Monday, October 7, 2013

Enjoying Aberdeen, St Andrews and Edinburgh

During the night of September 25th, leading to September 26th, the temperature dipped to the lowest yet. Weather reports stated that temperatures dropped to the high 30s. We woke to 54 degrees Fahrenheit in the RV. I was freezing with the down comforter, spare blanket and 2 jackets thrown on top of the bed. (Admittedly, I can often be found wearing a cashmere cardigan on a 75 degree summer day.) We had our propane heater running but it was no match for these brisk temperatures. When we got up in the morning, Vince concluded that we might need to get the electricity fixed sooner rather than later. Up until this point, we had been more or less comfortably dry camping, relying on our solar panels and the generator for power. Whenever we plugged in for shore power, we would blow a fuse; there was something wrong with our transformer or something was miss-wired; this was a problem that Vince hadn't yet cracked. We couldn't run the RV's heat system at night because the blowers would use up all the battery power. After 8am in the morning we could run the generator, and therefore the heating system, to warm up the RV, but at night we relied on the radiation of the propane heater.

Once we had breakfast and thawed out, we set out for Aberdeen and the Maritime Museum, which covers Aberdeen's history surrounding the sea, from early fisheries by way of tea clippers to the North Sea oil boom. Information about the North Sea oil industry dominated and there was much information about life on an oil platform/rig, the various skills required and the technologies used to build and run an oil operation at sea. Information was well presented and I think we all learned a lot.
The Aberdeen Maritime Museum: Entry is free and it's well worth a visit.
At the Aberdeen Maritime Museum, one can get a feel for what it's like being an ROV (remotely operated vehicle) pilot.
Computer programs help pilots train to operate ROVs. The museum offers a station where one can try their skills at fixing an oil leak at the bottom of the sea.

The view of the harbour from the top floor of the Aberdeen Maritime Museum.
On the way back, we stopped by Drum Castle but were too late. We arrived at 16:20 and the last entry was at 16:00. We've noticed that this 16:00 closing time seemed to be the norm with most historical sites. We need to get our act/timing together so that we can fit more in the afternoons.

When we arrived back to the Greenpark Certificated site, it was lovely and sunny outside so we decided to go for a walk and follow the footpath to Brathens Wood.
It's fun following a footpath and discovering to where it will lead.
Along the footpath, we came across this sculpture made from an an old tree trunk in, what seemed to be, the middle of nowhere.
On September 27th, we continued further south towards St Andrews. Our camping destination was the Silverdyke Park (£26/nt) located about 9 miles east of St Andrews near the village Cellardyke in the county Fife.
This is a photo of our location at the Silverdyke Park; it doesn't look like much here but immediately behind the hedges, the ground dropped to the sea. It was a very nice, peaceful location. It also had a games room with small pool table and air hockey table that were available free of charge (clearly a win for the kids).
After we arrived and got settled, we drove into St Andrews to get acquainted with the city.
St Andrews has beautiful buildings accented with abundant flower boxes everywhere.
This photo shows some of the remains of St Andrews Cathedral, which was Scotland’s largest and most magnificent medieval church. The cathedral was the seat of Scotland’s leading bishops (and from 1472, archbishops). It occupied a site used for worship since the 8th century AD, when the relics of St Andrew, Scotland’s patron saint, are said to have been brought here. The cathedral was begun in 1160–2 but was not completed and dedicated until 1318. It fell into disuse and ruin during the 16th century Scottish Reformation, after which Catholic mass was outlawed.
I just can't imagine this shop making a go of it in the US.

