Let’s think clichés – you hear ‘Switzerland!’ and you think – what? Chocolate, cheese, snowy mountains… Maybe you think ‘Cuckoo clocks!’ – but they actually originated in the Black Forset region of Germany. Or ‘Lederhosen!’ – but they’re more Bavarian. Banks, of course, are very Swiss, as is the Matterhorn. And we have an interesting collection of very smelly cheeses…
But that’s Switzerland. So what do Europeans think when they hear ‘Scotland!’? Kilts, definitely. I’m often asked what’s worn underneath, and I always reply that ladies wear underwear and being a lady I have no idea what men wear.
Scottish weather is something else that many Europeans have experienced too.
Once I was speaking to a Swiss woman who had spent her honeymoon touring the Highlands, and she was raving about the amazing scenery. ‘The weather was okay, then?’ I said, and she replied, ‘Oh no, it rained nearly all the time. But it just went with the landscape, somehow.’ Someone who ‘got’ our weather!
And then there’s haggis.
Most people here do know that it’s something vaguely related to animals. When asked I always tell folk exactly what it is, and see a lot of raised eyebrows when I say it was regularly on the menu in the hospital where I was a student physio. This photo is the haggis served at the Jolly Judge pub in Edinburgh. My sons both emptied their plates so it was obviously really good. (Not being a big meat-eater, I had lentil soup. It was lovely too.)
Highland cows, on the other hand, are seen quite often here in Switzerland. We once saw a pair of them standing in a pond looking dejected – poor things, it was well over 30°C. A bit of a shock for cows bred to live in Scottish temperatures!
The cows in the photos are actually ones we saw on the Isle of Arran a year or two ago. The baby is literally minutes old. We’d been invited in to see the piglets born the previous day, and lo and behold there was a baby cow too…
And what about ‘England!’? For the past several weeks I’ve been telling people that I was soon going to London to see the folk at Legend Press. A lot of them said the same thing: ‘Ooh – London! Are you going on the London Eye?’ So this time, I did exactly that. It was spectacular!