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Since I was on the border of England and Scotland, I was tempted to enter Scotland for a few hours. Listen to the accent, stroll through a town, it’s buildings, maybe have something Scottish, get a Scottish beer maybe. I looked up the map and found that the nearest town is ‘Lockerbie.’ I decided to go. I told Julia the same when she called. ‘The name sounds familiar, I think I came across it as a kid, in a story’ – wow! a town that made its way into a children’s story should be interesting.
Artur couldn’t join me as he needed to go to the church, I thought I should go with him but he chose to cycle all the way to Longtown – an hour of cycling up hill, didn’t tempt me enough.
I reached the Carlisle railway station and took return tickets to Lockerbie. I had looked it up on Wiki and was pleased to read that Lockerbie has existed since at least the days of Viking influence in this part of Scotland in the period around AD 900. The name means Lockard’s Farm in Old Norse. The presence of the remains of a Roman camp a mile to the west of the town suggests its origins may be even earlier. Lockerbie first entered recorded history, as Lokardebi, in 1306.
More interesting was information on the architecture. Much of Lockerbie is built from red sandstone. This meant that the mood in Lockerbie reflects the weather as the red sandstone makes it a jolly good town on a sunny day and bears a gloomy look on a cloudy, grey day as the day I was destined to be there.
I am always happy to be on trains in Britain.
Only a handful people got off at the station and quickly disappeared as I got into the town. Almost immediately, I was the only person on the streets. It being a Sunday – everything was closed. The weather cold, the skies grey. But none of it could dampen my spirit, I was in Scotland! I walked around the town alone. I could hear the sound of motorbikes but couldn’t get to where it came from.
I spent some time at the statue of the Lockerbie Angel that’s built in memory of people who died in WW II
While there, I also thought of those killed in the Lockerbie bombing. Lockerbie is known internationally as the place where, on 21 December 1988, the wreckage of Pan Am Flight 103 crashed after a bomb exploded during the flight. In the United Kingdom the event is often referred to as the Lockerbie disaster, the Lockerbie bombing, or simply Lockerbie. Eleven residents of the town were killed in Sherwood Crescent, where the plane’s wings and fuel tanks plummeted in a fiery explosion, destroying several houses and leaving a huge crater, with debris causing damage to a number of other buildings nearby. The 270 victims (259 on the plane and eleven in Lockerbie) were citizens of twenty-one different nations.
I walked further up towards a lovely view of farms, sheep and horses, trying to see if there is anyway I can get there but there wasn’t. I stood on a bridge for a while, watched the town around me. I think I saw a few people here and there – one with a dog, two cyclists and a few cars that passed me by.
I had a good two hours at Lockerbie and had spent 1 hr 15 minutes in the town. As I walked towards the train station to get back to Carlisle, I was tempted to go into a pub – ‘Black Bull’ for a beer and decided to go into this one as it was very close to the train station. I was expecting it to be empty just as the town. There were no sounds coming from the pub, there were no windows so I had no idea what was inside.
Least did I know that I was opening the door to a pub full of Scottish men, big, tattooed, maybe a little drunk and in a great, loud Scottish mood, watching Golf! What can get more exciting than a pub full of Scots, having beer and watching golf on TV in Scotland?! I was amazed but not prepared. Definitely not prepared for the hooting and the ‘Are you a stripper?’ shouts.
One of the men stuck a toy mic into my face – “SING” he said.
If only I had imagined such a situation before. If only I wasn’t so stunned. If only I said something ‘Hello Lockerbie’ or ‘I love you Lockerbie’ or ‘Are you a moviestar’ or sang ‘You’re the TOP’ if only! I would have had all the townsmen as my friends in a jiffy.
But I did none of that cool stuff and instead pretended to switch off the mic, thereby switching off their excitement. I took my beer and holed up in a corner, absorbing the mood of the place.
I left soon after the beer, wishing I could take away a great story but still happy that I was in a pub full of big Scots that enjoyed golf on a Sunday, not too bad.