You know how sometimes once you notice something, suddenly it’s everywhere? That’s what’s happening with me and Scotland these days. I don’t know if Scotland is having a moment, or if it’s just that I’m having a private Scottish renaissance — I suspect it might be the former.


Who has the cutest cows? Scotland does!

A few years ago, it was all Iceland all the time. Something about that sparsely populated island with the fiercely independent spirit had definitely captured imaginations. And now it feels like Scotland’s turn (even if it isn’t the most exotic locale for many Canadians). But there is something in the air… and it’s not sheep shite.

I did once travel to Scotland, about 20 years ago, backpacking with a friend. It was July; it was cold and wet, and I recall finding everything ridiculously lush, green, and sort of majestic. We mostly traveled to rural areas, but we did unexpectedly, and memorably, get stuck in the city of Glasgow. (Turns out, there were two train stations in Glasgow very near to one another, and we were in the wrong one. Highlight: cab drivers shouting encouragement at us as we sprinted to the other station with our large packs just a tad too late to catch our train.) The city had its charms though; a modern art gallery stays with me still. I recall too the stunningly graceful architecture of Charles Rennie Mackintosh, but also the most uncomfortable beds of any youth hostel ever. It was in that hostel’s kitchen that we met some funny ravers early on our last morning. They’d been let in by a friend staying there and were sit-sleeping while waiting for the first bus out to their hometown. Otherwise, I don’t recall Scots being overly friendly, except maybe some of the men (but they were mostly drunk). Scotland was very pretty though — the cows were cute, so were the sheep, and it was fun to explore ruined castles in the countryside. Yet, I haven’t had a burning desire to return… until recently.


Outlander (Starz): Let’s wrap ourselves in attractive woollen things and fall in love

Pop culture has been seducing me with its bagpipish tartany overtures. I know the Outlander series is big, but I haven’t yet gotten into it (though I read the two first books). It’s the Shetland murder mysteries on Netflix that sucked me in. The quirky characters and language (“yes” to subtitles), and the desolate beauty of those islands, have struck a chord in my romantic heart.

As well, while it’s hard to gage what’s really going on from across the ocean, there does seem to be a sort of cultural and social shift happening over there. Scotland has its own Parliament led by the Scottish National Party (the party for independence from the UK) which supports social equality type things, like free university. And though the people decided against independence in the last referendum, the Brexit vote appears to have reignited interest in the cause. I also keep hearing about Scottish leaders taking unusual, and successful, approaches to fixing the country’s problems. Innovations in policing and urban green spaces are now coming out of the bleakest high-crime poor areas, like Glasgow’s inner city. This is no political blog; I’m just getting a sense that Scotland, like Iceland, has decided to do things its own way for the betterment of its people.

And then there’s fashion! ‘Tis the season to be wrapped in a warm woollen something. And this is where Scotland excels. Cloaks, capes, and of course, kilts, are very in right now. Designer kilts have popped up in Elle, and capes continue to be popular (who doesn’t dream of gliding along a stormy shore in a dramatic cape?). Anyone who’s been to Scotland knows the damp, wind, and rain can be pretty brutal (I say this as someone who has survived many Québec winters: there’s something about that moist air that is almost worse than -30 C), so it’s good to warm oneself with high quality wool… and perhaps a manly kilt-clad fellow.

Oh look, cutest Shetland ponies wearing sweaters anywhere, for sure...

Shetland ponies wearing sweaters, of course

Last week, I opened my Facebook and saw the definitive sign that Scotland is where it’s at — the trailer for a new Trainspotting film!!! Oh man, the nostalgia. I don’t think I’ll be headed across the sea any time soon, so I will have to settle for listening to CHVRCHES, watching Scots solving murders, sexy highlanders… and now the all-new adventures of Sick Boy, et al.


  1. Watch Outlander. It is well-written, has great acting, and not too girly (The Boy is into it…). Outlander has made me want to go visit Scottish castles!!
    and a friend (an actual Maclean descendant) had this on her wall the other day….
    Scotland IS everywhere!

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