Tilting at Windmills

Sunday 16th August 2020.

The book Don Quixote [pr: Key-ho-tey] revolves around the adventures of one Alonso Quixano from La Mancha in Spain, who reads so many chivalric romances that he loses his mind and decides to revive chivalry by serving his country under his new knight-errant name of Don Quixote de La Mancha. With his trusty servant Sancho Panza he has many adventures in which he fails to see the world for what it is, preferring to imagine that he is living the life of a knight-errant in a more romantic age. One of his adventures involves tilting at windmills that, in his madness, he believes to be giants. (‘Tilting’ is the word for the medieval sport of jousting).

An Illustration of Don Quixote fighting windmills. From the 1910 book Stories of Don Quixote

This rather long introduction outlines the origin of the expression, ‘tilting at windmills.’ which means to pursue a fruitless cause or to attack non-existent enemies.

It also, pretty much, sums up our attempts at a Scottish adventure. The role of Sancho Panza was played by my trusty side-kick Mrs P. My romantic notion was that a trip to Scotland could be undertaken in the same style as a trip to the Alps. Like Sancho Panza, Mrs P provided the earthy wit (and a great deal of patience). My knight-errant name, like the windmills we mistook for giants, is yet to be revealed.

The story of Don Quixote was brought to mind as we passed the 152 wind turbines of the Clyde Wind Farm in South Lanarkshire. The book was first published in 1605 and things have changed a bit since then. The windmills are long gone. Replaced by the wind turbines built either side of the M74 motorway leading from the border of England to Glasgow.

A Scottish wind farm (but not the Clyde Wind Farm – I couldn’t find a free image of that): Image courtesy of Pixabay.com

We tilted at those windmills on the way in to Scotland. Those same windmills laughed at our efforts a few days later as we ran from Scotland like Edward II fleeing Robert the Bruce after the Battle of Bannockburn (1314). Our battle had been only with the elements, traffic and the COVID-19 effect. Our casualties had been only to our egos (read; mine). It had however been a rout and our departure marked the end of a rather fruitless, and very wet few days ‘Scottish holiday.’

  • Days in Scotland – 5
  • Days with flooding, diversions, road closures or similar frustrations – 5
  • Days driving in queues of traffic – 4
  • Days on mountains – 1
  • Days climbing – 0

My Knight Errant name..? Sir Robin. This may mean nothing to many of you until I reveal the family motto and link;

When danger reared its ugly head, he bravely turned his tail and fled.

Edward II would have (not) been proud of us.

With hindsight, or as Mrs P would say; “I told you so”, my idea of going to Scotland was flawed from the start. The lockdown effect, the lack of planning, the weather forecast, the lack of planning, the number of vehicles on the road, the lack of a planning (did I mention that I had no real plan?) and my unwillingness to listen to the voice of reason, aka Mrs P. led to more days in Gandalf than are conducive to a relaxing time, no matter how much we love him.

We did however, manage to rescue, from the embers, some fun times which, over the next few posts, I will précis. We also returned home to Berkshire early, to avoid the storms forecast in the north. We did some fun things bacjk at home, which I will also provide some pictorial evidence of in my next post.

For now, I leave you with a hint of things to come…

Scotland, Frustrating but beautiful.

7 thoughts on “Tilting at Windmills

  1. Hi from Scotland
    So sad to read of your disappointing trip. Lack of planning yes; a huge factor. Not listening to good advice from Mrs P.
    What can I say!!!! Scotland is not the Alps and the weather is always a challenge.
    Hope you come again and visit us in Midlothian.
    Love from Barbara

    Liked by 1 person

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