Edinburgh

Our last stop before returning to York is Edinburgh. Edinburgh is magnificent. Bill Bryson wrote about it in his book, Notes from a Small Island, but he painted it in a slightly unfavourable light. His objection, if I recall correctly, was that Edinburgh is full of all the same high street shops that plague most British cities. This may be true but we did not go to any high street shops here so this really did not bother me at all.

Things didn’t start so well today, though. Late yesterday, Ben twisted his ankle and is unable to walk beyond a hobble so I took the children to see the sights on my own. I was outnumbered two-to-one which is never good. We got to Edinburgh Castle, there was an enormous queue, it was bitterly cold (although I have to say I rather like this part) and then it started to rain. From this point onwards though, things improved immensely.

Daniel put on a stellar performance with his behaviour. You just never know with kids what attractions they’re going to like and what they’re going to hate.

Edinburgh Castle is an impressive fort that has been witness to numerous battles and sieges over the centuries. Consequently there are quite a few war museums at the castle and Daniel thoroughly enjoyed them all. What is it about boys and guns, swords and battle? He was mesmerised by a couple of paintings: The Battle of Waterloo and The Battle of Camperdown. He stood staring at the latter for ages and ages (ages being all of about 5 minutes which is a long time for a 6-year-old to look at a painting). The painting in question can be seen here – Battle of Camperdown.

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Daniel looking regal with the castle in the background.
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The latin on the gate translates to “no-one attacks me and gets away with it”, or if you prefer, “don’t fuck with me”. Perhaps this would be a good tagline for my blog.
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View of the city from the castle. The little garden on the bottom left of the photo is a pet cemetery for the dogs of soldiers.
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Daniel putting on his soldier pose.
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Daniel took this pic.
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Glorious Edinburgh.
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St Margaret’s Chapel; it is the oldest building on the site, dating back to 1130.

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Edinburgh is a gorgeous city. It’s got a spectacular castle, some amazing architecture, interesting geology, is very walkable and the hospitality of the people living here is second to none.  I also give the climate a big thumbs up. I know that people will think I’m crazy for feeling this way but this is my kind of climate. It was 6°C when we set out this morning but by the time I had climbed the hill to the castle I was hot. If you want to do any sort of physical activity without sweating and feeling uncomfortable, then 6°C is perfect in my opinion.

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This is a photo of Waverley train station and North Bridge. I can’t resist photographing Victorian infrastructure which never ceases to impress me. Work on the bridge began in 1896 and it opened to the public in 1897.
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I’m not actually sure what that thing is in the middle of my photo. Ok, just looked it up and discovered it’s the Scott Monument to Scottish author Sir Walter Scott.

I really love Scotland. I feel something of a connection to the place because both of my grandmothers came from Scottish families and I love the scenery of the highlands and the lochs. Growing up in Australia and then losing my adoptive city of Christchurch to earthquakes, has left me feeling a bit state-less. I’m not really sure where home is for me or where I come from. Yes, I’m fifth generation Australian but this is not very long when you consider that the aboriginal people have been in Australia for 50,000 years or so. The land belongs more to them than to me. My ancestry is here: Scotland, England, Wales and Ireland with a tiny bit of German thrown in. This is where I come from.

27 thoughts on “Edinburgh

    1. I’m not sure whether you are asking a question here? All UK cities have the same set of chain stores. I think Bill Bryson was disappointed that Edinburgh was the same in this regard. That somehow all those chain stores were eating away at the souls of the magnificent buildings in which they stood. I sort of understand; you see a grand old building only to discover it’s home to just another Boots, M&S or H&M.

      1. Ah I see. I was wondering why Edinburgh in particular should attract comment from Bill Bryson on this front but I’d not connected with the magnificent architecture and of course it must be a bit disappointing to see that the buildings and the occupants don’t quite match up.

        I find it intriguing that that whole “East Coast railway” line takes in such similar constructions along its way York. Peterborough, Durham, Edinburgh… it all looks so stately when you journey through.

      2. I hadn’t noticed that about the east coast but now that you mention it all the stations do look similar. Is it very different on the west coast?

      3. I just thought I’d add here that the coat and boots are cast-offs from my sister. It’s great having a sister you can share clothes with! Although I probably benefit more from this than she does.

