Archive for May, 2011

Scotland Trip; The last days, 5 and 6

May 14 and 15

We spent Saturday on Princes and George Street, two areas that were recommended as having good shopping. On our way, we stopped at St. John’s, a Scottish Episcopal church right down the road from the Sheraton. We visited for a few minutes, Mom indulging my never-ending fascination with old churches and then explored the old cemetery attached to the church.

St. John's cemetery

Reading some of the writings on these ancient markers was like looking back in time though a narrow lens. While life must have been very different living in this time period, people mourned their dead when they passed just as we do now. Mom was especially moved by one tombstone that had the names of a husband and wife who died about 20 years after each other but also held the names of their 3 children, ages 5, 4 and 2 who had all died in the same year, 30 years before them. Possibly the plague or some other illness of the early 1800’s had wiped out their entire family of children. We looked at each other and I know we both felt a sharp sadness at imagining such a tragedy.

We were on a hunt for a post office as Vince had asked me to bring him Scottish postage stamps. The first post office we found didn’t have what I was looking for so we walked quite a distance looking for another. In between, we had lunch at a little outside cafe on Georges Street and watched the crowds go by. It was yet another beautifully, brilliant day, cool enough to be comfortable with clear blue skies populated by the occasional white cloud. We were both grateful that the weather had been so lovely for the entire trip.

Al Fresco lunch on George Street, Edinburgh

We reached the area where the other post office was supposed to be but I couldn’t find it. So not wanting to push Mom around in the wheelchair until I knew where we were going, I left her in a park for a few minutes and went to the main street to ask people where it might be. A number of people I asked didn’t know but a woman who had walked by overheard me asking. When she realized that no one could help me, she walked back up the sidewalk to me and proceeded to guide me down to the alley where I could find it. Just one more example of how nice people in this city are and I told her so.

I went back up to collect Mom who was sitting in the park, right where I had left her, watching all the people doing what people do on Saturday mornings in a park in a big city. Some having coffee at an open air bistro, some laying on the grass reading the paper, others walking their dogs or passing time with family. It was one more thing that we liked about Edinburgh, it was comfortable; old in places, grand in others, but welcoming and comfortable.

We found the Post office in an indoor mall that was very crowded so after buying what I needed we left and went back outside. We shopped for a bit more, Mom becoming very enthusiastic when it was time to buy presents for everyone. We enjoyed ourselves picking up Scottish items, deciding this for that person and that for the other. Since shopping was a family trait inherited from my grandmother, Mom’s mother, it seemed quite apropos.

We started our long walk back, even longer now because my back was hurting from pushing the wheelchair up the hills. Once at the hotel, we proceeded directly to the restaurant on the premises for High Tea or Afternoon Tea as the Scots called it.

I had done this twice in my life, one at Harrods with Sonja (which was fabulous!) and once in Singapore. I knew this was the perfect experience to cap off our trip and something I wanted Mom to experience. I ordered for us both and sat back to wait, knowing it would be worth it. First a lovely pot of decaf tea for us to share and then a three-tiered cake stand filled with small finger sandwiches (cucumber and cream cheese, how very British!), scones and cakes with lemon curd (my absolute favorite thing!) and then small, delicate pastries beautifully decorated. We ate until we couldn’t move, and then ate some more. It was wonderful and perfectly Scottish.

Scottish Afternoon Tea

After a few hours rest in the room, we went to one of the Casinos that I didn’t know Edinburgh had. As I said, a cab driver had told us earlier in the week that Edinburgh had them and there wasn’t any way Mom wasn’t going to go!, Her eyes were all alight on our way over and she didn’t even want the wheelchair! It’s amazing how much energy she gets from the thought of playing slot machines.

The casino was small and uncrowded, definitely not like Atlantic City or Las Vegas, but we had been told as much. Scotland has strict regulations on the number of slot machines per casino (20) and methods for gambling so she was a little disappointed although she managed to hit every one of those 20 machines. After about 2 hours, she had lost all her money and we got a quick bite to eat in the restaurant.

