Well my friends, much time has passed, and much has occurred in that interval, but I must share a personal victory before getting back into the blogging swing of things. I have just received news that I can count myself among the proud Utilikiltarians – that is to say, I won a contest with a kickass submission. Which means that I won another kilt 😉
You can click here to see the newsletter (and read my bio on page 15), but it doesn’t quite do justice to the infinite thread of emails I sent in – almost all of which unfortunately did not make it onto the UK website (nor did 90% of the photos, nor my hyphens, apparently; for some reason, they’re replaced with question marks in the article. A mystery.) Fortunately, I have my own website RIGHT HERE, and you can have the whole story – mostly to enjoy the billions of photos that I submitted, as well as their descriptions. Overstated, perhaps, but I was proud, and since I’m vain, I want to share them all. But first, go read the article, and when you get to the beer question, consider my unpublished amendment, as follows:
What kind of beer are you buying for the first round?
While abroad, every week seemed to introduce another beer to my palate. As much as I love Guinness (and I assume that everyone’s at least as familiar with it as I am), I’d start us off with my latest favorite Scottish brew: Caledonian. For the less beer-inclined, it’d probably be Magner’s Irish cider (Bulmer’s in the home country). All on tap, if available, but if I come by any home-brewed mead, that’d be round, uh, whatever round we’re on. Still not happy (nor drunk enough)? Make it a whiskey – preferably WhistlePig.
On to the photos! And descriptions:
The first couple shots show me in my Survival, stringing and preparing to fire my bow back home (I miss that bow…) Then we’ve got me at a Beltaine/Mayday celebration showing some leg in my Workman’s ― what? It’s a fertility festival! ― backed up with my kilted clan brother in his Original. Next, I’m sporting my olive Original alongside Boston harbor, followed by my lady and I (in my Survival) posing for an “aww” moment.
On to the French experience: the first two show me dwarfed by the Bayeux Cathedral in Normandy (Survival); the next two with me and my fiancé in the gorgeous Bois de Boulogne (Boulogne Woods) just outside city limits (Survival); the following in the dungeon room of Le Dernier Bar Avant la Fin du Monde ― “The Last Bar Before the End of the World,” perhaps the geekiest and most badass bar in the history of everything (olive Original); and, you guessed it, the Eiffel Tower! (one of the only photos taken when it was still warm enough to show off my toe shoes in addition to my Workman’s). Then, we lovebirds in the Tuileries Gardens, showcasing my Mocker not too far from the Louvre; the next two demonstrating the difference from the top and bottom of Mount St Michel in Normandy, followed by some shots of me snapping photos in my black Original ― AND sporting my very useful Utilikilts hoodie! Finally for France, I’m walking through the quaint little commune of Saint Chéron near Paris (Survival).
Next, one of my favorites of the Workman’s in action building a home for Habitat for Humanity back home in north Texas. Then we’ve got me being inducted into the Pi Delta Phi international French honor society in my Mocker.
Then there’s the Ireland collection, all but one featuring my Survival: there’s me gazing across the rocky Burren and blue oceans of the isle; me and my travel buddy at the majestic Cliffs of Moher, demonstrating the 60+mph winds and my relief at having a safety system built into my kilt; exploring the ruins of Corcomroe Abbey, a 12th-century structure ripe for photography; me in my black Original, having just found my soon-to-be fiancee’s engagement ring at Appleby Jewelers in Dublin; and for the last page of Ireland, night time on the River Liffey in Dublin.
Then I’m dressed up in my Mocker, along with my lady, for a seriously silly party, followed by three nice demonstrations of my Workman’s as I prepare for another Maypole dance, demonstrate safety with power tools, and have fun with a phone call in the streets of Savannah, Georgia. The following shows how embarrassing it is to run out of fuel in a hybrid vehicle on road trips (for the record, if me and my black Original had been driving, we’d have kept a better eye on the gas gauge). Next is a demonstration of the mysterious and irresistible “napping pheromones” released by a friend’s little doggie (Survival), followed by another romantic moment with my love and I (in my black Original), this time at the Texas Renaissance Festival near Houston. Finally, we end with a very precious photo that includes one of Utilikilts’ original Leather models on my clan brother to the left, bolstered by me and my Survival. What I’m doing with my mouth, I have no idea, but I justify it with the big-ass sword and otherwise heightened level of testosterone in this photo.