I loved the details on the centuries old buildings.
After walking about for a while, we stopped for dinner at the Bella Italia restaurant.
The Bella Italia restaurant had the best kids menu I'd ever seen; there were choices for a 3 course meal and Sarah also received a goodie bag with multi-color crayons, a mask to color and an activity book.
On September 28th, we woke up to a beautiful, warmish day (probably hit 15 degrees Celcius) and so we decided to try the Himalayas Putting Course, which is right next to the St Andrews Old Course. Technically, we can now say, "We've golfed at St Andrews!" This is a very challenging 18 hole putting course on fine grass with significant rolling hills. (Being labeled the Himalayas should be a tip off!) We were lucky that we went that day because when we returned two days later, it was closed for the season.
The Himalayas is also known as the Ladies' Putting Green and is owned by the St Andrews Ladies Putting Club, founded in 1867.
By the back 9, Sarah got so frustrated with the Himalayas course, that she quit.
I think the Himalayas is equally as challenging to par as the St Andrews Old Course.
When we arrived at the Himalayas, we noticed that the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship Tournament was taking place at the St Andrews Old Course. It was day 3 of the competition. Spectators were allowed to come into the viewing areas at no charge and so I enjoyed watching a bit of it. With 3 kids, I no longer have time to really follow golf so didn't recognize many of the players, most of them from Europe, but on the amateur side Hugh Grant and Andy Garcia were playing; I haven't been under a rock so long as to not recognize those two names.
Oh, and like a dream come true, I saw "STERNE" on the board. How cool was that! It belonged to Richard Sterne, from South Africa but for a brief moment I could allow myself to imagine it belonging to yours truly.
Check out the second name from the bottom. A dream come true, STERNE was on the board at a respectable 8 under par!
The sand-coloured building to the left is The Royal and Ancient Golf Club, built in 1854. As of 2013, it still has a "men only" policy. The red building in the center is the recently refurbished Hamilton Grand (luxury apartments); in recent years it had been Hamilton Hall, dormitory residences for St Andrews University students (lucky kids)!
Someone approaching the 18th green.
This was the 18th green on the Old Course. I have no idea who any of these golfer were. The fairways were so fine that someone putted 50 feet from the edge of the green and got 10 feet from the hole. I'd never seen anyone put from so far off the green before.
Later in the afternoon, we walked along the St Andrews West Sands beach. This was the beach where Chariots of Fire was filmed; it's a very wide, fine, sandy beach that stretches for a couple of miles.
A view of the West Sands beach.
This person driving a kite buggy was having a grand time; we were all envious.
That evening, we set out to the one and only tavern, The Haven Bar and Restaurant, in Cellardyke for dinner but were disappointed that there was not a table to be had until 8:15pm (a non-starter for 5 hungry people at 6pm). So we returned to LandShark for some fallback pasta and frozen vegetables.
En route to The Haven Bar and Restaurant, I took this photo of a WWI monument at sunset, next to the Silverdyke Park.
On September 29th, Vincent went off to church while I stayed behind and did one load of laundry. I wanted to do more but we ran out of water and we couldn't get access to the right hose fitting without Vincent's help. When Vince returned I didn't want to waste anymore of the day on domestic chores when St Andrews was beckoning.
While waiting for Vincent to return from church, Sarah and I walked down to the shore. It looked like the tide was coming in.
It was a lovely sunny day, our second in a row, which must have been some kind of Scotland record. Despite it being the final day of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, we were fortunate to find some street parking right by the St Andrews Castle. Unfortunately we forgot our English Heritage membership so we passed on the castle and went to the Museum of the University of St Andrews (MUSA) which is free and had good reviews. It was indeed worth the stop and gives a good overview of the history of St Andrews University. It also has a children's art center on the top floor with someone there to instruct and supervise; it offered a number of activities and Sarah could have spent a couple hours in the art center alone, if given the chance.
View from the roof top of the MUSA overlooking another university building and looking towards the West Sands beach and St Andrews Old Course way, way off in the distance.
The MUSA offers a super art center for kids. Here, Sarah was finishing up a painting and was allowed to embellish it with silver and gold paint accents.
Leaving the MUSA, we had a late lunch at the Old Vic restaurant. Our server turned out to be from Palo Alto, California; she was in her third year at St Andrews. Lucky gal!
A view of the Martyrs Monument: It was erected in 1842 in memory of the Protestant reformers who had been executed in St Andrews some 300 years earlier, before and during the Scottish Reformation.
After lunch, we went to the British Golf Museum which is just across the street from The Royal and Ancient Golf Club. The museum walks through the details of golf history and, if one is at all interested in the sport, it is a must see. It includes a 2+ hour film showing the highlights of the British Open Championship (The Open) from the early 1900s to the present time. I started watching the film from the point where I was a little girl and was hooked. I was reminded of so many golf stars who I followed on the weekends when I was a kid during a time when I played golf on an almost daily basis: Tom Watson, Gary Player, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Tom Weiskopf, Lee Trevino, Seve Ballesteros, Nick Faldo, Greg Norman, and so on. After attending university, my life went in a different direction and I hadn't thought of these people in the last twenty plus years. I enjoyed the opportunity to reflect on the past for a few moments.
"A typical day at the golf consisted of play on the links, followed by a social gathering. Business was usually transacted before the meal. The tee off times varied between 11am and 1pm. The meal usually began between 3pm and 4pm and was expected to last 2 1/2 hours." I could have completely embraced this program, except for the fact that I'm a female and would not have been allowed to join the party...:-(
From left to right, a driver from 1860, 1865 and 1870 respectively. The iron is also from the late 1800s.
On September 30th, I got my wish and we spent one last day at St Andrews. I liked this city. I loved walking around the university, which this year is celebrating its 600th anniversary (1413-2013), and the golf haunts. For a few fleeting moments I could imagine being 30 years younger. I found myself envious of the students here and of the golfers. I came up with yet another thing for my "bucket list": To return to the Old Course and play a round. For that, I'll have to re-establish my handicap and of course win the lottery to actually secure a tee time. Vince will need to get to a 24 handicap. These are not insignificant requirements. Oh well, something to work towards.

