What Would the First Foreign Country Be if I Could Hop on an Airplane?

If Someone gave Me a Free Ticket to Whatever Country of My Choosing Today, I’d pick Scotland

By John Irvin

            I visited Scotland with my Dad when I was fourteen years of age. We were there for a week and we saw so much. But there was so much more we didn’t get to see.

            Among the Castles we visited, we found Edinburgh, Stirling, and Bothwell. While we were in the Bothwell Castle, I had an ethereal moment. It was both terrifying and cool at the same time.

            Dad and I were climbing one of the towers, up one of those stone spiral staircases. I stopped to look out one of the small windows notched into the stone wall. Dad kept going. I glanced over my shoulder, down the stairs.

            All of a sudden, a thought occurred to me.

Scotland the Land of Legend
A land of faeries and knights of old, of the legendary Celts, my own ancestry…

            There was a day, centuries ago, when men charged up this very staircase to man the battlemounts at the top while an invading army was attacking outside the walls.

            It was in that split moment, the hairs on my arms stood on end. I got this overpowering sensation there were people running up with swords and bows and if I didn’t get out of the way, I’d be impaled and trampled.

            I tore up those stairs and reached the top where Dad was already waiting.

            Of course, I was a fourteen year old with an overinactive imagination…then again, I’ll be thirty next month and people still say my imagination is in overdrive. But months later, we were watching the recording of Dad’s and my trip with the rest of the family. Dad had video-taped the whole trip on his little camcorder.

            In the film, we were standing outside the Castle, Dad was recording the walls and the field around them stretching between the forest surrounding the castle hill. This is when we heard them.

            In the video, the beating of war drums sounded across the hills.

            But there were no war drums.

            Could they be the ghosts of the army invading, the army I imagined was attacking when those ghosts charged up the spiral staircase after me?

            You laugh, but you never know.

            This is what I love about Scotland and the rest of the British Isles. It’s no wonder so many fairy-tales are set in that those Realms. There are so many mystifying places and mysterious haunts.

            The glens and Highlands, the marshes and rolling green hills, the forests and sea coasts, any fantasy writer like myself finds it a place filled with magic.

            My ancestry is Scots-Irish (Originally Scottish, with Irish mixed in—there’s a difference between Scotch-Irish which is the opposite). My Dad has managed to trace out lineage back to the Bonshaw Tower Irvines. Though many centuries before, we were Kings of Scotland. Malcolm and his father Duncan—the one murdered by MacBeth—were a couple blood relatives.

            Now, a thousand years later, I sit here plucking the keys on my laptop, preparing to schedule my blog posts for this upcoming week.

            I look forward to visiting the land of my ancestors again and to see the Highlands and the many other Castles…maybe even Loch Ness. Last visit, we stopped by the other iconic lake: Loch Lomond so it’s only fitting we visit Nessie.

            I found a great book on Amazon for any of you who wish to travel Scotland sometime. No it’s not my own work—though I may come out with a few travel books once I’m a world traveller again in the future—but it’s still amazing!

Travel book, The Rough Guide to the Scottish Highlands and Islands.
If you’re ever in Scotland and wish to traverse the Highlands or Isles of the Dark Island.

            But if you’re wanting fiction—other than my own fiction—then here’s a good Scottish fantasy I’ve read and enjoyed: Ghosts of Culloden Moor, Vol. 1.

            There’s a reason my Longevity series starts out in Scotland and eventually returns. Sir Ihon Iraes, a Scot born in the early 12th Century, knows not of his true bloodline, but he knows of his Scottish roots and fights for them in Book 2, Independence, coming in January of 2020!

            All links are affliliate links that I share with you, just so you’re notified. I’m requried by law to let you know. If anyone uses my links to buy something, I make a tiny percentage of the sale, which helps out a lot.

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