Last week, my parents dropped by and my dad had a cool coupon for me. No, it wasn’t for “buy one get one free wine”, which would have been really sweet—it was for a free square foot of land in Scotland. And with housing prices these days, I’ll take that square foot and flip it one day for at least a bottle of scotch. I logged onto the company website, entered the coupon code and it immediately brought up a lush green landscape on the island of Islay. It was zoomed out quite a bit and close to the middle, there was a tiny box with some coordinates in it. The tiny box was in the only part of the entire satellite view that was dead, brown, and dry. “No!” I yelled. “Not again!” But yes, sure enough, when I zoomed in, MY plot of land was right in the middle of a barren wasteland.
And this happened to us five years ago as well when we visited Scotland…(time for a flashback):
As you may remember, I am now a Lady, having been presented with the title to 10 square feet of land in a nature reserve in Scotland after complaining that everyone else in the family was nobility except me. Kate thought it sounded kind of sketchy, but it’s actually true (well, the landownership part if not the “peer of the realm” part), and on the second last day of our trip, Ken, Kate, and I decided to drive up to the Duror area to visit our property. We didn’t know what to expect. We had directions from someone named Stewart, and we were told we were too late to book an actual tour, but we were welcome to come and visit our property. When we got there (down a single-track road, because that’s how you know you’re in the United Kingdom), we came out into a parking area with a seemingly deserted small, log-style cabin. But there were other cars around, so we knocked on the door. A woman called for us to come in, and then next thing you know, we’d logged into the wifi, downloaded their GPS app, and were handed personalized maps of the reserve. It was a lot more high-tech than I imagined it would be. We followed the GPS compass through a dead forest—“dead” because we were told that it had originally been a corporate logging area, and that the North American spruce trees had been planted too close together, causing them to crowd each other out so that none of them could grow properly. The 5 year plan was to take all of them down and plant native Scottish species, but at the time, it was dark and forbidding:
Kate: Those are like trees that had some terrible disease and died. Who would want to own THAT? It’s like a tree graveyard.
Me: Can you imagine the poor sucker who paid good money to own 10 square feet in THERE?
Kate and Me: I know, right?! HAHA.
Ken: Um, the GPS says to turn left in 10 metres.
Me: But that would be straight into the dead forest…
Sure enough, both Kate’s and my land were in the part of the reserve that was going to be “rejuvenated” over the next 5 years. But we were pretty happy to discover that our property was on the far edge of the dead forest, where there was a little sunshine and some moss growing:
Kate: I have a mushroom on my land!
Me: You’re so lucky–I wish I had a mushroom! But I have all this lovely moss. Ooh, there’s a bird in my dead tree!
In truth, the whole place was beautiful, despite the dead trees. There are fields, and rivers, and all kinds of lovely forest creatures. And because it’s been parcelled out, it can never be developed or destroyed, so it was well worth the 85 bucks we each paid for it. Kate and I each buried toonies (Canadian two dollar coins) in our land so that future civilizations would know that Canadians were capable of crossing the great water. And hopefully now, if the whole thing has been rejuvenated, I’m going back and building tiny castles to oversee my vast Scottish estates. Just because I can.