We started our venture in the city by getting some school supplies for the kids. The boys needed graph paper and mathematical instruments for their next section of algebra. We then went to Tesco for the meal deal (sandwich, a drink and fruit or crisps for £3-£4) and off to the park, where the Martyr Monument stands, in order to have a picnic lunch. I had just finished half of my prawn, avocado and arugula sandwich and was holding the second half in my left hand when suddenly I was attached by a seagull! It was Hitchcock's The Birds redux! The bird grabbed my sandwich, including my middle finger and set off to fly away; it was foiled that my finger was still attached. (Ouch, that hurt!) Believe me, that gull got a glimpse of my middle finger as it was circling around considering a second attack!
The city of St Andrews wasn't exaggerating with this poster. That could be me in the poster except the woman wasn't holding her middle finger in the correct position.
With the English Heritage membership in hand, we went back to the St Andrews Castle. One has to be wary of these National Trust for Scotland and English Heritage memberships. A few times we have gone to a site and the property has had some angle for not accepting or not completely accepting the membership. The Kinnaird Castle Lighthouse and Museum in Fraserburgh were listed in one of our membership catelogs, but when we got there we were told the Lighthouse and Museum were independent and did not accept any membership program. In the St Andrews Castle case, one could only get in for free if one had the English Heritage membership for a year or longer. (Huh? What is up with that?) Since Vince, just purchased it about a week ago, we had to pay half price.
St Andrews Castle entrance: St Andrews Castle was the official residence of Scotland’s leading bishop (and later archbishop) throughout the Middle Ages. It was the setting for many important events which determined the course of Scottish history. Some of the key moments leading up to the Scottish Reformation in 1560 were played out here. These include the burning of George Wishart, the Protestant preacher, the murder of Cardinal Beaton, and the great siege of 1546–7. 
If this photo was placed to the right of the above photo, you'd have a more complete view of the front of the castle. The steps leading down the hill (center of photo) take you to the entrance of the counter-mine built during the great siege of 1546-47.
A view from the inner walls of the castle ruins looking back towards St Andrews.
As part of the great siege in 1546-47, Regent Arran's men built a mine (tunnel) under ground to break into the castle. The Protestants inhabiting the castle built a counter-mine to thwart the invaders. (It took a third counter-mine to intercept the invaders' mine.) This is a photo of the counter-mine; it's only about 3-4 feet tall at many points. I can't believe how these folks in the 1500s burrowed through solid rock.
After finishing with the castle, Vince let me go off on my own for two hours to shop and look around. (100% togetherness is not necessarily a good thing.) I wandered around the campus a bit and did a little shopping. I found a few more charity shops and bought a pair of black jeans for £4.99; hard to beat that. I also checked out the woolen shops and found a couple St Andrews t-shirts for the boys. Having a couple hours to myself was good for the soul.
St Salvator's College at St Andrews University.
I understand this street sign gets stolen quite a bit.
At the end of the day we drove by Anstruther to the Anstruther Fish Bar, which supposedly makes the best fish and chips for miles around. I had held out thus far on ordering fish and chips in the UK. I was not disappointed; the battered haddock and chips were heavenly decadence; I am now just that much closer to hardening of the arteries but, wow. Later that evening, Vincent and I did manage to get away to The Haven tavern for a drink; it was nice to have a chance to check in with each other.

