Thursday, July 26, 2007

More on My Trip

Am I obsessed with animals? Probably! For, although there was much more to my cruise and its ports than the animals I did or did not see, they’re what seem to keep coming to the forefront of my mind now that I’m home and nostalgic already.

On our first full day in the UK, in Uxbridge, outside London, we went into a pub for dinner. There, at least four adorable yellow Labs lay at the feet of their owners, all of them looking almost like a matched set, and each of them attentive to their sight-impaired masters.

Then there were the many dogs that were emblematic of Scotland. Their likenesses were found in many ways—pictures, calendars, stuffed animals, china replicas—in many gift shops: Scottish Terriers, West Highland White Terriers, Border Collies. Did I see many of the pups themselves as we traveled? Unfortunately, no. But I have seen a couple of Border Collies since my return to L.A.!

On many of our tours into the countrysides, we passed rolling green hills where lots of animals grazed: cattle, sheep, even some beautiful horses.

Then there were the birds. I’m a birdwatcher without adequate knowledge, although I picked up what literature I could to attempt to identify the not-so-obvious ones. Sure, sea gulls of various persuasions abounded everywhere. But then there were also the Arctic terns around Kirkwall, in the Orkney Islands, and the oyster catchers outside Invergordon.

By the way, I had never even heard of the Orkney Islands but found that area one of the loveliest on the trip—way up north of Scotland, where there are ancient stones standing that even older than those at Stonehenge. They also had some bunny rabbits hopping around the hillsides. In a park outside Kirkwall, I saw a sign that I thought appropriate: “If your dog has done its business, it’s time for you to do yours.”

At Edinburgh Castle, I was utterly impressed by the small dog cemetery, where the soldiers who served there buried their military mascots.

Our last stop was in Le Havre, France, where we took a bus tour to the Normandy Beaches, and their many memorials to the brave soldiers who landed there during World War II. I discovered that, in some of the small surrounding towns, the French seemed to be as fond of taking their dogs along as those of us in the U.S.—more so than in the UK, it seemed.

Oh, and one final animal to mention here: Nessie. Yes, we visited Loch Ness, although the places we were easily able to get to seemed to play down the legend of the monster and play up the area’s beauty and other aspects of history. We unfortunately were not easily able to get to the town of Drumnadrochit, where two competing museums have Nessie displays. But I did get to view the infamous Loch. Did I see Nessie? I brought her home with me—sort of! I collect bookmarks, and I was able to find one with Nessie’s cartoon representation on it. Good enough? Not really, but it certainly inspires me to return.


Kathryn Lilley said...

Hi Linda! There's no such thing a as being too concerned about our "furry friends"! They're lucky to have you as such a wonderful advocate!

Joanna Campbell Slan said...

Isn't that dog cemetary wonderful? I believe it was started by Queen Margaret. She was much beloved of the Scots.

As a Campbell, I am proud to be a SCOT!


Linda O. Johnston said...

Thanks, Kathryn. And I agree that the dog cemetery is great, Joanna. We had fun finding Johnston clan memorabilia in gift shops, since my husband's ancestors were also Scots.

Oh, and I forgot to mention one wonderful dog, Greyfriars Bobby. I was delighted to visit his statue in Edinburgh. He was a Skye Terrier who kept watch over his deceased master's grave for 16 years!