To Scotland and back.

Another airplane ride, more reading of Mr O’Brian’s books, which though based on the oceans of the world I shall now surely associate with flying about in aeroplanes, and guess what, I am sitting next to British Naval Officer. To Edinburgh we go with a full complement of family members, Mother, Step Father, Sister and niece but the flight is too short for any bad behavior. Look out of window and there is snow on the ground, that’s going to be a bit of a shock. In fact it was, walking to Tesco in a Barbour coat and Cambodian Krama in a blizzard had its funny side, but we had to pick up the essentials, beer, wine and milk. Packed taxi into the City Center, dropped two off at their hotel and here I am back in the flat in Albany Street, it’s like coming home. The pub is there almost next door, the gardens are looking inviting but alas, no time to go over to Princes Street to see the Castle, maybe tomorrow morning.
Yesterday was fun, we left early to go to Avebury Ring, a more real, ancient experience than the inevitable Stonehenge. The niece, Sophie, was bubbling with excitement as we two hugged the old stones, ran around in the five thousand year old ditches, and visited the gift shop. Odd to think isn’t it, the circle has been there for thousands of years yet no one knows why they are there or what they were for, as far as I know. On then to Stonehenge, the visit marred somewhat by terrible traffic, we didn’t park, the monument is surrounded by barbed wire but even so is most imposing, rising out of the landscape in that so, so familiar arrangement. The whole area seethed with visitors from all over the world and well, we saw it, what else can you do there besides buy souvenirs and use the loos. On then over Salisbury (pronounced Saulsbrie !) Plain, a pretty part of England, all rolling green hills, racehorses in jackets, chalk hills with white Horses carved into the greenness, and the Military on maneuvers. Salisbury Cathedral with its tall spire, completed in Twelve Fifty Eight it is quite old, but after Avebury and the Henge it is a comparative newcomer on the landscape. To the South Coast arriving at Bucklers Hard just in time to miss lunch, but no matter, this is Nautical History Heaven. Nelson’s flagship before the Victory, HMS Agamemnon, was built here along with a couple of other major contributers to the Battle of Trafalgar.
I had a great wallow in it all with Sophie, who did her best to look interested, thanks Soph’.
This is written in the Cairngorms, a mountain range between Edinburgh and Inverness, snow covered on the heights but green in the valleys, Glens actually, true Glens. We have just passed a monumentally huge house, all white and turrets with a flag flying from the top most, a signpost to Killiecrankie, white sheep with lambs on the hillsides, gloomy looking grey, slate roofed houses dotted about, whisky distillieries, bright yellow gorse, bluebells and of course the purple heather. It is all Scotland is supposed to be. All we need now is a bagpiper, no wait, we had one. Dinner the first evening here the French tourist group at the hotel had their Haggis “piped in” though quite what the French made of Haggis I can’t quite imagine. Pipes we had tho, right next to where I was sitting for dinner. No, I shan’t be rushing out to buy a kilt tomorrow but you know, it really doesn’t get more Scottish than Scotland. To cap it all we just passed the sign to Birnam Wood, eh, what, Birnam Wood, you know, Macbeth, Shakespeare, iambic pentameter, come on you lot, keep up, ” Great Birnam Wood comes to Dunsinane”
Up early and off on the train to York. What joy, twenty minutes of free wifi , this, after Sister’s flat suffered a major connection failure within hours of our arrival in Edinburgh. Despite some nine or ten calls to BT’s call center and a new modem/router we never did recover the signal leading to major sense of humor failures from all flat occupants. No Facebook, no Skype no Twitter, how deprived we all were. Dashed off a quick email or two and the twenty minutes ran out, ten dollars for a further hour seemed too steep so back to the Kindle App. York, York, what a whirlwind two and a half hour sightseeing feast. The Minster, it’s not a cathedral, it’s a Minster, was quite impressive, we figured out that it was built around the same time as the Rajasthani forts, around Eleven Something, so definitely on the old side, Aulde even. Fantastic medieval stained glass, a bit of a creepy Crypt, soaring towers, a Good Friday Service happening, thundering organ music, a very fine clock, lovely Choir but no gift shop, it was closed. I walked on the old wall that still exists all around the old City, I saw where the Queen had lunch yesterday, a Viking house built all of wood but no nails, I met the Marketing Manager for the Royal Shakespeare Company who I last lunched with when she was six and she remembered me, ha ha. How fun it was to meet up with old friends again, not missed a beat in all those years.

The Ring at Avebury.

There it is.

They used to build boats here.

It’s always good to be welcomed back.



4 responses to “To Scotland and back.

  1. Got your blog this morning at breakfast.Pink job going well and keeping me sane.About.
    This is my 3rd attempt to reply so will keep it short.Horrified to hear no internet at Albany St. yet.Soph must be going spare and Sal will not have got my thank you e mail I sent.
    Good luck in Grimsby and try another blog if you’ve time.

    • Looks like you might have a Caps Lock problem with the “pink job” !
      For the uninitiated the pink job is a net book computer, pink, that we setup in the Elgin House so we can keep in touch.
      It seems to be working.

  2. I’m wondering why you want the milk as I’d think just beer and wine was enough. I made it to Stonehenge in 1973 my final destination from hitchhiking in England with 3 other high school friends. No barbed wire back then. I never made it to the Lake district, but how I yearn for a home swap in Scotland or England. I love that you are on your way home, from civilized to cozy, friendly Arroyo Avenue, San Anselmo, California. A premature welcome home from 12 arroyo, signing off!

  3. Barbara Godden

    Did you know that somewhere in the hill country of Texas there is a replica Stone Henge? It’s in the middle of a field surrounded by hills. It’s a scale model made of fibre glass! My brother took us there one year, I have photos but can’t remember where abouts it was. Avebury and Avebury Manor are amazing, aren’t they? Travel safe where ever you are!

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