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Scotland | Part II

I attended my second Muench Workshop in October. The first was to Iceland. This one took me to Scotland. I am part Scottish on my mom’s side. Her people traveled to the US via a short stay in Nova Scotia. They ultimately settled in Minnesota. This blog post is one-part Scottish tradition, one-part Scottish heritage and one-part photography workshop.

Our final accommodations at the workshop was a three-night stay at Ballentean Mountain Lodge. The lodge is in Glenfeshie in the heart of Cairngorms National Park. It was a wonderful place! One night, the chef prepared a traditional Scottish dinner. The first course was Haggis. I didn’t know what that was so I looked it up and it’s defined as a “savory pudding containing sheep's pluck (heart, liver, and lungs); minced with onion, oatmeal, suet, spices, and salt, mixed with stock, and cooked while traditionally encased in the animal's stomach though now often in an artificial casing instead”.

The tradition in Scotland is to present the Haggis. On this night, the chef came out of the kitchen wearing a tartan plaid sash and carrying a platter containing the haggis which was resting on a bed of heather. Bagpipes started playing on the stereo and the chef began marching around the table holding the platter of Haggis as we clapped along. The chef and fellow Scots in attendance would let out an occasional whoop. When the song ended the platter of Haggis was set down at the head of the table. Our Scottish guide, Paul Tomkins, then dramatically recited Robert Burns Poem - Address to a Haggis.

Address to a Haggis by Robert Burns

Fair fa' your honest, sonsie face,
Great chieftain o the puddin'-race!
Aboon them a' ye tak your place,
Painch, tripe, or thairm:
Weel are ye worthy o' a grace
As lang's my arm.

The groaning trencher there ye fill,
Your hurdies like a distant hill,
Your pin wad help to mend a mill
In time o need,
While thro your pores the dews distil
Like amber bead.

His knife see rustic Labour dight,
An cut you up wi ready slight,
Trenching your gushing entrails bright,
Like onie ditch;
And then, O what a glorious sight,
Warm-reekin, rich!

Then, horn for horn, they stretch an strive:
Deil tak the hindmost, on they drive,
Till a' their weel-swall'd kytes belyve
Are bent like drums;
The auld Guidman, maist like to rive,
'Bethankit' hums.

Is there that owre his French ragout,
Or olio that wad staw a sow,
Or fricassee wad mak her spew
Wi perfect scunner,
Looks down wi sneering, scornfu view
On sic a dinner?

Poor devil! see him owre his trash,
As feckless as a wither'd rash,
His spindle shank a guid whip-lash,
His nieve a nit;
Thro bloody flood or field to dash,
O how unfit!

But mark the Rustic, haggis-fed,
The trembling earth resounds his tread,
Clap in his walie nieve a blade,
He'll make it whissle;
An legs an arms, an heads will sned,
Like taps o thrissle.

Ye Pow'rs, wha mak mankind your care,
And dish them out their bill o fare,
Auld Scotland wants nae skinking ware
That jaups in luggies:
But, if ye wish her gratefu prayer,
Gie her a Haggis

As the poem was ending, Paul took a knife and stabbed the Haggis. We then all stood up and toasted the Haggis with a wee bit of Scotch. It was a really cool evening. The Haggis was amazing as was the venison served as the main course. (postscript: when I got home, my mom informed me that we are distant relatives of Robert Burns on her paternal grandmother’s side. Of course, that news makes the evening even more special to me!)

On to the workshop…
Muench Workshops puts on high quality, well organized workshops all over the world; from Antarctica to the Yukon.  Each of their instructors are accomplished professional photographers. We had three instructors at any one time.
David Rosenthal - a founding partner at Muench, and a recently retired award-winning movie trailer producer.
Paul Tomkins - Scottish photographer and guide. He kept us entertained with the history, myths and cultural facts of the places we went.
Alex Trowsky - a landscape photographer from Scotland (he was there the first half)
Nick Hanson - Scotland’s landscape photographer of the year (he was there the second half)

Six participants attended the workshop. They included an artist from Detroit, MI, a retired kindergarten teacher from New York; a resident of Maryland who is a direct descendant of two presidents; a former race car driver from New Zealand; an attorney from Peru and myself. This was a very diverse and interesting group!

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(Photo Credit: David Rosenthal)

(Photo Credit for the four behind-the-scenes images above: David Rosenthal. Click on the image to enlarge.)

Below are a couple images I took. The first one is from Loch Achtriochtan in the Highlands and corresponds to the middle two behind-the-scenes photos (above). The second was taken in Cairngorms National Park at Loch Morlich and corresponds to the last behind-the-scenes image.

Photo by Kerrin Burke Lahr

Photo by Kerrin Burke Lahr

Photo by Kerrin Burke Lahr

Photo by Kerrin Burke Lahr