This morning my friend Peggy sent me a card with a bagpiper on the front complete with a tune to match. There is nothing that makes me weep more than the strains of a bagpipe in heat. My late father introduced me to military music when I was still in diapers. Every Sunday morning he would be crouched down with his ear inches away from the old HiFi listening to Sousa and the Grenadier Guards at a death defying volume. Arthur also went to every Pipes and Drums Tattoo that came to Montreal. He insisted that we understand that any of the music that came out of the film "The Music Man" was not really what Sousa had intended.
At age six I was given a bonafide Scottish hat with a black ribbon trailing down my back and wore it until the plaid's clan was unrecognizable. We were just plain old Brits but the veins of a Scotsman lived in my father's heart until he died. Arthur would have been in tears had he seen the lone piper playing "Amazing Grace" at his funeral. He and I never saw eye to eye but anytime I hear the pipes and drums I crumble. Do you honestly know what the movie Braveheart did to me?
Because of my father's love of the sounds, I used to attend most of The Highland Games in Almonte, Ontario. It was not to watch the brave men perform their feats of strength, but only to hear the pipers and watch the young lasses perform their Highland Flings. In my inner mind I was up on stage dancing between the swords with my black leather ghilley's on. I have always dreamed to live in a castle deep in the highlands with the refrains of a distant lone piper lull me to sleep at night.
So how does one procure a semi affordable castle as maybe a future time share I ask myself?
Is there anything around, and should I search Craigs's List? That should be my initial start, don't you think?
"Your heart is free, have the courage to follow it." said William Wallace. And so I shall William Wallace and I will find that time share for us both.
I only found the odd thing on Craig's List and it really was not what I was looking for. You had your basic "Little People's Castle" with extras from a smoke free home for 25 bucks. Then there was the traditional Castle Bounce House for $900. That seemed a little more feasible to me but still not what I was looking for. I thought maybe a real Scottish man could help me and I attempted searching the word "Scotsman" on Craig’s List. Once again there was nothing of interest - all l got was restaurant equipment. I don't make this stuff up folks; I just write what I read.
So on to the big world of Google and I see there are a few castles for sale but all are out of my price range, which is actually no range at all. There is a castle fixer upper in Rhode Island, and a modest weekend castle in North Carolina. I think my favourite was Kip's Castle overlooking the New York City skyline but the selling price was not available until your application was approved.
Suddenly I remembered one of my favourite places in the world and if you have never been there, then someday you must make the journey. This is one residence where I could live for free until it closed down for the winter. I assumed I could easily hide at night and then come out during the day and play my bagpipes on the shoreline. It was nothing less than the jewel that sat in the middle of the Thousand Island region of St. Lawrence River called Boldt Castle.
George Boldt, owner of the Waldorf Astoria in New York City started to build the huge stone six-story castle on Hart Island in 1900. There is also an incredible yacht house on an adjoining island as well as other amazing architectural structures. The building of the castle stopped in 1904 after his wife Louise suddenly died. For 73 years the abandoned castle stood there while life on the St Lawrence River flowed by. In 1977 the Thousand Islands Bridge Authority bought the now called Heart Island and the nearby yacht house for one dollar. The agreement was that all revenue would be used for renovating the castle and for two decades they have been working on it, to the tune of 15 million dollars.
When I first went to Boldt Castle the interior had not been touched but now from seeing the pictures online it is now fit to live in. So next week I have decided to do a blog from my new home on Heart Island.
As I look through youtube's choices for bagpipe music and listen to some of them I relive my youth once more. A life where my father and I never got along but the one thing we shared was the love of the bagpipes. I do not know what it is, but it stirs up emotion and some sort of pride like what happened to Mel Gibson in Braveheart. One day I too will pass and I shall be residing in my imaginary castle in the sky reciting the William Wallace speech and screaming to all of you,
" Alba gu brath!"
Which means: "Scotland Forever"; as long as they have a castle to rent, and oh yes hopefully internet.
Lanark Highland Games
Images and Text: Linda Seccaspina 2011
Lanark Highland Games in Almonte, Ontario 2011