Nieuws - 18 november 2009

Inbhir Nis

I am sitting in a little Scottish café. My interest is drawn to the way an incredibly tall waiter a little distance away is serving up a delicious-looking chicken. 'Do I have to fill in evaluation forms too?' asks David, my Scottish supervisor.

Indeed, the forms. They haven't crossed my mind yet on this my second day of internship with the Scottish Forest Management. Putting my best English forward - which sounds a little halting - I try to explain that the evaluation forms can be found on a special website, but the relevant page is temporarily down. 'I hope there are English forms too?' he asks. 'Ah', I say, 'we are allowed to say Wageningen University and Research Centre only in English. The Dutch name has been banned as it could cause too much confusion.' David frowns at me. This time, I don't think it's because of my bad English that he does not understand.
It seems that the Scottish people do not bother themselves much about brand policy. I see bilingual signboards all along the roadsides. The Scottish/Gaelic place name is on top and the English one below. Inverness - where I now stay - is Inbhir Nis in Celtic, and the monster lake of Loch Ness is - less far-fetched - Loch Niss. Incredible. How many tourists wouldn't get lost in Scotland because of such rare frills? And I would have chosen another address to stay at during my internship had I known how difficult it is to pronounce Inbhir Nis.
What's more inexplicable - as I've learned during an afternoon of bird watching - is how they allow other opportunities to slip by. Against the advice of a Dutch engineering firm, they have decided not to drain dry the lake that I am now looking at - the entry to Inverness. And so exits the possibility of a big city style entrance.
As luck would have it, Wageningen UR rules with a firm long term vision. One organization, one name. A botanical garden or estate is taken care of only when it suits your interests. That's efficient thinking, to say the least. What a waste: that Scottish culture. To think that tourists would go to Scotland for that one or the other lake. The Scots do have a lot to learn from us.