The Joads in Scotland, part one


The Four Block siblings in Scotland. Note that mine has a large kosher dill pickle in front of it.

by cheri sabraw

We exited Limerick, Ireland, heading to Shannon Airport to drop the VW Van off at the rental lot. We Americans are a wee bit spoiled. Why, we just assume that there will be personnel at a rental car return at 8:00 am in the morning. We also just assume that signs will direct us to  the rental car return.

In Ireland, such assumptions are rawmaish. Not only were there no signs for Sixt Auto Rentals– so we became stuck, twice in short term parking–all six of us and our  luggage, now gorged with souvenirs. Once located, the Sixt Rental lot, a mile from the airport, was dark and vacant.

In a mini-panic, we called the office and a sleepy young man answered. “We are here to return our van, hired in Dublin last week. Are you coming? (We did not mention its condition, wisely.)

“Ok, right! now, guys. On the way..” And so it went.

On to Scotland, home of golf, rain,midges, golf, lochs, haggis, rain, and kilts.

These robust Scots are wearing the Campbell clan tartan. We learned from our guide that the Campbell clan is Scotland’s (so to speak) black sheep and in a country where the sheep outnumber the people, that is saying something. They warred with the McDonald clan during the Massacre at Glencoe in 1692.  These guys, as you can see for yourself, boast some impressive calves and mighty shoulders.

















I should mention at this point that my sister and her husband, who had wisely decided to tour alone for part of the trip in London, arrived by train to Edinburgh, filled with tales of Brexit, Kensington Palace, Westminster Abbey and the like. Schooled in One-Upsmanship, the McBlock clan (known for warring with each other) tried out limericks and side-swiping but to no avail.

Now, there were four. Four siblings and four spouses, two of whom are related. Eight people between the ages of 58-69.

The group’s size, coupled with certain siblings’ and spouses’ decisions to cart duffel bags full of sport coats, golf shoes, and dresses!, had now burgeoned so much that we were attracting attention wherever we went. The word “went” is far too eloquent to aptly describe our gait. We trundled.

To get away from overdoing it in the whiskey category, we left Edinburgh and headed in a small bus over the Firth of Forth to the beach in the Kingdom of Fife, Elie, Scotland, where we had been told it would be easy to get up to St. Andrews, only 14 miles away. As it turned out, Elie is a charming sleepy beach village with two buses an hour, one deli and one souvenir shop. Where would we test fish and chips in Scotland? But more important, where would we buy our wine, vodka, tonic, limes, cheeses, chips, dip, meats, wine, yogurt, berries, wine and other foods?




We had been told that Scotland was modern, so “I know, ” said one of my wise siblings. ” Let’s call Uber.”

Look at this street. Do you really think Uber will come?

And no, it did not, so we were forced to all get on the same bus with the local school children to head to Anstruther, where we had heard the best fish and chips in Scotland is made.




The theme in the Anstruther Fish and Chips was the color white.

We downed the fish and chips, agreeing that they were delicious but those of us who had been to Ireland, voted the Fish Box still the best chips around.

To fully describe shopping in the Anstruther Co-op Market with 8 people, I will need to take a writing break, so as to fully characterize why being the oldest child can send said oldest children into therapy.


About Cheri

Writer, photograph, artist, mother, grandmother and wife.
This entry was posted in Life, My photography, Nature photography, Places and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to The Joads in Scotland, part one

  1. 4brig says:

    I’m enjoying the heck out of your journey, and the photos are a delight. Keep them coming, please!

  2. Chris says:

    What a wonderful tale – just what I needed to lift my spirits and put a smile on my face. Waiting for Part Two.

  3. Carol Irene McCann says:

    I’m still stuck with the picture of that poor little van. Oh, those crazy Americans!!! What a great story. I hope Pelosi doesn’t investigate your assault on Ireland and Scotland. Yuk, Yuk!!

  4. manofroma says:

    Hi Cherie the Faerie!

    I know, I have been A LOT absent here :-(, having not been well and so forth. But, I am enjoying the heck out of your journey as well, with your writing, pictures (and your humour, adorable as usual).

