Weird/Interesting Things About Scotland

I would've posted more photos by now, but I'm in the process of buying better photo editing software. Just not happy at all with what I've got to work with now. In the meantime, since I have been saying so many wonderful things about Scotland, I bet you're wondering if there was anything I didn't like. Well, a few minor things.

1. I'm sorry but Scots have no concept of what salad dressing is. Forget ranch, forget Caesar, forget Parmesan peppercorn. You will be lucky to get oil and vinegar or mayonnaise. I already knew they had a salad dressing deficiency, but one night at dinner in a hotel they served a great salad and nothing to put on it except salt. Hmm...
Me: Do you have salad dressing, salad cream, mayonnaise...anything to put on the salad?
Waitresses: [Blank look. Blink, blink.] Oh, just a moment.
A short time later, a bowl of mayonnaise showed up on the condiments table.

2. There is no such thing as iced tea in Scotland. (Excuse me, I'm Southern. I can't help it.) On the rare occasions when you do find iced tea, it comes out of a bottle.

3. Ice in drinks is rare in Scotland. If you have it, cherish it.

4. Sink faucets in restrooms everywhere, hotel rooms, restaurants, tourist attractions... The hot and cold water come out of two separate and very wide apart faucets, so warm water is only available for like ten seconds at most. Anytime I wanted to wash my face (which is morning and night) I had to get into the shower. My friend thought I was insane. Maybe I am. heehee

5. Though it has nothing to do with Scotland, since I'm on the subject of irritating things, I have to say how much I loathe airplane seats in coach. They are torture devices. My tailbone was sore for days.

6. I hate pheasant pate. (Yes, I tried it. Ugh.)

Things I didn't hate but found interesting:

1. Chicken salad is called chicken mayonnaise. (And it's very good.)

2. The only hamburger I ate while there tasted like a veggie burger. (Maybe it was.)

3. I LOVE shortbread cookies.

4. Their pot lids are so freaking heavy I couldn't pick one up. We were having breakfast in this hotel on Skye, and sitting with our guide. The scrambled eggs were in a pot on the buffet. And I kid you not, I could not lift the lid to dip some. Trust me, I'm not a weakling, but the only muscles one could use to lift it were the muscles of one hand and forearm because it was under a hood. It must have weighed 15 or 20 lbs. Solid iron. Anyway when I admitted my embarrassing shortcoming to my friend and our guide, they both raised brows and snickered. My friend will never let me live it down. But she didn't try lifting it!

5. Scottish bacon is like ham, and very good.

6. Scottish sausage links are as huge as salami (almost.) No, I didn't try one. They looked too much like... well... I can't say that here.

7. Each and every shower we encountered was a mystery and a puzzle. What fun figuring out how each one worked. Not! My friend alternately scalded or froze her feet. Once I got in there, I walked out of the bathroom carrying the knob from the tub faucet. Then we discovered it was unnecessary decoration.

8. The restroom is not called the restroom in Scotland. Nor is it called a bathroom. It's a toilet, pure and simple. Each toilet (commode) is also freakishly different from the one before but the flush lever is on the right side. One stainless steal one didn't even have a seat, nor was it supposed to.

9. I found the currency surprisingly easy to learn. You have your pound, which is roughly equal to slightly over 2 US dollars. This comes in a one pound coin, which is about the size of a quarter but thicker and pale goldish in color. There's also the 2 pound coin, which is slightly larger and has both bronze and silver on it. They don't use the word cents. It's pence. The coins are: one penny (very similar at first glance to our penny), two pence (larger and copper also), 5 pence (very similar in size and color to our dime), 10 pence (very similar in size and color to our quarter), 20 pence (a wee bit smaller than our quarter, and thinner, but with 7 sides. See, I almost said hexagonal.) Is there a 50 pence coin? I can't remember. Anyway, a hundred pence equals a pound. And the queen's head in profile is on almost every coin and every note except those issued in Scotland. As for notes, you have your five pound note (or bill? not sure the correct term here.) Then there's 10 pounds, 20 pounds, 50 pounds, and probably more but I don't have intimate experience with those large bills. So you see, it's very easy to figure out how to use the money of the UK.

10. A hamburger bun is called a bap.

11. Scots hate midges (tiny little gnats that bite) so much they write songs about them and refuse to wear kilts in their presence. Yes, we did encounter some midges in Ullapool. But from what I could tell, the midges are not nearly as bad as the gnats and mosquitoes of NC. For one thing, they're slower and a little bigger than your normal gnat, so you can feel them on your skin and swat them away before they bite. But maybe we weren't visiting during the swarm season.

