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The Braemar Gathering in Braemar, Scotland

In the interest of taking you, my wonderful reader, along with me to Scotland, I felt that there was no better way to involve you than to take video of the spectacle of the Braemar Gathering.


In retrospect, after spending a whole entire day uploading seven short videos over nearly nonexistent youth hostel wifi signals it would have been wiser to just tell you that I couldn’t provide entertainment because my camera broke, or video was prohibited, or the dog ate it.  But that would have been a lie.  And I only lie to Santa and criminals.  So, here you go friend.  The fruits of my labors, I lay at your feet.  This is what I do for you.


Let’s start with the Eve of the Gathering.  First, I happened upon a band playing in the center of the village.  They were awesome and I found myself as hypnotized by the spinning pom-poms twirled by the drummers as a cat watching a ping pong game.  Spinning colorful balls.  Brain wave flatline.  How do they do that?



I was excited to go to a real Scottish bar to see what a real Scottish party was all about.  Entering the bar, I had this fanciful feeling like anything could happen!  That left quickly. 


Unfortunately, I seemed to be the only solo person there which meant I stood beside groups pretending I belonged to them with the relaxed demeanor of a nun in a gay bar, trying awkwardly to look relaxed but being aware of the shape of my mouth, the placement of my feet, the bend of my arms and where the hell to put them.  It would have been helpful to have a ventriloquist present to place my body parts in natural positions.  I think this is referred to as social anxiety.


There was one other single person there.  He was wearing a plaid shirt that didn’t match his plaid pants, had hair and a beard like an elf, and weighed under 50 pounds, with none of that weight being attributable to teeth.  Right up my alley but even he looked me over suspiciously and turned away.  Anyway, after a few pints of cider, I was less aware of my solo-ness and eager for the music to start so I could stare at something other than the wall.  You can imagine my surprise and dismay when the band started to play.  See for yourself:



After a delightful rendition of the Monkees “I’m a Believer” (at least that’s British)  and a medley of other American tunes, I found myself tired and decided to call it a day before I drank myself into a stupor.  I slept well as the rain fell.


The Braemar Gathering


The day of the gathering started dismally with cold and rain.  I went immediately to the mountain store to purchase a raincoat.  It turned out to be a waste of money for two reasons: One, it stopped raining, and two, it’s bright yellow and plastic which would be excellent if I were competing in a rubber duckie costume contest, but otherwise does not do anything to improve my image.


Outside the event, bands played before marching towards the grounds.



I was seated in the stands with a great view of exactly nothing.  All the events were going on simultaneously – tug of war to my left, Highland Dancing far off in front of me, caber tossing in the distance, runners racing up the mountain and around the track,  and men in ape bodies tossing huge weights long distances.  I enjoyed the tug of war most because it was surprisingly riveting!  The weather all day was sunny and warm, then cold and overcast, changing back and forth in a snap.


Fashionably late, at 3 pm, the Royal Family arrived at the Braemar Gathering, just as they have since Queen Victoria started the tradition in 1844.  The Queen rolled in right in front OF MY FACE!



Then everyone stood and sang the National Anthem which nobody seemed to know the words to.  There’s a lot of “God Save the Queen” over and over.  No offense United Kingdom, but your national anthem could use a little flair.



At the close of the Games, the band once again circled the field, followed by the Royal Family in cars.  It was a really a spectacle with so many musicians!



And then the band departed the Games grounds and headed into town.  The crowd followed and ended up at the two bars in town.  Knowing my propensity for trouble, I skipped the bars and walked myself back to the hostel where I fell asleep sitting up on the couch like a 110-year-old.  A good day!



Photos of the Braemar Gathering in Scotland:


  1. Was it really a good day? Hard to tell after the nonexistent wifi at the hostel, the social anxiety at the bar and the “great view of exactly nothing.” LOL, look at all the proud white people! Jesus, that gives me social anxiety…

    • Pretty much every day I am traveling is a good day in the end. Even my “bad” experiences are helpful. I probably could have skipped Sweet Home Alabama though…

  2. Aweaome! Thanks for going to the trouble to upload the videos. Hilarious that Sweet Home Alabama was what the band played. In terms of the Scots not being too keen on the anthem, you can’t really blame them since their long history was mostly about trying to repel the English. One question: What are those enormous bagpiper hats made of? Some kind of feathers? Amazing costumes overall!

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