Monday, January 17, 2011

Highland Folk Museum and Kingussie

For this rest day, I had planned a visit to Kingussie.  That was it--no details, other than the small thrill of visiting a location used in the TV series Monarch of the Glen.  I figured we would come up with something else to complete the day, and our Cairn Eilrig hostess Mary stepped in with a wonderful suggestion: the Highland Folk Museum in Newtonmore, which is conveniently within walking distance of Kingussie.

We took the bus to Newtonmore and walked around the town before heading to the museum.

Newtonmore, Scotland
I don't know my flowers very well, but the trees with this lovely yellow flower were everywhere. The day was drab and grey, so this flower perked my spirits.

Newtonmore, Scotland
Rhododendron was everywhere in Scotland, and in bloom while we were there. Wouldn't it be nice to have this driveway to come home to everyday?

Ravenscroft, Newtonmore, Scotland
Every house, cottage, condo, living residence of any kind in the United Kingdom, has a name--usually a flowery sentimental name. Ravenscroft caught my eye by not following convention.

Highland Folk Museum, Newtonmore, Scotland
 The Highland Folk Museum is a living history museum that portrays the history of life in the Highlands for the past 200 years. This was "Macpherson's Tailor's Shop." In the front was the shop.

Highland Folk Museum, Newtonmore, Scotland
In the back was where he did his work. There was a stove with a kettle perched on top, a sewing machine in front of the window, and a table with pattern pieces laid out on top. The kettle completed the picture. Tea is an integral part of life!

Highland Folk Museum, Newtonmore, Scotland
There was the Clockmaker's Workshop, which was jammed with all sorts of clocks, machine parts, and other knick-knacks.  It put me in mind of my grandmother's basement, where I like to go treasure-hunting whenever I go home to visit.  The clockmaker seemed very close, as if he had just stepped outside for a moment.

Highland Folk Museum, Newtonmore, Scotland
We headed towards the Township, which was a recreation of a community of rural folks dating from the late 18th to early 19th century.  These trees guarded the path.

Highland Folk Museum, Newtonmore, Scotland
This was a typical house, with earthen walls and thatched roofs.  The homes were very primitive, even the home of the head tenant.  It seemed that rank determined only whether you had a bed or slept on the ground, or had a fancy fire pit or not.  Everything else was the same: dirt floors, dark interiors save for the light from the entrance or the small hole in the ceiling to let the smoke out. 

Traditional peat-fires were going inside each house, which made the interiors very smoky.  The museum strove for authenticity, which meant there was no light inside the houses other than what the peat-fires gave off (not much).  It was very hard for us to really see what the interiors looked like - I have vague memories of dimly defined sleeping cabinets in one house, and a pot of porridge cooking in another. 

What was particularly eye-opening was the thought that these Highlanders were living much the same way as their ancestors had since the Medieval Ages, even up to the Georgian and Regency periods!  Think of all those Regency balls going on in London while these folks were struggling to make a living in the Highlands.

Highland Folk Museum, Newtonmore, Scotland
One of the re-enactors spoke to us about the fabrics the highlanders would have worn.  This cheerful white and red striped fabric was expensive and therefore would have been proudly displayed or worn as a sign of status.  She also explained that traditional highland sheep naturally shed their wool, and the Highlanders would have gathered it rather than shearing their sheep.  We had been wondering ever since we saw the sheep near Achintee Farm, with half their wool coats dragging on the ground, if the farmers were negligent, so this cleared up our confusion.  

Highland Folk Museum, Newtonmore, Scotland
Jon reading the complicated instructions on how to properly wear a kilt.  I think one of the steps involved laying on the ground at one point--I suppose for those men who didn't have someone to help them wrap the long length of fabric around their persons?    

Scotrail train passing, path between Kingussie and Newtonmore, Scotland
After the Highland Folk Museum, we walked along a bike path to Kingussie, three miles away.  This ScotRail train passed us.  This is the type of train that took us to all of our destinations within the United Kingdom.  I guess we could have taken the train to Kingussie, but we love to walk.

Tipsy Laird, Kingussie, Scotland
We got lunch at the Tipsy Laird. The World Cup was playing. Men were at the bar with drinks, keeping an eye on the score. A couple came in with their two dogs, one of whom unabashedly begged from me, creeping ever closer to my side of the pub. It was very quiet, except for the murmur of conversations taking place around us.  J. had been hoping to get a soccer-fans-in-a-pub experience, so the subdued nature of this lunch was a letdown.

Kingussie, Scotland
J. continued watching the World Cup while I took a walk around the town. The main part of town was a solid block of Highland stone.  Nothing was open and not very many people were out and about.  Being around buildings made me miss the mountains and open air.  This was supposed to be a rest day, but my mind kept wandering back to he Cairngorms and the heather and the Rothimurchus Forest below Cairn Eilrig.

Kingussie Railway Station, Scotland
School let out while I was walking past the school building. Kids streamed past in those ubiquitous uniforms, chattering about everything under the sun. Teenagers headed to the local pharmacy--I guess this would be the equivalent of hanging out at the gas station in America. I wish I had gone to school here.

Kingussie Railway Station, Scotland
This is the Kingussie train station. J. and I couldn't determine what this building used to be before it was converted into a train station.  Perhaps we were departing from a former monastery?

No comments: