Sunday, October 21, 2007

The Braemar Gathering

Back at the beginning of September, I went with some friends to The Braemar Gathering, a well-known Highland games that takes place every year in the town of Braemar in Aberdeenshire(about 2 1/2 hours north of Edinburgh). This was only my second excursion to parts of Scotland outside of Edinburgh since I moved here. Sad, I know. It was also my first time to ever experience a Highland games, and I was pretty excited. What exactly are Highland games? Kind of like a low-key track meet with foot races and heavy weight events, but also with pipers and dancers and kilts (oh my)!

We got off to a bit of a late start, but the drive up to Braemar was relaxing with pretty scenery and no unplanned detours (we saved those for the drive back). Oh the way, we passed the Forth Bridge, drove through Perth, and saw lots of sheep. The sheep were pretty cute, at least from a distance.

We arrived a little after noon. It was a bit drizzly to start out, but it later cleared up into a lovely day. This is the sign over the gate wishing us a hundred thousand welcomes in Gaelic.

If you actually want to know how to pronounce ceud mille failte (a hundred thousand welcomes), check out this web page.

By the time we arrived, there were already a lot of people there, and the numbers continued to grow throughout the afternoon. This is the best picture I could get of the field. It definitely would have been an advantage to be at least 5 inches taller. (Note to self, next time, splurge for seats in the stands.)

On the very left in the picture above is where they held the weight and hammer throwing events. In the middle is the stage where they held the dance competition. And what you can't see because it's blocked by the people standing in front of me, is the tug-of-war competition.

Definitely need to get a better view of the tug-of-war competition next time.

They also had foot races and caber tosses. For one of the races, they started out on the field and ran up this mountain.
I'm not kidding. See, in the picture on the right, they are running. Up the mountain. Even if I ever get to the point where I'm running regularly again, I don't see myself running up a mountain. Ever. Unfortunately, due to the my stature and the mobs of people, I wasn't able to get a picture of strong men in kilts tossing small telephone poles (i.e., cabers). Sigh. And I wasn't quick enough on the draw to get a picture of the men racing in kilts and ties. Sigh again.

Of course there were lots, and lots of pipers and drummers. Pipe and drum bands from the UK and around the world performed. It's not an exaggeration to say there was piping in the air.
Really, they were everywhere.
But by far one of the best part of the day at the Gathering was the men in kilts. :+) Men of all ages were wearing kilts, from stately older gentlemen to adorable little guys.

Unfortunately, they didn't always stand still long enough for me to get the best picture.

Shortly before we had to head back to our cars, we we lucky enough to be standing in just the right spot by the road to see the Queen when she arrived. Yes, the Queen. See, this is her car. No really, I swear, the Queen is in that car, in the back on the left. I waved to her. I just couldn't manage to take a picture of her.

Right before we left for the drive back to Edinburgh, I took one last picture. The Highlands are beautiful in a very rugged sort of way. I really need to make time to get back there.


Christina said...

Yea for the highlands and men in kilts! Lovely post!

Ok, no running up hills, but how about a little bit of hiking? If I ever drag myself up north, would you be willing to hike Arthur's Seat with me? Barring that, how about just going to Holyrood Palace? Haven't visited there which is sad considering I lived in Edinburgh for 6 months.

Theresa said...

Hiking is fine. I absolute would love to hike up along Arthur's seat with you! It's just the running uphill that I object to.

Conscripted Cherry said...

looks like fun- so did you ever answer the age old question- just what do the gentlemen wear under their kilts?

Mary said...

You could always compromise: walk up the hill, run down it. Let gravity do some of the work for a change.

What's the Gaelic for a hundred thousand kilts?

orangehands said...

i admit to looking at the pictures first :)

CC: for some, absolutely nothing *dreamy sigh*

thanks for the pictures! between the two of you i got castles and some men in kilts. beautiful stuff

have fun with the hiking/running thing

WapakGram said...

Thanks for the education, the travel info and the men in Kits/kilts.

Commentary and picture taking were outstanding.
I believe you, THAT was the Queen. Did you get the Queen Wave?

GatorPerson said...

There seem to be at least 2 lengths of kilts. Is there a standard?

Shuckens. The ones pulling the rope seem to have shorts on, not kilts. Or maybe they took off the kilts and that's what's underneath, CC.

The distances seem strange. I'd have guessed 30 minutes to an hour to get to Braemar from Edinburgh.