Yesterday I had the pleasure of reading through the latest issue of Lodestars Anthology — an independently published magazine-meets-journal, printed biannually, with each volume taking an in depth look at a different country. Notably, the periodical’s name, ‘lodestar’ — consisting of the Old English noun ‘lode,’ which back in its day denoted ‘way’ or ‘course’ — refers to the star, especially Polaris, used to guide the course of a ship, though figuratively can also be used to refer to something or someone acting as a model or source of inspiration.
The focus of the number I got to sit down with was Scotland. And knowing nothing about it, I must admit that I walked away informed and inspired. Although, as I found out, Scotland is relatively small — land- and population-wise, in terms of the latter inhabited by merely 5.5 million people — the magazine managed to cover a breadth of topics and territories, painting an expansive picture of a deftly variegated land.
Helping you navigate this Scottish journey is a, very useful, illustrated map of the country, conveniently situated very near the magazine’s beginning, on which are marked the destinations the texts deeper within will be heading. Original illustrations are in fact prevalent throughout the anthology, offering diversity to the photo-exclusive magazine scene — though of course, picture-perfect photography remains at the heart of the project.
Its engaging copy — keenly informative though itself captivated by the folklore of the land it is exploring — is skillfully interspersed with meditative poetry. And though the aftereffect is undoubtedly edifying, this comes through not without its lighthearted dose of factlets — for instance, did you know that the bicycle was (most likely) invented by Scottish blacksmith Kirkpatrick MacMillan?
These bits of easily palatable pop-facts do not lessen the historical wealth and accuracy of the research driving much of the texts. Given Scotland being the focus, the penchant for history — and recurring praise of Scotch whisky! — is perhaps inevitable. As such, the perspective offered is wide and illuminating, framing Scotland’s quintessence through depictions of dilapidating medieval castles to newly emerging festivals.
Further enriching the narrative are insightfully vivid personal encounters with Scotland’s culinary scene — filled with surprises like hot marmalade pudding with Drambuie (a sweet, golden-colored, 40% ABV liqueur made from Scotch whisky, honey, herbs, and spices) custard served at The Three Chimneys restaurant on the Isle of Skye, or a Brooklyn-inspired goat cheese and apple double cheeseburger at the BlackHorn hamburger go-to in Saint Andrews — complimented with first-hand advice of where to spend your post-feast night.
Add to the growing list of pleasures within an interview — you guessed it, about the art of distilling world-class Scotch whisky — some more original artwork — specifically paintings, drawings, as well as photos of ceramics and tweed fabric — and a few introspective essays, and you have before you a collection capturing Scotland’s radiantly gray uniqueness while offering insider’s advice about where to eat, sleep, and, perhaps most importantly, get lost — not to mention, you’ll also leave knowing the name of the castle in which the film crew of the not-so-historically-accurate Braveheart hosted its 1993 after-party (hint hint: Stirling Castle).
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