On October 1st, we left the Silverdyke Park and set out for Edinburgh. Our next camping location was the Drummohr Holiday Park (£26/nt) near Musselburgh just west of Edinburgh.
A photo of our pitch at the Drummohr Holiday Park.
We arrived about 14:00 and, once settled, Vince, James, Sarah and I headed into Edinburgh. We parked by the Holyrood Palace and went into the Queen's Gallery to see if our Historic England or National Trust for Scotland memberships would help us out. Not surprisingly they didn't and, at £29 for a family entrance, we decided to put that on hold and instead walk part way up the Royal Mile. We got as far as the Museum of Edinburgh (free) and so went in. The Museum of Edinburgh covers the history of the city, how the old town evolved and the development of the new town. Due to our parking limit running out, we had to leave before we were ready, so we decided to try to make a return visit before our time in Edinburgh was up.
The Museum of Edinburgh is definitely worth a stop, particularly if you have children because it has a comprehensive children's section with various types of art projects and a dress up room. One just pays for the art materials that are used.
On October 2nd, we headed for the crown jewel of Edinburgh, the Edinburgh Castle. With our English Heritage membership we were able to get in for £30 (half price) which means full freight for a family of five would be just over £60. Ouch! Those are steep prices!

Edinburgh Castle has much to offer and, if one doesn't have kids that want to rush through things, one could easily spend four or more hours here. Some of the highlights include the Scottish crown jewels (first used for the coronation of Mary, Queen of Scots), the National War Museum, the Royal Palace, Scottish National War Memorial, Prisons of War exhibit, St Margaret's Chapel, one o'clock Gun and the Regimental Museums. If you rent an audio handset (we all had one), you could spend a good day here just listening to the historic details.
Paul, James and Vincent at the entry gate of the castle. Under the coat of arms reads the motto "Nemo Me Impune
Lacessit" which literally means, "Nobody assails me with impunity".
This plaque, "1566" is over the entrance to the Royal Palace (castle apartments) where, in 1566, Mary, Queen of Scots gave birth to James VI. In 1567, Mary was forced to abdicate the throne and James VI became the next King of Scotland. He later became King of England in 1603 and was renamed James I (in England).
This piper stands at the entrance to the The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards Museum. The castle also includes a second Regimental Museum, The Royal Scots Museum.
This photo was taken outside of St Margaret's Chapel looking toward the Scottish National War Memorial.
This was a second photo taken outside of St Margaret's Chapel looking down towards Foog's Gate.
The tiny alter in St Margaret's Chapel.
After we finished with Edinburgh Castle, we set out for Armstrong's which was recommended to Vincent, way back in Pitlochry when he bought Paul's and his kilts, as a great place to buy, second hand, all the paraphernalia that go with a gent's kilt. This store was terrific; the choice of second hand and vintage clothing for men and women was exceptional. Paul found a tweed jacket (£16) and a sporran (£20) to wear with his kilt. James bought a green barret with scout pin (something that he'd been looking for since we arrived in the UK) and Sarah found an Easter bonnet (don't ask, but we let her have it).
Need a vintage formal dress, a fur jacket or dressy sporran? Be sure to check out W. Armstrong & Son. There are two locations in Edinburgh.
James was thrilled with his barret.
Paul's Scottish outfit is coming together.
On October 3rd, Vince lobbied that we visit Stirling Castle which seemed to get recurring mention in Scottish history.
Spectacular view from Stirling Castle: Off in the distance to the right is the National Wallace Monument which overlooks the scene of Scotland's victory at the battle of Stirling Bridge in 1297. The monument is a tribute to Sir William Wallace who led the campaign to keep Scotland free and independent from the (continually) invading King Edward 1 of England. Many North Americans will know Wallace's story from the movie Braveheart.
Robert the Bruce Monument: One of the most important victories in Scotland’s military history was the battle of Bannockburn fought on Midsummer’s Day 1314 within sight of the castle. The castle had been held by the English for 10 years and was under siege by the Scots. King Edward II of England led a 17,000-strong army to relieve the siege. King Robert the Bruce’s army of 8,000 men drove the English army into boggy ground by the Bannock Burn and won a decisive victory.
Once we bought our entrance tickets (half price with the English Heritage membership) and sorted out audio devices, I opted to go on the walking tour, which was included with the price of admission; as these things usually are, it was very informative. The focus was on King James IV who added much to the castle, James V, Mary, Queen of Scots (daughter of James V), and James VI (son of Mary, Queen of Scots). At this point in the trip, I was starting to put together large chunks (several centuries) of Scottish and English history; it's complicated. Canadian and American history is a walk-in-the-park in comparison.

