Memories of the Queen and a fairytale time in Scotland

Published 2:45 pm Saturday, June 4, 2022

On my mom, hero Gert’s birthday, February 6, 1952, hero mum, Queen Elizabeth II, age 26, was crowned Queen after her dad King George VI died of cancer, and although the Queen’s birthday is April 21, it is celebrated on the second Thursday of June because that’s what her dad did, it’s warmer, she is Queen, and at age 96, is celebrating her astonishing Platinum Jubilee – 70 years as the longest reigning monarch of the United Kingdom and world as we speak.  Well done, Queen mum!

Queen Elizabeth II is one of my all-time heroes for many reasons, number one, as a devout Catholic, she thankfully is NOT Queen Elizabeth I, and the fact that she has ruled so graciously as Queen since age 26, is simply amazing!  Plus, she’s a “car guy” serving during WWII at age 19, as a driver and mechanic…swell!

Somewhat direct connection with Queen mum happened with engagement to a lass from Scotland in 2009 – whose mum was a “Lord Lieutenant” to the Queen representing her when she was not available to their “county” Clackmannanshire, near Stirling – have been to her Gift Shop in front of her Holy Rood Palace (true cross) at the end of the Royal Mile in Edinburgh…and regularly order the Queen’s Tea from there – tea cannisters lining my kitchen counter…to include a cannister and large tray dedicated to, “The Longest Reigning Monarch.”  Recently tried ordering more tea and seems they are overwhelmed because of Queen mum’s 70th Jubilee and are not at this time accepting orders…duh, I need tea, y’all!

My first trip to Scotland in September 2009 and first “short” drive (long to St. Andrews) was to Dunblane where their close family friend, Graham Stewart, one of Scotland’s and world’s best gold-silver smiths, designed matching wedding bands for us in gold and silver – we placed our order to be picked up next trip.

Then in May 2010, drove Scottish fiancé, her mum and dad, retired University of Glasgow Geology professor, for my second and very longest drive from Scotland to England and back to visit her brother and family near London – two days down the A1, spending the night in York where we toured their famous Cathedral and later after “proper” tea, heard their equally famous choir perform…after, she and me visited several well-known, York pubs.  

On my Birthday, May 10, 2010, with her brother and wife, took a train to London which we toured on two double-decker busses, past the Queen’s Buckingham Palace, then ferry on the Thames – I’ve been over and under Tower Bridge – loved London…wee bit uneasy passing Tower of London, recalling infamous Henry VIII, Catholic hero, Thomas Moore and all that gore as we approached Tower Bridge….then wonderful meal in a posh London restaurant (I picked up the hefty tab) and was my best birthday ever – along with champagne at their house and one of the few birthday cakes I ever remember…thank you, again.

On this second trip to Scotland, we picked up our matching wedding bands from Graham Stewart…beautiful, but because of God’s wisdom are…unused.  The hug mum gave me after that first and second visit to Scotland, told me the breakup was not me…we were just way too unevenly yoked, painful, but right – thank you, God..

Driving back to Scotland on the M6 along the Irish Sea, night in the beautiful Lake District of England – side trip to Windermere, a large lake in Cumbria’s Lake District National Park (she and me) – all this was so life changing for me!

Arriving safely (Holy Spirit) back to Scotland, relief and rewarding for all to applaud my driving.  Her dad was a wee challenge, but I loved him (Scottish brogue) “So Steve, you’re driving was wonderful but I want to challenge you to a “real” driving test…” Up and over a very steep mountain, on extremely narrow “sheep trails” up, down, 90-degree twisty turns, that at one time fiancé warned me to watch the sheep because they would jump on the car!   All this, right hand drive, left hand six speed manual shift, swell, quiet, diesel engine, left side of road – well, “road” was so narrow that there was only one side, and bloody hell angle on one of those 90-degree twisty turns was so steep I thought we would turn over!

Safely down the other side (whew) loud applaud, cheers, and “dad” said, “Well done, Steve.  There are very few people on this earth that I would ever let drive me over that mountain road.” To this day his praise for my diving in Scotland and to England and back, means more to me than almost anything.  Praise those you love while you can – it means everything.

Thank you, Scotland and England family – but like Queen mum, twas a swell fairytale – LONG LIVE THE QUEEN!

 

Steve is an Oxford resident, worked on Campus, and received his Ph.D. in Counseling from Ole Miss, and can be reached at sstricke@olemiss.edu.