Thursday, 25 September 2014

Edinburgh Castle

We decided to start off with the castle. Our host served us a lovely Scottish breakfast of haggis and eggs and sausages (although I think by this time we were skipping the haggis because we were offered it with every breakfast meal). The castle sits at the top of a great hill called castle Rock and overlooks the city.

There were monarchs there since David 1 in the 12th centruy and they detail the history of the palce very nicely with these colorful signs.

Here is a view of the castle grounds and the panoramic view.

There are canons that look out in all directions over the city which you can see in the distance.

Here is one of hte many gates to the fortress.

Many of the structures are much newer, but they retain that harsh  fortress look.

There were sculptures of the lion and the unicorn on either side of the war memorial in the keep. They were made in the late 20s, but I quite liked the style.

This is the great hall. It is famous for having one of the two remaining hammered ceilings in Scotland.

It was used variously as a state room and later Oliver Cromwell turned it into a barracks (doesn't that just figure!)

The Victorians then added their usual bric a brac.

Outside 1929 versions of  Robert the Bruce and William Wallace have been added to guard the keep.

The details of the past are very convoluted, but this castle has been significant in Scottish history over the centuries.

I don't remember who this is any more, but I really liked the portrait.

This room has been restored (and perhaps not with the greatest finesse) but it is  interesting to see what it might have looked like in the past.

More castle keep.
 This looks out over the ramparts and you can see the many canons including the big gun that they fire every day at 1:00.

Here is a closer look at the so-called One O'clock gun.

I loved this little graveyard that you could see from the top of the castle keep.

Check out the sign. Isn't that sweet?

Of course the castle is also famous for the presence of the Scottish  crown jewels and the Stone of Scone.

They have a very nice presentation on the saving of the royal baby and the hiding of the royal jewels. This historic progression goes from 2d painting ...

to 3-d plaster models.  

There are dioramas elucidating Scottish history. Here we see the Scottish crown jewels being smuggled out when Oliver Cromwell ordered that all regalia be seized and melted down.The Scottish Honours were hidden and pretty much forgotten for 200 years until Sir Walter Scott and others found them in a chest in Edinburgh Castle.

We weren't allowed to take pictures of the Honours, so I scrounged these off the internet.


Behind them you see the famous Stone of Destiny or Stone of Scone. This stone has been brought to England for the coronation of all monarchs. Ask me how I missed seeing it (It is gigantic) and had to go back through the long line a second time in order to be able to say I had seen it!! ;-)

 All too soon it was time to go on to other sights and there were many interesting things to come!

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Arrival in Edinburgh

So we got into town and realized that a certain person formerly known as Purpleworms had mislaid the address info and we had no idea where we were going. Luckily the couple across from us in the train had a data phone and after searching for awhile we were able to guess the name of the Guesthouse and get an address. So we headed off to the Guest house and walked the long way there asking every so often if anyone knew the direction.

We  passed this sculpture of Oliver Cromwell on the way.  Edinburgh is a fine old city.

with a really long park along its northern side. It used to be a kind of loch where the waste would be dumped and they credit this with making it a very fertile green space and park.


Eventually we found our place (but not until after we had walked ourselves to death.) 
Here is a garden next door.

And here is the Cruachan Guesthouse that we would make our home for the next 3 days.

And of course there was no one there. We placed a phone call and were told that they had to go to the optician and would show up as soon as possible (in about 15 minutes). And a very sweet gentleman did show up and finally let us in. 

We were informed that our rooms were not en suite which I didn't mind, but of course it turned out the loo was a floor down a treacherous circular staircase, which I did.

Still it was clean and not too horribly far from where we wanted to go (but not as close as we had hoped either.

Sunday, 14 September 2014

The Road from Inverness

All too soon it was time to leave Inverness.  I had to model one of my new sweaters in the mirror before we left!

I have to thank Violet for the idea of going to Inverness. It was by far the highlight of our trip to Scotland. We said goodbye to the B & B's beautiful hydrangeas and  prepared for our train ride to Edinburgh.

In the train station we met a variety of Scottish dogs. Violet has the family affinity for the canine.

We boarded the train which was comfortable and fairly full.

Once on the train we discovered that the Scottish countryside was varied and nuanced.

We were seated across from a lovely Scottish couple who told us a lot about the places we were seeing and who also exchanged trivia with us about old television shows and films.

I'm including some of the pictures of the grogeous countryside that we passed. 

Occasionally there was a brook and of course a little village.

Sometimes the terrain was rough and rather  inhospitable, but still beautiful.

I was going to leave this image out but then I noticed the little blue and white speck on the left side.  (If you click on the image you can enlarge it).  That is the sign of a vote for independence. We'd been seeing it all over and not realizing what we had been seeing. (By next Thursday they will have voted and it will be interesting to see what happens.)

The mountains were beautiful.


We passed this interesting little monument very quickly and I wondered what it was.

I love the varied palette of colors in the Scottish hills.

This was a station clock at the stop before Edinburgh.

And then we could see the Firth of Forth.

There are large craggy rocks and mountains jutting out of the water.

This is the bridge into Edinburgh. The couple near us told us that this is the bridge that  Richard Hannay jumps out onto in Hitchcock's The 39 Steps.  I was terribly excited to see this bridge!

We arrived at the station ready to experience some more new adventures.