Resplendent in My Kilt and Finery
Prince Charlie Formal Dinner Attire
Resplendent in my kilt and finary.
Dressing for Dinner
Finding the Occasion.
My wife, Carole, and I discovered cruising holidays by accident. We were moving house. Our home in Essex was sold. We were buying a new property in Cambridgeshire but solicitors and other things necessary for sale completion were delayed. It was approaching Christmas and a lot of things shut down. My sister had let me stay at her farm while these transactions happened.
We were not flustered. It was one of those things. It would be a boring wait. Often we tried to go out and explore the area we were moving to. It was night time as we walked through the little hamlet of March. There was a travel agent and it was open. It was a spur of the moment decision. I adore Spain, Portugal, Italy and Greece. But I could not be bothered with all the airports. I abhor flying and the delays.
I looked to Carole and said, “I wonder if they do a cruise this time of year.” I knew the Cannery Islands would still be warm. Even in December. Carole was pointing at some of the travel agent boards and there were a number of cruises.
The sale of our house had left us with a substantial amount of money. Even after buying the new place. Perhaps two weeks cruising would be a more agreeable way of spending our waiting time.
“Let’s go inside and have a look about,” I said.
Needless to say, Carole did not need a second invitation. I was almost dragged into the travel agents.
We emerged half an hour later with a holiday booked for a Canary Island cruise. It was Friday night and we had to be at Southampton port on Sunday morning. We went on a lightening shopping venture for various clothes required for the evening dinners. On formal nights, I had to wear a proper dinner suit with a bow tie. All this was purchased on the Saturday shopping spree. Carole also bought a number of formal style dinner dresses.
The Prince Charlie Suit.
We had a great time.
The holiday was wonderful and we met a group of very agreeable people. During the evening dinners. I noticed that some of the men wore Prince Charlie or Argyle formal dinner suits. I thought they looked terrific. Carole liked them as well.
On one occasion as we were leaving the restaurant, Carole and I went out to the smoking deck. I don’t smoke but Carole likes to have a cigarette before we retire to the cabin. As we went onto the open area, a man was there with his wife. He was dressed in his Prince Charlie suit and my wife commented that it looked very smart. He politely thanked us. We got talking and he was telling me that he had brought the suit many years ago. His tartan kilt colours were for the Scottish sir name McKinnon. He had an English accent and was from the Midlands.
He told me that one does not have to be Scottish to wear a Prince Charlie suit or kilt. There are all sorts of tartans too. He said if I went back far enough there would be many names with various Tartans. This intrigued me. I confess I wanted a Prince Charlie suit for the formal evenings. I had already made up my mind to do a lot more cruising. I absolutely loved the idea of my moving hotel taking me from one location to another while I slept and socialised on the route.
The little dog Dotty was not too sure.
Finally I went to the kiltmakers.
I did not buy a Prince Charlie suit straight away. I went on several cruises after and attended many formal evening dinners. The notion of a Prince Charlie suit returned every time I saw others dressed in such splendid attire.
Eventually, I began to look up the desired outfit online. I could have been knocked over with a feather when I discovered a kilt maker in the local city close to the Fenland, where I live. I thought I would have to go the Edinburgh or London. I was surprised to see kiltmakers all about the country.
I sent the local Peterborough kiltmaker an email. There were a number of tartans I could wear via name or ancestry. Even though I’m English most of us have relations from Ireland, Scotland or Wales. There are even English tartans too, so I’ve been told. I found I could wear tartans of Davidson, Price-Powell, Howell-Powell and there was also ancestral connections to County Waterford, Ireland.
The lady of the Peterborough kilt makers replied to my email and said there were two County Waterford tartans. One had a blue background and the other was with a green background. I liked the green and organised an appointment.
The kilt maker lived in a house in a suburban street but the side part, where a garage might be, had been renovated into a small curtained room. It was the kiltmaker’s workshop. The lady opened the door and welcomed Carole and me into her place. It was an absolute joy. The best way I might describe it would be to say, ‘A wonderful grotto of Scottish things.’ There were claymores, statues, sporrans, brogues and so many other things to compliment the Prince Charlie outfit I wanted.
The lady sat in the corner of her workshop with a big cherub smile on her face. Bagpipes were playing and the whole place had a gorgeous Scottish feel about it. The Kiltmaker looked a bit like Mrs Brown out of Mrs Brown’s boys and when she spoke, she sounded like Mrs Doubtfire. In no time at all, she had me down for the whole outfit. Eight hundred and fifty pounds worth. I was measured up and shown the various tartans I could choose. She had this thick book-like almanack of these many tartans. On the wall was a variety of photos. Even film stars. She was doing a third order for a wing of the Royal family. I don’t know whether it was to do with the Queen’s guards or cavalry. I remember she was very pleased with the custom because it meant she could display the royal crest. This is something allowed after a third service to the Royal Family. She had made kilts for two English football players as well. David Beckham and Rio Ferdinand. Her work orders often came down from Edinburgh and other areas. I think I might have been a side-line order.
She was in the process of doing a Buchanan kilt and invited me to see her work. I can’t begin to explain what a fabulous and compelling little place this workshop was. The kiltmaker was such a polite and very professional person and her work was first class. It was like being in a Brother’s Grim fairy tale. I chose the green tartan of Ireland’s County Waterford. This particular area comes from my Mother’s line.
County Waterford Kilt in the Prince Charlie Style.
My Birthday Suit.
I had to wait six weeks. This did not matter because my next cruise was almost a year away. I confess to being like an excited schoolboy. I finally got confirmation that my kilt and Prince Charlie jacket were ready. I went there on my birthday. I think the kiltmaker got a little worried when I said I would walk about the drive in my birthday suit.
Once home with the suit, I could not wait to try the whole thing on. Carole got the camera and I went out into the side drive to pose in my new finery. I wanted to get a claymore and fight Redcoats. Carole also has a tartan sash which the kiltmaker provided for her. When we go to the formal dinner, there will be photographers. There always is. No doubt we will get a good photo before we enter the restaurant. The next cruise is almost upon us.
The Old Way of Wearing a Kilt.
© 2017 colin powell