Participated in the Scottish clans’ remembrance ceremony in Ypres again this year (7/10/2017), proudly showing my scouting connection to the clan MacLaren. Didn’t find any good shots of the ceremony itself, unfortunately, but at least we have a nice Belgian MacLaren group photo.
(Photos by Clan Hay Pipe Band )
Saturday was the day of the Lochearnhead Highland Games, including the Clan MacLaren AGM, Stone of Strength, Tug o’War and lots of other (heavy) events. In the evening we celebrated Donald MacLaren of MacLaren’s fiftieth year as our chief with a supper and ceilidh in the Balquhidder Village Hall.
In a blog named Kilted Guy, it wouldn’t be right to skip the subject of being kilted in Aberdeen.
Usually I change into my kilt once I check into my hotel or hostel, but since we had the convenience of a private cabin in the Caledonian Sleeper, I could just put on my kilt in the morning, before even touching Aberdonian soil.
As usual in Scotland, people never seem to be fazed by the sight of a kilt — unlike in Brussels — and wearing my MacLaren kilt, I never received any remarks about it. Well, the lady at the left luggage facilities at the train station inquired about it, but she seemed to be seizing any opportunity to chat about anything…
During our stay in Aberdeen, we noticed two other kilties. The first one, a guy in his twenties, was wearing his kilt very casual. Read: halfway down his calves, way too low to my taste…
The other one was wearing a beautiful kilt, obviously made by 21st Century Kilts, easily identified by the typical kilt pin. He was wearing it exactly as you see it worn in the ads of the kilt maker, complete with high boots and scrunched down hoses. Now I look at their photos again, it might very well have been the white-bearded guy featuring in a couple of them!
For the Punk AGM I decided to wear my black ‘beer kilt’, complete with BrewDog-bottle-opener-converted-to-kilt-pin. Only minutes after leaving the hotel, someone noticed my BrewDog outfit, and wanted to take a photo of me.
At the AGM, someone else even made close-up shots of my kilt pin!
Then, while I was on my own for a couple of minutes, a Scottish lady — who obviously had a few beers too many already — came up to me to ask me why I was wearing “a schoolgirl’s skirt”! At first I thought it was because my black kilt is not the same high quality and yardage as my MacLaren kilt, and her Scottish eye spotted it was probably made in Pakistan. But no, it was merely because it was black! Apparently, in her mind, only a tartan kilt is a kilt.
I guess even some people in Scotland still have to get accustomed to ‘modern’ kilts…
It was the third time I attended the Clans’ Days in Ypres, and the second time in combination with the Schotse Dagen (Scottish Days) at castle Ooidonk near Deinze. But this time was quite special: it was the first time our clan chief, Donald MacLaren of MacLaren and Achleskine, attended as wel!
The Schotse Dagen started on Friday evening with a charity dinner on the castle grounds, with speeches, toasts, an auction, live music and lots of whisky. An unscheduled piece of music was performed by our own chief. He has no need for a ‘personal piper’, since he is a talented bagpipe player himself, specifically in the pibroch genre.
In Ypres there was a nice addition to the usual clans’ march to the Menin Gate on Saturday: to give the chief an appropriate welcome, we invited theMacLaren Pipe Band Venlo.
After the wreath laying at the Menin Gate and lunch, we went back to castle Ooidonck to man the clans’ tent and enjoy the Schotse Dagen.
It was great to finally meet the chief, and I hope to see him again at some clan event in Scotland. Or maybe he liked the Belgian part of his clan so much he will visit Belgium again to attend one of the next Clans’ Days?
No day to day report of my trip this time, a couple of photos after our return will have to do. Later I will post a follow-up with some photos from the cameras and iPhone of my travel companion and girlfriend h–na as well.
The journey by bus was more troublesome than ever before: the trip to London has taken us six hours longer than intended, mainly due to problems in the Eurotunnel. We made it to London eventually, but headed straight to the hotel to get at least some sleep before our first full day in the city.
After some time in the museum, we needed a drink, so we enjoyed some tea and scones at the Tea and Tattle. And I must say: it was the best cream tea I’ve had so far!
