Friday, September 28, 2007

Seduced by Scotland

My best friend and I have vowed never to take up golf. There are practical reasons for this: long work hours that preclude any frivolity that takes up a full four hours at a go, and a total and complete lack of sports ability.

Yet here I am in the birthplace of golf, touring the finest of the world’s courses: Turnberry (home to the 2009 British Open), Royal Troon (home to eight Opens), Gleneagles (host to the 2014 Ryder Cup) and St. Andrews, frequent Open home often called the Home of Golf, though I’m assured it was actually first played elsewhere.

Here’s the thing: While duffers may golf, there are others of us who may come along … and wish to venture beyond the spa.

“Well, if you’re not into history, there’s no much here,’’ one gentlemen told me, speaking in the Scots' way of the West Coast near Turnberry and Troon.

Not so, I’m finding.

I’m being seduced (yet again) by Scotland…so often that I’m perpetually late to my next date as I stop to ooh-and-ah over the ruins that appear over every rise, the cliffs along the coast, the black-faced sheep and shaggy Highland cattle. Historic castles are as a common as Starbucks at home, and in two days I’ve visited two already, Kelburn Castle, home to the Grafitti Project, a mural by two Brazilian artists on a turret and castle wall, and Culzean Castle, a stately haven to lairds and royalty and, for a bit, a holiday home for Dwight D. Eisenhower in honor of his service to Europe during WW II.

But what I love the best is the people.

A lovely gentleman led me to my B&B, going miles out of his way to be sure I dodged sheep and pheasants – which tend to stand in the roadway and simply gawk at you – to arrive safely.

And at my B&B in Troon, Copper Beech, I was greeted by the lovely Norma. I’d made her late for her dinner appointment, and rather than to be gruff or cranky, she invited me along. And so I spent the evening solving the world’s problems with a trio of Scotswomen in a hotel that was once home to Johnnie Walker. We avoided the whisky … too dangerous, that … but how can you solve problems without a glass of wine?

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