It’s 7.34pm and really I just want to curl up in bed and go to sleep but we have found ourselves at Hectors. I’m not sure if it’s a wine bar that does food as well, but beer, cold beer on tap is all we were looking for and we found it. Hector’s in Stockbridge has plenty of atmosphere, in fact it’s buzzing with people who are drinking, eating and not one person has a mobile device in their hands other than me. But I’m excused right? A Peroni for me and a Camden Hells lager for himself. Peter is “just chilling” as he puts it, there’s plenty to observe.
There’s just so much to tell you but I feel so tongue tied or is fingers twisted?
We arrived in Berwick yesterday later than intended having spent several hours at Vindolanda, Hadrian’s Wall and the Roman Army Museum, it was all so captivating but I won’t bore you with details I’ll let whatever photos I post to Facebook tell the story except to say that if you joined the Roman army it was for life, or as good as. Soldiers were indentured for 25 years which means death was more than possible in that period of time, and in which time the men were not permitted to marry though I wonder if that rule stuck.
We covered the best of every opportunity to do the best sections of the wall and if you’ve never seen it, it’s not just a wall it was an impenetrable barrier of solid stone construction approximately 2 meters wide and 6 meters high with patrolled forts at regular intervals. We then drove through as many of the borderland villages and settlements that I have read about in historical novels over the last few years. As I said to Peter as we drove through, I see not what has become of them today but in my mind I see these places as they were hundreds of years ago. I have a very fertile mind and I suppose I see what I have read and want to see rather than what is.
We crossed the River Tweed a couple of times which may mean nothing to you but Berwick Upon Tweed is still part of England which means we ended up on the English side in Berwick. Just as an aside North Berwick is quite a distance away from Berwick Upon Tweed and buried well into Scotland.
Neither of us slept particularly well, rising early we set off for Edinburgh. Just an hour drive from Berwick. I want to tell you how magnificent the landscape has been but I just don’t have the words to describe the beauty of the surrounds. We have seen the richest autumn colours, the most vivid green grass almost luminescent, the tallest trees we have ever seen that makes me wish I was a wood nymph to dance and frolic in the leaves around the trees’ base, adorning myself in them. We have seen the fattest livestock, which makes me sad for our farmers and their starving animals.
I fail to find the words that will paint the pictures that will describe what we have been blessed to see. The roads are excellent and cars are fast there’s no “Sunday drivers” here, everyone seems in a hurry to get to where they’re going and we’ve been caught in their slipstream so to speak.
Edinburgh is an amazing place, history just oozes from his place everywhere we look. We are fortunate to be staying in Stockbridge, the location of our room is akin the The Circus or Royal Crescent in Bath but our room is very modest. Whilst there are people who pass us by striding with purpose we stroll along the streets with no particular place to be other than on the street looking here and there admiring the solid stone construction of these long ago built houses. Who was it’s architect that dreamt up such grandeur? Who lived in theses streets 200 years ago?
Saturday morning 3.00a.m.
Peter saw his first castle yesterday, Holyrood House Palace. It’s the queen’s residence (or one of her many) when in Edinburgh. Of course there are only select rooms available for public viewing but they are magnificent; furnishings, tapestries, paintings, china. The audio guide gave us the history of the palace and though I was familiar with the history of its residents I left there feeling sad for Mary Queen of Scots. There is no romantic history in her story. Crowned queen at nine months old, she was sent to France to live in someone else’s household an infant child of five years, until she was married to the Dauphine at age 15. She was married and widowed by 18 and sent back to England.
Mary’s second husband Lord Darnley had his sights on being king, but as we well know a man may marry a queen but that doesn’t make him king, didn’t Lord Mountbatten have that same idea for his nephew, Prince Phillip? So Lord Darnley plotted against his own wife with his drunken disposition, jealousy and ambition with supporters who cared more about elevating themselves once Darnley ruled as king. Mary escaped only to be imprisoned in England until her death at age 46. It’s a sad story and all the riches and extravagant lifestyle in the world will not change ones circumstances.
Now, we have been told that in Edinburgh we had to have haggis, some shortbread and a wee dram of whisky. We stopped at an eatery close by the palace selling pork in a bread roll. We could choose from a “piglet” a small bun, an “oink” 120 gms of meat, or a “grunt” 250gms of meat. We both had an “oink” topped with haggis and I had super smokey BBQ sauce, Peter had the apple sauce. They are served wrapped in foil and delicious!
We shared a table with a fellow who by the time I was armed with rolls and drinks Peter was already far into a conversation with this gent called …….wait for it…….Donald McSporran! We must have sat together talking for 20 to 30 minutes and I have to tell you we came away knowing definitively only one word that Donald McSporran said……f^#@!
Now we had been told that we would have to learn another language coming to Scotland and I thought I was pretty good picking up accents but this was. …. RIDICULOUS! It seems we made the right comments and laughed at the right times but neither Peter nor I have any idea what this Donald McSporran was saying. I do know that he suggested we stay a night in Wick with a Mrs McDonald for £25, but how many Mrs McDonalds will we find there? He didn’t have her phone number but he gave us a description of where she lived “up the street and the first house on the left”. Oh come on now!
Thanks Donald McSporran, we’ll think about that one a bit!
The streets of Edinburgh were crammed with people everywhere we looked up and down the Royal Mile, a couple of pipers could be heard in the background, such a lovely sound. We headed for Edinburgh Castle though we planned to visit the castle today it’s was just a sea of people.
Navigating our way back to the accommodation or anywhere is not so straightforward, the streets are not laid out like Adelaide but streets here curl around themselves, we eventually wend our way home and even a wrong turn gave us something else to look at.
There’s still so much more to see and 2 days could never be enough but it will have to be, time is marching on and we still have far to go.
We’ll see you somewhere in Scotland, in the meantime have a shortbread or a whisky with us. We drink to your good health.