After a short visit to theScience Museum, it was time to start drinking… 😉 As an avid BrewDogfan, I wanted to visit as many BrewDog bars as possible, so we started at the latest London addition:BrewDog Shepherds Bush. After a couple of beers, we moved on to Camden. First fish and chips at Hook, where the dishes served looked and tasted remarkably like those at Bia Mara in Brussels… That means excellent, in case you were wondering! 🙂
Then a beer in the nearby BrewDog Camden, and after a short stop at the Dean Swift, our third BrewDog bar: BrewDog Shoreditch. Since they were about to close, we were ushered into UnderDog, the beery cocktail bar of BrewDog.
Since we didn’t feel like switching to cocktails, and preferred to sleep a little before another day of playing tourist, we decided to go back to our hotel. The previous night we were quite happy with the service provided by our Uber taxi, and the very reasonable ride price of £7.92, so even when the app warned us it the cost would be 2.4 times the normal rate, we went ahead and ordered another one. Oh boy, was that a mistake… Apparently we were quite a bit further from the hotel this time, since the total added up to £34.58!
After arriving in Edinburgh, we checked into our hotel ( easyHotel ) for a little nap — I’m never fully rested after a night on a sleeper bus — and shower.
Since it was h–na’s first time in Edinburgh, we decided to get on one of those tour buses to get an overall view of the city. We had a small, standing lunch at Oink, and then went for an Introduction to BrewDog Tasting and Talk with Five Craft Beers to Taste Each with Cheese and Meats at BrewDog Edinburgh. Mostly beers from their core range, but I’m happy to say I was able to identify each and every one of them, before the staff told us which ones they were! 🙂
It was the 25th of January that day:Burns’ Night! So we went to a ceilidh with a haggis, neeps & tatties buffet. Not the best of combinations for me, since I wasn’t really up for more dancing after having a go at the buffet…
All was digested by the next morning, however, so plenty of room for a proper Scottish breakfast! 🙂
This day we went on another bus to see Leith as well, and in the afternoon we had a private tour of Edinburgh Castle. Unfortunately, after the tour most museums in the castle were closed already. Winter isn’t the best time of year to be a tourist, so it seems…
But there’s always BrewDog Edinburgh, the place where I first discovered decent craft beer outside of Belgium and became a BrewDog fan. And as an Equity Punk, it is especially interesting to get there and order before five o’ clock to enjoy a very attractive Daytime Discount! 🙂
The culinary discovery of this trip must have beenWings: only chicken wings on the menu—well, and a few side dishes—but dozens of different sauces or dry rubs, and delightfully geeky!
To finish the day, a visit to the Bow Bar — they even had beer from De Natte Gijt! — and one last drink at the Ghillie Dhu before turning in.
Our last day in Edinburgh we went to the National Museum of Scotland, where we rushed to the roof to hear the one o’ clock gun and see the ball drop on theNelson Monument, only to miss it by seconds… It was the third time in Edinburgh for me, and I still haven’t actually seen or heard it!
Lunch at another newcomer in Old Reekie:Reekie’s Smokehouse. Here it was the first time I had brisket — tasty — but I’ll have to come back to try the ‘burnt ends’. Or maybe I’ll just get the whole Meatfest next time! 🙂
Irn-Bru will be launching a collection of new, tartan-clad bottles.
Adrian Troy, Head of Marketing at AG Barr said: “For a limited time we’re dressing our bottles in some of Scotland’s best known and well-worn tartans to celebrate our rich heritage. Whether you’re 100% Scottish or just have a dash of ginger in your family tree, Bru’s Your Clan gives people the chance to check out their roots, sport their clan colours and make Irn-Bru their own.”
The 500 ml and 2 l bottles will be available in 57 different tartans. Hopefully the MacLaren tartan will be one of them! 🙂
They’ll be available across Scotland until March 2015, so I should be able to find some on my next trip!
This Saturday my girlfriend and I visited the Scottish Weekend at the Alden Biesen castle in Bilzen (Belgian Limburg). Although there are more Scottish festivals and games in Belgium, this is one of my favourites. This is mainly because there are some interesting competitions being held, like the Highland Dancing Championship and the Belgian Championship for Pipe Bands.
One of the pipe bands competing (in fourth grade) was the MacLaren Pipe Band Venlo, so that was an excellent opportunity to meet up with a clan member that couldn’t make it to the Clans’ Days.
