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  • Bangers, Bacon & Baps

    Recently an OUTsideIN blog fan was saddened to learn that the foods eaten to celebrate the Scottish New Year holiday, Hogmanay, do not include any part of a hog (see Hogmanay Kindness,)December 30, 2020. Like many people, this gentleman assumed that the presence of a food name in a word indicated food rather than something else, which is a linguistic quirk that fascinates the erudite squirrels in my brain.
  • Hogmanay Kindness

    In Scotland, the New Year celebration is called Hogmanay – pronounced HOG-MUH-NAY. Ah, I can almost hear your giggles erupt. Hogmanay? HOGmanay? 
  • A Blithe Scottish Yule

    My first Christmas away from home was far from the difficult and suffering places I’ve seen in this world, spent in Scotland at the splendid 18th-century country mansion of Finlaystone Estate with the highly civilized MacMillan family (who are my clan mates but not direct kin). Finlaystone is the site of a 14th-century castle. John Knox performed the first Protestant Reformed communion service there in 1556, and legendary Scots poet Robert Burns dined there often in the late 18th century. It was rebuilt as a Georgian mansion in 1764 and has been carefully maintained and upgraded (including electricity and modern plumbing but no central heating) by the Kidston and MacMillan families since 1872. Finlaystone Estate
  • Breakfast at Finlaystone

    “We’re 14 for brekkers [breakfast] this morning,” Jenny explained as we set the massive dining room table with antique Blue Willow plates and ornate sterling silver flatware, “because we’ve six guests, plus the usual workers, slaves, Sir Gordon and Lady M.”

    Already distressed by the prospect of frying 14 eggs, I suddenly realized that my presence might be an inconvenience rather than a help to the MacMillans. “So this wasn’t a good time for me to arrive here, was it?”

    “No, no. Don’t worry. It’s just family. The MacMillans’ son John, his wife Belinda [pronounced “Bline-dah”] and their smalls [children], and Belinda’s parents. Lord Lumley-Webb was in the Army with Sir Gordon, and Belinda was once a slave. They’re all here for the Hunt.”

    “The Hunt?”

    “Yes, it’s shooting season, you see, so if it goes well, we’ll soon be dining on pheasant. Do you like pheasant? I’m not very keen on it, but the MacMillans adore it.”

     

  • Stop, Look & Listen

    I’ve lived in a lot of different places, some that invited tourists and others that tourists overlooked or even avoided, so I think I’m qualified to state that tourism can be a mixed blessing. Visitors can bring money, create jobs in hospitality businesses like hotels and restaurants, and foster a sense of pride of place in an area’s natives. They may also bring less desirable things, from littering to disrespect and COVID-19. A friend in Spain was dismayed this spring to learn that 800 German tourists were about to land on the island of Menorca – a boon for local businesses but a terrifying prospect in a pandemic climate. The tourists were eventually rerouted to the bigger neighboring island of Majorca, but it was a close call.
  • An Athens Afternoon

    On an afternoon in Athens years ago, I explored some of the city’s “must see” sights but saw more than just the Parthenon, Acropolis, and Roman Stadium. As I’ve often found in my travels, there are unexpected lessons lurking around the corner in every city in the world. In Athens I met a man my mom had warned me about many times: the starving artist.
  • A Winter Day in Istanbul

    It wasn’t until I visited Turkey on a business trip in my early 40’s that I learned the truth of the legendary term une dame d’un certain âge. It's a French phrase for a woman over 40 who leads a chic and adventurous life, and whose youthful verve is balanced by the wisdom and experience of a mature person. This worldly woman is also likely to have a handsome young male escort on her arm as she attends parties, shops, travels, and otherwise enjoys life to the fullest. When I first heard the term in a college French class when I was 19, it was hard to believe such a thing could be true, but an encounter in Istanbul set me straight.

     

  • Around the World with Knife and Fork....and Chopsticks - Part One

    Trying new foods everywhere I go has been both educational and enriching. And sometimes fattening. But mostly, yummy! So I tell you now what my mother used to say, “Don’t knock it until you try it.”

     

  • The First Step

    I am a veteran traveler. In the past 66 years, I have explored the world, at first as a child with my parents in the USA, Canada, and UK, and late...