On the first day of our trip to Scotland it turns out that the clutch of our Betsie needs to be replaced. When looking for a garage that can help us, we meet David who goes out of his way to help us. He even hands us the key to the local museum.
Royden and I take the big key that David has just given us and walk into the narrow cobbled stoned street and up a steep hill. The museum turns out to be a little old house, where the famous poet Michael Bruce (1746–1767) lived. We open the small iron gate that gives access to the courtyard. We walk towards the house with the green door. We both have to bend over to get in.
David told us the light switch should be right in front of us. The light that comes in through the door is just enough to find the bakelite switches. And there we are: in the small hallway that gives access to two separate rooms. We enter the room on the right, where various poems are displayed under glass plates. In the other room we are given an impression of his daily life with fire place and small dining table.
On our way out I stop at the art installation that I notice on the left side of the path. I press one of the buttons and suddenly we find ourselves surrounded by traditional music. It’s all very surreal.
Back at the garage, David wants us to meet his wife and we follow him to his recently renovated house that has a stunning view of the lake. David introduces us to his wife Ishbel and leaves us with her. We don’t know her from Adam, but she seems to have no problem with that. She makes us tea and invites us to have a seat in the lounge. We take a seat on the big black leather sofa. She serves the tea with a pile of chocolate biscuits and starts chatting. In the hour that follows we learn more about their lives. It’s all quite bizarre.
At five o’clock – two hours after our arrival – David comes back to the house to tell us that John has arrived. The three of us walk through the garden that leads to the backside of the garage. We say hello to John, who is a young, jovial guy and who is very excited to help us. As he chats to David about his jobs, Ishbel tells us that that’s her favourite car. We have no idea what she’s talking about. Then she points at the old Mercedes that is parked on the side and almost entirely overgrown by brambel bushes. I can’t believe it. Next to the Merc are two other beautiful cars totally overgrown by the greens. This is indeed all quite surreal.
When we join the conversation with John again, it turns out that David will take over some of John’s jobs so that John can start on our Betsie tomorrow afternoon. John also says he will at least need a full day as it is a big job. When David hears this, he realises that we won’t have a place to stay tomorrow night and says:
“If you need anywhere to stay, I’ve got an empty flat.”
I can’t believe what is happening. How much paying forward is he gonna do?
The next morning we drive to David, who is busy watering a bear as we arrive. He greets us and refills his watering can. The big green bear turns out to be made of grasses. He picked it up from a garden center in order to get voted the greenest village in the area. I smile at the curiosity of it all.
David’s grandson arrives and will fill in for David when he drives (we follow him) us to John’s garage. According to David it’s hard to find and he insisted on escorting us, high vis jacket and all. It’s all so incredibly kind. We did decline his offer though to stay in his apartment and booked ourselves a hotel in Kinross instead.
When we arrive at John’s he’s already waiting for us. We hand over the key and grab our bag with goodies for the night. We walk away from our motorhome feeling a bit out of sorts. It’s strange to leave our Betsie behind. She is our home and our sacred space.
We are looking for a coffee shop to bridge the cap until we can check in at the hotel.
Later that day we chat to John who tells us that it is more work than he had anticipated and he hopes she will be ready by the end of tomorrow. We do sincerely hope so, as the hotel we’re staying at has seen better days and smells of overcooked cabbage and death. It’s a rather unpleasant experience.
After breakfast the next morning we decide to pack our belongings and leave. We take a slow walk to the garage. When we arrive both John and his dad are underneath our motorhome. John puts his tools down and says hello. He is positive, as they’ve made some good progress and are showing us what they’re working on.
I haven’t got a clue what they are talking about, but Royden understands exactly what they’re doing and he asks some technical questions. The men think it’s wonderful that we are on the road with such an old lady with such an immaculate chassis. We are told that Scottish roads dissolve the bottom of vehicles so they are pleasantly surprised by ours. They enjoy the job and we appreciate their help. John really does his best to get the job done today.
We find a lovely coffee shop around the corner where we ask for the wifi code as we plan to spend the next few hours there. The waitress says she can’t actually give us the code, but when she comes back with our coffees she hands us a note with the code :-). I order a homemade scone that is the best I’ve ever had. One with rosemary and apricot served with clotted cream. How I love clotted cream :-). Truly one of my guilty pleasures.
In the afternoon, Royden and I play beach bats in the park, drink another coffee and walk back to the garage at around 5pm. When we turn the corner, John is already waiting for us with a big smile on his face.
“She’s ready,” he says with some pride.
He’s almost happier than we are. He really enjoyed working on our Betsie and he asks if he can take a few pictures.
“Of course!” we reply, “please share and use them; you really did a fantastic job.”
We climb into our home and sigh with relief. It feels good to be reunited with her again. What a magical and surreal adventure this was. And what a pleasant introduction to the Scots.