Friday, May 8, 2015

Scotland part 1

From Downham we headed northward winding along lots of rural roads, pastures and sheep. We zagged northwestward skirting the hills of the Lake District to the western end of Hadrians Wall, then zigged eastward following the remnant of the wall, and then zagged northward to the Scottish border and on to Edinburgh

 Remnants of two graineries at Birdoswald Roman fort.

 Bathhouse in Chester's Roman Fort. We all decided that we like visiting Roman ruins in cool weather.
 Loved the various gate configurations that enable easy human movement while limiting the escape of sheep.

Our day in Edinburgh started out with lots of cold rain which certainly dampened our visit to the impressive castle. Additionally, strong winds inverted our Japan-bought umbrellas. Our May rainy day in Edinburgh was very similar to our January rainy day in Kyoto in terms of weather conditions. My highlights included seeing the Stone of Scone (Stone of Destiny)—upon which Scottish monarchs were coronated, which was taken by the English to Westminster Abbey for 700 years and placed under its coronation chair, and which was returned to Scotland in the 1990s in an effort to appease Scottish nationalists in their North Sea oil wealth influenced move for independence. I also enjoyed eating my first haggis (pot pie of minced sheep innards layered on mashed turnips and potatoes)—not too bad and something I have long wanted to do given my Scottish ancestry. The kids all took a taste of mine. Will had considered ordering some but was convinced otherwise.

 St. Margaret's Chapel built in 1130.

 Royal Palace

 Great Hall


We then walked down the Royal Mile stopping first at St. Giles Cathedral with very nice stained glass windows depicting the whole life of Christ and an ornately decorated Thistle Chapel for the Order of the Thistle.

 Christ and the Children.

 Thistle Chapel

We then moved toward the downward end of the mile to the Holyroodhouse palace. Half way there Will discovered he had left his bag somewhere so he and Marie returned first to the church and then to the castle (where they found it at the cafĂ©). Meanwhile Joel and Sarah proceeded to visit the Palace while I walked around the adjacent new Scottish parliament (also an offering from the 1990s to appease the Scots) with its curious, but symbolic architecture. United again we then walked back up the royal mile to the Elephant House to see where J K Rowling wrote much of the first book of Harry Potter. The menu looked acceptable to all of us and so we dined in the sun lit room where Harry Potter emerged. Added to the ambiance was a nice view of the castle out the back row of windows. Happily fed and now mostly dry, we found our way back to the car park and then wound our way to Calton Hill for a short hike up for a great view of Edinburgh. It really is a beautiful city, worth more than just one day of exploration. I shall return. 


 The new Parliament cluster of buildings.

 All three buildings--grey, brown and yellow are part of the parliament structure.

 Two vices or three?

The view from the Elephant House

 Evening sunshine, ya.

 Holyroodhouse palace (left) and parliament (center) at the eastern end of the royal mile.

 Looking northward to the firth of forth.

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