Sunday morning, I rose early and went down the street to attend 8am services at St. John’s Cathedral. I was a little disappointed that the service wouldn’t be held in the grand main section of the church with all its stained glass and grand statuary; we met instead in a side chapel. I wasn’t surprised though as this early service is usually lightly attended.

There were 5 people including myself and the woman priest, most of them much older than me. The service was very similar to what I was used to and I participated, although my mind couldn’t help but wander at times to read the inscriptions on the stone walls. I wondered about the other people and families that had worshiped here. It was a calming experience and I had a quiet moment inside my own head to express my gratitude at being able to bring my mother on this heritage trip. Of course, none of it would have been possible without Vince. He had come up with the idea originally and then made it happen. He is so generous and so amazing, I never, ever take this for granted. I know how lucky and blessed I am.

It is now Sunday and we are on the plane coming home. We have about 1 hour before we arrive. Why do the return flights always seem to take so much longer? I guess because the excitement of getting where you are going speeds things up on the way out. On the way home, it’s different. Not that I am not ready to go home, I am. I miss Vince and the girls and everyone else but I know this was a precious and special, once-in-a-lifetime trip for me and mom. Mom told me she felt sad when we were leaving and even had tears in her eyes. I know how she feels. I don’t know what the future holds, or what other trips we will make, but this one will always be the most special and I am very, very grateful.

Scotland Trip – Day 4

May 13, 2011
We slept very late this morning and got a late start to our day. We had a late breakfast and then made our way to the stop for the City Sights Tour Bus. It was one of the hop- on – hop off types but we had been assured that they could accommodate a wheelchair, which it did. We got set up with our headphones and settled in for the ride.

Mom on the Tour bus

We started our tour and after a few stops got off at the stop to take the underground city tour. Edinburgh has a warren of underground passages and crypts that the very poor and destitute lived in during the 1600 – 1800’s. The extreme living conditions; over crowding, rampant disease, no hygiene, flowing rivers of sewage and unchecked crime – were terrible in these underground places. Many people died. The tour guide also regaled us with the tale of the South Bridge Entity who apparently haunts the caverns and will, without warning, strike out an an unsuspecting tourist leaving 3 bloody claw marks in the flesh. Pretty ghoulish and it fit with the tour. There was virtually no light except for the guides meager flashlight and a few sparse candles. You couldn’t see your hand in front of your face at times.

Start of the Underground Tour

We left here and walked the area a bit more. I learned quickly how to navigate a wheelchair on bumpy cobblestone streets. I have a new appreciation for people who have to use a wheelchair all the time.

We ended the day with a trip to the Scottish Museum. We only had 30 minutes but we did get to see the stuffed version of the famous Dolly the Sheep, that was the first cloned animal.

Back in our room but will be going out for dinner in a little bit so we will have an early night. Tomorrow is shopping and then over to the casino. Yep, there ARE casinos and slot machines in Edinburgh. A taxi driver had told us about this and although I was not thrilled, Mom certainly was, so we will be going there to cap off our trip before leaving on Sunday. But not before we have High Tea tomorrow afternoon…

Scotland Trip – Day 3

Driving to Aberdeen from Edinburgh was a 2 and half hour trip. The scenery was beautiful though and time passed quickly. The rolling hills outside of the city gradually became more mountainous. The fields of verdant green pastures with many of the hills dotted with grazing sheep. As we had seen previously, gorse bushes and rape seed fields were everywhere; the vibrant gold yellows of both were stark bursts of color against the green and the brown of tilled fields. Many miles would pass between farm houses and settlements, this is truly a country with many miles of untouched space.

Mom was excited to be going but a little anxious as to what we would find or not find. We both fell asleep for the last 45 minutes of the ride and when Paul said we were entering the city, my eyes popped open. The weather has been beautiful for the last 3 days and today was no exception. So with a brilliant blue sky as a background and in a clear, rain washed sunshine, the buildings and church spires stood out in a 3-D relief. From inside the car, it looked like a postcard.