12. While we're on the subject of insects... omigosh... I found a tick stuck on my leg, also in Ullapool. It was so tiny it was the size of a pen dot, or a pin head, take your pick. Never saw one that small before. I'm lucky I saw it at all. After getting it off I needed to know if it transmitted any deadly disease like Rocky Mountain spotted fever or lime disease so I tried to call our guide. Couldn't get him so I called the front desk. The man working there said "Oh, it will probably fall off during the night." Huh?? As if I'm going to wait for it to engorge itself and fall off?? No that's not what I said to him. But when I informed him I had already removed it, he said, "nothing to worry about then." I didn't come down with anything. Huge sigh. This should technically go up with the "things I disliked" section but my friend likes to tell it with the pot lid story.

If I think of any other must-have knowledge I'll let you know.


Paquito said...

Interesting point of view :-)

Get it into account the day I visit Scotland :-)

Regards from Spain.


Pamela Tyner said...

I enjoyed reading this post! Those were weird/interesting things.

Carolan Ivey said...

It sounds like you had many of the same experiences I did when we went to Scotland. :) The whole toilet thing just escaped me. And they still don't put ice in their drinks?

Re: Midges... the only place we had a problem was on a walk around Loch Katrine. It was a very warm, misty, sticky day, and we literally could not stand still more than 5 seconds without the little vampires just driving us mad with the bites. I was hot and sweating but I had myself covered up from head to foot with only my eyes uncovered so I could see where I was going! If I hadn't kept blinking they would have gnawed my eyeballs out of my head. Nasty buggers. :)

Lexi said...

What? There were things you DIDN'T like??? Okay, I can agree with some of your choices as minor inconveniences. Like the showers. Good grief you need an instruction manual! And the midges. While I was waiting to catch the train back from Glenfinnan, they attacked me.

Scotland does have a 50 pence coin, but I think it may be as rare as a 50 cent coin here in the States (at least they're rare wherever I am). They also call the bills Scottish pound notes.

Vonda Sinclair said...

Thanks for visiting, everyone! Yes, the showers and the midges. My favorites. haha Carolan, I can't imagine Scotland hot. I almost froze my tush off. But that would feel nice right now during this heat wave!

Unknown said...

Hi, sorry, but i stumbled across your "Scotland List" and I simply had to leave a comment.

I have lived in Scotland for 15 years now and I can tell you, for a start, I have never heard a single person refer to a hamburger bun as a "bap". All the restaurants I have ever visited in the country have had a wide variety of salad dressings and also a very wide variety of incompetant witresses.

Whilst on the subject of Scottish restaurants, it's very rare to find one which does not serve their drinks with ice, if anything most restaurants put to much ice in their drinks.

In scotland, chicken salad is called chicken salad. Chicken mayonaise refers only to sandwich fillings whereas a chicken salad is a salad containing chicken - obviously.

Pot lids can be a problem...

Scottish sausages aren't generally as big as you suggest. All depending on whereabouts you get them I suppose.

As for the money - well done =] 50 pence coins exist - very common.

Scottish people not only refuse to wear kilts around midges but we also refuse to wear kilts full stop.

Just out of pure interest - scotland's biggest problem is the fact that the "ned" population is massive.

Vonda Sinclair said...

Hi William, thanks so much for reading my post! I feel honored that someone who lives in Scotland is visiting this blog. Wow, it is good to know that "bap" thing must have been a fluke in Edinburgh. You never know with some of these terms whether it is a common Scots word or not. We must not have visited the same restaurants at all because the missing salad dressing was one of the hardest things to get used to. I definitely hope I visit Scotland again soon to see if salad dressing has caught on everywhere yet, even the Highlands and Islands. See, in the US we call chicken salad the stuff mixed with mayonaise and eaten as a sandwich. For a normal salad with chicken on top, we don't call that chicken salad. I did have a bit of fun exaggerating the size of Scottish sausages, didn't I? LOL But they are much larger than most sausage links in the US. Not that I know much about them because I rarely eat sausage. Now what do you mean when you say "we refuse to wear kilts full stop"? Scots refuse to wear kilts at all?? Well, I know some of you do at Highland Games and weddings, right? Do Scottish men hate kilts? And what is the "ned" population? Non-Scots who have moved in or Americans? Thanks again for posting a comment! I might have some research questions I need to ask you since lots of my stories are set in Scotland.

Anonymous said...

Jeez when did you come to Scotland 1955? Sounds like it?

