Awoke early on my final day in Scotland as I just didn’t want to miss anything. I also made a start at figuring out just how I’m going to get everything back in my suitcase. With one suitcase packed, I called it a good beginning and resolved to worry about the rest later.
Candida and I headed out on a final day of visiting Outlander filming sites, not feeling in the least guilty that we hand tempted Miss S. to join us once again. We arrive at our designated meeting place at Linlithgow Palace in good time only to find the car park and street overflowing with cars. Turns out that there was a funeral at the church just adjacent to the Palace. We backtracked and found a spot at a pay and display lot and then walked back up the hill to the Palace.
Found our compatriot with no problems, purchased our tickets and ….within minutes lost Candida in the myriad nooks and crannies available in Linlithgow. S and I just caught a glimpse of her every now and then. Eventually we just grabbed a seat in the courtyard and waited for her to reappear as she always does.
After exploring the Palace, we were feeling distinctly peckish, so we headed down into the town in search of lunch serenaded by the skirl of a bagpiper playing on the hill. We decided that only fish ‘n chips by the loch would do for this final day of fun, so we placed our orders and carried our bounty down to a picnic table by the water. It was very beautiful and peaceful, at least until we opened out boxes and took out the first chip. Then we were descended upon by dozens of birds. We proceeded to eat our lunches but the ratio of chips consumed by birds vs humans was at least 10 to 1.
Hunger satisfied and bummed that Blackness Castle was closed again today due to winter hours, we headed towards another location down in the Borders—Preston Mill. As this location is from an episode that hasn’t aired, I will leave it to readers’ imagination as to how this location might have been used. There also should be some recognition from Harry Potter movie fans as well.
Unfortunately, as we were leaving to head back to Glasgow, we ran into a traffic nightmare caused by a closure of the Forth Road Bridge by an accident. This one closure backed up every motorway heading into Edinburgh. Fortunately, even sitting in traffic is a lot more fun when you have great companions. Eventually we were able to circumnavigate the tie-up and made our way back to Glasgow to turn in the rental car.
Upon returning the car, I discovered that in my 14 driving days in Scotland, I managed to rack up 2,325 miles driven! All with no problems driving on the left. (Hush Candida, I can hear you laughing from here. That roundabout didn’t county.) I just hope I don’t try to drive on the left when I get back home. Susan, gracious hostess that she has been, not only picked us up from the rental car lot but also took us on a final impromptu visit to Pollok Park. Not only has filming already occurred there for season 1 of Outlander, but I could totally see locations that might be perfect for season 2 as well.
Our final engagement of the trip was an evening at An Gealbhan (I’m planning an entire post just on An Gealbhan later. So stay tuned.). We went a bit early and enjoyed dinner at the Argyll Hotel before the entertainment started. We were in for a special treat, but we didn’t realize just how special until a bit later. We knew that Gillebride MacMillan ,who played Gwyllyn in Outlander, would be performing and he did a spectacular job. He is such a nice man and his voice is just beautiful. He even serenaded Candida, S and me with a special song. The totally unexpected addition to the evening was Ronnie Goodwin. Outlanders will recognize Ronnie as the Highlander with the long gray hair that accompanies Dougal. He is also a talented photographer and filmmaker as well. Lastly, we also met a couple of Outlander fans that I had known online before the trip.
It truly was a wonderful final night of the trip. Candida and I stayed out way too late trying to make it last as long as possible, but eventually we did have to head home to grab a few hours of sleep before heading to the airport.
Finally, the moment I had dreaded arrived. It was time to leave for the airport. Some final hugs with Susan and the leave-taking from Scotland had begun. Had a final breakfast with Candida and managed to hug her without crying. It helps knowing that she and I will at least talk on the phone soon. The bigger goodbye—to Scotland itself—was a bit harder. This has been such a magical two weeks and I can honestly say I think it has been the best experience of my life— and that’s saying a lot. I’ve done some amazing things in my 43 years. There are so many special people who I was able to see (I don’t say meet because most of them were honestly already friends.). So many went out of their way to offer advice, places to stay, recommendations for things to see…the list goes on and on. This is a blanket invitation to all of you! I would love to return the favor when you visit the Atlanta area.
Slàn leat an-dràsta! (goodbye for now)