    You keep on writing writing: you US people never give up, don’t you, much like the Romans (of yesteryear, ça va sans dire) 😉

    En passant 1) most posts of the old Man-of-Roma blog are now published over at, there including comments from you Anglo-Saxon people; 2) the first volume of the ‘Three faces of the coin’ Trilogy is at last finished (12 years of work, Gosh!) and has been well received by some professional critics. It will soon be published at Amazon (and later in English).

    As for now I am publishing – in English – excerpts of it over at The Notebook’s. Sounds a bit egotistic, my comment here. It is not. You dear English speaking bloggers did inspire me so much in writing the novel that the main characters remain the same: Chaeri (central), Sledpress the witch (central too, Jenny, Pavlos Costopoulos, Richardus and Philippus plus others (and Manius Papirius Maximus, the protagonist). Should you be unhappy about it, all I have to do is change the names, it takes just a few minutes.

    The novel has been written in my mother tongue, but I am bit by bit translating it to English (I will need a professional translator when the time comes).

    All the best (dear Hyperborean)
    From far away (Roman) West


    • Cheri says:

      Dear Giovanni,
      What a treat to receive such a long (not winded) comment, causing me to drift back 11 years ago, when we were all following Andreas Kluth’s blog. My the time has passed, like so much of life, before we recognize that expanse of years is gone.

      I always enjoyed reading your histories and philosophies in English and found myself quite amazed with your ability to write in English. I shall visit the Notebook and perhaps some of my readers might like to follow me over there. After all, I have become a central character in your novel, why surely they will want to know why.

  5. wkkortas says:

    The spare and bleak nature of that street scene helps one understand why the Scots invented golf, a game which one can neither master nor truly win.

    • Cheri says:

      For Californians to actually walk down a street like that with no traffic was such a surreal experience that I immediately wanted to move to Scotland; however, they do have a dampness problem there. Too damp for me over the long haul. I have a picture and a story from the Old Course, but have not had time to write it. Suffice to say, I didn’t play it as there was a PGE Europe tour event at all three courses: Kingsbarn, Old Course, and Carnoustie. So, I did the next best thing: My sister and I holed up at the Jigger Inn drinking Irish coffees, waiting for Rory to come through. A good time was had by all at the Jigger Inn. While the guys were experiencing a truly Scottish game of golf at the Castle Course (wind and pelting rain), my sis and I were warm as Scottish toast.

  6. Lue Perrine says:

    “The McBlock clan (known for warring with each other) tried!!! 🤣😂
    Oh too funny Cheri! 😆 It must have been a great relief to catch your flight & finally turn in the van.
    Sounds like a fantastic time!
    It can’t get any better in life to be
    with your family in such beautiful places. 🥰
    The little village of Elie
    looks sooo tranquil.
    Great photos Cheri👍
    Bless you!

    • Cheri says:

      Thank you Lue.
      The entire eastern coastline all the way to St. Andrews is tranquil although as we waited in a bus to take us back to Elie, and junior high and high school students boarded, I am sure it was too tranquil for them.

  7. shoreacres says:

    I so enjoyed this. Your photo of the white bread reminded me of my 8th grade home ec teacher, who kept intoning, “Contrast, girls! Contrast! Cinnamon on toast! Parsley on creamed eggs! Taste is nothing without eye appeal!”

    The name of the Firth of Forth always has made me smile. Seeing it combined with Fife was even better. The whole journey seems to have been quite a jolly one, even when it took an occasional turn. I’m looking forward to more — not to mention wondering where I could get decent fish and chips around here. I suppose I’ll have to make do with fish tacos.

    Speaking of swerving, here’s one for you. We’re approaching that famed Texas holiday — the opening of deer season — and there’s high excitement in the land. Deer season songs are on the good ol’ boys (and girls) playlists, and I thought you’d get a kick out of this one, which I also shared with Brig.

    • Cheri says:

      I shall listen tomorrow to both the song you have just posted on your blog and this one. Lots of white-tailed deer in every dry alfalfa field in Montana…
      And yes…the wordplay of the Firth of Forth in the Kingdom of Fife is a dandy Scottish play of words.
      As for fish and chips, I had three servings while in Scotland—three more than I have had in the last 10 years but they were worth waiting forth.

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