More on Scotland

There was so much more I wanted to write yesterday but was pressed for time. The blog serves as two purposes. One, it let’s people know I am still alive! I think I may have mentioned that my boss asked me how would you’ll know if something happened to me. I was like my bed and breakfast would miss me. If they didn’t, Candy would certainly miss me in Dublin. And finally, if you don’t hear from me on the blog start praying. When I won’t blog everyday, I should certainly either be on Facebook, Hotmail, or the blog!

The second thing it does is give me the notes I need to do my photo albums. Two trips ago, I started creating photo albums of my trips. They include pictures, tickets, brochures, etc. that show where I went and what I saw. I figure they will be great for me to have when I am old and gray talking about the good old days!

One point I meant to mention about the castle in Wales is that I learned about the king’s toilet. It’s this seat with a hole that goes all the way down. Basically there were some toxic fumes in there. LOL. Well the clothing back in the day was animal skin and it attracted fleas and lice. So every night, the king’s groom would take the king’s outfit and hang it in his toilet. Being in that room would kill whatever was in the clothes and the groom would shake out the dead bugs and the king would put it on. I think we know that hygiene wasn’t big back then. They thought showers were bad for you. Oh, how far we have come! Basically, all the romantic, clean cut images we have of the kings of old are false. They were dirty and smelly.

So the first night in Edinburgh, I went to St. Giles. It is described as the Westminster Abbey of Scotland. The inside is gorgeous. At one point in time, there were four churches functioning there, thus the many pulpits in the church. The reformer John Knox is buried outside the church, well under a parking lot. There is a statue of him in there as well. The church has 4 pillars that date back to 1120. I love seeing items with a lot of history and time because it makes me wonder about the people who have walked there before me.

As I mentioned, the Royal Mile is crazy with people and activities. It was fun to explore the first night.

I wanted to go to the National Museum of Scotland and the National Gallery of Scotland because I am beginning to appreciate art more. I like marble and oil on canvas. It wasn’t until I went to Paris and Rome that I began to appreciate art. Before that, I would rather be outside exploring than exploring in a stuffy old museum. The Gallery has pieces by Raphael, Titian, Monet, and van Gogh (oh my!).

I wanted to go to the Georgian House because like I said earlier, I like to imagine how life was back in the day. In this case the late 1700s. I like the formality. That’s why I love Jane Austen novels. It occurred to me that I have never thought about how the scullery maid lived. I don’t know if I mentioned this yesterday but they were working like 100 plus hours a weeks. They didn’t read or write and often their families gave them away because they couldn’t afford them. Does anyone know of any books written from the maids point of view? So when it’s fun to see Elizabeth, Jane, etc. go the ball what about poor Betsie?

My interest in the Edinburgh Castle was to see the Stone of Scone aka the Stone of Destiny. When Edward I conquered the Scots he took the Stone, on which Scottish kings had been crowned on for centuries (since the ninth century), and took it to London and placed it under the English coronation throne in Westminster Abbey. It was there from 1296 until 1996 when Elizabeth II gave it back. Of course the symbolism isn’t lost on us on what Edward I was doing. He was a shrewd dude, but effective. Like I said in my Wales blog, he had this Manifest Destiny belief and he wanted to extend his empire by any means. The room were James VI (Scotland)/ I (England) was born is at Edinburgh Palace as well. The Scottish crown jewels I saw date back to 1540. They were last used for Charles II. The 1707 Act of Union created the UK and dissolved Scotland’s parliament.

The Palace of Holyroodhouse has been around since the 14th century. Here is where the infamous incident occurred where Mary Queen of Scots husband Lord Darnley and his thugs murdered Mary’s secretary who they believed was also her lover. As I stood in the rooms from her privy chamber they (Mary and her secretary) sat eating to the room they (her husband and his thugs) dragged him into and stabbed him to death, I could picture it all!

I mentioned I wasn’t going to visit Stirling, but one of my buds at the Port or Portland convinced me to go by saying it was were the highlands met the lowlands so I was sold! Two important battles happened there. One was the Battle of Stirling Bridge. This was lead by William “Braveheart” Wallace. Technically, he ambushed the British soldiers. The soldiers were crossing the bridge two at a time. He allowed half to cross then he attacked. I think rules of engagement mandate they all cross but what do I know about war?

