The One Thing I Miss the Most About America Right Now

Window screens.

That’s right, dear reader.

Window screens.

The UK, for some reason, doesn’t automatically put them in windows. And sure, the problem of a hundred mosquitoes flying into your room while you’re trying to survive an 80+ degree Fahrenheit night without AC isn’t much of a problem here, given the lower temperatures and relative lack of mosquitoes compared to the hundreds I’m used to encountering nightly back home.

And sure, it probably saves money on building costs for things like uni residences.

But at least in America we don’t have to worry about things that shouldn’t be in our room randomly crawling or flying inside, causing us to capture them and place them back outside.

Like honeybees or wasps or hornets, which aren’t comforting for people like me who are definitely allergic but would rather not find out exactly how allergic (fun fact: bee/wasp allergies can randomly be more mild or more severe each time you’re stung).

Or big spiders in the middle of the night that want to make residence in your curtains. Don’t get me wrong. I like spiders. I’ve seen some of the biggest spiders in the world (a tarantula in my bed, scorpion spiders crawling over my boots) and one of the most dangerous (wandering spider next to my naked self in the shower, anyone?), and those encounters were wonderful and terrifying in equal measure. So a spider the size of a silver dollar normally wouldn’t bother me.

You know, as long as it’s outside, or can easily leave.

I don’t need that hanging out in my room, not when I don’t have the protection of a mosquito net or the convenience of a lack of hiding places that I might just randomly reach into.

Basically, what I’m trying to say is that America might get a lot of things wrong and do many things differently than the Scots and Brits, but I will always believe in, and miss, window screens.

Your Bonnie Celtophile,

Dani

My First Midsummer

Dearest Readers,

One of the things I love about being in Scotland is that there are people from so many more countries than I would get to experience back home. One of those countries happens to be Sweden, and if you know anything about Sweden, you’ll know that Midsummer celebrations for the longest day of the year are a big deal.

Or at least, that’s the impression I get, both from two Swedish Scottish Country dancers hosting a Midsummer for friends and from the website dedicated to the festival.

I recommend watching the video from that website, as it includes more than I was a part of, but we did three things in our Midsummer celebration: games, food, and drink.

According to the Swedes, they usually play seven games all in a row, but we only played three: Kubb, a quiz, and Pen in the Bottle.

Kubb is one of my favorite games. I used to play it in middle school when we had game rooms for the morning or afternoon and it was sunny enough to go outside. Basically, you throw sticks at other sticks to knock them over, and the last stick you knock over is the king stick. Here’s more:

(The people in that video are much better than us.) The only difference is that we played that to knock the king over, you have to face away from it and throw the baton between yours legs. I wasn’t very good at that.

Next up: The quiz. They put 8 questions about Sweden onto objects around the park, which we answered in teams of three. They were multiple choice, and for some reason the answers were listed as 1, X, and 2 instead of 1, 2, and 3. The explanation was that that’s just how they did it. Both teams only got two of the 8 right, and so a tie breaker question was the word for crayfish. My team got it, so we won despite knowing unfortunately little about Sweden.

The third game was Pen in the Bottle, and those of us that never experienced it were told nothing about it before we started. Luckily, there’s a video for that, too.

We did not try it tag-team. I managed to win my round, which was made all the funnier by the fact that my opponent started playing Ginuwine’s “My Pony” (the Magic Mike song) on his phone before we began.

We went to the pub for food and drinks after that, and we all agreed that next time we should go to the pub before doing the games so that we’re all sufficiently, traditionally buzzing for the duration of the games.

After the pub, a group went back to the Swedes’ place for continued drinking into the night, but I went home to get some sleep.

And that’s the story of my first ever Midsummer. I’m extremely grateful that I was able to experience it. Maybe one day I’ll make it to Sweden.

Your Bonnie Celtophile,

Dani

The Scottish Boat Race 2017

My Dear Readers,

Every year since 1919, there are rival races between the rowing teams of the University of Glasgow and the University of Edinburgh. This year, it was on the River Clyde with its finish line at the Tall Ship located at the Riverside Museum, where there was a screen showing video footage of the races shot from the banks of the river as well as with a drone. It also coincided with the Festival of Museums, meaning the Tall Ship had pirates and activities all over it, with musket demonstrations and mock sword battles. There was also a street food festival, although the number of people meant the lines for food could get ridiculously long.

With all this going on, I, of course, had to attend, and I was there from 10:30-5:00.

As sporting events go, it wasn’t the most exciting. Edinburgh won every race, sometimes by more than five boat lengths. It was slow paced, with races happening only about every fifteen minutes for a couple hours. People came and went and wandered about.

But it was a good atmosphere, with proud cheering from Glasgow fans no matter what was happening in the races and the Glasgow tiger and the Edinburgh panda mascots moving among the crowd.

I don’t actually know if the panda is Edinburgh’s mascot, and Google didn’t help much on that front, but there was a guy in a panda costume and Edinburgh jersey with a student escort that very much seemed to be the mascot.

People were simply there to have a good time, watch their student athletes display their ability, maybe talk to some pirates, and eat street food. It was a feel-good community event with none of the high-stakes, heated, long-running rivalries I’m used to with American football.

I think one little girl watching a race from the Tall Ship summed it up nicely: “It doesn’t really matter; they’re both from Scotland.”

It’s all about priorities.

Anyway, I took some pictures, and they’ll be below for your viewing pleasure.

Your Bonnie Celtophile,

Dani

The races were partially interrupted by a steamboat.
Part of the crowd.
Artsy shot of some boat race watchers on the Tall Ship.
Can you see them?
The screen for boat race viewing.

One of the activities on the tall ship was to design your own cup and then get some punch to drink through a pirate flag straw. I made mine Doctor Who themed. The colors on my hand are from when I was testing the markers while talking to my flatmate, who was the volunteer at the stand.
The Riverside Museum has a recreated, old Main Street inside. This is one angle of it.
Some of the pirates demonstrating muskets. I heard one teenage girl being assured that yes, they are licensed to be shooting in the UK. The pirates claimed not to be using musket balls because they ‘will not be shooting at Govan today.’