In December last year I found out that a dear friend of mine, Ruth, got stage 4 cancer. It was a devastating news. She was back in New Zealand, where she came from, after many years in Scotland, where we met, and Croatia, where the husband comes from. A few weeks ago, I got news that she passed away. It was just so fast. I was deeply saddened by her passing. I knew that I wouldn’t meet her anymore. I thought of writing a short message before just to ask how she was, but I didn’t. 😦
I remember years ago she commented on one of my blogposts wondering when I would write a post about Scotland, which I never did really in details. I don’t know, I just didn’t get round to it. 😦 Now I think it’s the time. Sorry, Ruth, it took so long time for this. May you rest in peace.
If you were wondering when I first time visited this beautiful country, which is part of the UK, the answer is in 2004. The reason? I wanted to see much snow again and was looking for a place to go skiing.
When I came to UK first time in the beginning of 2004, I had in mind that I would stay in this country for 2 years. I did stay there for 2 years, but unfortunately, it didn’t go as smooth as I thought. I didn’t have good time and experience in my first year in my working place in Wales. So when it was holiday time, off I went to the north, to Inverness in Scotland. I didn’t see snow and I didn’t go to the skiing place, as there was no snow at that time. But I started to have connection to Scotland. Devastated with my working place, so I left it after less than a year, staying at a good friend’s in Cardiff (still in Wales), later moved to another good friend’s in London, before I went back to Scotland, after about one month after last time I went there. When I finally met and got to know Ruth.
My meeting with Ruth brought me to Edinburgh, Glasgow and, summers in Highlands, which I have to say, was amazing. I mean, there was no way I would be able to do all those travels if I travelled by myself. First, I didn’t drive. Second, I didn’t have much money to rent a car including the driver to go around wonderful Scotland. Luckily I did get the experience to explore, if not the whole, but quite good parts of the country. From in the beginning I didn’t like Glasgow until at the end I started to like it and thought Glaswegians were pretty nice afterall. 🙂
I’ve been to the places that I never had heard of before and never thought of visiting either. From the everybody-says-it-is beautiful Edinburgh, Portree on amazing Isle of Skye, Tobermory (yeah, it’s Balamory), Ullapool (err, what-pool??) to Durness, a place in the north, which I visited just out of my curiousity. Thank God, the crazy driver, who drove my bus to Durness, who was in the beginning who was most probably drunk or got some personal problems, turned calm after a while. Can you imagine a 3-hour-bus-ride with the way he drove, it was mad! But as not much going on the way there so getting off was hardly the choice. 😦
Or the boat ride from Ullapool, as a reward of me being good at my work. So I jumped to the boat, which left the port nearly lunch time, without having breakfast. The first one and half hour of the ride I was cheerful and stood outside on the boat, took some pictures with other tourists, while the second one and half hour, I lay down inside, regretting why the heck I didn’t have anything to eat before I left. 😦
I took many ferries, mostly short trips, the longest was the one that connected Isle of Mull and Oban, about 45 minutes. We drove the small roads where there were many signs saying ‘passing place’, which means that once you see other cars coming, you’d better go to that space under that sign, and let others car pass.
Our shop in Glasgow was located in the West End, which means posh. When Ruth told me and my Malaysian coworker to find a place to stay for couple of weeks in that area, we found an ad of two Scottish students who rented a 3-bed-room flat. One room was available as their friend took a job as a postie in town where they came from. We took the smallest room with single bed. Later when one of the guys left for home for Christmas holidays, I was allowed to sleep in his room, and yeah, double bed. The other guy, besides studying, worked as bouncer and part-time artist bodyguard, so that was probably the reason they rented in that area. Because he was err kind of posh? I really remember how he told us that he got trained in Chelsea in London (how more posh could it be?) 😀
Other advantage staying in West End was once I bumped into those Scottish tv presenters, Justin and Colin, and once at library I saw the Scottish tv presenter lady the name I can’t recall now.
Ruth I know was a vegetarian, slim, tall, cool and very strong. We had to set up and pack our stuff a lot. We’ve just got to get things done. Ruth was a cheerful, welcoming and nice lady to talk to. She often had a chat with customers. I can recall there were some regulars who came to our shop, would ask ‘where is the New Zealander?’ when they didn’t see Ruth around.
Once in our shop in Glasgow I saw a man, probably homeless or junkie, or both, took a top from the stand. He left the shop with it, but I didn’t want him just go like that, so I was running after him on my flipflops, without socks, in cold night in December. After a while I thought I wouldn’t catch him anyway, so I walked back to the shop. When I arrived, Ruth was asking ‘what were you doing?’. I grinned. I knew it wasn’t the smartest thing to do. But it was a memorable one, which I remember up until now.
Another time when I arrived at the shop in Glasgow, Ruth told me to go immediately taking taxi to catch the bus to Edinburgh, where we had another shop. I was hurrying without particularly knowing what was going on. I expected some bad news, sad news. Later I heard that the guy in Edinburgh thought he lost all shop money, which he apparently didn’t. That’s all I remember. But the rush and not knowing what happened, that was quite something.
Those are the time I didn’t take as many pictures as I might do nowadays. But good memories remain.
This is one of the pics I took in Portree, Isle of Skye.
Luckily I saw bagpipe bands performing several times and somehow I didn’t get bored of it. It feels that watching those mostly men in those kilts in their homeland is obligatory. I’ve seen Highland Games as well.
I’ve been to the most westerly point on the UK mainland in Ardnamurchan.
This is the only pic I have with Ruth in it. She is the tall lady next to me. This was when I had to say goodbye in Aviemore. It was 2008. I never thought that it would be our last meeting. 😦
Good memories remain, Ruth. You will always be missed and remembered. You are one of the most wonderful persons I ever met and worked with. I was very lucky to get to know you. Now you are in a better place. 🙂 ❤