This is me and my fiancee at the Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris, France – that’s where Jim Morrison’s buried, along with Chopin, Oscar Wilde, and many other famous dead guys. Not in the same grave, of course. That’d be weird.
Snow in Paris was too good an opportunity to pass up. Once again, I’m in the Boulogne Woods, this time enjoying a very cool breeze. My photographers (Parisians themselves) asked the inevitable question “Aren’t you cold?” and I replied honestly: I’m used to it by now, and moreover I prefer to be cold and comfortable than cold and in pants. This Texas boy handled an unusually extreme European winter much better than he thought he would.
Here I’m sharing the spotlight (and my Mocker) with some more traditionally-clad folks of Scottish inspiration at my first traditional Robert Burns Supper, hosted at the Auld Alliance Scottish Pub in Paris. (Oddly enough, the other folks in the photo were almost all French. Great friendship between the French and the Celts!) Then I’m below the streets of Paris (in the catacombs) on my way to the underworld in my Workman’s. Finally, I’m at the Cernunnos Pagan Fest at the Moulin Rouge, getting my drink on with a brand new drinking horn! Not the best quality photo, but the only one that showed enough of my black Original to include in the contest.
Next I visit the Château de Chantilly near Paris – if you’ve never heard of nor tried the famous crème Chantilly, you are missing out on a world of calories, sugar, and fat that will blow your taste buds away. These all feature my black Original: from behind the castle, and from a throne of stone in the gardens (I have Utilikilts to thank for the shadowy blackness of the garment, otherwise that view might be a bit shocking to some), then we’ve got me at my sexiest by the pond. Gotta have a little air guitar at the Luxembourg Gardens in Paris, once again rocking the Original and also my Vibram FiveFingers® toe shoes. Then comes Versailles, about as far away from Paris as Chantilly: one in what I was sure was a dungeon that needed a more authentic touch, and another that reveals my hippie side under a crazy, knotted tree.
A few more from my visit to Normandy: at the American Cemetery visitor’s center; at various Normandy beaches (note the fantastic weather); and another sample of me snapping some shots at Mont Saint Michel.
Did I mention that I went to Ireland a second time? There are some real jewels in this batch. I was on the Emerald Isle with my fiancee this time, and we had a full week to tour the country. First, I’m beside one of the ironically named “Peace Walls” that have separated the Protestant and Catholic communities of Belfast for a number of decades now, some dating back forty years. The causeway photos are also in Northern Ireland, at the Giant’s Causeway (one photo for good looks, the other for scale). In one of my favorites, I’m on a boat called the Connemara Lady, floating down Killary fjord near the west coast in one of the most beautiful, picturesque landscapes that Ireland has to offer – made all the more enjoyable with a pint of Guinness. Then we progress to Howth, a lovely little fishing village near Dublin on the east coast: me and my lady in the heart of a rhododendron forest; me on top of a mountain overlooking the harbor (with “Ireland’s Eye” closest in the background – with yellow gorse even closer); us lovers again; and me climbing a rather steep trail on our decent from the mountain. Then we’re in the Long Room at Trinity College, Dublin, after having seen the Book of Kells. Then back to Northern Ireland for one of the most terrifying experiences of my life: I’m traversing the rope bridge at Carrick-a-Rede about a hundred feet above the violent surf and jagged rocks, which is certainly saying something if you have vertigo and acrophobia like I do (notice the clenched jaw, forced smile, and iron grip on the hand ropes. I sure as hell wasn’t going to look down. But I made it!) Finally, we’re at the Hill of Tara in the Boyne Valley, County Meath, posing between a tombstone (St. Patrick’s, maybe?) and the very phallic Lia Fáil, the Stone of Destiny, where the high kings of Ireland were crowned.
Oh, and if you’re ever in the little town of Doolin in Country Clare, you need to stop by Fitzpatrick’s Pub & restaurant for a round or two of their local red beer, Dooliner. I think it compliments the laid back atmosphere and beautiful countryside quite nicely.
Whew, glad I got that out of my system. Here’s to a new kilt! Hope to see you guys soon 🙂