James IV built the Great Hall, designed to provide a setting for major royal gatherings, in part to impress his new Queen, Margaret Tudor, but probably more importantly to impress all who were invited to parliament and special events there.

King James V began the palace apartments in 1538 as a sumptuous residence for himself and his Queen, Mary of Guise. He died in 1542 and may not have seen it completed.

There had been a recent large-scaled effort to refurbish parts of the castle and return them to what they were back in medieval times. Restoration work on the palace apartments had been completed and are striking.

View of the fireplace in the restored King's inner chamber.
This is a photo of the medieval hammerbeam roof in the Great Hall which was built for James IV in 1503. One can also see an example of a hammerbeam roof at Edinburgh Castle.
A window in the Great Hall. The glass panes were ordered from Italy.
Sarah standing in the Castle Close.
These are the castle gardens with the Prince's Tower in the background.
A (at one time) stylish badger sporran on display in the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders Regimental Museum at Stirling Castle.
Paul looking out at the surroundings below.

Looking upward, from the North Gate, at the Great Hall.
As part of the castle restoration effort, work has been done to recreate 7 tapestries. Three women are now working on the final one.
After working a full day on the tapestry, this woman will have only completed one square inch.
This is a picture of what the 7th tapestry will look like, once it is finished. It will take 2-3 years to complete.
That evening Vince and I left the kids and went into Edinburgh to join a literary pub tour. We arrived and it was pouring rain and no one showed, so we decided to do our own tour. We stopped off at the Beehive Inn, the White Hart (claiming to be Edinburgh's oldest pub) and the Fiddlers Arms, all traditional pubs on the Grassmarket. Vincent visited the men's room at the Fiddlers Arms and came back with this photo.
The whisky flavoured condom! Warning: Do not drive while using this product. (Hilarious!)
October 4th was a full day. I had booked a tour of the Scottish Parliament building for 14:00 and was really looking forward to that. Prior to the tour, we returned to the Museum of Edinburgh to finish what we started a couple days ago. While Sarah headed for the children's activity area, and the boys to the children's reading room, I continued up to the third floor. Half the third floor was dedicated to Field Marshall Earl Douglas Haig, also known as Earl Haig. Anyone from Brantford, Ontario, Canada will have an "aha" moment, as I did. Brantford used to have an outdoor pool called Earl Haig Pool (now refurbished to the Earl Haig Family Fun Park). I always wondered from where the Earl Haig name came. Earl Douglas Haig was the Commander-in-Chief of the British Army during the last three years of WWI; he's given credit for leading a winning series of nine battles that led up to Armistice Day, November 11, 1918. Also in 1926, Earl Haig's wife, Countess Dorothy Haig, founded the first Poppy Factory in Edinbugh, which was where Earl Haig was born. (From 1922, Canadian veterans made the lapel poppies sold in Canada.) These moments, when you are crawling through historic information and trip over a "connection", are pretty cool.

