Thursday, 25 March 2010

Edinburgh Sat

Let's face it, there is no way I can do justice to the fabulous buildings in Edinburgh. In any case, we weren't there for long and we weren't there on holiday, but to visit Sarah. Poor girl had been sent home from work earlier in the week with a virus and was just beginning to recover, so we tried not to roust her out of bed too early on the Saturday. I took loads of pictures, but I'm not finding them very satisfying at the moment. However, we'll see what I can come up with.

One of my favourite things in Edinburgh is the monument to Sir Walter Scott, built after his death.

Another favourite building is the Old Waverley hotel, where I'm not likely to ever stay. Apparently the clock tower is part of a building behind, not part of the hotel, something I'd never realised before.

We also climbed up to Edinburgh Castle, which I find rather dull during the day. It is much better viewed at night when it is lit up beautifully. Neither is the inside my cup of tea, it being a thoroughly military establishment. It has large rooms decorated with armour and spikes, if I remember right. The one thing I can recommend about the castle, other than viewing at night, is that you can get your picture taken with a handsome young man in a kilt (must find that picture to show you). The castle was even less impressive on this visit as much of it was undergoing maintenance work. Somehow a bright red concrete mixer destroys the romance of the place.

You should be warned: there is nothing and nowhere in Edinburgh city centre that doesn't involve stairs. Good job I'm an athlete, eh? (Laughter is supposed to be good for your health so feel free, just don't hurt yourself rolling in the floor.)

We wandered around Castle end of the Royal Mile, which is the road between Edinburgh Castle and Holyroodhouse; actually, a series of roads, but only because Brits change road names every few feet). If I think the former is boring, I find the latter fascinating. Holyroodhouse isn't always open, as it is one of the Queen's residences, but it was formerly the home of Mary Queen of Scots and if you plan to visit, I strongly urge you to read about her life and time. I'd just read a historical novel and that was enough to make it magic for me.

It was on my first ever visit to Edinburgh when I stayed with my Scottish Grandmother, as Bill Bryson refers to the little old ladies who run bed and breakfasts out of their homes in Notes from a Small Island (which I've just read Brits have voted as best characterising their country). She would tell me what I should see each day and she really did get huffy if I veered from the programme she'd specified. I think she sent me to shop for a kilt or something silly, but I went instead to John Knox's house, immediately after having visited Holyrood. It was a wonderful contrast.

On this visit we noticed a lot of men -- far more than the usual strays -- wearing kilts, etc. Turns out there was a Six Nations rugby event going on (that's Scotland, Ireland, England, Wales, France and Italy) that weekend. I used to have two young men who worked for me in my old job. One played rugby, the other soccer. It was fun to hear their good natured banter about which game (and class of people) was better. I know you're wishing I'd taken pictures of those kilted men, but they're all much of a muchness, really.

The exception was a man staying in our B&B whose hair cut didn't match the kilt or the tattoo on the back of his calf. He was a big man, having to stoop to duck the big wood beams in the basement where we ate breakfast. The kilt, the wool socks and the hefty shoes suited him, but his face and hair were quite dainty, foppish even; I'm sure it was the pointed sideburns. On top of that, Bill placed his accent in the south of England, Essex way. Surely it's illegal for him to wear a kilt in Edinburgh?

We headed for the Grass Market,

a square of shops, to buy Bill a jacket. He'd mistakenly thought he had one in the back seat of the car and it was still cool enough to need one. He knew just the place and I'll show it to you later. This took us up through Milnes Court (built in the 1600s), where Bill pointed out these cute little windows, the ones with leaded glass on top and wooden doors below.

He said they functioned as a refrigerator, or cool box, useful for keeping rats out of food. Perhaps it worked something like the one at the cabin in Colorado, belonging to first husband's step-father. There was a metal cage poking out of the kitchen window with doors closing out the cold. Almost as quaint as the wood cook stove, the outhouse, the feather beds and the 'guzunder' though we didn't call it that; it's a British term.

We spent some time in the Scottish National Portrait Gallery. I can't say I cared a great deal for it. There was something really impressive about the endless rooms of pale green carpet and huge walls covered in red felt and trimmed in braid. I tried to picture the expression of the person who got the order for all that carpet and all that felt. The portraits were mostly giant sized and many were very attractive to look at. There did seem to be a predominant theme of dead animals, hunted down and slaughtered by the master of the house and purchaser of the portrait, no doubt. A bit gory for my taste. Still, it passed the time and it was free.

Right, I'm

going to

throw in a few more pictures

I took and then refer you here

if you want to see



James said...

Thank you for the pictures, please share more. Edinburgh is one place I'd love to see someday.

Shelley said...

James - I'm so pleased you like Edinburgh. We'll be there for at least another week or two. Just crossed my mind that a kilt would solve one of your earlier problems; then again it would probably bring on others.

Rick Stone said...

A huge castle decorated in a military motif. Now that would really be something to see. I do enjoy touring the military sights and museums. Fortunately, Jo goes along with forays and does not complain. You'd be surprised at how many old Navy ships that are now museums that we have toured.

Frugal Scholar said...

Ditto--many thanks. This is really whetting my appetite for travel.

Struggler said...

Great pics, and you had some lovely blue skies to enjoy as well!

Shelley said...

Rick - I suppose you would like the military stuff, given your background. Stay tuned, there is more that I think you will enjoy. I've been thinking about you when writing it. Poor Joanne. I do hope she's not bored stiff by the macho stuff; I think I'd just sit in the car with the dog, myself. I hope you are really nice to her to make up for what she puts up with :-)

Rick Stone said...

Actually Jo and I both enjoy museums and the history stuff. She has always appeared to enjoy going through the Navy museum ships and the military forts that we find along the way. She also spent a week on the USS Salem in Boston helping to organize the museum to my ship, Newport News, for it's dedication in 2003.

Shelley said...

Rick - I can see that if the museum has something that is directly relevant to you it would be far more interesting than if not. Well done Jo!