Today we meet a woman who came to Scotland from South Africa 25 years ago ago, and spent her first day trying on thigh-high boots and getting drunk with students…
What’s your name?
Frances Mckenna Wood.
Age and family?
I’m 45 years old with a husband and three daughters.
Where are you from originally?
Port Elizabeth – South Africa (born in Pietermaritzburg)
When did you come to Scotland?
1991 for the first time but I didn’t like it, so I went home in 1994 and returned permanently in 1996.
Why did you come to Scotland?
My folks are originally from Glasgow so, when I finished college, it was the obvious choice because I had family in Glasgow that I could stay with.
How’s it been in reality?
It’s been freezing, but also fun, frustrating, beautiful, and safe.
What is Scots’ best quality?
They eat ice cream ALL the time regardless of the weather. They enjoy every minute of sunshine!
And the worst?
Can’t think of anything!
What’s the funniest story about your time in Scotland?
Not so much funny but quite amazing. I arrived in Glasgow in September 1991 and stayed with my aunt and uncle in Paisley.
Being young and somewhat naive, I couldn’t wait to explore Scotland for myself so on the first day after arriving I insisted on getting the train into the centre of Glasgow to explore. Having never taken a train before, it was all new to me (I even kept the wrapper from the chocolate bar that I bought on the train that day and still have it, 25 years later!!)
Anyway when I arrived at Queen Street station, I got off the train in search of shops. I was young, poor but full of enthusiasm and excitement for this new and crazy world I found myself in. The first shop I saw was a shoe shop and in the window was a pair of thigh-high, leather, high-heel boots. Well, I would never have worn them but I HAD to try them on so that’s exactly what I did.
While I was hobbling around the shop in these fabulous boots, a girl about the same age as myself stopped me and asked if I was going to buy them because she loved them too. I laughed and said ‘NO!’ I was just trying them on, but took them off and let her try them on. While struggling to get the boots up to her thigh, we started chatting and I told her that this was my first day in Scotland.
She seemed positively excited about this and the next thing I knew she was insisting I meet all her friends at the pub around the corner, which we did. I got absolutely smashed with around eight Glasgow University students. After the pub, she walked me to the station, got me on the right train home and that was that, we were firm friends.
I met up with her again the following day as we were both looking for work. The job centre was advertising for waitresses at the Cromlix Hotel in Dunblane which we both decided to apply for. We both got offered jobs and ended up not only working together but sharing a room for almost a year at the hotel.
There were a lot of funny stories that year but unfortunately I was too drunk most of the time to remember them!
And the future – will you stay?
I’m now married to a Scot with three Scottish kids, do I have a choice?