Apart from the competition, there were lots of other music performances, like a concert from the Jarlath Henderson & Ross Ainslie Band pictured here. I would have loved to see Bags of Rock, but their gig was just too late to be able to get home afterwards, and since I had to work the next day… Next year I might just take a tent and stay the whole weekend, to be able to see everything!
Last weekend, Belgian members of the Clan MacLaren were present again at the Clans’ Days to pay homage to kinsmen fallen in the Great War, at the Menin Gate in Ypres and Tyne Cot Cemeterynear Passchendaele.
An advantage of going somewhere as a group, is that it is more likely I actually appear in some photos. So, to conclude this trip report, here are some photos taken by my travel companions in which I actually appear.
Only a couple waking hours left before my departure, so I started packing already. Since no Scotland trip would be complete without my kilt, it needs to be packed too, preferably protected from wrinkling. The best way to do that — in my experience — is in a kilt roll.
Yesterday, the first of March, pub Les Halles in Ypres became the Scottish Clans’ Pub. To mark this occasion, some of the clans with members in Belgium were invited to mount their clan crest on the wall. I had the honour to do this on behalf of the MacLarens.
An excellent occasion to post a photo of me wearing my kilt with my scout uniform and explain a little about the link between scouting and the Clan MacLaren, of which I am a member.
Firstly, Major Kenneth MacLaren was a friend of Robert Baden-Powell and assisted him in 1907 at the Brownsea Island Scout camp, considered to be the beginning of scouting as we know it today. After that camp, Kenneth MacLaren became the first secretary of the Scout Association.
A couple of years later, in 1919, William F. de Bois MacLaren, a scout commissioner from Rosneath, near Glasgow, financed the purchase of Gilwell Park, thereby giving the Scout Association the leader training facility they were still lacking at the time. To this day, when leaders successfully complete their Wood Badge training — anywhere in the world — they receive a neckerchief with a patch of MacLaren tartan, put there as a little thank you for the generous gift of William de Bois MacLaren.
Supposedly, this same William de Bois MacLaren, after noticing some bullying of Scottish scouts who didn’t have a kilt to wear with their uniform because their family didn’t have a tartan, invited all tartanless scouts to wear the MacLaren tartan. After all, scouting is a brotherhood, making all scouts his family.
However, I’ve failed to find any reliable sources for this story, and I can’t even find back the forum where I read it! If anyone knows more about it, please let me know!
The first photo was taken at a wreath laying at the Menin Gate, where I was on of the persons representing the Clan MacLaren. Since the scouting link is my only link to the clan, wearing the uniform was deemed appropriate.
For those familiar with scouting in Belgium, I should clarify that it isn’t the uniform of Scouts & Gidsen Vlaanderen I’m wearing, but the uniform of Boy Scouts of Belgium. They were the predecessors of FOS Open Scouting, and their uniform is still being worn by 17 BSB Prins Albert, of which I am a member. Usually it is worn with a navy blue corduroy pair of shorts, though.
While I’m packing for my next Scottish adventure, here’s another photo of kilted me. This one was taken during the Highland games at Hoeilaart (I’m the guy on the right, obviously).
Unlike Highland games in Scotland and the rest of the world, in most Highland games in Belgium the contestants are competing in teams, or ‘clans’ as they like to call them… Here, the Tug o’ War is not a separate competition, but rather one of the most important events of the Highland Games.
The next photo – the one I’m using as my profile picture here on Tumblr – was taken during my first visit to Scotland, to Edinburgh. I didn’t wear my kilt as consistently as I do now when I visit Scotland, but I did wear it on the day I went hunting for a nice kilt jacket – successfully, as you can see. On the same day I visited nearby Craigmillar Castle, the perfect setting for some photos.
For a blog called “Kilted Guy”, there are remarkably few photos of myself in a kilt. To remedy that, I’ll start posting some every once in a while.
This one is actually from the first night after I received my kilt, and the first time I’ve worn a kilt in public. Since Brussels lacks Scottish pubs, I decided to go to a more pan-Celtic pub that night: Celtica.
This photo was taken by some tourists, with my own phone after they had taken one with their own camera. I’ve modeled for many more tourist photos after that, but this actually is the only I have myself. Apparently tourists always ‘forget’ to e-mail…