I’ll soon head home to the States after a marvelous two weeks in Scotland, and I’ll be glad to get home. That said, I like it here! Yes, the elevators are tiny, and some of the hotels are more quaint than I’m used to (mostly the ones where Mary Queen of Scots was a guest before I got there), but I see a lot of differences that I like too. For example…
1) The potties are ALL conserver models. Image what a difference this could make in California, where nearly forty million folks are on the brink of a chronic water shortage. Mind you, Scotland has more fresh water in Loch Ness than you’ll find in all of England, though Scotland also has one-twelfth of England’s population–and yet, they’re saving water.
2) Electric and hybrid cars are fast becoming the norm. Gas is about $10/gallon for unleaded, and that has a lot of repercussions. Public transportation is excellent; “if it’s not far, park the car” thinking encourages walking (and better health and air quality); and people naturally carpool, combine errands, and try to leave the gas-beast in the garage. In Maryland, it is now illegal to open an electric car dealership.
3) The men’s public restrooms, with few exceptions, have baby changing stations.
4) When you use a credit card to pay in a restaurant, the waiter or waitress brings the little swiper machine to the table. You NEVER lose sight of that card. Same at other establishments. Fraud is much less of a problem as a result.
5) Flowers. Maybe because the most readily available building material is stone—which can look bleak, indeed—nearly every business, house and cottage is graced with window boxes, porch pots, and walkway beds of brilliant, thriving flowers. I’ve never seen such enormous roses, never enjoyed so many small touches of floral self-expression.
Running an open, healthy society takes more than water conservation, a national objective of energy independence by 2050 (they’re ahead of schedule), guys who change dipes, and commonsense solutions to credit card fraud. Even abundant flowers can’t guarantee that I’d like to live here, but I have a sense that I’m compatible with this place.
Then too, they have big trees and lots of them. I need my big trees. Good quality sweets—shortbread and tablet—are ingrained in their hospitality. Even modest hotels provide shortbread in each room. I love a little treat every now and then.
They have scenery on top of scenery inside of scenery beside scenery, and I’m one for living in the countryside.
Scotland cannot be home to me—from the US, the UK only admits for protracted stays only students, IT professionals and petroleum engineers unless you already have a job here—but it can help me recognize the characteristics that attract me to a place or a society.
Has travel ever done that for you? Shown you what kind of people and places you’d like to have more of in your life? Maybe it works the other way: You’ve left home only to realize why you love it so much?
Though I’m still constrained from responding to comments, to one commenter, I’ll again send a $25 Amazon gift card.