Posted by: chptr37 | 05/07/2009

Pg. 37: A Wee Bit of Sunshine


The ferry coming on (or going out, I’m never sure which). Notice, if you will, all the sunshine.


  • Weather: Is that? Can it be? Why, yes, it truly is… Oh, glorious sun. Oops, there it goes…
  • Mileage: A blistering uphill walk that made my calves ache. Then a slow saunter through the forest.
  • Discovery: I love the way that the Scottish say my name. It just has the most perfect-sounding roll.
  • Media: Heart Songs, Annie Proulx
  • Worst Thing: I miss really good coffee. So so so badly…
  • Best Thing: Rainpants! Hallelujah!
  • Quote of the Day: “Lorna! Don’t be cheeky to the poor girl! Lorna!” Said by the man whose large, but rather cute, dog kept trotting back down the woodland path to bark at me.
  • Word of the Day: Drookit. Soaking wet.


So, after yesterday’s fiasco in the pouring rain — and after slathering my soaked pants off, only to realize there was no way they were going to dry out without actually blowing some sort of heat on them– I decided that a pair of rain pants was in order. The bike shop at the bottom of the building had rain pants in the window for a mere eight pounds, so I walked down to have a look.

“I need something for walking in the rain,” I said. “For my legs.”

He didn’t even ask, just nodded. “Aye.”They should just hand them out at customs. Welcome to Scotland. Here’s your rain pants. Ya want wellies too?”

I didn’t need shoes — I’d brought a pair of waterproof hikers that had, so far, held up pretty well despite the deluges — so I shook my head.

He dug around until he came up with a pair of dark blue pants, and held them up to my waist. “Can they go halfway ’round yer waist? If so, that’s the right size.” I had no idea if they could or not, but I could see they were a small and that they were already too long, so I said yes. I figured a medium would have me tripping all over myself just trying to get down the stairs.

Eight pounds later I was the proud owner of a pair of Scottish rain pants, size small, color blue-blackish. They even came with their own bag, like a tent, so you could roll them up and carry around in case there was ever enough sunshine to take them off.

The weather this morning promised — as it so often does — a 906 percent chance of rain, so I unrolled my new rain pants and prepared to don them for my morning walk.

In his book, Notes From a Small Island, author Bill Bryson (segue: I will make a deal with the devil some day so I can write as funny as Bill Bryson does), talks about donning rain gear:

I breakfasted, settled the bill, and spent a protracted period struggling into waterproof outerwear in the front hallway. It’s a funny thing: I dress myself most days without incident, but give me a pair of waterproof pants to put on and it’s as if I’ve never stood unaided. I spent twenty minutes crashing into walls and furniture, falling into potted plants, and, in one particularly notable outburst, hopping on one leg for some fifteen feet before wrapping my neck around a newel-post.

When at last I was fully kitted out, I caught a glimpse of myself in the full-length wall mirror and realized I looked like nothing so much as a large blue condom.

Now, imagine me doing this, only minus the newel-post (because I don’t know what it is) and with the addition of a bedframe, a dresser and a coat hanger, which wasn’t, it appears, strong enough to hold up a flailing 130-pound woman. Then, when I finally got them on, I realized there was a problem. They were way too big in the butt, and way too small in the waist (which, I have to admit, is a problem I’ve never ever had. It’s almost always the other way around). The good news was I looked nothing like a condom. The bad news was that I looked everything like a toddler with a too-full diaper on. I rolled the waist down a notch, gave myself a sideways look in the mirror (one of those was enough) and headed out the door. Rain be damned, I thought! I’m going to come back warm, dry and … well, still looking like I’m wearing a diaper beneath my rain pants.

I started on my usual hike along the seaside. It was sunny and bright, with not a cloud in the sky. Everyone else was walking along, dressed in spring-like colors, waving and laughing. I was chuffing it around in my black nylon waterproofs, making that sound between my thighs that can only be made by nylon pants, somewhere between a thrrp-thrrp-thrrp and a swish-swish-swish.

