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Published: January 29th 2009
A Handshake on Arthurs seat
I asked for a hug, he said what sort of a kiwi are you
Before you start reading, put on some bagpipes (Mull of Kintyre will do) and start thinking in your best Scottish accent, it will nae make any bloody difference but ya mae have a wee laugh.
Last weekend was Rabbies 250th birthday and what better way to celebrate than to head for the land of the kilted ones for a wee dram or three and a taste of Haggis. We left London early Friday morning from Kings Cross and arrived 5 hours later in Edinburgh. Train travel has become our favorite. Nae waiting at airports, nae ques (sorry mum I know that's spelt wrong), lots of leg room, a buffet on board, plenty of toilets and walking space. Anyway we arrived at about 1pm and jumped straight on a bus for a two hour tour of the city.
God, it's so good to get out of London, every city we visit seems empty after living in the big L. Edinburgh has only 1/2 a million which makes it a pleasure to get around. Anita and I love cities with wee auld towns, they have so much character and a real wairua to them, Edinburgh is no exception. Based around Edinburgh
What a show off, you think with a body like that you'd keep it covered
Castle it runs for a mile down to Holyrood Palace, unfortunately laced now with tourist shops selling kilts, shortbread and clan trinkets. The tour guide gave us a good history with lots of cheeky scottish banter. Although we stayed just out of town it was right opposite Murrayfield, in fact in the Murrayfield Hotel which I sure in the 60s and 70s hosted an All Black team or two. Very special for an old rugby man like myself. The hotel was grand and we headed straight for the bar for a beer and the compulsary malt. Anita spotted haggis on the menu and could nae wait till dinna and ordered a small portion. Later that night we went out to a resturant, Howies, and again ordered Haggis only this time with another Scottish favourite Cullen Skink, a fish and potato soup.
The next was an early start as we traveled up into the Highlands towards Loch Ness, a wee drive of 4 hours. Our tour driver Chris, was great, a highlander himself he was both passionate and knowledgable and able to embelish a story with uncanny skills. As we past historic sites he told us stories about William Wallace
The purple umbrella scared Nessy away, although I;m told she only comes up if the money's right
(Braveheart),Rob Roy MacGregor, Bonnie Prince Charlie and many of the clan battles. Feuds between the McDonalds and Campbells, the struggle for power by the Stewarts and many more. It was a brutal few hundred years not help by the English who always tended to out number the Scots about 5 to 1 and most of the time massacared them but not until after a good stoush that generally lasted for years. As we headed into the hills it started to snow, but it was also sunny, it was very beautiful and as we drove through the pass at Glen Coe it felt quite spiritual, you could almost feel the history.
With snow falling, the barren landscape slowly turning white, beams of sun shinning thro the clouds, Chris added to the moment with some well chosed bagpipe music, it was one of the highlights of the weekend. We were in true McDonald country, the home of the mighty clan and made even more special because one of my moko is a McDonald (hi Taylah). We stopped at Fort William for lunch and I couldn't help myself by taking the opportunity to buy a big Mac at the closet McDonalds to
A dram and Haggis in honour of Rabbie
Glen Coe. We passed Ben Nevis (the highest peak in Scotland on the way to Lock Ness. Scotland is full of Lochs, which are really lakes, but thats English so yea can nae say lake in the highlands. They were formed as a result of the ice age when Scotland was nothing more than a gigantic iceberg. Nessy wasn't around, in fact it was raining and nobody was around so we took some compulsory photos and headed back to Edinburgh, a great day and we are so glad we took that option.
Next day we awoke to the news that 3 hikers had been killed in an avalanche in the mountains at Clen Coe about the same time we were passing through. Eerie. Sunday the 25, Mr Burns 250th and we headed off to explore the old town. The sun was shinning again, that is 3 days in a row, unheard of in this part of the world, but it was cold. We wandered and explored the castle and its surrounds, bought a few keepsakes, soaked up the atmoshpere of the city, saw the sights and at 1pm headed back to collect our gear before heading back to London.
The toilets were sometimes open air
But there was one formality to perform "A toast to The Haggis". So at Hampton Hotel we order (another) haggis (the best yet and covered in whiskey sauce) and two shots of single malt and with our enjoyable tour leader Gary, did the deed.
Ye Pow'rs wha mak mankind you care
And dish them out their bill o' fare,
Auld Scotland wants nae skinking ware
That jaups in luggies;
But, if you wish her gratefu' pray'r
Gis her a Haggis
Now go and turn off the music were back in London....... You know one of the great things about living in London town is that you can take in a live show any day of the week with a choice of about twenty to choice from, and that just the musicals, there is never a shortage of top class entertainment. I had always wanted to take Anita to Dirty Dancing and had dropoed lots of hints. She took the hints and as part of my Xmas present got tickets for the show, so Tuesday night, after work, it was off to the Ayldwich Theatre for a little bit of DD. The show was awesome, we had watched the
Neer min' the wee castle loo ay the sky
movie the week before to become familiar with the story. The show was just about word for word, song for song, but live. The dancing was incredible, the atmosphere charged and the ending electric. You cannae, oopppss sorry, You cannot beat a good live show.
Well the days are getting warmer, although I'm told Feb is cold, but more inmportantly it is now light when we go to work and light when we get home by 5pm. We are soooo missing your fantastic summer. Sunday its off to the Tower of London, with some friends we meet in Croatia The girls want to see the crown jewels!!!!!!!!!!!!!. Next trip is Liverpool with Chris and Sham, who we meet in Brasil and spend some time in our home in NZ.
e noho ora mai koutou
Tony and Anita
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