Our first stop was to 18 Fraser Place, the birthplace of my grandmother, Martha Irene Mauchan. We were disappointed to find that the actual building was no longer standing. What we did find however was 22 Fraser Place which looked to be old enough to be from 1906, the year of her birth.

22 Fraser Place; close to where my grandmother was born 1906

Paul and I went into an old pub on the corner of Fraser & George streets and inquired but the few people in the pub were enjoying their ale and while friendly, didn’t have any helpful information. We went back outside and took pictures at #22 since this appeared to be as close as we were going to get to the location we were looking for.

Corner Bar at Fraser St.

The small, outbuilding in the backyard may have been a community wash house and I imagined my grandmother’s mother, bringing her wash down on her assigned day to do the family’s laundry. There would have been a family of 5 at this point and since wash would have been scrubbed on a washboard and dried in the attic or back yard depending on the weather, wash day must have been hard work.

Fraser Street Wash House

Satisfied that we had seen all that we could in this area, we headed off for St. Nicholas’s church, the church we believed our family would have worshiped at in the early 1900’s. There are many churches in Aberdeen and we were taking a chance that this would be the right one.

Paul dropped Mom and I off and we walked through the cemetery leading up to the church. There wasn’t any place to park the car so Paul said he would keep circling around the area until we returned. Many of the old gravestones dating back to the 1800’s were askew or tipped over, giving the place an authentic and un-manicured air. There were people sitting down eating lunch or hanging out, it was a peaceful old place and I would love to have spent some time reading the gravestones and the history of those buried there had we the time.

St. Nicholas Cemetary

Once inside the church, we explained to the three very nice, older people waiting to greet visitors and answer questions what we were looking for but despite their best intentions, they did not have the information we needed. We did however, get a tour of the old church which was hundreds of years old. As had happened the other day, our erstwhile tour guide was enthusiastic about explaining every detail, nook and cranny and I was hard-pressed to be polite about speeding things along. I tired not to let too much of my “New York” attitude show as I hustled Mom out the door.

St. Nicholas

They had given us one excellent piece of advice however when they suggested that we visit St. Nichols House, their City Hall, to look up burial records that might point us on the right path.

Paul picked us up out on the street and we drove to Nicholas House. He dropped off us off in front and I asked him to meet us inside and bring the wheelchair we had brought with us after he parked the car down the road a bit. We hadn’t had to use it until today as most of our walking had been short distances but I knew Mom was getting tired getting in and out of the car. (Our car was a SUV with a very high step up and she literally was pulling herself up and in each time we left and returned to the car.)

We signed in at the Visitors Desk and were directed to the 4th Floor to the Burials Department. On the way up in the elevator, another gentleman was riding with us also going to the 4th floor. He noted this and said, “I bet you are looking for me”. When I told him we needed the Burials Department, he smiled and said “follow me”. He turned out to be the best information source of the day.

Ian Burnett is a 30 year veteran of the Burials Department and he knew his stuff. Once I told him what we were looking for and showed him the paperwork we had, he proceeded to pull out two very large register books with handwritten records dating back to the time period we needed, early 1900’s. Within seconds, just as fast as a computer, he produced the page showing the cemetery plot that my great, great grandfather, Alexander Mauchan had purchased in June of 1901 after his wife Jane Grey Mauchan had died.

Ian and Mom at City Hall

Ian told us that the price paid of 4 pounds, 14 shillings (about $8) was an exorbitant amount of money for the time and suggested that Alexander, a stereotyper, must have been a very wealthy man indeed. We also discovered that in addition to Jane, and later Alexander himself (who was buried there in 1910), there are 4 other people in this plot.

