My flight landed at London’s Heathrow Airport just
minutes after its estimated time of arrival.
The landing was so smooth in contrast to the bumpy overnight ride over
the Atlantic that we weary, frightened passengers broke out in spontaneous
“Pilot,” a passenger called out, “you can drive my
caddie anytime!” We other
passengers laughed, struggled to our feet, and tried to stretch our muscles.
The long flight and the murderous jet-lag left most of us tired and
irritable, but we worked to be civil as we claimed our luggage and headed for
the customs counters. I couldn’t
believe that Jennifer Cameron of Kansas in the United States of America was one
of the travelers who lined up at a counter marked by a sign that said “English
Speaking Travelers Here.” I was
happy that I was eight in line, and made it past the counter with only a cursory
look by a customs officer. I began a
methodical search of the various signs held by persons awaiting the deplaned
passengers and soon found one which read “Edinburgh Scotland, via Rail.”
“Sir, how do I get to the railroad station?”
I inquired of the uniformed man holding the sign.
“Stay close, Luv.
I’m the bus driver who will take you there, along with those other
folks over near the door.” The
driver nodded his head toward a group of approximately twenty people.
“We’ll be leaving, Mum, in fifteen minutes.”
So I must go for now, Dad.
I’m Back, Dad,
I’ve never traveled this great a distance before, but
I’m elated to be making the trip. It’s
my mission to search for your roots in Scotland, and I’ve researched the area
from Glasgow to Loch Lomond to Inverness to Fort William.
I heard the driver call “All aboard,” and by this
time several others had joined the group so the bus was nearly filled.
Skillfully the driver drove through the morning traffic and took us into
London and to the railroad station. “Careful,
Luv,” he said as he helped each lady to the sidewalk.
“Watch it, Sir,” he cautioned each man.
“You’ll have time for coffee here, and some buns.
Oops! That’s something else
in the United States, isn’t it?” The
passengers laughed. “You can sleep
on the train till you get to the siding,” he continued.
Most of the group looked perplexed, but a man who had previously toured
the area explained, “The siding is where two trains meet.
One train goes to Edinburgh; we have to wait a few minutes for it to
arrive. The siding just sits out in
the countryside, but we’ll be there for only a brief time.
I don’t know where the other train goes.”
I was thankful that he knew the European method of making train
connections, and I was glad I was part of a group.
The train ride was just as the man had described it, and
we followed the bus-driver’s advice to sleep.
After our group transferred to the second train, it began to roll toward
Edinburgh, and I noticed that some of the seats faced the engine and some faced
the rear of the coach. Tables
between the rows provided spaces for games, and bridge players quickly converged
there. As for me, I preferred to
fight my bad case of jet lag so I found a forward-facing seat and sank into it.
This rest proved to be an asset, for after my arrival in Edinburgh I had
the opportunity to join a tour of the castle high on a hill.
The wide paved driveway, the parade ground, and the steep pedestrian
slope taxed my energy, but I was determined to see it all.
When I returned to the station to board a train for Glasgow, I was
physically tired but mentally stimulated. The
window provided a good view of the countryside, and someone pointed out that
Balmoral castle, a gift of Albert to his wife Queen Victoria, was barely visible
off to the right. The ride was
smooth and gentle through low hills, and the gentle rock of the railroad coach
soon lulled me to sleep.
Love for now - - Jen
Dear Dad - - more about yesterday:
“Glasgow, Glasgow,” shouted the train conductor.
The passengers rose and pushed to the door.
“Lucky for me, “I thought, “that all my luggage except this small
case was sent ahead.” As we left
the train I saw a taxi that bore a sign, “Holiday Inn, Glasgow.”
I went to the hotel and the haven of my room.
A shower rejuvenated me, and I found the restaurant and bar area where a
buffet was beautifully prepared with an abundance of fruits and vegetables
tastefully presented with the meats and fish.
I had arrived in the dining area late, so only a few others dallied over
their dinners and pastries. The
coffee was hot. The food was good.
The day is spent - - and so am I. I
am ready to call it a day. - - Love, Jen.
Time is flying by at too great a pace.
I’ve loved every minute of these days so crammed with beauty and
history and the depth of the lore of the clans.
I dream of Sir Ewen Cameron and Bonnie Prince Charlie, and Mary who
suffered death at the hand of her cousin Elizabeth.
I visualize our ancestors’ lands in Lochaber with sheep grazing on the
hillsides in times of peace and clansmen rallying to support Lochiel in times of
battle. Time is my adversary, for I
have so little of it left here in this, our ancestral country.
Tomorrow, Dad, I plan to go to the site of the great battle of Culloden.
Well, I guess you could say that Time won.
My flights from here to Shannon and from there back home are approaching
all too rapidly. I’m saving a
little time today and tomorrow to bolster the industries of Scotland - - and
help myself to style - - by shopping at the woolen mills.
I must buy something, of course, in our beautiful Cameron tartan.
In my mind’s eye, I see a kilt or skirt, and a shawl to match.
However, the best acquisition I’ll take home is the memory of these
warm, friendly, people and their rugged hills and valleys that contributed to
their military prowess. I weep
inside for the losses in their frenzied battles, and I swell with pride when I
realize that Sir Ewen Cameron, so long ago in the seventeenth century, was the
only chief who never submitted to Cromwell.
I remember reading that Lochiel’s word of honor was accepted by the
governor, who held him in the highest regard.
I have traced your family tree, Dad, but only in a
superficial way. I must return to
learn more. Time was against me, but
I gained a new and deeper appreciation of our roots.
I see in you the traits of Lochiel - - the treasured traits of our
Cameron clan - - honesty, integrity and honor.
I love you, Dad, and I’ll be home on Tuesday.
Your daughter, Jen