I’m typing this from Heathrow Airport on my way back to Austin after a lovely week in Scotland to celebrate my Dad’s 80th birthday. The week involved three parties, lots of catching up, visits with old friends and quite a lot of coffee drinking and shortbread eating. It was wonderful to see so many folks I’ve not seen in up to 20 years and also to have some more time with my British nephew and nieces.
Prior to my arrival, friends had organised a surprise party on the Saturday before Dad’s birthday. The surprises continued on Tuesday, his actual birthday, when I arrived, unannounced, at his front door and joined him and friends for his “official” birthday lunch at Ristorante La Vigna, our by-now-traditional venue for all major celebrations held in Lanark. On Saturday, brothers Ian and Alastair, along with their families, flew in for another lunch, this time at the Shieldhall Hotel near Biggar where we spent a very leisurely afternoon eating, drinking and making merry in the lovely country hotel.
I didn’t take too many pictures this week, but here are a few I did grab during the festivities.
One of the wonderful things about living in a rural area, and one thing that I missed when living in the city, is great community spirit. Our local town, Dripping Springs, celebrated its annual Founders’ Day this weekend and you won’t find a better example of community spirit than this event. The fun starts on Friday evening with a parade in which half the town kids ride on floats sponsored by local businesses and organisation, and the other half catch the mountain of candy that is thrown from those floats. The carnival is in town and the parade route goes right through the middle of it, adding to the fun. On Saturday and Sunday, the center of the town is filled with booths set up by local artists, craftspeople and businesses and 100s (literally) of barbecue aficionados – teams from all over the state – determined to win an award for best fajitas, brisket, chicken or a host of other smoked staples. All of this is, obviously, a lot of fun and I’m sure the booth vendors do well at the event but the thing that really sets this apart from the many, many city art shows I’ve attended is the fact that everyone is so incredibly sociable and talkative.
Being a “home town” event, I recognise a fair number of friends and neighbours there but, regardless of whether I’ve met anyone before, everyone is sociable and most are keen on conversation as much as selling their wares or winning the barbecue competition. The atmosphere is wonderful.
As I headed to the car after my first experience of a Founders’ Day 5 years ago, I remember hearing something over the public address that said a great deal about the event. It’s odd but those three words said more about the event than I could manage in this whole post. They were “9th Place Brisket.”
You can see more of my favourite images from the event over on SmugMug.