rode with an elderly gentleman from London who had spent the last 8 hours hiking along the Trotternish Ridge, which runs from Storr to Quirang. He had just finished getting a hitch himself from Quirang back to his car. A young Dutch woman, the only doctor in Portree’s hospital, drove us the final leg to the hostel.
Our second day on Skye, we had to wait in Broadford for almost an hour before getting a hitch. We did not make it as far as Portree, but spent the day clambering up and sliding down steep Glamaig Hill, near Sligachan. Afterwards, we stood on the side of the road, dirty, sore and ”knackered” (according to Nathan), until a couple from Dundee gave us a hitch back to Broadford. They were both landscape artists and had spent the last two days in Skye taking photographs to paint when they get back to their studio.
Now I’m hunkered down in a hostel in Fort William, sitting out the rain and trying to get some studying done. Tomorrow I head to Stirling, and then conclude my week in Edinburgh. Hopefully I’ll have a chance to post when I get back to St. Andrews on Sunday night, before I submerge again into the sea of essay writing.
Pictures from my time on Skye can be found here: http://picasaweb.google.com/115330078329004130371/ReadingWeekDays45?authkey=Gv1sRgCMPQjN7XvePn4gE&feat=directlink.