The Thane of Cawdor stole my log-in

Our kids threw a mild hissy fit about not being in the States for Halloween, complaining they’d gotten gypped, or in Germany — where the holiday’s just caught on — instead, we’ll be somewhere in Scotland, hopefully near a castle, after a 15 hour ferry ride out of Amsterdam and a layover in Newcastle, where they make the brown ale.

We’re booking our first room to let, a self-catered ‘Chauffeur’s apartment’ by Lochinch castle in a place called Stranraer, not far from the ferry we’ll catch to Belfast at the end of November, leaving Scotland for the north of Ireland.

But for Halloween it will be Inverness, what appears to be a good base camp to explore the Scottish Highlands in early November and the Orkney Islands, with relics such as the Standing Stones of Stenness — and not far from the Cawdor Castle, prompting a reread of Macbeth for Halloween, a relish of blood and the supernatural, a gorefest for James I who believed in witchcraft and reigned over Scotland, Ireland and England until his death in 1603 — 100 years after the house in which my mom was built, here in Germany.

But my kids just want candy, they don’t need history. We did the responsible thing, to check the weather charts for the UK in the winter months since everyone says it will be cold there, like this is news to us, cold, wet climates — and there’s nothing out of the norm, save the odd cyclone or hurricane, such as The Great Storm of 1987, caused by a severe depression, all irony aside.

And it’s a year now since I had a post featured on the WordPress Freshly Pressed dashboard, which took my number of followers from 500 to nearly 5,000, largely because my Scottish/Canadian friend Ross beat the WP editors down with Tweets insisting they read my posts — and despite the added traffic, I still interact with about 1% of the people who follow this blog, which is plenty satisfying still.

And for the first three years I didn’t have a single visitor on this blog, because I wasn’t using tags and wasn’t doing it for anyone else — but it’s sure a lot more fun now with people reading and commenting, so thank you.

We’re booking a flat outside of London for the end of January, that’s 20 minutes from Waterloo station, got great reviews on TripAdvisor, and runs about $160/night USD, which seems really good for the London metro area.

And the Chauffeur’s apartment west of Dumfries, Scotland — which has a view of a castle and access to its 75 private acre gardens, is roughly the same cost as our daily mortgage for our house in Sammamish, WA — hoping since it will be US Thanksgiving then, I might find a local fowl I can roast in its oven, the James Beard method of cooking the turkey on high heat and then removing it from the oven and flipping it clumsily with a wad of kitchen roll, always entertaining.

It’s hard to imagine ourselves in Scotland while we’re here in Germany and more so, returning to the States next spring, but like everyone else, we’re flipping over the calendar and starting school, soon making plans for Halloween, likely the only time in our lives we’ll spend it in Scotland.

Categories: humor

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17 replies

  1. Your kids are right–they are getting gypped out of Halloween outside of the US–doesn’t matter how pretty or historic wherever you end up will be. But they’ll live. (My kids have never had a true New England Halloween, something that haunts me every year). May I give you a piece of unsolicited advice about Thanksgiving? Don’t do it. Start a new tradition. Take advantage of being outside of your home and comfort zone and go for sushi or something. It will be the one holiday your kids remember–more so than the one when Great Aunt Bess got drunk and told Uncle Arthur he wasn’t the father of their kids ;-). Enjoy yourselves. The highlands are gorgeous.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You can always give me advice Dina – I won’t solicit it because it feels weird talking to the Internet that way, like the Eye of Sauron, and I like yours about Thanksgiving. I think I’d be doing it more for me than them, because it’s my favourite holiday – mine and my wife’s, since it’s all about family and cooking. But there was a year when I spent four or five hours in the kitchen and then poof, it was over in 10 minutes and I was bitter, thinking why?! We’ll see, will be fun. I can’t wait to see the Highlands. Just hoping we don’t wind up driving in ice/snow — not fun. It will be an adventure.


  2. I’d trade your kids ten pounds of the best candy (no Mary Janes or smarties knock offs) to spend Halloween near a castle. They’ll appreciate it some day, these amazing gifts, seized opportunities of a lifetime. And Ross was right. Glad to have “found” your writing.


    • No doubt: the hard thing about this constant ‘sell’ with them has been reminding them how cool and unusual this all is, but it’s hard to talk logic like that when you’re competing with sugar. That’s a very nice notion too about Ross, and my writing — thank you. Missing yours, dude?! Sorry, I know you’re busy and appreciate you taking time out to read mine.


  3. that sounds so cool to me, but i understand from a kid’s perspective, what they think they’ll be missing. maybe pick up a bit of scottish candy and have your own halloween of sorts. everyone dress up like macbeth characters and put it in a witch’s cauldron –


  4. But you yourself interact with 100% of the people who interact with you! You’re probably right that only about 1% of those who follow interact, though, but lots more read, I think. That’s probably the norm. In other news, Halloween trumps Thanksgiving in my book. The latter was always a disaster in my house growing up. The former was always fun. I do love me some spooky.


    • Dude, along with Christmas that’s my three favourite holidays right there, in a row. And you’re right about the % and the interaction bit. It’s funny, and cool. Glad to know ya’, lad. Still thinking some about that email you sent, thanks for that. We’re ploughing our way through Scotland planning now with candles and Fleetwood Mac, and chose a spot for Christmas in Ireland, looks like Cork (*pop*).


  5. It’s your interactions with Ross that brought me here. The comments caught my attention and I followed the link. I found his blog in a similar manner.

    The candle reference makes me think you are listening to post Peter Green Mac.


  6. Good God, really? You’re kids have all that laid out before them and they’re upset about Halloween? Youth truly is wasted on the young.

    I thought being Fresh Pressed would open the floodgates to new readers, and it has in a fashion, but not like I thought it might. Right there is an excellent life lesson for us all.


    • Yeah, it’s a reminder of how kids think. It’s more Charlotte, who’s 7 going on 8 and highly sugar-motivated. Good witch bait for some phantom cottage that just appears in the woods somewhere, made out of gummy bears.


  7. You’re welcome.
    Nice trills on this piece, little musical turns.
    You should take your girls to Macbeth. It’s probably the most accessible Shakespeare tragedy, probably because it’s short. And ghosts, witches, blood! Yeah! I saw an outdoor production in Halifax on the old fortifications of Point Pleasant Park, which was still reeling from recent hurricane damage. That’s how it’s done.


    • Yeah, I know – it’s one of his shortest. I’m looking forward to rereading it. I wrote one of my favourite college papers on the imagery in the play, with the birds, the nature vs. supernatural, ill-fitting clothes, all good stuff. I think I’m going to insist people start calling me William.

      Thanks again Ross for helping me here with this writing/blogging thing. As Carole King wrote for James Taylor, you’ve got a friend. And you’re fucking funny.


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