After finishing with the Museum of Edinburgh, Sarah and I crossed the street for a few minutes to check out the Peoples Story Museum (free). This one is also worth a look. It covers the lives (and plight) of people living in Edinburgh from to the late 18th century to present day. We didn't have much time here, given the Parliament tour deadline, so I ended up focusing most on the 1900s. I read about what a vast improvement the National Health Service made for people here when it was established in 1948. Up until then, many people resisted going to see a doctor (until the situation became dire) because of the out of pocket expense. Hmm, that sounded a bit like life for many in the United States in 2013.
The Peoples Story Museum.
At 13:45, we arrived at the Scottish Parliament, went through security and got our badges for our tour. I signed up for the tour on-line a couple days earlier; they are free. One can also sign up to watch Parliament in the Debating Chamber, when it is in session, and observe special committee meetings (usually Tues, Wed and Thurs). The tour takes about an hour and half the content is about the new building, itself, while the other half covers how the Scottish government works. The building was designed by the Spanish architect, Enric Miralles, in partnership with the Edinburgh-based RMJM; it opened in October 2004. Paul thought the tour was better than the one we had at the US Capitol Building, in that a lot more information was provided.
Paul and I inside the Debating Chamber of the Parliament Building.
After the tour, I remembered the This Is Sharks Territory sign in the back of the Prius. We had carted this sign half way around the world with the objective of getting some prized crazy fan photos that we could send back to the San Jose Sharks. The aim was to get our photo projected at a Sharks game. Of course we wouldn't actually be there to see it, if successful.
This had to have been one of the most fun photos yet on the trip. The officer guarding the front entrance to the Scottish Parliament had a big grin on his face while we were taking different shots; when we asked if he'd be willing to be in a photo, he very happily joined in. Ironically, it was a Boston Bruins fan who took this picture for us. Ah, the ridiculous projects that amuse us...
After returning our Sharks Territory sign to the Prius, we walked back up the Royal Mile. Vincent and the boys wanted to go back to Armstrong & Son to see if they could get a white dress shirt for Paul's kilt ensemble. Sarah and I chose to check out the Museum of Childhood (free).
The Museum of Childhood is worth a visit, particularly if you have a child 5+ years with you. Most doll and toy displays are behind traditional glass cases but there are activities on each level for kids to do. Sarah loved it and wanted to return.
At 17:00, we reconvened in front of the Greyfriars Bobby's Bar for a walking tour called The Potter Trail. The name of the bar was inspired by an Edinburgh legend of a scruffy Skye terrier called Bobby. When his owner died in 1858, the dog (aged two) faithfully watched over his master's grave for fourteen years until Bobby died in 1872.
Baroness Angela Georgia Burdett-Coutts commissioned, from Wm Brodie RSA, a granite fountain with a bronze statue of Bobby placed on top in 1870, while Bobby was alive. It was to be sited on the pavement near the Kirkyard at the top of Candlemaker Row as a lasting memory of the little Skye terrier that had become a legend by that time. The sculpture on the street today is a copy; the original sculpture, together with an engraved collar, Bobby’s dinner dish and photographs can be seen in the Museum of Edinburgh.
The Potter Trail was led by a robed guide and, you guessed it, was designed especially for fans of the Harry Potter series. J K Rowling wrote many of the books in Edinburgh and the guide took us to some of the locations that inspired characters and scenes in the series. Even as a parent of Harry Potter fans (I only superficially got into the books), I found it interesting to see some of the places and learn of some of the real people who inspired these most imaginative and detailed novels.
At the beginning of The Potter Trail tour, our guide (an Edinburgh University student majoring in chemistry and physics) distributed wands to the kids and showed them how to use the wands for times when we needed traffic lights to turn red so we could safely cross the street.
This photo was taken during The Potter Trail tour. It's a view of Edinburgh Castle from the Greyfriars Church cemetery.
While we were on the tour, we walked by this black board with the caption, "Before I die..." I could have stopped and written, "Before I die I want to explore Europe for a year living in an RV." But wait, I'm doing that. After 77 days on the road wearing the same few clothes, using campground showers and leaving any make-up buried in the bottom drawer, I might have written, "Before I die I want a spa day."
This was another sight on the tour: A Scottish busker in front of the High Court of Judiciary, Scotland's supreme criminal court.
While at dinner at The Castle Arms, we were approached by two women and a man dressed up as airline stewards. They were promoting a contest sponsored by Guinness; purchase a Guinness and you could win a trip for five to Dublin. The private plane would leave that night at 9pm. It was too tempting.
Vince didn't win the trip for 5 to Dublin but he did win those swanky Guinness aviator glasses.
On October 5th, we decided to visit the National Museum of Scotland (free) which was regarded as a "must see". The museum covers Scottish history as well as a wide range of other topics including Egyptian mummies and coffins, the south Pacific, evolution and inventions post industrial revolution, to name just a few. The museum offers free tours and I joined one that covered odd exhibits within the topic of Scottish history. It was "okay"; I wondered why some things were highlighted but I walked away learning a few things, such as the guillotine was an improved version of the Scottish invention, the maiden (neither of which I really wanted too many details).
The main building of the National Museum of Scotland opened around 1866 and is very open and light.
A view from the natural history exhibit. Somehow I missed "Dolly" the sheep, the first mammal to be cloned from an adult somatic (stem) cell.
The museum has a section on "extinction" and lists the animals that have gone extinct since the 17th century. (The dodo bird went extinct around 1662.) It doesn't waffle over man's role in causing many animals and species to go extinct nor on the question of man's role in global warming. I caught this placard about the last passenger pigeon, named Martha, and the specific time she, and the species, went extinct.
After we left the museum, we headed back to Drummohr to do some LandShark maintenance. We needed to replenish propane, refill fresh water and dump tanks. Refilling fresh water and dumping tanks is a 45 minute job that needs to be done every 4-5 days; each time we have to do these chores (or more accurately, Paul does these chores), I'm reminded of how much I appreciate indoor plumbing. What a great invention.