• Margaret Mauchan – died November 11, 1916. She lived at 34 Rose St., and was the widow of Samuel Rose. We believe she was Alexander’s sister.
• Margaret Cruckshank – died October 21, 1944. She was the second wife of Arthur Mauchan (my grandmother’s father) who we believe returned to Scotland from Canada after his death in 1925. She was the step-mother my grandmother often told stories about. She lived at 72 Skene Rd.
• Ernest MacAngus – died December 23, 1943 and Hilda MacAngus, his wife, died June 14, 1990. We believe that Hilda was a descendant of Alexander Mauchan, perhaps his great niece.

St. Peter's Cemetery register

Looking through the Aberdeen phone book provided by Ian, we were disappointed to discover no one with the last name of Mauchan remaining in Aberdeen. Mom and I had both been hoping that we would discover a long, lost relative. I had secret visions of bringing Mom to the house of such a person and being invited in for tea while we introduced ourselves and shared our common histories. But it was not to be and both Mom and I were a little saddened by this.

After we had exhausted all of our options for information gathering, we thanked Ian for his help. He asked for my contact information and said if he ever came across the name Mauchan, which is apparently very uncommon, he would contact me. I was delighted by his offer and we exchanged email addresses.

We met Paul downstairs who was patiently waiting for us and went for lunch around the corner. I was glad we had the wheelchair at this point since Mom was relieved to use it.

After lunch, we proceeded to St. Peter’s cemetery to look for plot T 46A, the family burial plot. Ian had shown us a cemetery map and we knew approximately were to find it. We were happy to learn it was just inside the cemetery gates so no long distance walking would be required. Paul maneuvered the big SUV inside the old cemetery gates, which were meant for horse drawn carriages and much smaller cars and thankfully, the side view mirrors remained intact.

Mom and I got out quickly and walked to the area we expected to find the headstone. Once there, it took a few minutes to realize that the small, chevron shaped stone leaning against another was what we were looking for. The lettering was badly worn away and it was difficult to make out the writing until Mom reached down and started vigorously brushing the dirt off to make the letters appear clearer. We then poured water over the stone and the words jumped out in stark relief. We were able to read:

“The Burial Ground of the late Alexander Mauchan”.

The Burial Ground of the late Alexander Mauchan

We had found it! We were surprised that there was no further information on the stone; no dates or other names. The stone itself had slipped off of its wire support and was half covered by overgrown grass which I yanked out by the roots to make some attempt at beautification. On the other side of this stone, a much newer stone was erected for Ernest and Hilda MacAngus whose deaths had come much later in the cemetery. We surmised that their own children had erected the stone. Possibly, with further research, I may be able to track them down.

I suggested to Mom that we should have brought some flowers to lay by the grave and when I saw the disappointment clearly written on her face, I asked Paul to drive us down the street to buy flowers and to drive us back again so we could leave them as a token of our respect and shared ancestry. As Mom placed the flowers in an urn that happened to be near by, I felt a sense of completion that we had done what we had come to do. I asked Mom how she felt and she told me that it was “sad that no one was around to take care of the site” but she was happy that we had been able to do something for them all. As we walked away, she said “Goodbye grandfather, someone still does care.”

Mauchan Burial Plot Gravestone

From the cemetery, we drove to 5 other addresses that we had from information that had been researched for us by our tour guide. In every instance, the houses were no longer standing. Some areas however, still had older buildings located next to the places we looked so we were able to get a glimpse of a street that may have been walked on or the corner mailbox that may have been used by our family.

Baker Street - where Uncle Charlie was born 1910

We are now driving back to Edinburgh. Mom is asleep in the car as I type this. I know she is exhausted but she is happy that we were able to use our time in Aberdeen to discover as much as possible for now. I have promised her I will look into stereotypers in the late 1800 and early 1900’s, the profession of Alexander Mauchan that had allowed him to buy the expensive burial site. Perhaps we can uncover a little more information that will help shed light on his family and their way of life.

