Fàilte gu Alba (Welcome to Scotland in Gaelic)
Google maps suggested the A74 north towards Edinburgh, which would have been faster, but thank goodness we stumbled upon the Scottish Borders Historic Tourist Route (A7), a scenic route through that loosely follows the Scottish/English border… a great choice, and one we highly recommend.
Some of the land along the Scottish Borders area has changed hands – between England and Scotland – many times. One town, Berwick-Upon-Tweed, changed 16 times in its history (according to our Edinburgh guide) with the odd result that technically, it is still at war with Russia. This story is largely legend, but there may be a grain of truth to it … see Wiki for more info: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Berwick-upon-Tweed#Relations_with_Russia
The ‘w’, by the way, is rarely pronounced in Scottish names, so Berwick sounds like bare-ick. Check out this cool pronunciation website: http://www.howjsay.com/index.php?word=berwick&submit=Submit
The sign welcoming us to Scotland was in both English and Scottish Gaelic (gal-ik, as opposed to Irish Gaelic, which is pronounced gay-lik). There are supposedly about 60,000 people in Scotland who speak Gaelic (in addition to English), though Bruce Fummey, the comedian we saw in Edinburgh, swears they are the same 10 people who just move around and get re-counted over and over.
Bruce was a hilarious guy with self-described “Afro Celtic Angst”. (He was born in the 60s to a Scottish mother and an African – Ghana – father who disappeared after 6 months, and brought up by a Yorkshire granny who had married a Black Watch soldier.)
His ‘Gaelic in the Afternoon’ show was about his journey to learn Gaelic over the past few years – the people he met in VERY Gaelic communities (think marry-your-sister kinds of places) and the difficulties of the spelling/pronunciation of this ancient language. Mu dheidhinn, which means about, is pronounced ‘moo yayne’ more or less.
His show was one of thousands we could have seen during The Edinburgh Festival Fringe. More on the Fringe later, but here’s a link to Bruce.