The winners of the AUTHOR HUMILIATION CONTEST in the author category will be posted Friday. Meanwhile, enjoy Wendy’s adventures in Scotland!
I hadn’t seen my friend Bun in eight years, since leaving Scotland for the States. We used to run a storytelling club together, and like me she is an avid textile artist.
So when she said she had promised to take her mother on a garden tour Sunday afternoon (the only day I could see her) I–who can’t tell an onion from a lily–said sure, I’d tag along.
“Great!” Bun said. “It’s at Leuchars, Earlshall Castle.”
Could it be…? Leuchars was only a few miles from New Gilston, where Jack and I used to live in Scotland. As a bride my first year there, I’d tried several times to visit a famous garden in Leuchars, listed in the guidebook just before the new owner had shut it up and installed security cameras.
Hot diggety! In one of those rare coincidences life sometimes hands out, I not only got to spend a happy hour with my friend Bun, but she led me straight to something I’d wanted to see for more than ten years: the Topiary Chessmen.
Hey, I don’t make comments about what’s on YOUR bucket list.
The pieces are laid out in mid-play. Allegedly, one king is under some threat; to really appreciate their positioning, you have to view them from the tower window of the castle. As the family weren’t offering that option in their Open Garden for Charity day, Bun and I contented ourselves with running about screaming, “Oh, here’s a knight! This must be the queen! Look, that one’s a Dalek!” and generally acting like school children.
Most of the people attending had come straight from the Church of Scotland’s Sunday Service, and were dressed in expensive shoes, sweater sets, and suits. Bun was wearing a lot of her own handiwork, plus a poncho. I was wearing “tourism casual.” We attracted several stares.
Which made us cut up more. “You will be exterminated!” Bun intoned in front of a Dalek-esque pawn.
A man in a flat cap with tweed patches at his elbow stopped, looked at us, looked at it, and said in a posh English accent, “Blimey! THAT’S what it reminds me of. Ta, ladies!”
Tis true that some of them required more benevolent imagination than others, but I’d been wanting to see these things for ten years. In fact, I suggested a run out in the last week Jack and I lived in Scotland, just to see if perchance we could get into the gardens.
Jack does not share my fascination with hegemonic sculpture.
And now I’ve seen them. And Bun and I will remember our day out among the topiary chessmen for a long time. About as long as the owners of the garden remember us racing ’round shrieking in nasal drones, “Exterminate!” and doing mouth music versions of the Dr. Who theme.
Isn’t that what friendship is all about? Silliness, long-lost dreams helped to come true, and a really good cup of tea in the garden?