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UK/Scotland Trip of 2002 - Page 5

 

The Lang Stair, one set of many stairs at Edinburgh Castle.

St Margaret's Chapel was built in the early 12th century.  Inset: a wee kirk mousie. Originally built as the Governor's House in 1742, this building now serves as the Officers' Mess for the castle garrison.

Easter in Edinburgh - Easter Sunday, March 31, 2002

Ate breakfast at the hotel. It was a bigger buffet than the last one because they had a section offering hot food. Oddly, although the reservations were made all at once, LeAnne and I had breakfast included with our room while Kevin and Cindy didn't. I think that problem has been fixed.

Took a taxi to the castle car park, entertained by our Scots driver.

I thought of my friend Kimmy when our guide stepped forward. He was from Australia of Scottish descent. He showed us around the grounds, then let us visit the interiors on our own.

After the castle tour, we walked down the Royal Mile. We stopped off at the first shop we came to, which was a nice combination of tourist trap and working woolen mill. Among other things, LeAnne and Kevin found beautiful glassware, and Kevin got his photograph taken in a kilt. The photographer seemed to enjoy Kevin's quips as much as we, so we all had a grand time. Her favorite one-liner occurred when she was tying the strings of the costume behind Kevin's back.

"Oh Mammy, I've just got to fit into a sixteen inch waist again!" he pouted as Scarlett.  What a ham!

Dog-lover Kevin admiring the 'Greyfriar's Bobby' monument, a dog drinking fountain.

The Great Hall at Edinburgh Castle dates from the 15th century.

Great Scot!   It's Kevin in a kilt!

We ate a late lunch at a dark, noisy, smoky pub. I had cottage pie. It was so dark that I'm still not sure what it was! At least the thatch roof didn't get caught in my teeth.

We walked downhill to the Greyfriars Bobby monument. Bobby was the remarkable dog who wouldn't leave his master's grave for the remaining 14 years of his life. Townspeople, touched by Bobby's loyalty, saw to his needs. Ironically, the Greyfriars churchyard now has a sign banning dogs from the church grounds. Greyfriars Church was also where the National Covenant was signed in 1638, setting up Presbyterianism as the national religion of Scotland.

Went back up to the Royal Mile where the others bought more souvenirs. I got a picture of religious reformer John Knox's house, then we caught a taxi back to the hotel.

We took a 2-hour break. I fell asleep during the last half hour and Kevin phoned me. I was so disoriented that I couldn't remember if it was day or night. Was I missing breakfast or supper? I finally remembered that I'd donned a scarf for supper and it was around my neck.

We hunted up two restaurants LeAnne found in a tourist guide. Neither was open for Easter Sunday. We ate at an Italian family restaurant in a picturesque cellar. I had lasagna.


Stirling Castle surveys its realm.

Weaving a reproduction of 'The Captured Unicorn' for the queen's quarters.  Side view.

Original of 'The Captured Unicorn'.


Stirling Castle - Monday, April 1, 2002

Wrote up a lot of cards and did some tidying up this morning. Until I heard the knock on the door I thought we'd agreed to meet at 8:00, but it was supposed to be 7:30. Argh! Late again! I hurried to breakfast and had a bowl of Rice Krispies.

We walked down to the train station and bought our single day out/return tickets. Since it was a bank holiday, we only paid 6.00, but we faced backwards.

The weather changed today. We had gray skies this morning, then rain on the short ride to Stirling. Periodically, after we reached the castle, sun would shine. After seeing the castle we had a light rain, which lasted until this evening when it began to break up. I was very glad I had a winter coat, although I don't think I got as chilled as the others did.

We were among the first to arrive at the castle this morning. We hurried to catch up with a tour that had just started. Stirling Castle is rougher and not as sophisticated as Edinburgh Castle. I don't think there is quite the effort to restore to historical accuracy, but there may be plans for restoration in the future. The views from the battlements were spectacular, though.

My favorite part of the whole tour was coming across weavers creating a reproduction of 'The Captured Unicorn' tapestry. They intend to re-cover the Queen's chambers in tapestry and this is the first of them to be woven. Very interesting to see them work!

As we finished our tour of the castle we learned about a special event. In honor of the Queen Mother, they were firing a 41-gun salute from the battlements of Stirling Castle. It coincided with salutes at other historical bulwarks across the realm, including the Tower of London and Edinburgh Castle. Whole families were coming up from town to witness the event. I had the feeling I was taking part in a historical occasion.

Forty-one gun salute to Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother at Stirling Castle. That's me in the lower right corner. (Thanks, Kevin.)

After the fortress, we visited the house of the Duke of Argyll. Most of the emphasis was on the physical changes to the house at various times, but I have to admit feeling an uneasy stir looking up to see the Duke of Argyll staring at me - even if only in a painting.  No matter whose side you were on, he was not a nice man!

We ate lunch at the Longhorn Restaurant. They served huge portions. I had a bacon cheeseburger. After eating I got a picture of the place to show my Texas-born mother.

We strolled down the hill to the railway station in the rain. There were a lot more people taking the train to Edinburgh than when we set out the other direction, so folks must have been returning from their Easter holiday.

We had supper in the hotel. I was still feeling the effect of the huge meal at noon and didn't eat anything but a couple slices of bread. Wish I'd figured it out before I ordered. I was surrounded by kind, concerned people wondering what was wrong.

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