Arctic Wind In Scotland
I flew in to Edinburgh
from Amsterdam late on Sunday night. My instructions were to catch
a train or bus to Dundee, but due to a flight delay, it looked like
I would either get to Dundee around midnight, or maybe not even get
out of the airport at all! So as I was waiting for my suitcase to
come out on the luggage carousel, you can imagine my delight when
I heard a voice calling out …
anyone from LETS here? LETS? Anyone from LETS?”
Doug and Elaine
from Dundee LETS had driven down to Edinburgh to meet their son for
the day, so rather than leave Edinburgh on their own, they thoughtfully
volunteered to pick me up from the airport and save me a possible,
or probable, headache.
And once we got
into Dundee, Doug even made time (for a few minutes) to show me the
city’s most popular tourist attraction, the ship that took Scott
to the Antarctic, the Discovery.
The next day was
a public holiday, Tattie Howking Day, or potato-picking day, which
is traditionally a day when Dundee’s children are encouraged
to go potato-picking. And although there probably wasn’t any
of that going on these days, I’m sure they were still grateful
for getting the day off.
George and Anne
were my sight-seeing guides for the day, and drove me around Dundee.
It wasn’t to the places the tourists usually go to see, but
I’m always interested in seeing the real township whenever possible.
But the 2 most memorable images I have of that day were …
Clatto Reservoir while the chilly wind blew right threw me, even though
I was wearing jeans, a long sleeved jumper and a light jacket. After
that day, I decided to wear my blizzard gear which included a scivvy
(polar-neck jumper), scarf, gloves and a long, thick black overcoat.
And the second
image I have is of a guy walking around the reservoir at the same
time as me, wearing only a pair of shorts and a singlet! But he did
have a lot of hair on his body and he was extremely fat too. So maybe
both of those provided enough insulation against the arctic wind.
Inn And Stagger Out
I thought that
North Fife was a city. But it’s not. It’s a region. And
I was going to be hosted in a hamlet called Luthrie. Now for those
of you who don’t know what a hamlet is (I sure didn’t!),
it’s a very small village. In fact, there were only 23 houses
in Luthrie. I stayed with Elspeth (co-ordinator of LETS Link Scotland)
and her 2 children, and just for a bit of fun, one morning I timed
how long it took her son, James, to get to school. He wasn’t
as keen on the idea as I was, so instead of a sprint or a quick walk,
I only got a dawdle. But even so, it still only took him 10.5 seconds
to walk the 10 metres across the lane from his front gate to the school’s
So what is there
to do in such a tiny little village? Well a popular activity is driving
out of it! (and into a much larger town) But a popular past-time is
simply having fun at home with your family and friends.
Their fridge was
covered with hundreds of magnetic words which was very popular for
a while. In fact, I was told that James got very creative with it.
I imagined they were talking about poetry.
And one night,
after a few glasses of red, they had a ball playing Alphabet Polar
Bear. A simple game where each person (in turn) had to think of a
word (in alphabetical order) which had to do with a polar bear. I
couldn’t imagine what they could possibly have thought of apart
from body parts. And as soon as I started thinking of an ‘A’
word, I realized how funny it must’ve been. Although I’m
sure that the ‘reds’ were an essential part of creating
the fun atmosphere.
When I heard that
one of Elspeth’s friends was a puppeteer, I immediately asked
if I could meet him. After all, now that I was in the entertainment
industry, I thought it would be interesting to meet with some of the
professionals whenever possible. Steve was a real joker. Literally!
And the jokes flew every which way all night long. But he was also
an true artist. And I was happy to perform part of my play to him
and Elspeth at a moment’s notice (which is how long I gave them!)
I chose to perform the Homer and Oddyseus monologues because they
were the most motivational parts of my play. And it was very pleasing
to get Steve’s admiring approval after my performance.
To cap off the
night, we drove to the Stag Inn (and stagger out?) in the nearby town
of Falkland to have a quiet beer. But there was a live band performing
that night, so it was pretty crowded. Nevertheless, we stayed and
mingled (everyone knows everyone in a tiny town).
doesn't have any castles, so we're constantly fascinated by them.
But I really enjoyed
having a coffee with Elspeth when she took me sight-seeing in St.Andrews.
She suggested we stop for a coffee and cake at the North Point Café.
We both had the carrot cake (which was delkicious), but the thing
which caught my attention were the cup sizes on the menu. In Melbourne,
I’m used to seeing long black, or short black, on the menu (which
translates to normal or tiny). But these people went totally the other
way, offering large or huge. We both opted for the large cup, because
the huge size came in a soup bowl!
I love it when
I come across a bloody good idea, and the North Fife LETS (NFL) Hit
Squad is about as good as they get. Phil Beaumont, co-ordinator of
North Fife LETS, borrowed the idea from a TV show.
Squad in this show goes to a person’s house and transforms it
all in one day, while the owner is away,” he said. “So
I thought we could do the same thing in our LETS group.”
And in the last
12 months the NFL Hit Squad has been a big ‘hit’ with
their group, completing 22 projects including 13 gardening, 6 catering
and 3 decorating projects.
The secret to
this success is their Hit Squad Co-ordinator (HSC). Obviously every
project requires a different type of expertise, so it’s the
HSC’s job to ring around and find a suitable team for the task.
The HSC is paid in points for her efforts, and rightfully so.
seen them in action, but the image I got was of a team of people dressed
in black with LETS Hit Squad emblazoned across their chests. Maybe
green would be a more appropriate colour, but either way I’m
sure it would attract a lot of attention and possibly be an ideal
The Hit Squad
was just part of a boom year for North Fife LETS which had a turnover
100% greater than the previous year. But this small group of only
87 active members has one of the most positive attitudes I’ve
come across on my travels. A great inspiration.
Have you ever
lived with ferrets? I mean the animal kind. Well, I did in Edinburgh,
and I was surprised to find them as docile and friendly as cats.
One of them was
a small polecat ferret called Honey, and she had the run of the house.
She was a grayish white colour and loved to walk around your feet.
So I was told to be careful I didn’t step on her.
The other 2 ferrets
were albinos and even though they were younger than Honey, they were
much larger than her. But they never got along. So they were confined
to a 5-star wire cage in the lounge room, and were allowed out for
an hour or two every day while Honey was kept safely away in a separate
By Sunday morning
Honey was getting a little more comfortable with me and she even let
me tickle her tummy as she rolled over on to her back like a puppy
dog. But when she showed off her shiny sharp teeth, I decided to stop.
Later on I was told that she was only being playful and she wouldn’t
have bitten me. But my motto is, “It’s better to safe
article is taken from the ebook,
400-Day LETS Odyssey
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