Welcome to Clan MacFarlane Worldwide!
If you're like the rest of us you have no doubt found yourself pondering your heritage. Maybe your interest was nurtured as a child or maybe it was just discovered. Either way, we're glad your interest has led you here and we invite you to become part of our worldwide, yet tight, community. Our goals are to educate, share, and take pride in our heritage.
We are MacFarlanes of all spelling variations, McGaws, Spruells, Robbs, Millers, Websters, Weavers, Blacks and many others. Together we form a organization that's kept by the strongest of bonds... family. We answer to the call Loch Sloy, we carry the arms of our forefathers, we preserve the heritage that is so uniquely yours and ours.
It is with your support that the heritage of Clan MacFarlane will continue to thrive for another 800 years. Please join today.
Let's Go RVing!
Photo from VisitScotland.com
That's a common statement for those of us in the U.S. Backed by such companies as Good Sam and Camperworld, KOA, Passport America and many more. Steve and I have the "bug" and own a Fifth Wheel that we pull behind our pickup. If you are not familiar with the various types of RVs (Recreational Vehicles), ours is attached to the bed of our pickup truck and we can unhitch when we stop and still drive our truck.
in 2017, we had a long trailer (what you normally think of, something dragging behind you from your bumper). We drove from Kansas to Ontario, Canada for the Annual Members' Meeting held at the Games in Fergus, Ontario. It was a challenge, but we did it. Then we drove it down to Niagara, New York, on to Pennsylvania to do some geneaology research on Steve's Robb family. We drove south to our Civil War battlefields of Antietam and Gettysburg. Then we took it home. Well, we almost made it home. By the time we got to Kansas City, we had talked to enough fellow RVers to realize that what we really needed was a Fifth Wheel and not a trailer. So we traded up into our current fifth wheel. I love it! It isn't too big, but it is comfy and cozy.
Since 2017, we have hauled the fifth wheel to the Rocky Mountains in Colorado, down to several stops in Texas: San Antonio, Waco, Salado. We used it to provide a private place for family who were visiting from Florida. Needless to say, I'm a fan. I'm always certain the sheets are really clean. I can make my own meals. I can leave the dog behind and NOT pay the $75 non-refundable pet deposit (sorry... it isn't a deposit then, is it). I've used it as an office when Steve and I were living in a small 1 bedroom home. I'm sure the nosy neighbors wondered what was going on when they could see the lights on in the fifth wheel as it was parked in our driveway.
And now, as we prepare to sell our little farm and retire, yet again, we are considering the full-time life in our RV. I know folks who do this. They cast aside all their worldly posessions and live with what they can stuff in their rolling home. We have personal friends who are currently living on the Gulf Coast of Texas in their very large fifth wheel. They love it. Not sure we will do the same. The place they have chosen to park appears to be "God's waiting Room" based on the average age of the residents. Steve and I are MUCH too young for that. We'll likely head out to see the U.S. and park in state parks, Federal parks, beaches and the occasional paid convenience park.
So how do I connect this to Scotland? Well... yes, you can indeed go RVing in Scotland! Our old friend, the VisitScotland website lists 10 places to go camping in your Campervan tour:
1. Jedburgh and Lauder
2. Isle of Skye
3. Glencoe to Fort William
4. Blair Atholl
5. Assynt to Sutherland
6. Loch Ness
7. Glasgow to Machrihanish
8. Scone Palace
9. Edinburgh to St. Andrews (remember... golf!)
10. Rest and be Thankful Pass
And, if you are looking for a Driving Tour and Scenic Route, try this: https://www.visitscotland.com/see-do/tours/driving-road-trips/
How about the new North Coast 500 Route? It is 516 miles and takes about 5 to 7 days to complete. https://www.visitscotland.com/see-do/tours/driving-road-trips/north-coast-500/. This even has an interactive map! It will help you plan your own trip to one of 5 regions: The Black Isle; Caithness; Easter Ross; Inverness-shire; Sutherland; or Wester Ross. There is much to read here and the page helps you plan your trip: https://www.northcoast500.com/explore-the-route/
There is a wealth of information out there for the eager camper. So happy travels and happy camping! And don't forget your whisky!
