A Tale from Scotland

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October 25th 2008
Published: October 30th 2008
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Windy Scotland...Windy Scotland...Windy Scotland...

...so windy my chair got blown over!
Daylight saving has ended…dark nights, cold days, frost and SNOW (yes, snow), skating (on the pavements), lack of sleep due to 3 ½ hour delay in our flight from Glasgow due to a hacker in the Easyjet system leading to an arrival in Gatwick at 2am meaning no more trains travelling to Guildford so a £40 taxi ride instead of a £20 train ride which meant not getting to bed until 3am and being up again at 8am for a late start to the work day which meant walking home in the pitch black at 5.30pm…but I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start; when you read you begin with A, B, C when you story-tell you begin with Once Upon A Time…

Once upon a time, a long time ago (precisely Saturday 25th October 2008 at 4.02am) in a far, far away land, also known as England, a young fair maiden called “Horrendous reading habits”, also known as HRH, and her blissfully happy not-so-young husband called “Mountain-biking urges greatly”, also known as MUG, woke to the rude sounds of a cellphone alarm (I know, hard to believe that they had things such as cellphones so long ago in this far away land!).
“What can this mean?” MUG groggily asked.
“Why that cheerfully loud tune can only mean one thing” explained HRH “our train to the airport leaves in half an hour so get your butt out of bed and get moving!”

After some time which involved a freezing cold walk to the train station, a journey on a train in the pitch-black and an aeroplane ride with close seats on a budget airline, the couple arrived in Edinburgh, Scotland.
“I see the temperature has dramatically improved” said HRH pulling on her polarfleece, rain jacket and beanie”.
“Yip, tropical indeed” said MUG as he fitted his new ‘Saint’ beanie, a free gift with his latest highly technically and challenging read…Mountain Biking UK, issue 231.

While the wind blasted them to the point that HRH could not walk forward without being blown around at times, they made their way up to the highest height, to the biggest castle, to the windiest point, to Edinburgh Castle. Upon entering the castle they were not meet with the usual accustoms of a welcolming King and Queen, but were made to join a queue, pay their sterling’s and pass through the ticket men.

On entering the castle grounds the heavens broke forth and rain poured to the ground. Some photos were still taken, however most of the time spent exploring the castle was spent running (in an almost horizontal position due to the strong gail force winds) from room to room.
“What a huge castle” exclaimed HRH “there is nothing quite like it at home”.
“Yes” replied MUG “I must take one hundred thousand photos to remember this”.

They explored the castle and read the plaques telling of the history of the castle. They also saw the sights - the dog cemetery, the crown square where the honours of Scotland were locked in an oak chest for 111 year (for those of lesser knowledge, the honours of Scotland are the Crown, the Scepter and the Sword of the State), the great hall, the Mons Meg (a 6 tonne siege gun firing gunstones weighing 150kg each), the oldest building in the castle - St Margaret’s Chapel and much, much more.

As they were departing the prisons a castle guard announced to them that the area was being shut up due to high winds. So once more HRH and MUG returned outside to the strong winds and beating rain.

Upon descending the rocky slopes of the Castle MUG spotted a shop front sign “the ultimate scotch whiskey experience”. After a short detour to a nearby café, the couple were back and on the next tour. A complimentary scotch whiskey glass was given to them with a drum of scotch whiskey. Upon learning the techniques of whiskey tasting they were told to say something in Scot which loosely translated means “drink yer up we’v a ‘ole bottle er to finish”.

HRH and MUG were taught how whiskey was made, the different kinds of whiskey (malted, grain and blended), the heritage of whiskey over the years and how the Scots managed to get all the army boys hooked on it during the wars thus spreading the popularity of whisky through the world.
Now, being much wiser on whiskey, MUG purchased a sample pack of 6 different kinds of whiskey to test his new found wisdom.

The rest of the day they wandered far and wide over the vast stretches of the city centre of Edinburgh. There were many beautiful old buildings for MUG to photograph. And lots more wind and rain to make the day feel truly Scottish and to encourage them to visit many indoor attractions including whatever free things they could find - museums, shopping malls etc.

Arriving at their hostel they saw they had lovely views over the sea, but seeing that it was still raining, the sea-side walk would have to wait for the morning.

After a restful sleep in their bed for MUG, and a not so restful sleep for HRH due to the pea under the mattress, they were ready for another fun filled day of adventure.

They caught the bus and after managing to get away from the extremely talkative bus-driver, HRH found the best seat in the house - front row on the top level! After the wonderful sun-blinding ride they arrived into town. (Author’s note: the sunshine managed to last for about 1 hour before the rain began again, but don’t be deceived, it was still about negative 50 degrees outside).

Another day was spent exploring the town. After climbing up a monstrously steep hill somewhat the size of Mt Everest, or the bump over the rubbish dump in Burwood Forest, they discovered another monument to Nelson. Admiral Horatio Nelson is very well loved - there are large monuments to him everywhere this couple go - London, Edinburgh, Glasgow… . Another monument was viewed, the National Monument, which looks similar to the Parthenon in Athens, well, it would have if they hadn’t stopped building it in 1829 because funds ran out. They also went into a rather spectacular graveyard with large walk-in graves (point of clarification - you don’t actually walk into the grave, there is rather a large open space that you walk into, like an open building, where people are buried).
After looking at a rather large upward monument in the middle of the graveyard HRH decided it was time to move on as looking upwards at it with the clouds rolling past gave the illusion that it was about to fall down on top of her.

