The blog of photographer and musician, Kim Ayres

Wild Haggis

When you’re 7 years old you know that if you could just stay awake for long enough, while pretending to be asleep, then on the night before Christmas you might just catch a glimpse of Santa delivering gifts.

You’re also at an age when, if you lose a tooth at the swimming pool you will dive to the bottom in an attempt to retrieve it, twenty times if necessary because there’s a fairy ready to give you hard cash for the thing if you can place it under your pillow that evening.

So it was with anticipation and excitement that Kate’s twin boys set of with Rogan to look for wild haggis in the decaying bracken, while Kate and I caught up on old times, sitting on the hillside overlooking Castle Campbell, Dollar Glen and out across the Forth Valley in Central Scotland.

Kate’s originally from Scotland but I first met her at Acadia University in Nova Scotia, Canada when I was on a student exchange some 15 years back. I last saw her 10 years ago when she returned to the UK for a short while, before realising her heart lay back across the other side of the Atlantic.

The fact that she was visiting family this week, thereby being only 120 miles away rather than the usual 4,000, was too good an opportunity to miss, so I drove up to see her, meet her sons for the first time and reminisce about how we used to look younger and see the world differently.

While Kate has no immediate desire to move back to Scotland, she misses the open mountains and hillsides. “Trees Kim,” she said, “I’m sick of trees.” Apparently there are an awful lot more of them in Canada than Scotland. I guess there’s a reason why the national flag has a leaf on it.

Throughout the day Rogan was superb. He talked non-stop all the way up and all the way back, helping me to stay awake on the journey, while giving me space to chat to Kate, and keeping her lads occupied while we swapped stories about life events and mutual friends. Although he’s only 12 years old, I couldn’t have asked for a better travelling companion than my son.

Despite near perfect conditions, the boys failed to bag themselves a wild haggis. Rogan had warned the young Canadians that with their left legs longer than their right, Haggis was notoriously quick running round the sides of mountains so very difficult to catch. However, to counter their disappointment, Kate assured her boys she would buy one ready caught and prepared from the butcher’s on the way back to her brother’s house that evening.


ADW said...

Why does this sound suspiciously like hunting for Snipe?

Isn't haggis a "delicacy" over there?

Sayre said...

What a lovely person Rogan must be! It takes a true imagination to hunt for wild haggis or snipe especially with younger twin boys in tow.

savannah said...

i love it! he seems to have your talent for spinning a tale, sugar! comgrats to you and the missus for raising such a generous and thoughtful child!

Sandy said...

Burn's might have called his honest and sonsie, but somebody had already caught and boiled his for him. I'm sure that if he'd tried to catch his own he'd have cursed already using up wee, sleeket,cowran,tim'rous beastie, on a mouse and no save it for the little blighter.
Have a good day Kim

Jeff said...

Here Haggis, haggis....sounds like great fun.

Also sounds like you all had a great day.


Carole said...

You are famous for making me look up words I've never heard. In this case it was haggis. The dictionary explained: a traditionally Scottish dish that consists of the heart, liver, and lungs of a sheep or a calf minced with suet, onions, oatmeal, and seasonings and boiled in the stomach of the animal.

Did anyone in Scotland miss the part about being boiled in the stomach of the animal? This is not a treat folks.

Anyway, I've also hunted snipe in my time, much to the amusement of my older brothers.

Very cool that you still keep in contact with Kate and that Rogan is such a gem.

Kim Ayres said...

ADW - "delicacy" is perhaps overdoing it a bit, but it is a common enough dish

Sayre - Rogan's always been good with younger kids - he's fantastic with his niece & nephew who are 3 & 2 years old

Savannah - thank you

Sandy - Hi Sandy, thanks for visiting. Hope life's treating you well

Jeff - aye, it was a good day

Carole - as the 3rd person to mention snipe in 6 comments I figured it had to be some mythical North American creature, but no, apparently it's an ordinary bird, although quite difficult to catch.

I must admit haggis is not to my particular taste, although I've had the occasional Vegetarian Haggis which wasn't bad- there are plenty of recipies about that don't require an actual stomach :)

Tom said...

If you ever make it to the Midwest, you're bound to run into this urban "legend" in the local tourist shops.

Sounds like a great time...

Kanani said...

Ha! This made me laugh.
A few years ago, my aunt (from Scotland) talked about "cooking a wild haggis." I had NO idea what she was talking about, only that she said she "so missed the taste of a freshly roasted haggis."

This was before the internet, and besides, it'd do me no good anyway over at her house because she & my uncle don't have it. So I offered, like a good niece, to phone around to some butchers to see if anyone had any.

She started laughing, then told me the "joke."

Sam, Problem-Child-Bride said...

That was bad luck for the boys. At this time of year haggis are rutting. They're all off getting lucky in the depths of broad-beleaf-ed forests.

Fat Lazy Guy said...

Haha, sounds like a grand old time.

Brave Astronaut said...

No haggis on the birthday menu, sadly, but for a mere $700 (US), you could join us for my birthday dinner. You could stay for the next day as I am planning to take a large group to the premiere of National Treasure 2. And we have a place for you to stay. We'll get Restaurant Gal to come, too!

Mary Witzl said...

Some day your son and his cousins will look back on this day with nostalgia and they won't mind being practiced upon one bit. Or at least no more than I minded being laughed at the day I chased all over our front and back yard in LaPuente with a salt shaker in one hand, determined to get it on the back of a sparrow so I could catch it...

Someday, Rogan will have his kids chasing wild haggis too...

Kim Ayres said...

Tom - ah yes, the Jackalope. I read about them in a battered collection of "Bloom County" I picked up once at a jumble sale

Kanani - I daresay you can get them imported

Sam - how do they cope in the Hebrides where the forests no longer exist? Or are there adaptive breeds on the Islands, like Galapagos tortoises?

FLG - 'twas indeed

Brave Astronaut - well if you can arrange sponsorship to cover the air fare...

Mary - when were cousins mentioned? You're scanning too quickly when you read - slow down a bit and you'll take more in.

Did you catch your sparrow?

Andreas said...

So this thread really seems to create massive traffic on online dictionaries' sites. And I learned that Wikipedia even has an article on Wild Haggis!

After having read the description Carole gave I really wonder what a "vegetarian" haggis might consist of... or maybe I'd rather not know it too exactly.

Though I didn't understand the "snipe" story - isn't it just an ordinary bird? -, I'd like to complete the bestiarium by introducing the Wolpertinger and the Elwedritsche: though somehow resembling the jackalope, unfortunately they can only to be found in continental Europe.

Kim Ayres said...

If you have some good German stories, Andreas, you should join us at The Storytellers Blog (see sidebar)

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