Me and Mom at St. Peter's Cemetary

Scotland Trip – Day 2

May 11, 2011

We met our tour guide Paul at 8:30 am as planned. Of course, it was really 3:30 in the morning EST and my eyes felt like I had sand in them. Mom had gotten a good 12 hours sleep but I stayed up late working on this blog and didn’t get enough. Jet Lagged! Paul met us in his full Scottish regalia.

Our Kilted Tour Guide Paul

After stopping at a cafe for some breakfast for the road, we drove past HolyRood, the centuries old seat of the Scottish parliament. Once we were outside of the city, the landscape changed dramatically. We saw brilliant yellow fields of rape seed (used to make rape seed oil used in cooking) and patches of thorny gorse, a bush I had read about in all my fantasy books since that’s what this country reminds me of. Driving along the coast of the Firth of Forth, the name of the body of water, we drove past Arthur’s Seat a mountainous area with beautiful cliff side views and an extinct volcano. Who knew there were volcanoes in Scotland? Paul told us that Edinburgh Castle we visited yesterday was built on an extinct volcano as well.

Then we headed off to Rosslyn Castle in Midlothian, about 10 miles outside of Edinburgh. I love to visit old cathedrals and chapels and we’ve been to quite a few as Vince can tell you, but this one was the most beautiful chapel I’ve ever seen. Building started in 1446 by the St. Claire family and although the complete cross shaped transept design was never completed, the portion that was finished contains some of the most intricately carved stonework imaginable. The vaulted stone ceiling was a work of art in itself and an engineering marvel. The outside flying buttresses (the supports that “push” the sides of the church in holding up the vaulted ceiling) were magnificent.

Rosslyn Chapel

Rosslyn ceiling

The chapel is in a state of ongoing reconstruction which is overseen by the descendants of the St. Clair family and the Scottish Heritage Foundation. In the mid 1500’s, Scotland Reformation moved the country to the Presbyterian faith and all of the Roman Catholic churches were either destroyed, looted or closed. This beautiful place was shut down and not used again as a chapel until the late 1800’s when Queen Victoria decided to restore it. The Da Vinci code also brought world-wide attention to this chapel and since the movie was released, the visitor count has increased four-fold bringing with it more tourist dollars to be used towards the restoration. Check out

There was something about this place that just pulled at me. I went downstairs to see the family crypt, which was built even earlier, in the 1200’s. The crypt has been sealed for over 200 years. No one knows exactly what or who is buried there. Our tour guide told us of the many legends about the secrets hidden within the crypt. She said that The Ark of the Covenant, the Holy Grail, the Shroud of Turin, some of the Dead Sea Scrolls and Elvis Presley are all some of the items purported to be buried below. :)

Rosslyn Chapel Gargoyle

The tour guide also told us about the Ley Lines that supposedly intersect at a certain spot in the center of the chapel floor. She suggested that we stand in this spot, keep an open mind and see if we felt the “energy”. Of course I tried it.

Standing under a hanging pointer that marked the intersect lines, I closed my eyes and waited. I tried not to think to hard about how silly I looked standing there with people milling all around me but within seconds, I “saw” four black intersecting lines. They weren’t in the shape of a cross but were rather angled like a big X. I stood for a few minutes, smiling at myself and what Vince would have said about my woo-woo gullibility.

The tour guide asked me if I “felt” anything. When I explained what I had “seen”, she paused and smiled. She said that only a few other people had said they had seen 4 lines but that was the number that was supposed to be intersecting. And then she said to me, “Were they crossed in a diagonal fashion?” I said yes and again she said that this is what she had been told by others. Of course you non-believers (and I know who you are!), don’t believe a word of this but I think I do. I think the concept of Ley Lines is fascinating (it’s been described as lines of energy that run around the world) and who’s to say it isn’t true? Look it up: Ley Lines

This whole experience just added to my overall awe of this place. Mom enjoyed it as well and while I was doing all of this, she was walking around looking at the carvings and the architecture. She agreed that it was remarkable place.