So after some more exploration to ensure they had seen all the true Scottish sights they took out their checklists to ensure everything had been covered:
Scottish kilts and outfits for sale…check. Whiskey…check. Bagpipes…check. Scottish wedding with men wearing tartan pants…check. Cold air and strong winds…check. Orange
A bottle cover for a whisky bottleA bottle cover for a whisky bottleA bottle cover for a whisky bottle

You could also get one in the form of a knight, or all sorts of other variaties
curly haired people…check. Strong Scottish accents…check. Lochness monster…Nope, but lots of merchandise.”

After they had completed their checklist they decided it was time to move on to the next Scottish town, Glasgow. One train trip later and they were in the middle of Glasgow.
“It is quite different from Edinburgh” remarked MUG
“Yes” responded HRH “it is dupped the poorer industrial town where as Edinburgh is a beautiful rich-mans town.”
After the enlightening conversation they walked on through the crowds of shoppers and found their accommodation, conveniently in the middle of town.

After a much more restful sleep they awoke and ate their complimentary breakfast. MUG ate a good share of the free food - the hostel would have lost money from him!

The two headed out into the big wide world of Glasgow to see everything there was to be seen. MUG found many a bridge crossing the river Clyde that he photographed from every possible angle, every bridge he came across. This photographing took about half a day. The remainder of the time was spent visiting some of the main tourist sights…the Glasgow Green - to see another monument to Nelson and the Doulton Fountain which, at 14 meters high, is the biggest terracotta fountain in the world.

They also visited the transport museum. Both had an enjoyable time seeing big old trains, buses, cars, bicycles, motorbikes etc.
MUG exclaimed “Look, there’s a Ford Anglia over there. My parents used to have one of them, I remember riding in it”.
Of course, HRH is much too young to have any vehicles from her era in a museum.

They then took a bus to visit the SECC building. For those uniformed persons, again, just picture the Sydney Opera House on a smaller level - and there you have the SECC building.

After coming across another bridge, with another 100 photos taken from various angles by MUG, they went to an all-you-can-eat Chinese restaurant for dinner. Again, MUG ate his share and 5 other peoples; however he had a mouse’s portion compared to the three Asians sitting across the aisle from them. Never had HRH and MUG seen any people eat as much as those guys.

From the restaurant they walked down to the bus station to catch a bus to the airport. They checked in, and went through the check-in process and
View over EdinburghView over EdinburghView over Edinburgh

...see those big dark clouds...more rain!
went to wait in the lounge where the board showed, for the first time, that the flight was delayed by two hours. Since there was not much else to do, HRH read her book and MUG pretended to sleep. After 1 ¾ hours the flight was delayed a further half an hour and so on and so forth until eventually it came 3 ½ hours late! The passangers were getting more and more agitated as no staff members gave any information as Easyjet were un-contactable as were Gatwick airport. Along with the fact that there were no refreshments available as nothing in the airport was open. A very long and frustrating wait was had by all!
Once they finally arrived back in Gatwick HRH and MUG went in search for an Easyjet representative who could inform them how they were supposed to get home since there were no trains leaving at 2am in the morning for Guildford. As with any quality budget, uncaring, money-hungry, inconsiderate airline, there was no-one in sight and no numbers displayed showing how to contact them. Luckily for HRH and MUG there was a very lovely man who helped them at the information counter for the airport and called them a cab costing them £40 instead of the airport cab rate of £120! When they finally got home at around 3am they quickly feel into a deep sleep which unfortunately did not go on and on and on, but rather was quickly broken with an alarm and work.

So now they are back in Guildford working, eating and sleeping and rapidly running out of days left in this far, far away place. In just over 5 weeks they will be returning to their mansion in Woodend where they will live happily ever after…


Additional photos below
Photos: 21, Displayed: 21


The Glasgow GreenThe Glasgow Green
The Glasgow Green

The tall monument is the Nelson monument
The Ford AngliaThe Ford Anglia
The Ford Anglia

...the one that Daniel remembers riding in when he was a child.
A pretty fancy art galleryA pretty fancy art gallery
A pretty fancy art gallery

...or was it a museum...I can't remember
The SECC BuildingThe SECC Building
The SECC Building

...see I told you it looks like a mini Sydney Opera House

30th October 2008

Great Weather Report - Very Timely
So glad to hear how warm edinburgh is this time of year - I am sure we will have great times in the sunshine watching the the rugby up there next week - anyone for a cheap ticket????
31st October 2008

Most entertaining Monique!
31st October 2008

Dutch meets Scottish
Good combination - Dutchman and woman meet the Scottish. Sounds like it was an experience. Well written Daniel (even though your mum thinks it was you Monique). You could become a sarcastic author in the quiet season Daiel - a sort of Grinch meets Travel Author. Great news here though - Christmas carols are about to begin. Won't you be glad Damiel!! Take care. Love Dad
31st October 2008

Correction on author
Ha...Mum was right - it was me that wrote it! Not Daniel! Do you think he would call himself MUG while I was called HRH (Her Royal Highness)!!! Oh, I'm guttered I'm missing out on Christmas carols - but don't worry, I copied one of my Christmas CD's onto the computer...not that Daniel knows yet!
31st October 2008

Amanda in Scotland
Guttered...I knew you were going soon, just wasn't sure when. Apparently there was an unusual amount of rain and wind for this time of the year, as the Lakes District got flooded too. How lucky we are to be over here for the 'unusual' bad weather spells!

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