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Published: August 13th 2019
I knew we were in Scotland when I looked at the breakfast menu in the local Wetherspoons the following morning. In place of the normal English Breakfast was a Scottish Breakfast with two black puddings, eggs and a potato scone. You could add haggis for another pound. On the vegan breakfast you could add black pudding as an extra. Maybe blood counts as vegan in Scotland.
After breakfast we walked through Princes park, the castle towering above us. We climbed steep hills with numerous stops to admire the views. We strolled down the Royal Mile which was noisy and crowded with tourists. Almost every store was a gift shop of some sort. Bagpipe players were busking on every corner. There’s nothing finer than Amazing Grace played by a competent bagpiper but these buskers all seem to be playing the same tune. I think it was called ‘Play fast and don't worry about the order of the notes’. I started to get a headache before we were halfway down the street.
We found the shop selling deep fried Mars bars - supposedly the inventors of the concept - but it was shuttered and closed with a ‘To Let’ sign above the door.
When we were last in Edinburgh, many years ago, I sampled this delicacy. A Mars Bar (Milky Way in the USA) is covered in a thick batter and deep fried in hot oil. I took the first bite. Not bad I thought. And a second. Quite filling but a bit greasy maybe. I took a third and realised that the first two were sitting immobile in my gullet as though my stomach was saying ‘no way is THAT coming in here.’ I managed to finish it but it just sat there, not moving, a stand-off between gravity and a reluctant stomach. Some hours later I realised that it was still there, warm and slightly unpleasant, like a small furry animal had taken up residence. I think gravity won eventually but I was still emitting toffee flavoured burps a week later.
I was secretly glad the shop was closed lest I be tempted to repeat the experience.
There was a 10-foot bronze statue of Adam Smith nearby with a seagull on his head. I tried to get a picture without the adornment but as soon as the seagull moved, a pigeon took his place.
We passed the National Library and on an impulse went in to their exhibition on the Scottish Enlightenment. It was mercifully calm and quiet after the clogged streets and a whole lot more interesting than it sounds. They had a first edition of the Encyclopaedia Brittanica as well as one of Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations. One of the information displays stated the the Acts of Union in 1707 deprived Scotland of its sovereignty - an odd take on events since England and Scotland had shared a monarch, initially Scottish at that, since 1603. English history books have a different view of the union.
We walked down to the Greyfriars Bobby statue and had a look around the graveyard, larger than I expected, then on to the Scottish National Museum. The technology section of the museum is wonderful with a working cloud chamber and random parts of the hadron collider. We went up to the roof terrace for some amazing views over the city skyline and up to Arthur’s Seat. When we were considering this trip I thought it would be nice to walk up to the seat but seeing the height and rough terrain I realised that I had left it a few years too late.
You can find the full blog on Travels With Madam
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