11-3-17 Adventures in Strathaven

It’s difficult for me sometimes with regards to living in the UK piecing together exactly where things are. We’re heading towards three years here and only just now can I knowingly nod my head when someone says they live in Kirkliston or Ormiston or journey from East/West Lothian or Fife or… well, obviously the list goes on! Having a bicycle has helped me put more pins on the mental map, but having our wee car has made milestones.

Somehow though, with regards to H’s childhood, I have had an incredibly hard time not only working out the where’s, but the when’s. I guess it’s easy for me as a girl who grew up in the same house in the same place where my parents even to this day stay. But when one’s father is not only a doctor, but an immigrant himself, and your mother is from London, it gets far more convoluted. As a result, I often lumped H’s childhood upbringing in some mysterious place down in England somewhere.

The reality is that though H did spend a few years in some suburb of London when he was very small (and even a wee while in Baghdad that he hardly remembers) the pin was eventually stuck in a wee town called Strathaven. (That’s “Straven” for ya. I don’t know, either.) At the time it had a hospital (it has since closed) and so it became the new home of all the family. Even though I knew that H grew up at least to some extent in Scotland, I still for some reason pegged Strathaven as being out in the sticks in England somewhere. Imagine my surprise when I finally realized just a few days ago it was just a stone’s throw outside of Glasgow. Just like that the mysterious cobwebs were cleared, and one more area of Scotland is revealed!

All of this was revealed to me when H discovered that a folk band we’d had the pleasure of seeing once before was going to be doing a benefit concert in the mysterious Strathaven. This came as a surprise because it’s… well, honestly it’s out in the sticks a bit. Regardless, we decided to kill two birds with one stone: get a personal tour of H’s old stomping grounds, and see our band!

The band in question is a fabulous group of three men who call themselves North Sea Gas. They have excellent comedic banter and stage presence, and they play a multitude of instruments as one normally does in the folk genre. They’re incredibly talented, but what really seals the deal for us is the harmony. Honestly, they’ve absolutely nailed it. It’s beautifully done, and a total joy to listen to.

This is a pretty good one regarding Scotland, perhaps not my favorite of theirs, but one of the best links I could find. Although it’s made perfect by one lad’s comment: “och aye – I’m nae a lassie but this tune aboot bonny Scotland has me greetin like a wee bairn ken?”

Anyway, we had a grand day there, hanging about in questionable cafes, having a wander around castles (even the smallest towns aren’t complete without one!), trying to feed uninterested birds walnuts, and driving up to a nearby windfarm on a whim after noticing that they seemed close enough to touch.

Turns out they were! Honestly it was geeky good fun oohing and aahing over how enormous they are! This is gonna be H’s album cover for sure.

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