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  • September 2011
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BritLit On the Brain

In four days, I’ll be on a plane flying in to Edinburgh, Scotland.  This trip, which will take fourteen days total and will begin in Scotland and end in London, has been on my mind for MONTHS. Literally. Months and months and months.  For about a year, I’ve watched primarily TV shows set in the British Isles and read books that help transport me across the Atlantic.

I wish I could take you all with me.  But since I can’t, I’ll give you some information so you can travel with me in your imagination — and tell you a bit about a couple of the books I read to get myself into the right mood.

Let’s start in Scotland, shall we?


This beautiful place is Oban, Scotland, and is the first stop on our grand adventure.  Oban, on the West coast of Scotland, is the seafood capital of Scotland. Yum!

Rick Steves told me that Oban is also known for lawn bowling, and you certainly don’t have to go to Scotland to give that a try!  There’s even a U.S. Open of Lawn Bowling.  Maybe when I get back we can have a lawn bowling tournament at the Library?

Of course, I couldn’t find any books set in or near Oban — if you know of any, won’t you let me know?

Next up is Edinburgh.  I went to Edinburgh once before, but I was sick for most of the trip.  The only thing I really remember is climbing

the hill (through city streets) to Edinburgh Castle.  This time, I hope to do so much more!  I’m a little disappointed that we won’t be there for the Edinburgh Festivals, but you can’t have everything.

Edinburgh has tons of amazing history.  My friends and I are hoping to go on a midnight tour of the underground vaults, and I have it on good authority that every tourist MUST try haggis.  I’m a little worried about that, but I’ll try anything once!

We also might go on a literary tour and see all the places where great authors like James Joyce hung out.

If you want to learn more about the history of Edinburgh, there’s lots of resources to check out.  But if you like your history mixed with fiction, here’s a historical fiction title to try:

Davidson, Jenny

The Explosionist

In Scotland in the 1930s, fifteen-year-old Sophie, her friend Mikael, and her great-aunt Tabitha are caught up in a murder mystery involving terrorists and suicide-bombers whose plans have world-shaping consequences.

Next up is the Lake District.  Oh my goodness, isn’t that beautiful?  The Lake District is known as an amazing place to go for long walks, and I’ve even been running in an attempt to build up my cardiovascular strength and endurance so I can do this region justice.

We’re staying in a place called Keswick, which sounds like it’s both lovely and quaint and vibrant and active.  There’s a world-renowned theater in town and a stone circle nearby, but I’m most excited about going Hill Top Farm, which Beatrix Potter bought with the proceeds from her work.

I loved Peter Rabbit, Flopsy, Mopsy and the rest when I was a little kid.  I have a tattered and torn Peter Rabbit stuffed animal with a music box inside that plays “Here Comes Peter Cottontail” that I still sleep with occasionally, if I’m feeling particularly sad and lonely.

An amazing book set in the Lake District, about another girl who considered Peter Rabbit a friend, is the graphic novel The Tale of One Bad Rat by Helen Talbot:

The Tale of One Bad Rat is the story of a young girl, Helen Potter, who runs away from home to escape an uncaring mother and a sexually abusive father. Eventually she finds her way to the Lake District, drawn there by her love of the work of Beatrix Potter, and in that beautiful landscape she at last finds peace.

Is that enough to whet your appetite? Those three locations will take us through the first week of our epic United Kingdom vacation — maybe when I get back I’ll tell you all about it!


CLP – Lawrenceville

One Response

  1. Pittsburgh also has the only public lawn bowling green in PA–it’s in Frick Park! http://www.city.pittsburgh.pa.us/parks/lawn_bowling.htm Eric and I were going to take lessons there a few years ago, but it was $$$.

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