I’ve been in Scotland twice, but the last time didn’t count as I was there for literally five minutes. Fortunately I’ll get to spend more time there this spring and I can’t wait. Hiking! Pub crawling! Trading insults with my Scottish pal! It doesn’t get any better than that. My departure date is still a wee while off, though, so I’ve had to settle for immersing myself in books, music and film to satisfy my impatient desire to be in Bonny Scotland. If you, too, are longing for the land of whisky, thistles and tartan, try out some of the following:
When I was in my teens and twenties, I used to fairly loathe poetry. I either had no idea what it meant or thought it was mostly really soppy. I guess I’ve mellowed some as I’ve aged because now I think that Robert Burns penned some really good verse. There are many collections of his poems, but the Everyman’s Library Pocket Poets edition claims to have the “most essential of the immortal poems and songs.” To hear some of his songs and poetry sung, check out There Was a Lad. For a selection of bagpipe tunes (yes, there really is more than one piece that can be played on the bagpipes), check out Duncarron: Scottish Pipes & Drums Untamed.
For some Highland eye candy (not to mention a yummy accent), there’s nothing better than Billy Connolly in Her Majesty, Mrs. Brown. I was envious of Judy Dench for years after I saw that movie. If you’re more interested in the beauty of Scotland found in nature, clap your peepers on Visions of Scotland.
For two lovely books of travel, read H.V. Morton’s classic In Search of Scotland and Scotland: The Place of Visions by Jan Morris. Morton is one of my favorite travel writers – his humor and storytelling prowess make reading about his adventures in his native Britain and elsewhere a true pleasure. If you just want to look at gorgeous photos of Scotland, check out Morris’s book, but really, read the text as well! Morris is a keen observer and a wonderful writer.