We left Rosslyn to drive to Linlithgow Palace, a palace built in the 1500’s by James V as a gift for his new wife Margaret Tudor, sister of Henry VIII. Linlithgow is a palace and not a castle, the difference being that a castle is built with fortification to sustain a battle or a seige. A palace is a big country house built for royalty to visit when they want to escape the smell of the great unwashed multitudes or the plague. It wasn’t an easy time to live in unless you were a royal.

Mom at Fountain at Linlithgow Palace

There’s lots of royal political history and intrigue everywhere in this country, not unlike England and I am just loving it. But at the risk of having your eyes glaze over, suffice it to say that this palace was built in stages over the centuries and then a fire started by some careless guests who left an oil lamp burning, gutted the entire palace, leaving only the stone walls. I roamed around these walls, taking Mom in wherever the floors were even and safe. She didn’t want to try to manage the stairs that led to other floors so I would go up and then lean out the window and shout down to her.

That's mom sitting waaaay down there!

Outside of the palace, St. Micheal’s cathedral is still operating as the local parish church. It was another beautiful example of architecture, stained glass windows and history. Although we didn’t take a tour, a friendly older man stationed inside to welcome visitors, was happy to tell us about the place. In particular, he showed us a mason’s mark on one of the stone columns, made by one of the stone masons that had built the original structure in the 1500’s. It was pretty impressive to see an autograph from 600 years ago.

Mason's Mark at St. Michaels

St. Michaels

Mom is enjoying all the history also although sometimes the different Scottish accents are hard to understand. As we drive through the small villages and towns, she keeps commenting on the architecture and stone buildings. Everything, both old and new, seem to be built of stone. Apparently, there is alot of it in Scotland and it makes for some beautiful buildings.

We had lunch at a restaurant that looked like a shepherd’s cottage. The building was low and surrounded by flowers and places to sit. Inside, Mom and I sat at a small table for two tucked into a side room. (Paul choose not to have lunch with us, saying he would wait in the car for us instead) After some delicious red lentil soup, salad with stilton cheese dressing and a glass each of South African Chenin Blanc, Mom and I were recharged and ready to go.

A very nice lunch!

Before we left, we used the loo (yes, toilet). I had to take this picture as I had never seen one quite like it!

What a pretty bowl!

In the evening, we went to see the “Taste of Scotland Show”, a dinner theater event. The show included bagpipers (which made Mom very happy) and Scottish singers and dancers. Mom really liked the show especially the Scottish songs and costumes. And although we were both very hesitant, we even tried the hagus which is a famous Scottish oatmeal and offal sausage-type thing. (And if you want to know why we were so hesitant, look up the word “offal”.) We both decided it wasn’t for us.

Mom and I at The Scotland Show

We’re back in our room now, already in bed. We’ve had two busy days and tomorrow we are off to Aberdeen. Mom is most excited about this part of the trip since visiting Aberdeen, the city of her ancestry, is the main reason we are here. We have dates and locations and will visit the Registry House to try to find out if some relatives still live in the city. We will also visit the address of the home where her mother (my grandmother Nanny) was born. And if the house is still standing, I plan to go right up to the front door, ring the bell and introduce ourselves.

May 9 and 10, 2011

Jeannie drove us to the airport Monday evening which was really great. I had been trying to figure out the logistics of dropping mom off at curbside with the luggage, parking the car in the lot and getting back to the terminal after leaving her to sit by herself for 15 minutes. Jeannie solved all of this. Excellent!

Mom & I leaving for Scotland

The flight was uneventful but after almost 7 hours, we were both ready to get off. I took a little blue pill (Advil PM) but Mom didn’t. Needless to say, I slept a little, Mom didn’t. We are both pretty tired.

They had a wheelchair ready for Mom when we got off the plane and we got through Customs really quickly. As a matter of fact, we cut ahead of everyone on all lines. I felt a little guilty but hey, we were tired so I went along with it.