As background, a Scottish king died without an heir and the Scottish nobles were fighting among themselves to decide who would be king. Then enter Edward I who decided he would be king and placed a figure head over Scotland. Wallace fought for freedom. He was eventually captured and killed but he ended up becoming a martyr.

Enter the Battle of Bannockburn in which Robert the Bruce defeated Edward II’s army. The site is very green. I heard that the grass around Stirling is green because of all the blood shed there. It was weird to walk on the site I knew a battle had taken place and people had died.

They say that he who holds Stirling holds Scotland which explains why people fought over it. It literally is the bridge between the low and highlands. Stirling was the capital of Scotland for many years.

The Stirling Palace was a gold color and you could see it from miles away. I saw the old Palace where Mary Queen of Scots played as a child (until she was around six and went to France to marry the Dauphin). They say that James IV had 300 kids only one of who was legitimate (Mary). They also said that all the Stuart kings were quite lusty and that one in eight Scots has royal blood in them thanks to the many illegitimate kids the kings had. JEEZ!

Today, I went on a tour of the highlands. It was so beautiful! I saw Loch Ness and was hoping to see the monster but Nessie wouldn’t come out and play. Darn it, there goes the get rich scheme I had about selling the picture. It is very rugged up there and the landscape changes ever so quickly.

Tomorrow is my last full day in Scotland. I leave to go to Belfast Monday early morning.

I am torn between wanting to go to St. Andrews tomorrow and wanting to just chill out my last day here. I’ve been doing a lot of running around at every night I am reminded that I am in fact tired!

In closing today, I am touched by the Scottish pride. When they asked the pope to acknowledge them as a country during the days of Robert the Bruce they wrote this declaration of independence document (I forgot what it’s actually called) where they said it’s not for money or land it’s for freedom. I’ll have to post it because it moved me.

Okay. I need to head home for the night.

Scotland Day Three

I was very sad to leave Wales, but so excited to start the next chapter. This vacation is rolling by too fast!

I took the train from Wales to Scotland. Once I hit Edinburgh, I was ready to roll. The guidebook had great directions on how to get to my B&B. BUT the stop is closed due to construction of their tram. Since I couldn’t find an alternative bus stop, I took a taxi AKA plans B and C. LOL.

My first night was cool. I hit the Royal Mile. Due to the many film festivals, the city is packed. My host said the population doubles during the film festivals. The Royal Mile was packed and there were many acts doing routines. And people were everywhere. I went to St. Giles Church and I also ended up walking to the Palace and the Parliament building. I met a woman named Elaine and we hung out for a minute. I think she is lonely. Her husband left her for a friend and she remarked that her life as she knew it was taken from her. That hit me in a hard way. She also mentioned a couple she know who both ended up getting cancer. THEN they decided to see the world. She told me to do what I can now…not wait until something major happens. I’m getting quite a lot of sage advice.

Yesterday was a whirlwind. I went to the Palace of Holyroodhouse, the National Museum, the Edinburgh Castle, the National Gallery and the Georgian House. I am tired writing all this. Why the rush you might ask? Today I went to Stirling to see the Castle there, the William Wallace Monument, and the Bannockburn Heritage Center. The Stirling side trip was not part of the original plan so I had to cram Edinburgh in. Tomorrow I go on a tour of the highlands. I plan on going to St. Andrews on Sunday. We will see. I have to remember I am on vacation and I need to get some rest.

I am finding the history of the Scots very interesting. I know more English history so I am getting a different view. I plan on studying Robert de (the) Bruce and Mary of Guise more when I return. You should know by now that I am a total Elizabeth I fan, but I am getting curious about Mary Queen of Scots which almost sounds sacrilege.

I have seen where she grew up, the room she had James VI of Scotland/ I of England, the place of her coronation so quite a lot.

I am also hearing grumblings of independence. The Scots are ready for independence from England. Interesting times.

I saw their crowns jewels which are older than England’s because England’s were destroyed by Cromwell. He was not able to get to the Scots though he tried.

I remember that I love marble and oil paintings, which is why I like the gallery better than the museum.

Oh, and in Stirling the City Sightseeing bus that was listed as a way to get to the three points of interest was ended at the beginning of the year. Again, on to plan b. I made it.

It’s great to see so much, and I have a lot more to learn about the history of Scotland. My only regrets are not coming sooner and not having more time.

Oh if only time and money were not an issue!