I’m always at home for Thanksgiving. It’s my favorite holiday. My husband and I open our home to our relatives and friends, and we take the time to give thanks for many things that bless and enrich our lives.
Going on a tour to places where I have been many times before gives me a great deal of comfort. I often hope that I will reconnect with people whom I’ve met on previous tours. I’m thankful to all of these individuals whose kindness and knowledge enhanced the travel experience for my students. A fast-paced package tour for students can still provide you with many opportunities to meet people who enrich your time in their countries.
On this Thanksgiving Day, I’d like to give my thanks to several individuals from England and Scotland who made my tours there so wonderful and memorable.
John Redpath was the town crier for the city of York, England, from 1990 to 2007. American Heritage Dictionary defines a town crier as “a person formally employed by a town to proclaim announcements in the street.” During medieval times, with most of the population being illiterate, the town crier was the chief source of communication and information. So important was his position that it was illegal to heckle a town crier and it was a treasonable offense to harm one. Using his hand bell to attract our attention, Mr. Redpath opened his announcements with the traditional, “Oyez, Oyez, Oyez “(“Hear Ye”). In his resplendent costume, he was a great ambassador for his city and a very nice gentleman, too. I tell my students that I have a great fondness for men in uniform.
Davy Holt is a traditional folk musician from Scotland who performed in the Lodge Hotel in Newtonmore, Scotland, where my students and I were staying. Thanks to our tour director, Tony McGrath, who prepared handouts of Scottish songs for each of us, we were ready to sing along to such classics as “Loch Lomond,” “Scotland the Brave,” and “Flower of Scotland.” We ended the evening singing “The Star Spangled Banner” with everyone placing their hands over their hearts as we sang our national anthem. Mr. Holt even loaned his guitar to one of the audience members who sang and played “Carolina in My Mind,” his tribute to those of us from the Carolinas.
Davy Clarkson is a coach driver from Edinburgh. Scotland, who is one of the nicest people I’ve ever met.
My students loved him and he always went the extra mile for them. One day, he turned up in his finest Scottish regalia and explained to the students about what made up his traditional outfit. Even though his father was seriously ill in the hospital, he still took our group to the airport and we all grieved with him when he received the news of his father’s passing en route. I always weep at the end of a tour because parting so sad, but I was moved by my students’ own tears for our beloved Mr. Clarkson and his father.
Stewart Rose is a coach driver from Glasgow, Scotland, who also helped to create wonderful memories on tour for us. An accomplished bagpiper, Stewart played his pipes to call my students to our bus after our time on the Isle of Skye. While he played, several little girls in the car park danced to the music, making that one of my favorite tour memories.
On our last evening of the tour, Stewart gave us a lesson about the bagpipes, dissembling his instrument and explaining what each part does, and he played some beautiful farewell tunes as well.
Dave Stalker is an official Scottish Blue Badge Tourist Guide with a terrific sense of humor who lives in Berwick on Tweed, the northernmost town in England. I’ve been on more than one tour with Mr. Stalker as our Edinburgh city guide and I am always amazed by how he makes the culture and history so meaningful for my students. I met Mr. Stalker on my very first tour to Scotland and I certainly hope to see him again. You can’t beat having a man in a kilt as your tour guide.
Tony McGrath is a tour director from Manchester, England, who was the subject of my December 23, 2010 post (“The Man From Manchester”). I had the pleasure of having lunch with Tony, his wife, and his mother-in-law when I was in Paris this summer. I am truly thankful about the fact that I will be back on tour with him in 2012. Tony was our tour director for all of the tours that allowed me to meet John Redpath, Davy Holt, Davy Clarkson, Stewart Rose, and Dave Stalker.
I look forward to meeting many more individuals who make our tours so very special and I’m keeping my fingers crossed about being able to see someone who has been on tour with me before.
Readers, who are some memorable individuals you have met on tour?