Everyone is so nice here, I keep telling the people that we talk to that there are only nice people in Scotland. They find this pretty amusing. We checked into our hotel, which is very pretty and feels very British. The room is small but nicely appointed.

Hotel Room

Hotel Lobby

After re-grouping and unpacking, we left to go see the Edinburgh Castle, the main attraction of the city. First we had a quick lunch in the hotel in a lovely wood paneled room with big high windows. They served a proper British lunch and a wonderful little pot of decaf tea.

Lunch at the hotel

A nice cup of tea

The hotel lent us a wheelchair and we took a taxi, with a really nice driver, over to the castle. They were really great about letting the cab bring us all the way to the top as the old streets leading up to the castle proper are long, windy and cobblestone. I never would have been able to push the wheelchair up them.

Mom and I at Edinburgh Castle

It had been raining and overcast when we first got to the castle and it was very blustery but after about 45 minutes, the sun came out and the sky was a beautiful blue with billowing white clouds scudding by.

Blue Sky at the Castle

We saw the Crown Jewels of Scotland, which were not much compared to the Crown Jewels of England but the scepter, crown and the sword were impressive. These had been hidden for over 100 years and forgotten about until Sir Walter Scott opened up an old chest and re-discovered them. Needless to say they were overjoyed to find them in 1818.

We visited the other rooms and outbuildings of the castle. It is similar to the Tower of London, which has multiple buildings built at different times over the ages. Everyone was very accommodating for us with the wheelchair, putting up ramps and letting us go in through back entrances. At one point, I was pulling Mom down a ramp backwards and the wheelchair tipped sideways. She didn’t fall out, but she could have. I’m no expert with this thing so I was very happy that someone was there helping me get her back on the tracks. It shook us both up a bit.

Since James V, there hasn’t been a specific monarch of Scotland but instead the English monarch presides over both countries. The Scots have a convoluted and confusing history when it comes to Britain. It’s a history that is well over 1000 years old.

After seeing all that there was to see, we took the route down from the top of the castle hill with Mom walking at some points and riding at others. Going down was alot easier than going up but I had to be really careful not to slip on the cobblestones and have Mom go careening down the hill out of control. I promised her I wouldn’t let that happen!

We walked out of the castle grounds and down the Royal Mile, a famous old street which is the site of lots of things that I don’t remember because I am so tired. We went in and out of a few stores but didn’t buy anything except a little something in a store called “Ness”.

A store called "Ness"

Mom and I shared some great fish and chips at a local place recommended by one of the staff at the castle. We sat outside, watching the people go by and enjoying this U.K. specialty. I hadn’t had this since visiting Alixandria and Sean in England and it was tasty!

Great fish and chips

The streets were pretty busy, lots of school children and tourists plus working people walking by. It was touristy but you could also see the history contained in the old stone buildings, sandwiched in between the newer ones. A combination of new and old, very reminiscent of London.

The Royal Mile

We went inside St. Giles Cathedral which was really beautiful. I love old cathedrals and this one had some fantastic stained glass and architecture. It was very impressive and I was happy to have seen it. It is located right in the middle of the Royal Mile together with markets and hotels and stores. This very old cathedral was right on the main street two blocks up from a Starbucks.

St. Giles Cathedral

St. Giles stained glass windows

Vaulted Ceiling at St. Giles

We took a cab back to the hotel, showered and got in our pajamas. We are both exhausted. The plan is to TRY to stay awake until 8pm Scotland time so we can get acclimated to the time zone. Our tour guide Paul, will be meeting us at 8:30am tomorrow morning for our tour of Edinburgh. I know we’ll be able to find him in the hotel lobby because he’ll be wearing a kilt!

Mom is trying desperately to find some decent TV to watch but it’s slim pickings. I told her not to expect to find Wheel of Fortune in Scotland! Actually, I think she’s already asleep….

Wish you were here!

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