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post #1 of 25 (permalink) Old 03-14-2020, 07:21 PM Thread Starter
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It's good to be back?

I returned to the hysteria in the US late Thursday night. What we are experiencing here is nothing like the calm organization of dealing with the virus in Scotland. The US Government's handling of this pandemic is unconscionable!!!! The President is saying he is not responsible and the buck stops on somebody else's desk.
We boarded our plane from London Heathrow to LAX and then had to sit on the tarmac for 2 1/2 hours waiting for clearance to takeoff to the US. My daughter, JoJoMomi, accompanied me on the short vacation. She is an administrator at a major, 40,000 student body, university in SoCal. She learned that the campus is being shut down for the next 6 to 8 weeks while sitting on the tarmac. Classes will be going on-line, staff will be required to work from home except essential personnel will be required to work from their campus offices. My daughter is an essential staff member. Going to be pretty lonely working in an empty office without about a dozen support staff. We encountered 10's of thousands of travelers from all over the world at Heathrow airport. There was a lot of coughing going on and I suspect that I may have been exposed to C-19 virus. Although I have no symptoms and I feel great, I am voluntarily putting myself in self-quarantine at home for the next 14 days. Stay tuned.

Our short vacation to Edinburgh, Scotland can best be summed up as fun, facts, fascinating, and freezing cold!!! The Scottish people are warm and friendly despite the gray and gloomy and terrible weather. We experienced some wonderful adventures during our short 4 day stay but I want to concentrate on our interaction with the local dogs in this post.

We met many local dogs which tended to be terrier type of dogs. We also encountered a number of designer breeds identified by their owners as Cockapoos and Cavapoos. The dogs are very well maintained and loved. Owners keep them on leash and the dogs were calm and relaxed in the crush of people on the streets. The streets and gutters are immaculate and absent any human trash or dog defecation. We in the US can learn a lot about dog care from our Scottish brethren. But in this post I want to concentrate on just one dog, Greyfriars Bobby.

John Gray was an Edinburgh constable in the late 1800's. His job was nightwatchman at the Greyfriars Church and surrounding consecrated graveyard built 600 years ago. He acquired a Skye Terrier puppy to keep him company during those long nights of loneliness in the graveyard. He named his dog Bobby. They became fast companions. Tragically, John Gray died of TB just three years after acquiring Bobby and he was buried in the Greyfriars cemetery he and Bobby had been guarding. Bobby refused to leave his master's grave site and slept beside his grave for the next 14 years. Bobby died of natural causes at the age of 17. Bobby was buried near his masters grave, the only dog buried on this consecrated ground and both lie in rest there today. During those 14 years, Bobby was fed by sympathetic local merchants and a shelter was erected by church maintenance men (about 4 ft. x 6 ft. x 2 ft. high) so Bobby could be comfortable and out of the daunting Scottish elements. Eventually, Bobby was a made ward of the city by the Town Council and his care was mandated by law. After his death, a statue was erected to commemorate Bobby's loyalty to his master and it has become a tourist attraction. I have pictures of John Gray's grave stone, Bobby's shelter adjacent to it, Bobby's grave stone, and the statue out on the main street in front of the Greyfriars Church. I tear up just posting this. I brought home with me a small souvenir of Greyfriars Bobby. The pictures are not ready to post yet, but I will post them soon enough, so be patient with me.

For further information about Bobby, go to this link: Greyfriars_Bobby (BTW, the word "kirk" is Scottish Gaelic for the word "church.")

I salute you Bobby.

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post #2 of 25 (permalink) Old 03-14-2020, 08:22 PM
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I was there maybe 20 years ago and shed a few tears over the story of Bobby. What a sweet story!
I've met many dogs when I visited Europe and the dogs were always so well mannered and well behaved. That was always my impression too!
Welcome home, well except for this big mess. I bet Ricky is a very happy boy. I hope you didn't bring him any of that Haggis for a Scottish treat.
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post #3 of 25 (permalink) Old 03-14-2020, 10:24 PM
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It sounds like a wonderful trip, and you got in there just in time!
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post #4 of 25 (permalink) Old 03-15-2020, 04:27 AM
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Welcome home! I hope your self quarantine goes quickly and that you remain healthy.



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post #5 of 25 (permalink) Old 03-15-2020, 06:56 AM Thread Starter
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I hope you didn't bring him any of that Haggis for a Scottish treat.
Haggis is a food that the Scots have made their national dish. It is made from the entrails of sheep - lungs, intestines, stomach, kidneys. etc. - the parts left over after slaughtering a sheep for its meat. Our Scottish friends likened haggis to an american hot dog with all the mystery "meat" in that American delicacy. My daughter is a vegetarian and she tried "vegetarian haggis" and said it was quite good. I hate to think what was in "vegetarian haggis!" I passed on the experience of trying haggis and instead opted to have Steak and Ale Pie that night and BTW, I don't think I will eat another hot dog either!

As a country Scotland has a population of about 5 1/2 million, half of which live in four principle urban areas. Scotland has approximately 11 million sheep within its borders. Sheep are a primary part of Scotland's economy as a food source and clothing in the form of wool. So two sheep for every person!