Sunday, October 6th was our last day in Edinburgh. Vince and I decided we wanted to attend a service at one of the landmark churches and so we decided to go to St Giles' Cathedral which is Scotland's most important church. It is known as the "High Kirk of Edinburgh" and is the Mother Church of Presbyterianism. I think it was the first time I had attended a Presbyterian service. It wasn't much different from an Anglican, Episcopal or Catholic service but of course there were some differences. One difference was rarely saying amen at the end of a prayer. The second was the fact that the alter was in the center of the church and the congregation sat around it. The third was the taking of communion where participants stood in a circle, around the alter; a block of bread was passed around and each person took a small piece. Then a very large goblet of wine was passed around. I thought I'd finally found a church that didn't say the peace (anti-social me, one of my least favourite rituals during a service) but this was done while standing in a circle around the alter. The upside was that people tended to be restrained and just interacted with their nearest neighbour.
St Giles Cathedral, located on The Royal Mile, has a stunning ornate spire dating from 1495.
The St Giles' service lasted just one hour and so, at 11:00, we had an hour to put in before finding a lunch spot. I promoted that we go to Gladstone's Land, a National Trust for Scotland site on the Royal Mile, which was nearby. Gladstone's Land is a typical 17th century merchant's house. It's a multi-story building where merchants ran shops on the ground floor and lived upstairs. There were 4-5 rooms to view, each with a guide, most of whom were very chatty and entertaining.
Visiting Gladstone's Land leaves one with a good feeling for life in the mid to late 1600s in Edinburgh.
We then had lunch back again at The Castle Arms, James and I both repeating our smoked salmon meals. After lunch we parted ways for a bit. Vincent and the kids wanted to go to the other Armstrong & Son second hand clothing store while I wanted to see the Georgian House, another National Trust for Scotland site, that shows the architecture and styles of life in the late 1700s. The Georgian House is recommended as a good place to visit after visiting Gladstone's Land. I was also keen to walk around Edinburgh's "new town" which we had so far ignored. I'm glad I ventured off and got a glimpse of this other part of Edinburgh.
Walking down The Mound, looking up at the New College, part of Edinburgh University.
A view of Edinburgh Castle from the New Town.
The Georgian House is certainly worth a look, particularly if one has already invested in a National Trust for Scotland membership; a short film is shown in the basement of the house portraying what life was like for those who lived in the "New Town". If you are a fan of Jane Austen, you will already be quite familiar with this period.
This photo of the Georgian House doesn't do it, Charlotte Square where it sits, or the New Town justice...but it's all I had.
Later in the afternoon, we all met up at the Museum of Childhood, a place to which Sarah wanted to return. We spent another 45 minutes or so here and then headed back to the car. On the way back to the campground, we stopped off at an electronics shop and Vincent bought a new television screen. This turned out to be a bigger deal than just pulling out a credit card; it seemed the store clerk needed a postal code and, nomadic us, we didn't have one. It took upper management to circumvent this requirement and I suspect it had something to do with tracking whether or not people who buy new tv equipment have a tv license; a tv license is required if one ever watches live broadcast programming in the UK, which is something I'm confident we won't be doing in LandShark.

October 6th was our last full day in Scotland (for now). We needed to head further south as Vincent had booked repair work for LandShark near Birmingham on October 14th. We all really enjoyed Scotland and there was still so much left to see. I guess that gives us a very good excuse to return one day.

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