My Heart’s in the Highlands…


I’ve lived in the South Carolina Upcountry all my life, and I don’t think we’ve ever had such a pleasant spring. We actually had weeks (weeks!) of mild days and cool nights, no humidity, and possibly best of all, no mosquitoes! I got very annoyed by the local news anchors and meteorologists repeatedly apologizing for the fact that we were having cooler-than-normal temperatures — to me, it was incredible to be able to go take care of the animals and not come back inside a sweaty mess.

This past weekend we went to the Gallabrae Highland Games at Furman University, a completely enjoyable event that we missed out on until just a few years ago. There’s a big “Great Scot!” parade on Main Street, Greenville, on Friday night followed by the Games on Saturday. The first year we went (2010), Prince Edward was here, and the parade was huge. People came from all over the country to represent their clans. It was quite a spectacle, and we were immediately hooked. This year’s parade was smaller, but it was still a lot of fun!

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Instead of a royal representative this year, Greenville welcomed the Royal Highland Fusiliers.

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And by the way, it tells you just how big of a geek I am that whenever I hear “Gallabrae,” I think “Gallifrey” and immediately start humming the “Doctor Who” theme. So you can imagine how excited I was to see a small tribute to the Doctor in the parade. Upon seeing the Dalek, The Boy immediately started chanting (in his perfect Dalek voice), “Exterminate! Exterminate! The Doctor must die!” I’m hoping that maybe next year, David Tennant will be the honored guest…

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Somehow, it never fails that the Games end up being held on the first really hot Saturday of the year. It’s hard to get in a Scottish frame of mind when you’re sweltering in 90-something-degree heat and South Carolina humidity. This year was fabulously different — during the opening ceremonies at 11:00 a.m., it hadn’t even hit 70 degrees yet. I wore the baby in a Moby wrap and never got too warm. Plus, he slept the whole time we were there. This kid is awesome. This one here, clutching Sophie the Giraffe…

Baby Boy and Sophie

His big brother was thrilled by the whole event, declaring after the parade on Friday that he needed his own bagpipes. And on Saturday, he got (and proudly wore) his own kilt. He has Scottish ancestry on both sides, but the only tartan we could find was Royal Stewart for my mom’s family. He initially tried to strip down to his skivvies right in the middle of the vendor’s tent to put the kilt on, but then refused to take his jeans off after the lady put it on over top. It took some time to convince him he would be much more comfortable without the bottom layer. Here he is rockin’ the kilted look with his cute cousin.


One of the best parts of the festivities on Saturday is the massed pipe band during the opening ceremony. Hundreds of bagpipers and drummers converge on the main field and, in Ben’s words, “blow you away.” The rest of the day is filled with traditional games like the caber toss, stone put, and weight throws, as well as sheepdog trials and a British car show. All in all, it’s a great way to spend a Saturday. But it does make us long to be back in Scotland.

Eilean Donan


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