At the time of the Roman invasion into what is today Great Britain and occupation in the first 400 years of AD, Scotland was about 85% heavily forested and the interior was almost impenetrable. Indigenous trees were primarily Aspen and Poplar. Over the intervening 2000 years, Scotland has been deforested to make way for pasture land for cattle - sheep, cows, and goats. Today only 15% of Scotland is forested. About 50 years ago, the Scottish government embarked on a program of reforestation. New tree species were introduced which were primarily Douglas Fir and various Cedars, all of which were fast growing. That was fine until the European market discovered that firs and cedars were a good source of wood for furniture making. Today, IKEA is the primary market for Scottish forest woods. Consequently, the forest lands are in a constant state of new growth and clear cut and much of the scenic lands in the northern Scottish Highlands lies in ugly stubble. The current Scottish government is now limiting the amount of land that can be used for commercial forest products and are reintroducing native tree species in a government funded program.

The Scottish people and their government tend to be relatively and politically progressive when compared to the US. They voted to stay in the European Union (but have been forced to exit by the English majority), they have a mandatory national health insurance program which everyone loves despite their individual political persuasion, and they have a diverse population which the Scots welcome, - primarily Polish, Portuguese, and Middle Eastern. They all live in apparent harmony. I talked to a lot of the immigrants and they are happy in Scotland and the people and government make them feel welcome there. I never heard one complaint from either indigenous Scots or immigrants about social strife or discrimination and the various cultures mix freely and openly. I saw almost no homelessness and no ghettos (and I saw a lot of the country, both urban and rural, in just 4 days). Crime is very low. Everyone seemed to be comfortably middle class.

The independence/nationalist movement to secede from the United Kingdom and English influence is strong and will likely happen in the next 10 years. Scots are optimistic about their future as they tackle global warming, a growing population from external immigration, and growing their economy. I wish the Scots well. They are good, honest, hard working people and set a good example of what people working together can achieve.
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post #6 of 25 (permalink) Old 03-15-2020, 11:14 AM
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Regarding Greyfriar's Bobby, I saw a movie a long time ago about that dog. It was such a touching story and had me in tears.

So glad you had a good time in Scotland. Sounds like a wonderful place. I wonder if their attitude and way of life of so much different because they are so much smaller than the U.S. I've also heard that litter is almost unheard of in European countries. We are such pigs!

I'm glad you are home too. It is absolutely crazy here. If you don't already have TP, you are out of luck. Shelves around here are bare. Crazy, crazy. All schools in our state our closed.

Don't get too bored cooped up for 14 days!



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post #7 of 25 (permalink) Old 03-15-2020, 12:56 PM Thread Starter
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I wonder if their attitude and way of life of so much different because they are so much smaller than the U.S. I've also heard that litter is almost unheard of in European countries.
Jackie, that is an interesting question. I suspect that the current Scottish way of life is heavily influenced by the traditional clan system dating back to over 4000 years. Clans were built on strict family connections in a relatively small areas of land within what is now present day Scotland, Back in pre-history life and existence was very tough in this area because of the weather and the heavily wooded environment. Family had to stick together in order to survive. The clans guarded their individual areas judiciously to preserve scarce resources necessary for their continued existence. BUT (and this is a big but) the clan system was based on chivalry. No stranger with good intentions was ever turned away. If a stranger was in need of food or shelter, they were welcomed with open arms. And that's the way it has always been. In my opinion, the concept of welcoming strangers in need is still alive and well in Scotland.

In the countries I have visited in Europe - England, Scotland, Netherlands, Belgium, Sweden, Denmark, France, Portugal, Spain, Hungary - litter is unheard of. For the most part, streets and public areas are spic and span clean. AND HOMELESSNESS IS ALMOST NON-EXISTENT!

Our mentor while in Scotland was the cousin of a good friend living in Vancouver, CAN. They are both members of the Campbell clan (the Campbell clan are the 'black sheep' of the clans in Scotland, but that is a whole 'nother story.) Our guide was 75 y.o. and is currently a PHD student in Scottish history!!! You can't make this stuff up! We got an intensive crash course in everything Scottish (I can assure you that I am now an expert in Scotch whiskey! and came home with a bottle of my favorite from Campbelltown, Scotland)

Quote:
Don't get too bored cooped up for 14 days!
Being in quarantine does not necessarily mean being cooped up, that only happens if you have the virus and I am showing no symptoms at this time. Quarantine means keeping at least 6 feet away from people and avoid touching things the public might touch. This morning, Ricky and I went on our normal 3 mile walk on our path system. We met many of our neighbors, both human and their dogs. We kept our distance (10 feet or more) and made no contact with them. Ricky just couldn't figure out what i was up too because he likes to meet everyone, human and dog, up close and personal, but he dutifully followed my lead without too much complaint. Anyway, I will use my at home time to finish up my taxes which are due at the end of this month.
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post #8 of 25 (permalink) Old 03-15-2020, 01:00 PM
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Poor Ricky! I guess he has to be quarantined too!



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post #9 of 25 (permalink) Old 03-16-2020, 01:43 PM
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Originally Posted by Ricky Ricardo View Post
But in this post I want to concentrate on just one dog, Greyfriars Bobby.
One of my favorite dog stories growing up!

We're glad you're home, and praying that you are well! <3


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post #10 of 25 (permalink) Old 03-16-2020, 06:27 PM
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Glad you made it home safely. I will read your thread more carefully when I have more time ...

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