Golf and Whispering
It was Sunday. I looked across the living room at my husband and asked him a question. Nothing. I repeated my question. Nothing. I looked at the TV and noticed that Tiger Woods was putting, again. I repeated my question. Nothing. Tiger missed the hole again. The audience muttered in unison "Awwww..." I raised my voice and asked my question ONE - MORE - TIME. My husband looked at me and asked "what?"
What is the magic of golf that grabs my husband's attention and won't let him go? Is it the whispering of the TV commentators. Shhhh.... speak softly and talk endlessly about swings, distance, traps and more. What is it?
My Dad played golf until he felt he was too old to walk the entire course and proudly carry the bag himself. He did bring home a few trophys. He had great stories about the golf course near Cape Canaveral, Florida, where you would never try to retrieve your ball from the water because, of course, there were alligators (or were they crocodiles). I actually remember seeing them. He once took me along to the golf course at West Point Military Academy. He had me carry the bag. I don't have any fond memories of that excursion. During a family evening meal, I suggested Mother, my two sisters and I take golf lessons so we too could play. My father, who never, ever kept me from pursuing anything looked up and said in a very firm voice "Absolutely not!" The 4 of us snickered at the thought that we had hit a hot button for my Dad.
Again, what is it about golf?
My husband's eyes glaze over with the thought of heading out to play a round of 9 holes at the course in Vassar, KS, where the owners let the sheep out to trim the grass at the driving range and keep it looking oh - so - nice. He is almost giddy when he asks me to play a round and I answer "yes." I always do my best to sound enthused with the idea of walking up and down hills in the humidity and heat while I attempt to look "golfish."
A fellow law librarian was almost in tears when I brought him a golf towel labeled St. Andrew's. I could not bring myself to tell him I bought it at a local gas station during a quick stop on our bus tour in Scotland. Years later he told me he cherished it. I still could not confess.
According to the internet and the trusty Wikipedia, Golf was first played in the 15th century. According to my old friend, Wikipedia, the word "golf" appeared twice in the Acts of Parliament of 6 March 1457. Time to copy and paste from Wiki... "The Act, which ordered the holding of wappenschaws (English: musterings) four times a year for the purpose of archerypractice, stated that "the fut bal ande the golf" (football and golf) were to be "vtterly criyt done" (condemned; lit. "cried down") and "nocht vsyt" (not engaged in; lit. "not used"). Offenders were to be punished by the barony courts, otherwise they were "to be tane be the kingis officiaris" (arrested by the king's officers)." This all happened during James the II reign.
And of course, there are the oh so familiar terms from golf that have their first debut:
- Links: first recorded in 1453 - "Et de xxx s. de le lynkis de Leith"
- Golf club: first recorded in 1503-1504 - "For golf clubbes and balles to the King that he playit with"
- Golfball: first recorded as a term in 1545 (although also referred to in the 1503-1504 Treasury account) - "Three dossoun and thre goif bawis"
- Drive: first recorded in 1583 - "Ane golf staff to driffe the ball vithe all"
- Tee (Teeing ground): first recorded in 1721 - "Driving their Baws frae Whins or Tee, There’s no ae Gowfer to be seen."
- Putt: first recorded in 1743 - "Let each social soul Drink to the putter, the balls, and the hole."
- Caddie: first recorded in 1773 - "In order to preserve the holes, no Golfer or Cadie shall be allowed to make any Tee within ten yards of the hole.rules are to score a goal"
more Wiki - bless them!
When you think of Scotland and golf, you think of St. Andrews. Looking at the St. Andrews Links homepage, the Links describes themselves as having evolved over the past 600 years. There are apparently over 7 public courses at St. Andrews, and they boast that over 230,000 rounds of golf are played there every year. They also have a golf academy, 3 clubhouses and 4 golf shops. And not to prove a Wikipedia entry to be incorrect, but St. Andrews says that it all began in 1123 when the land was set aside. King David I charter ratifies that the Links is common land that belongs to the townspeople of St. Andrews. They go on to say that golf was being played throughout the 1400s at St. Andrews.
