3 Feb. 2000, Stirling, Scotland - Baldernock**, Stirling and Robert Burns
Mornings in Stirling are busy affairs, many people are busy making their daily pilgrimage via a short walk to the train station to go to work in Edinburgh or Glasgow. They walk briskly, but happy saying hello and greeting each other warmly. Local merchants are either opening their shops with a big rattle from the drop down doors, or have already been open for some time, selling breads, pastries, coffee etc. to the commuters. The main street in Stirling is designated for pedestrians only, although the street has a number of lorries and cars making morning deliveries to the local shops.
The big surprise of the morning was several warm greetings from people that remember me from our visit here in 1998. This for some reason surprised me, but perhaps shouldn't have. I'm quickly asked where my wife and "lovely daughter" are, and I unfortunately have to tell them they are back in America right now. Margaret, the Allan Primary school crossing guard specifically said to say hello to them.
Bob McCutcheon and his wife Barbara are in The Book Shop early this morning, surprised that I had arrived prior to them and already gone for a walk around the town. I'm told that the Pictorial History of Stirling published just last month can be purchased directly from them and shipped via airmail to the USA for $21.00 dollars. If anyone is interested please see the other post on the website on where to send the funds. This book is wonderful, for it's not just pictures. Bob has added a great deal of historical information about the buildings are structures of Stirling, and some of the town characters and residents. Order early, quantities are limited.....
After a dinner of Lamb's liver and Bacon pie (it's much better than it sounds!) Bob and Barbara escort me to one of the truly great places in Stirling, known locally as The Smith. The Smith gallery is a cultural and event icon in Stirling, having been in operation for well over 100 years. The arts, music, and history are very important to Stirling residents, as they have supported The Smith for a very long time. Tonight we are here to enjoy a performance of Robert Burns songs and music by the Scottish Folk band Stramash, with singers Adam McNaughton and Ann Neilson. Burns has always been important to Stirling on account of his "Stirling Lines" etched on a window at the Golden Lion hotel in 1787.
The music is wonderful, the songs are about Burn's loves, enjoyment, sorrows and challenges. But it's not just the music that I perceive. As I look at the community here to enjoy the show, the look of contentment, enjoyment, and happiness on their faces is truly moving. It's a common picture, each one having that happy contented smile that one has when all aspects of your situation are happy. It's the smile of a child sitting in grandma's lap enjoying a story, the smile that comes to ones face when smelling warm bread just out of the oven, with melted butter and honey. And here tonight it's the community of Stirling basking in the lap of Robert Burns songs and poetry, the words and song being enjoyed by all, for the audience frequently sings with the performers these famous songs and lyrics of Scotland. It was a moving experience, and the highlight of the whole day.
On a personal note there was good news. At about 5:30 PM a representative of Sebena pulled up in front of the bookshop with my suitcase, which had been lost since my arrival in Scotland yesterday. A real relief, mind you, as I'm not someone that can buy new clothes "off the rack".
So tomorrow morning I will be playing commuter with the other Stirling residents, as we are going to Glasgow to take a look at those records. Lets all cross our fingers.
** According to J. B. Burke's 'A Genealogical and Heraldric Dictionary of the Landed Gentry of Great Britain and Ireland for 1852: (Vol1-456) Baldernock was 'anciently, Baldrunich, or Druidstown'. In Gaelic possibly 'Baile Druinch' which could mean a seers farm, or ``the hermit's farm".