“Eden” is the reference in “Edinburgh.” Never caught that before. Ignorance is limitless, but it fits. This is one terrific city, and we are incredibly lucky in our hostess, Sarah’s friend (bridesmaid, colleague) Ashley, here shown serving us a Frozen Raspberry and Nougat Terrine” not long after we landed. Landed in the first propeller-driven (ok, jet-prop, but still) aircraft we’ve taken in a while. “For balance, passengers in the first ten rows will please stay seated until the rear rows have exited the rear.” Anyhow, Aer Lingus got us here, and obviously we’re in good hands.
Before we continue with Edinburgh, however, we need to take a short reprise of Dublin. Host Hans wanted us to see a feature we’d missed, so he took us to the airport, and along the way showed us these heart-rending, Candada-donated sculptures along the River Liffey of potato famine people. A horrible event which had the side effect of sending untold numbers to North America and enriching our culture immensely. Hans also took us through the fishing-resort village of Howt (pronounced “hoht”) for a look at another side of Irish life. Thanks again, Hans & Deirdre. Happy times to you in Chicago and Madison.
But on to happier subjects. Using public bus with the help of kind strangers, we found our way to the “Royal Mile,” the stretch of road that runs from Hollyrood castle (one of the Queen’s 3 official residences) to Edinburgh castle. It took us a while to get there because it’s fringe festival time. The festival is one of the most famous art events on the planet, kind of a world cup of music and theater, though there is no “cup” awarded. I’ve wanted to come for a long time and tried to time our visit for it. and here we are. People told me there were just a huge number of events and everybody was here, but I still couldn’t comprehend either the scale or the wonder of it all. There’s a phone-book-sized volume of events, you don’t even need to open it because people run up to you every second with a card advertising something, and musicians and actors are on the streets pitching their work in costume and singing in dancing–this all in addition to the regular street performers. I want to come back for a week and do nothing else. But, alas, we were committed to the castle.
And it’s a real, straight-out-of-the-fairy-tales castle. Been there since Medieval times and mostly served the people well. At one point in the 14th C. Robert the Bruce destroyed it to keep the English from possessing it (ah, those rapacious Englanders again), but it’s been mostly in Scottish hands since the beginning. This is one of the few areas the Romans never conquered–paid a visit around 100, but never built walls, forts, amphitheaters or baths here. It’s the place where Mary Queen of Scots gave birth to James VI of Scotland/James I of England, he of the King James Bible, and began the Stuarts’ reign.One of the place Oliver Cromwell conquered and defiled when the Puritans took over for a while. The place where the famous Tattoo is performed each year, and we hope to get there ourselves. A location with magnificent views over the magnificent setting that is this Eden Town. It’s been modified and added to over the years, but always in good taste. An expression of Scotch fortitude as solid as the rock it’s built on.
It’s probably the most castlely castle we’ve ever been to and a thrilling tour. It’s also a place where the famous Scotch thrift was practiced in the sense that the time-keeping cannon was fired at 1 pm because it took less powder for one charge than for the twelve necessary to announce noon. But enough of Medieval piles of stone and on to a bit of frolic.
My Stepson has challenged me to find the choicest brew in Ireland/Scotland, since “these people have been making beer since man learned to talk.” I’m trying, Jim, I’m trying.
And mailing a REAL (not electronic) message to folks across the great water. Happy days–on to more exciting times here in Edenburgh.