  1. Some lovely pictures here, especially the one Daniel took – I’d be quite pleased to take that myself!

    I’ve never been to Edinburgh – in fact, the further north in the UK I’ve been is Gretna Green, which barely counts as Scotland! I’m certainly tempted to go now for a weekend next time I get a chance.

    Scotland is the only part of Britain that I have not yet visited which really excites me at the prospect of possibly going there. I can totally understand (other than familial connections) why you love the country; between Scotland and Wales I am not too sure which has got the more beautiful scenery – obviously going to Scotland would help me decide!!

    1. Thank you, Sincal. I have never been to Wales but I’m longing to go because I’ve seen so many photos of the lovely scenery there.

      I’ve always had a bit of a fascination with Gretna Green simply because it is featured in so many Jane Austin novels and so I was thrilled when I got the chance to go there, about 10 years ago now.

      I hope you enjoy your trip to Scotland whenever that may be.

  2. Looks lovely. I plan to go there in April and can’t wait!
    I feel a strong connection to Scotland too. I’m 1/32 Scottish thanks to great-great-great grandma Annabella McAuley.

  3. More interesting photos although a bit of blue sky wouldn’t go astray. Is the castle open in winter? Do they have central heating? Lots of other topics in your post – the difficulties you would face should you try to live in the U.K. despite your ancestry, the beauty of the east coast line (thanks, Denise), the greatness of British Civilisation, and Ben’s ankle which I hope is improving. Those cobblestones can be tricky.

    1. Moonbot27,

      Yes, the castle is open all year and I think it probably is centrally heated. It certainly felt warm inside.

      The difficulty Australians face when trying to emigrate to the UK is amazing. I am always shocked by how much trouble we get at Heathrow airport. I was fingerprinted this last time. All of my ancestors are from here and not only that but both my grandfathers fought for Britain in the second world war. One of my great-uncles fought and died at Gallipoli. And yet, I am treated like an alien here.

      The ankle is resting and improving, thanks.

    1. I definitely think it’s a hot contender for the best city in the world label.

      I’m not on Facebook anymore having recently deactivated my account. Cool photos!

  4. Knowing your views on wind turbines from your posts on this blog in June, I wonder if you realize the impact they are having and will have on the bucolic loveliness that you profess to be so enamoured of above. The British government plans to install 30,000 of these monsters throughout the U.K. and there is now a growing awareness and revolt against them throughout the length and breadth of the British Isles. Rural groups are fighting developers daily as the latter seek to run roughshod over once peaceful communities. I have too many references to single one out here but would do so gladly if you are interested.

    1. Personally, I think wind farms look beautiful. There’s something graceful about them. I am well aware though that there are people who fiercely oppose them but this is probably not the place to discuss wind farms. Maybe I’ll raise the topic again in a separate post.

  5. Great to read about your time in Edinburgh Rachel. I had wanted to go to Scotland for so long and finally, 5 years ago, we did, staying in a little lodge on the ege of Loch Lomond. On the day we went into Edinburgh it was dank, grey and very foggy, so that the castle literally loomed right in front of us out of the fog! Very atmospheric!

    I loved your pics, reminded me so much of our visit there and looks like you all had a great time. Having raised two boys I know just what you mean about your son gravitating to all things battle-like!

    Very interesting to read more about you and your background. I understand your feelings of displacement having uprooted many times as you know and I also now know exactly why you love being here in the UK so much, and not just for the weather 🙂

    1. Thanks so much, Sherri. I bet the castle was amazing in fog. I have been to Loch Lomond, many years ago now, and I just loved it. I would really love to visit that part of Scotland again before we go.

      1. Yes, it was the perfect setting for the castle!
        You must get back to Loch Lomond again, we fell in love with it too.
        Also, if you haven’t done it already, make sure to do the rail journey between Fort William and Mallaig. The scenery is absolutely spectacular and Mallaig is a deligthful fishing village 🙂

  6. If you’ve never been to Wales, you definitely should! I went to uni in Aberystwyth and I still miss it and the journeys to get there ( I graduated in 1999). You might enjoy a visit to the Centre for Alternative Technology at Machynlleth.

  7. You can’t beat a dram in one of those old smoky pubs (although you have to imagine the smoke nowadays of course) imagining you’re in a Rebus novel or something. i love the place too, those glimpses of the forth you get down side streets as you’re walking down a busy street, and the train ride there along the coast is one of the best too

    1. The train ride along the coast was fabulous! We caught the train back to York late on Sunday, at sunset, and the views were amazing.

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