On the history page for the Links, in 1865, Tom Morris apparently returns from Prestwick, Scotland to St. Andrews. (I've actually been to Prestwick - it was the coldest I have ever been in my life.). Mr. Morris became the Keeper of the Green. For more of the history specific to golfers at St. Andrews, the Links has a great website for you to peruse http://writeyourownhistory.standrews.com/our-history. Fun page!
So, I still do not understand the pull of golf. It is a very frustrating game. I have started playing with Steve on the little 9-hole course. But I will confess that on one particularly bad day, I could be seen throwing my club. I had lost my ball to the pond on the 8th hole, once again. That pond and I have a hate-hate relationship. I feel like I should just walk up to it and throw a ball in. A sacrificial donaton just in case it might have some Scottish Doyen at the bottom who will grant me passage over and beyond the dreaded 8th hole pond.
So thank you Scotland, for the invention of golf. The one sport that is viewed in our living room, where my husband is not hollering "shoot" or "run" or "ha-ha-ha-ha" with a bag of nacho chips and a bowl of guacamole. I cannot imagine watching golf with guacamole! Sacrilege!
Do I look forward to the next time I can play? Uh... no. Well, maybe. Ok... sure. Perhaps there is something to this game of golf. But don't tell anyone I said that. It has to get better. Right?
So with that, I'll leave you with the recording of Robin Williams discussing how the Scots invented golf. Hilarious. And this is the clean version. The other one is funny too, but he managed to get through his invention of golf without one explative. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fui7yvebIdk
The Northern Gannett
My birthstone is the Garnet. I'm a January baby. There is a lovely little town south of here called "Garnett, Kansas." But up until today, I had never heard of the Gannett.
I learned of the Northern Gannett while watching a DirecTV recording I had made of a PBS NOVA program on the Vikings. it appears that the Vikings would scale a treacherous seaside cliff to collect baby Gannetts because they were "yum... good eats." Sorry about that, but really, beside an egg or two, the younger birds were considered the best thing to add to the Viking diet.
So this got me to wondering about the birds of Scotland. I did land upon a great website that included not just information about the Gannett, but other Scottish seaside birds, The Scottish Seabird Centre. The website even provide spectacular photos of the various seabirds. I wish I could share them with you, but copyright, such as it is, must be honored.
If you are curious about the Puffin (the "clown of the seas"), the Gannett, the Kittiwake, Cormorant, Shag (bird, not carpet or hairstyle), Guillemot, Razorbill, Fulmar, Gull, Elder, or Tern, then find your way to the Scottish Seabird Centre website above. Pretty interesting stuff!
As of the writing of this blog, it is official. I am now OLD. When I was in grade school in Florida, I remember listening to my parents talk excitedly about the National Geographic book they received with a 45 recording of various bird calls. I thought, boy are they OLD! So today, I can confess that I stare out our back sliding glass door to watch the red birds (cardinals) and other pretty birds devour the bird seed we painstakingly make available every day for our variety of birds. And now, I'm totally engrossed in the idea of learning more about the Gannett as well as the Puffin. Oh well. I realize it might seem silly to be excited about birds, but then, perhaps you are not quite as old as me.
For now, enjoy this free image I just found of the Northern Gannett, but don't feel too old if you do, in fact, enjoy the photo.
Oatmeal or Porridge
I can buy steel cut oats, instant oats, Quaker oats, Old Fashioned oats, Organic Oats, Oatmeal with extra protein, rolled oats, and I'm sure some I have not thought of. Per Wikipedia, oats are from "Groats," which are hulled oat grains (not to be confused with one of my favorite new movie characters, "Grute"). The description continues: the oats can be milled, steel-cut or rolled. Ground oats are considered "white oats." Steel-cut oats are considered "coarse oatmeal" or "Irish oatmeal" or "pinhead oats." Rolled oats are thin or thick and considered either "old fashioned" or "quick" or "instant." Whew! Thanks Wikipedia! https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oatmeal.
