Thinking about a title for this story, I got inspired by this song: Englishman in New York (Sting).
I don’t take coffee, I take tea, my dear
I like my toast done on one side
And you can hear it in my accent when I talk
I’m an Englishman in New York
I was a Dutch Peaker in Glasgow and Edinburgh for the past two weeks. And although I was an ‘alien’, a ‘legal alien’, I never felt so much at home, as in these cities, in this beautiful country.
The reason I came to Scotland was to close my period of ‘the black hole’ ( see my post Celebrate love and life). It has been almost a year since I stopped working, got stuck in my black hole and couldn’t find a way out.
To make a definite closure to this period in my life I decided I had to go away on my own for a little while. I didn’t have to think long about where I was going to go. It had to be Scotland. I was there 4 years ago, in a time before I knew what could go wrong and what would eventually cause my depression. I have good memories of Scotland and I knew I needed good memories to move forward.
I also wanted to see if there was still a little passion for education inside of me. I had been a teacher special educational needs for over 27 years and couldn’t say I was done with it or not. Could it inspire, and motivate me again? So, a visit to the Scottish Learning Festival was an excellent chance to see what was left of the passion I once had for my work in education.
Doing this by myself was another challenge as I realized that I had never been on a journey alone.
What I didn’t know, when I booked my journey to Glasgow to attend the Scottish Learning Festival, was that in that same week, there would be the first annual MPC (My Peak Challenge) event.
500 people bought tickets for the MPC weekend event, with many travelling there from all over the world.
Over 20 Dutch Peakers had managed to get a ticket to the MPC Event.
Not so long ago I posted a story about MPC Peakers on my website. At that time I was a fresh Peaker (and still am) and didn’t think I would write another story, in such a short period, about this amazing group of people.
But I want to. I want to tell you more about MPC and in particular about the Dutch Peakers.
You see, I met this wonderful group of people, the Dutch Peakers, for the first time at an event organised by one of them.
First we did a little bit of archery and after that we rappelled down a really high tower and a last there was a walk through the trees. Between the trees there were all kind of obstacles you had to overcome to go from one tree to another. Everything had a lot to do with heights, (I think I have reached the age to where you are quite sure you want to stay with two feet on the ground).
It was at this meeting, I heard that a couple of them were going to the first annual MPC event. Some of those Peakers only went for the event, others decided to make a little holiday out of it, and some went to Glasgow without a ticket for the event, but just wanted to be there. They were very excited and also curious. Until then, they didn’t know exactly what the event would be like. They talked about what they were going to do there; going on a hike with some of the coaches, doing some work outs at EDA with coach John Valboneesi, and hopefully a meeting with Sam Heughan, the founder of MPC, and on top of it all – the gala ball on Sunday evening.
I learnt about a special WhatsApp the Dutch Peakers had; ‘The Glasgow Event’, the serious app for all the arrangements and other important stuff. And then there was; ‘Glasgow Chat’, for the not so serious stuff. This last one made me laugh a lot, even days before the event began.
There was a lot of talking about make-up, dresses, hair, shoes and if it all would fit in their suitcases.
As always, the anticipation was just as much fun as the whole event, especially when you’re a spectator.
From these apps I also learned that there were other Peakers on their own in Glasgow. So when I came back from a beautiful visit and walk to Pollock House, I met one of the other Peakers and her husband for a drink. We had a very pleasant evening and believe it or not we even had a mutual acquaintance. The world is very small.
Back at my room I saw a WhatsApp of another Peaker who had just arrived in Glasgow and was wondering if there were other Peakers who would join the hop-on-hop-off bus tour through Glasgow.
I was planning to go to a special place early in the morning, so I said I wasn’t going. But then when I woke up early the next morning, I sent her a message to say that I would come anyway. I’m so glad I did. We had a very pleasant day, meeting all these other foreign Peakers, and finally ending up in Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Art Museum.
Saturday night dinner at the Oran Mor
On Saturday evening the Dutch Peakers were having dinner together and I was invited to join them. As I told you before, there were other Dutch Peakers in Glasgow who didn’t have a ticket to the MPC event, including myself, but were there for other reasons. Some for a holiday, some just to be there to get a little glimpse of the MPC event. But we were all invited to join our group for dinner.
If you ever pay a visit to Glasgow don’t forget to go to Oran Mor, located in the heart of the city’s West End. It’s a Parish Church built in 1862, but nowadays it’s a bar, a restaurant and a nightclub.
It was at Oran Mor I had dinner with the Dutch Peakers, a group of people I had hardly seen, some of them who I only met a week ago. That evening, I matched names to faces. Names were not only names anymore. You can read a lot on Facebook about each other but names remain names and photo’s don’t tell you everything. Now, when I read a story, I see a name and a face, it means something to me. I feel something.
Together with all these people I had a really good evening. Not only a lot of laughter but also good conversations.
I listened to their stories and I realized that all these people achieved their own challenge that day. Some had to cope with a little bit of disappointment, some with victory. But in the end, each and every one of those Dutch Peakers had achieved a challenge. And we cheered to that, or should I just say: Slainté
A rainy Sunday in Glasgow
I knew that opposite Oran Mor, there were the Botanic Gardens, which I wanted to see. So I decided I would go there on Sunday morning.
Until then I had no complaints about the weather. But that morning it rained cats and dogs so I took the bus from my guesthouse. This was my sixth day in Glasgow and every day I walked to where I wanted to go and now I took the bus? I even felt a bit guilty!
It was still raining when I arrived at the Botanic Gardens, so I decided to get a cup of coffee in the tearoom.
As I walked in, there was a separate room on the left-hand side and before I knew it I was spoken to by a group of international Peakers who were having a brunch there and invited me to join them.
I sat down with two lovely women. We had a nice long conversation and talked about various things.
And for those of you who think my English writing is very good, I have to tell you a little secret. It was at this spontaneous meeting in the Botanic Gardens of Glasgow that I met Amy Bird and she offered to edit my posts for my website.
A native speaker editing my posts! Who would have thought that by going on a trip to Glasgow and Edinburgh to try and figure myself out, that this would happen to me. Not me.
You don’t need to have tickets to an event to see MPC in action, you’ll meet Peakers everywhere you go. Even if you walk back to your guesthouse and they call your name and wave to you from a bus stop on the other side of the road.
Thank you MPC for these wonderful few days in Glasgow where I met so many new, inspiring, motivating and nice people. I wasn’t there for the event but there wasn’t a minute I didn’t feel part of it.
Long after the event had finished and everyone had returned home, Dutch Peakers were still using the apps to connect and converse. After all we were Dutch Peakers in Glasgow…..