So last Saturday, I kicked off Lanimer Week (which I’ll explain later on) with Champagne Day. Yes, you read that right. A day dedicated to the beautifully delicious bubbly drink. My boss’s parents have been helping to host Champagne day for years. It is basically a day in June where all of her parents’ and their friends, plus their children and grandchildren get together and spend all day just snacking and drinking champagne. We started at 2pm with little snackies and champagne at Alison and Douglas’s home. The food was delicious and I love champagne so what’s not to like? After a while there, we ventured on to Tom and Isabelle’s house for dinner and more champagne. (They also have 2 labradors so I was beyond thrilled. I didn’t even care that it was so cold I didn’t take my coat off all day). It was just a great day of socializing and meeting people. Everyone was so kind to me and incredibly generous. It’s things like that that make it really hard for me to leave next week.
This past week was the celebration known as Lanimer Week. It is a celebration to honor the establishment of the Royal Burgh of Lanark by King David I of Scotland in 1140 AD. It is a week long celebration that starts on a Monday with The Marches. Basically, when King David gave out the royal charter for Lanark, there were boundary stones set up to mark where the boundaries of Lanark were. Ever since then, the people of Lanark have walked out to check the boundary stones to make sure that no one has moved them. Keep in mind, they have been doing this since 1140 AD. That’s 850 years, people. That’s some serious dedication. Additionally, the stones would require a bulldozer and heavy machinery to lift so it’s not likely that they would have been moved but the town still does it every year. I think that’s one of the most amazing parts about this country. They are so passionate about their history and their traditions. Just wait until you see a Scottish wedding. Talk about tradition. It’s amazing.
The whole week is led by a man of the town that gets elected as Lord Cornet. At the end of the week, the Lord Cornet takes home the town standard and keeps it at his house until the next year, when a new Lord Cornet is elected. So Monday, I went on the Marches with Jane’s husband, David. (Jane’s 6 months pregnant and she decided to just meet us when we were done). David is part of the Lanark Rugby Club and during the Marches, the team works as stewards to keep people from traipsing through land owners rose bushes and such, which is a tall order, considering that this year there were close to 3,000 people that came out for the Marches. I stuck with David and got to listen to the rugby team complain about the drinking ban for this year. For the 2015 Lanimer week, there was a drinking ban instituted that prevented people from drinking in the streets. That means that at some point, people could drink in the streets. I’m telling you, I’m never leaving this country. It’s the best.
The weather was glorious and the March happens in the countryside around Lanark and it was the most beautiful walk I’ve ever taken. These are two pictures from the Marches. Tell me that isn’t beautiful.
After the Marches, we (myself, Jane, David, and the team) walked down High Street to St. Nicholas Church for the transferring of the standard from the former Lord Cornet to the Lord Cornet Elect (who is the Lord Cornet for this year. He’s the ‘Lord Cornet Elect’ until Monday night). Then everyone goes to the pub and hangs out. (Like I said, I love this country)
Tuesday, I helped serve the procession of former Lord Cornets and the current Lord Cornet when they came through New Lanark. Some of the boundary stones are too far out to walk to so they all ride horses out to them. Think 65 horses in a space the size of a cul-de-sac. It was amazing and so elegant. Wednesday, there are not events that happen because everyone is finishing up their ‘Lanimer Lorries’, which are basically parade floats, but the best parade floats I’ve ever seen.
When Friday rolled around, I put on the only dress I brought with me and started the 30 minute walk up to Jane’s house. When I got there, at 8:30 in the morning, they were eating toast and drinking champagne, so I knew it was going to be a great day. At 9am the parade started and I was blown away by the number of people involved. There were thousands and they were all ages. There were wee children dressed like gnomes to elderly veterans, in their military jackets and Tartan pants. There were also 6 or 7 pipe bands. I’ve decided that I adore bagpipes. They are absolutely breath-taking. After the parade, we went back to Jane’s home and just sat around in the sun and spend the afternoon munching and talking and relaxing. I ever got a sunburn!
In the evening ,we walked back down to the town centre for the ‘Beating of the Retreat’. In medieval times, the beating of the retreat was the retreat back to the castle. Since there is no castle in Lanark, they just beat the retreat back up High Street. The Lord Cornet gave his report that none of the stones had been moved and then the pipe bands started. I am seriously mesmerized by bagpipes. At one point, the pipes played ‘Highland Cathedral’ and the town was humming/singing in the background, along with a marching band and it made the hair on my arms stand up. It was heart-wrenching.(I will leave a link at the end to my Youtube video uploads so you all can hear the pipes)
Friday, I messed around in Glasgow and took myself to the cinema to see Jurassic World. Everyone is arguing over whether or not it was a good film and I’m just sitting here saying “I watched it in Glasgow, SCOTLAND. I don’t even care if it was a crappy movie”, which it wasn’t.
Saturday, I didn’t do much until I went to a ball. A ball. A real life, honest-to-goodness ball. I borrowed a dress from Jane and shoes and went to a ball. It was amazing. There was so much dancing and so many beautiful people and so many kilts. Men in Scotland actually do wear kilts. A lot. Weddings, graduations, balls, you name it: if you could wear a suit to it, they wear kilts. It’s amazing. At the very end, the ball was closed the way most events of revelry are closed in Scotland: with ‘The Bonnie Banks o’ Loch Lomond’. If it helps you, the Irish version of it is ‘Red is the Rose’. The chorus brought me close to tears, partly because everyone in the whole place was singing in their thick Scottish accents, but also because Lanark is near Loch Lomond and it made me think about how much I will miss this place.
O’ ye’ll take the high road and I’ll take the low road
I’ll be in Scotland afore ye
Where me and my true love will never meet again
On the bonnie, bonnie banks of Loch Lomond.
I had a marvelous week, filled with so much history and tradition, food and hospitality. It has been my favorite week so far and I wish I had many more to go. Who knows, maybe I’ll have a chance to come back and make it a more permanent arrangement.
Until next time,