If you are in Scotland, the oats are ground into a powder, and may be called various names too. "It may be ground fine, medium, or coarse, or rolled, or the groats may be chopped in two or three pieces to make what is described as pinhead oatmeal. Ground oatmeal, rolled oats, and pinhead oatmeal, are all used (throughout Britain); one Scots manufacturer describes varieties as "Scottish Porridge Oats" (rolled), "Scottish Oatmeal" (medium ground), and "Pinhead Oatmeal".https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oatmeal.
And... how are the oats used?
- Traditional porridge
- Brose: a thick mixture made with uncooked oatmeal (or medium oatmeal that has been dry toasted by stirring it around in a dry pot over heat until it turns a slightly darker shade and emits a sweet, nutty fragrance) and then adding butter or cream. Brose is eaten like porridge but is much more filling.
- Quick-cooking rolled oats (distinct from "instant" variations) are often used for this purpose nowadays, because they are quicker to prepare.
- Gruel, made by mixing oatmeal with cold water that is strained and heated for the benefit of infants and people recovering from illness.
- as an ingredient in baking
- in the manufacture of bannocks or oatcakes
- as a stuffing for poultry
- as a coating for Caboc cheese
- as the main ingredient of the Scottish dish skirlie, or its chip-shop counterpart, the deep-fried thickly-battered mealy pudding
- mixed with sheep's blood, salt, and pepper to make Highland black pudding (marag dubh).
- mixed with fat, water, onions and seasoning, and boiled in a sheep's intestine to make marag geal, Outer Hebridean white pudding, served sliced with fried eggs at breakfast. A sweeter version with dried fruit is also known.
- as a major component of haggis.
- in sowans, not strictly made from the meal but as a porridge-like dish made from the fermented inner husks of oat
Again... thank you Wikipedia! https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oatmeal.
And in Staffordshire. there are Staffordshire Oatcakes. These look like blintzes to me. Very thin and cooked on a griddle and then filled with the usual breakfast fare of eggs, sausage, mushrooms.
Now, I know that we eat oatmeal because it is hearty and healthy and a good source of fiber. But I suddenly had a flashback conversation with my Dad. He mentioned using oatmeal in the radiator of his car for a quick fix for a leak. So my question is this: if oatmeal can be used to patch a hole in a radiator, why is oatmeal considered great fiber for our system, and why doesn't it get stuck?
What's for Breakfast?
Steve normally makes our daily breakfast. He's a farm kid and grew up with the big breakfast with eggs and bacon and toast and juice and coffee. I'm the suburban girl who would have anything my mother found convenient to feed us in the morning. Sometimes that was a piece of cake or pie (after all, what's the difference between those choices and coffee cake or a donut) or eggs and toast, or toast with peanut butter spread upon it. To be honest, I prefer Steve's version. He's a great cook, and my blood sugar is better because of his cooking.
On our first visit to Scotland, I told Steve I thought the cooks were trying to "honor" us with American food. We gazed upon scrambeled eggs, cooked tomatos, baked beans and more. But with the passing of each day of our trip, it beame apparant to our ignorant selves that this was a routine breakfast in Scotland, at least at restaurants. That does beg the question: what is a typical Scottish breakfast?
Fodor's the travel group has a nice blog that has identified a list of foods that you will typically find for breakfast. One guest listed the following: "Almost always eggs x 2, bacon rashers x 2, sausages x 2, cold and/or hot cereal, grilled mushrooms, grilled tomatoes, fresh or canned fruit, toast, tea, coffee, juice --
and sometimes kippers, blood pudding, and yogurt."
Is there some place in Scotland with MacFarlane history where you can eat a breakfast? Yes! The Slanj at Loch Lomond, is a full-service restaurant that serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as a brunch. You can read more on their facebook page. Clan MacFarlane Worldwide has had the pleasure of holding the Annual Members' Meeting at the Slanj. The Slanj website offers more information and great photos. And, the Slanj is the old Ballyhennan Church so if you venture there, be sure to step around to the back to see the 12th century cemetery with MacFarlane headstones. The Slanj is located on MacFarlane lands, so well worth the trip!
But what about Scottish oatmeal or porridge? Let's talk about that tomorrow...