Then I hoofed it up a long, slow, steadily rising hill, with little more in my stomach than a banana and a garlic pill (Word of caution: Do not try this at home, kiddies. There’s a reason you’ve never seen banana cream and garlic pie on the menu). I was winded, breathing of garlic, but there was. still. no. rain. Not a drop.

Then I meandered through a beautiful woods with glorious views of the oceans and the still-cloudless skies. The only noises were the whinny of the horses from below, the ocassional pad-pad of a dog and owner out for a walk and the sound of a pair of rather useless and absurd looking nylon pants going rustle-rustle-rustle with every step. I was starting to feel more and more like a weather-man who should be put out of a job.


This trail, which is about a mile long and runs through the Skipper Wood, is becoming one of my favorite places to walk.


I rounded the final corner of the path that would take me toward home, and there, in the sky, a single cloud that opened up on me, drenching me for a total of thirty seconds before drifting away to, presumably, open up full-force on someone less well-dressed than myself. I shook off the three drops of rain that had landed on my rain pants and did a fist-pump in the air. Score one for the rain pants! I was dry! I mentally stuck my tongue out to all those people who’d been silly enough to come out in jeans and regular pants, and headed happily back to the flat, where I spent a good ten minutes getting back out of the rain pants, nearly toppling a bookshelf before I decided to get smart and just lay on the floor, where they peeled off rather quickly, seeing as they were still almost completely dry.

No matter. I hear there’s a storm on the horizon. And you can bet that tomorrow I’ll be out it in, nice and dry, huffing my way up hill and dale, making everyone around me envious of my ginormous, but very dry, diaper-butt.

Far and fast, with a swish-swish-swish, s.


“I can’t think of anything that excites a greater sense of childlike wonder than to be in a country where you are ignorant of almost everything.” ~Bill Bryson



  1. Forget Bryson … This was one of the wittiest humor pieces I’ve read all year!

    My very favorite line, of many favorite lines:

    “Now, imagine me doing this, only minus the newel-post (because I don’t know what it is) …”

  2. Shanna- I totally loved this. Bryson is also one of my favorites- *A Short History of Nearly Everything is in my top three favorite books of all time, and even it was funny at times although it wasn’t really a humor book. In A Sunburned Country made me laugh so hard I almost puked…the bar scene in Canberra is one of the funniest things ever.

    Sorry that you are so incredibly rained-upon but I for one am highly entertained and look forward to more. xo

  3. Mom and I just read your post and we would each like to make a comment. So, first from mom:
    “Oh Shanna! You don’t know what a newel-post is?!” (I didn’t comment, because I didn’t either) According to mom it’s “the fancy end piece at the end of the stair railing that Mary Poppins would crash into at the bottom.”
    And from me: I’m so glad that you have a piece of clothing now to officially join the Coat Quartet. =)
    Miss you!
    Love, US
    ^ that can be U.S. or us …. or us in the US. Your choice.

  4. Jeremy: You’re so sweet! Hm… what do you want? 🙂

    Ellie, ellie, bo-belly: I miss you so so so so much! I loved In A Sunburned Country too. “Coffee… where coffee?” Don’t be a stranger, please!

    Chelsea: I am proud to be part of the Coat Quartet, at long last. And leave it to mom to know what a newel-post is! I miss you on my walks, but I carry you with me always.


  5. So funny! Loving your travelogue, Shanna! There should be less rain soon. 🙂

  6. Ah, you haven’t had good coffee since the pot I made, eh? Weren’t you surprised that someone who doesn’t drink coffee and can’t operate a filter could make such DELICIOUS coffee, eh?! ; )

    And … ‘rainpants’. Wow. You do know that for UKers that word conjures some really exotic images?!

  7. I am really enjoying your stunning reportage!

    I wish you fewer rainy days.

    Can you please post a photograph of yourself in the rain gear? It sounds quite fetching, actually.

  8. Saskia: Really? You promise? Heh. Despite my whining, I actually like it. It makes me productive 🙂

    A: How did you do that? Mine’s all… well, not very strong. What happened? And, oh no … I didn’t know! Why didn’t you tell me? The guy at the bike store much think I’m.. Oh, great…

    Ella: Thanks so much, Ella! I’m having a blast writing about it. I promise a rain-gear pix next time it rains.

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