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Issue 4 - A force that demands respect

Scotland Magazine Issue 4
September 2002

 

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A force that demands respect

Editor Marcin Miller puts his faith in Mother Nature

This has to be the best time of all to be in Scotland.

Whatever it is that draws you to visit this most attractive of countries, you should make the most of the summer months. Unless your name is Tiger Woods. At the time of writing, the greatest golfing talent of all came to Scotland determined to become the first golfer to win all four majors in the same season. Sadly, the Tiger was undone by a typical Scottish summer’s day: gusting winds of 30 miles per hour coupled with driving rain made him look distinctly ordinary as he posted a score of 81, the worst round of his entire professional career.

You sometimes get the feeling that the gods of Scotland take pleasure in laying the best laid plans to waste. From the storm-ravaged Tiger to more mundane occurences. I was fortunate enough to join last year’s Classic Malts Cruise. This annual event celebrates whisky and sailing. Split into three legs the Cruise visits the distilleries of Oban, Talisker on Skye and Lagavulin on Islay as well as taking in some of the beauty of Scotland’s Western Isles en route. Our problem was that there wasn’t a breath of wind to carry us across from Oban to Jura thence to Islay. Rather than a couple of days of hardy sailing, all I got was two days diesel cruising in the blazing sunshine. Be flexible in your planning. Don’t underestimate Scotland. From a walk in the park to a camping holiday, from a simple picnic to some serious hill-walking the fates may conspire against you.

Man’s mortality is often thrown into stark relief in the isolated landscapes and unspoilt beauty of Scotland. It is the unremitting spirit of Scotland that led to the widespread illicit distilling that now gives us the finest whisky known to man. It was respect of the brutal nature of life that led Scots to an unfrivolous approach to life, reflected in parsimony as a virtue. Hence the success of Scots in the world of banking and finance. Even now, the notion of Scot as the noble savage is a stock Hollywood cliché. When you think about it, nearly all those characteristics and icons of Scotland have come about as a reaction to hardship. Why the great diaspora? Because of hardship. Why the phlegmatic nature? Because of hardship.

Now, thankfully, much of the hardship has passed but the legacy remains. And, as with any other legacy, it needs to be respected. It is time to enjoy what Scotland has to offer.

This issue goes some way to illustrating exactly what it is that Scotland has to offer these days, starting with Roddy Martine’s account of the restored and renovated luxury of Fenton Tower. Elizabeth Walton offers advice on the finest shooting and Geraldine Coates explores Scottish outdoor clothing and where to buy it. Continuing her series on great Scottish retailers, Kate Patrick looks at the success of mail order clothing business, Pedlars, that has diversified beyond clothes. James Irvine Robertson concentrates on the role played by the Pictish people in the formation of the Scottish nation and Gerald Warner paints a fascinating portrait of John Buchan, a novelist who became Governor-General of Canada. Scotland seems a fashionable place to get married these days: our guide should help you decide which venue is right for you. Sue Lawrence concentrates on the time-honoured ritual that is tea time whilst we recommend Scotland’s best hideaway hotels if you need to escape the hustle and bustle of the city.

The tasting panel had to work their way through a dozen beers for this issue. Finally, this issue’s regional focus looks at the Highlands, for many of you the real Scotland.

Many thanks to all of you who took the time to complete the survey in Issue 3. Your answers will help us to create the
magazine you want to read.

Finally, to borrow from the Boy Scout movement, if you are planning a wedding, a trip to the Highlands, a short break in a hideaway hotel, a shooting party or to win the Open Championship – be prepared! Scotland will have a surprise or two in store.