Cant believe you American who think the world started in America! Your country and its people would do a lot better if it stopped looking at the rest of the world as if its weird and needs patronised.

My house is about 100 years older than the modern America and Ive traveled the USA and found the majority of American totally ignorant of the rest of the world.

If you learned to talk properly, eat less and stop poking your nose in every other countries business perhaps you would be more liked.

Grant Kay


Vonda Sinclair said...

Thank you for your comment, Grant. But I have to laugh about it because I think you totally took it the wrong way. My post was not meant to look down on Scotland in the least. In fact I'm in love with Scotland and all things Scottish. I'd move there tomorrow if I could. My post was meant to get a little chuckle out of a few people, but if you don't get my sense of humor, that's okay. (I visited in 2007 and spent a lot of time in the Highlands.) I can't wait to visit your country again and thanks for visiting our blog.

Gas (Merv) said...

This Scotsman has to argue some of you're points too but first of all I want to put you right on one particular subject brought uo by William I think. Scotsmen are or should be proud to wear the kilt, no .. it's not everyday wear for most but it can be. I remember seeing one landscape gardener in Dunfermline who wore one everyday at work. I myself have had my kilt for some 20 years and have worn it not only in Scotland but in France, Holland, America and Canada .. hell I have even worn it in England.

So yeah .. you're points have to be a little exaggerated, funny how the little annoying things on a trip suddenly become trip busters.

Salad dressing .. you sometimes you could try a virgin salad .. you know the way nature intended, most of the places you ate could even have grown some of the produce themselves .. I love salad without any dressing at all.

Baps .. yes in Edinburgh they are called baps, but drive to Fife those baps become rolls, then drive to Aberdeen and those rolls become rowies .. rowies are a treat in themselves as they are made with salted butter. While in Aberdeen try and find a bakery and buy some fresh and still hot, you will crave them the rest of you're life .. you may even write a new blog on them.

Bacon .. Scottish bacon tends to be around the best in the world (in my experience) with Danish bacon being up there close with them .. Canada (where I live now) lists bacon as one of it's best produces, I can tell you they have a long way to go. Sausages come in various sizes in Scotland depending on (like the bap) which area you are in and even which butcher you you buy you're meat from.

Midges .. yes .. hell on wings, I used to live on a hunting estate near Cupar, Fife and after a rain we would have clouds of midges flying just under the trees outside the house we lived. Those clouds were sometimes so think you would think they mass was one living thing.

Tic's .. nasty little blood suckers, you didn't say how you got it off, nor did you say where you had been to get it. If you had been in long grass up north it could have been a sheep tic (Ixodes Ricinus) and [b]can[/b] carry Lyme disease. 1000 reported human cases of Lyme disease in 2006. Never had one attach to me however my dog had several one summer .. they really can be a bugger to remove, best way we found was a lighted cigarette held close to the body without touching it .. the beastie then detaches itself and you can remove it then. We also tried nail varnish remover painted on it's body, that system was less successful .. however don't of course ever try both at the same time as you could set you're self on fire.

Finally .. to Grant .. how rude .. the lady tells us she loved Scotland but only wanted to inform us of the things that ticked her off. Try informing rather than insulting .. you may get farther in the world if you do.

Anyway .. I came on this morning to write a blog and ended up taking all my time to write this, but I enjoyed the read and write.

Merv (a kilted and proud Scotsman)

Vonda Sinclair said...

Hi Gas (Merv) Thanks so much for reading my post! I'm thrilled that a real Scotsman has checked it out! I agree, Scotsman should be proud of their kilts and wear them more often. Kilted men were a very rare sight when we were there. I see far more at Highland Games right here in the US. Most women love kilted men, by the way.

My post was done totally tongue in cheek for humor purposes. :) The things were not terribly annoying, just funny at times. Well, the bathroom knobs and such were funny and surprising because I think we are spoiled in the US with every toilet and sink being basically the same.

Thank you for clearing up the bap confusion! I didn't realize they were called different things in different areas.

The tick was definitely scary. I think I was somewhere between Durness and Ullapool when it crawled onto me. We had stopped beside a large beautiful loch to take pictures and were in some grass where sheep had been. I had never seen a tick so small because we don't have that kind in the US. I simply pulled it off, and thankfully nothing bad resulted.

Thanks so much for all the information, Merv, and for not being ticked at me for my post! :) I meant it all in good fun (crack as you say in Scotland, right? Not sure of the spelling.) Anyway, I LOVE Scotland and can't wait to go back!!