This trip has seemed longer that our previous sojourn. We believe it to be because we are basically in the same country. Last time it was 2 weeks per country approximately. This time everyone speaks English (sort of) and the time has not dragged but it has not had the same punctuation points. It FEELS like we’ve been travelling forever. It’s been nearly 6 weeks. Einstein certainly opened up a can of worms when he identified the totality of relativity. Dunbar in Catch 22 decides to make his life last as long as possible by being constantly bored. A bit like we had to destroy the village in order to save it.
The following was not boring.
We left Inverness and drove to Edinburgh. 3 hours with a stop in Perth. The scenery was as beautiful as on the west coast. Our hosts in Edinburgh were Mike and Anne. Lovely people and so gregarious and generous with their time. We walked into the city to find Information and got lost. Shades of Italy and Greece. We eventually found it but it had closed. Some gentle persuading provided us with a map at least. Then it was on to Mary King’s Place. We had got a heads up about the city beneath the city from a number of people. Mediaeval Edinburgh was the most densely packed city in Europe, divided into Closes (streets) barely 4 foot wide. Yet.the buildings might be 6,7 storeys high. Twice a day you would hear the cry “gardey loo”. This was a signal for all the accumulated human and other waste to be thrown out the window so it could run down the street to the river, which was also the town drinking water. When the plague hit, it was decided rather than cleaning up, they’d just knock down one or 2 floors and build a new town on top. And that’s what happened. Nowadays you can descend into the bowels (unfortunate choice of word given the twice daily call to jettison) of the city and relive that experience. Great stuff.
We loved Edinburgh
Next day it was on to the Falkirk wheel and Stirling castle. My obsession with canal boats cannot be rationally explained. But it may have been triggered by the vision of this on you tube about 5 years ago.
Let’s just say i had my captain’s hat firmly secured in my knapsack. Stirling castle was a disappointment. Most of the exhibitions etc inside were closed (no reduction in admission). Heading out we spied the Wallace memorial which was quite good. Stirling is the scene of that great victory in Braveheart.
You know Mel Gibson has a lot to answer for – and then there’s Braveheart.
The sharpened takes which were the secret weapon at the battle in the film were a fiction. The real ruse was to trick the poms into coming across Stirling bridge so that they could attack the horsemen 4 at a time which was as many as could fit on the bridge. Not a lot of opportunities for set piece battles and close ups of Mel in that though.
Next day it was Edinburgh castle. Wow!! What a great place. We spent nearly 4 hours there and didn’t get to see everything. What was great was to see the parade ground outside where they do the tattoo. Then it was on to the Camera Obscura. This is part Dr karl, part Supernova and part pop art. It’s like getting lost in a world inhabited by Escher prints come to life.
That night we went to the Stand comedy spot. 4 comedians and a host, host was v funny as was the headline. Others were of varying abilities. What was great was the way they involved the audience (or rather, used the audience as part of their act.) it wasn’t nasty and was very clever.
We drove the coast road through Berwick upon tweed. Berwick is in England but considers itself Scottish. It is the only English club to play in, and come under the control of, the Scottish FA.
Very pretty drive.
Newcastle! Well South Shield actually. After the beautiful weather of the past 4 weeks we have started to get cold winds and rain. We walked to the north sea shore at south shields and then up to the restaurant row: 19 Indian restaurants in a space of 200 metres.
A quick metro trip to Newcastle. I am so dumb. The reason it’s called Newcastle is because Robert Curthose, Will the conqueror’s son, built a new castle there. Newcastle is a very depressing and depressed area if the trip into town is anything to go by. BUT it does have the SAGE.
It may be the sage to locals but it will forever be for me the Gateshead SHAI HULUD – the maker.
We then drove to Whitby – forever associated with Captain Cook AND the Magpie Restaurant. On Saturday night we lined up for 30 minutes in the rain and hail to get our serving of monk fish and chips. We were not disappointed. Again lovely B&B hosts. We have been very lucky. Wandered into town and it rained! Hailed! 3 times. We got drenched. We went to the Cook Museum to get out of the rain (well partially). We flippantly said to the attendant at the captain cook museum that if it weren’t for Cook we wouldn’t be here. Of course that’s nonsense. If it hadn’t been Cook it would have been someone else. The thirst for knowledge is unquenchable and the imperialist urge unbounded. Australia would still have been settled, the Aborigines would still have been dispossessed and we would still be wearing thongs. I guess if there is some small mercy in an alternative universe without Cook, then it might be that Daryl Somers and John Howard would not have been inflicted on us.
Two chronometers the captain had,
One by Arnold that ran like mad,
One by Kendal in a walnut case,
Poor devoted creature with a hangdog face.
FIVE VISIONS OF CAPTAIN COOK – Kenneth Slessor
We keep bumping into synergies. Cook was admiral of the naval hospital at Greenwich before his ill-fated 3rd voyage. He was one of the first to use the Harrison chronometer. (two chronometers the captain had). I remember 5 VISIONS from high school. Didn’t understand it. An understanding of the passage of time, like youth itself, is wasted on the young. For the past 24 hours i have been revisiting my 15 year old self to explain in exquisite detail the intricacies of time and its passing.
“I was so much older then, I’m younger than that now.” – Bob Dylan
So, the end of our trip approaches. We are back on familiar ground. We visit Yorkshire and the moors. Perhaps we might run into Sir Arthur Grieve Streibling and his FROG AND PEACH restaurant and perhaps sample his frog a la peche. Alternatively we might try the peche a la frog.
Alas, for Peter Cook and Dudley Moore the chronometer ran too fast and, for them time has run out.
Great Britain, the dominant industrial and maritime power of the 19th century, played a leading role in developing parliamentary democracy and in advancing literature and science. At its zenith, the British Empire stretched over one-fourth of the ear...more history