Day 36 – Thursday, 25th May, 2006

Well, the best laid plans of mice and men, as they say, go astray. We have just found out that the trip to the Royal Yacht Britannia starts at 4:30pm so we will not have time to visit Rosslyn Chapel after the morning’s sightseeing and then get back to the hotel in time.

Breakfast was very nice, and I had porridge – what else when you are in Scotland?? The coach left for the sightseeing tour of Edinburgh on time with Richard as our guide for the morning. He appears to be a friend of both Ian and Danny, and I’m betting that at some stage of his career he has kissed the blarney stone. More to the point, he is very knowledgeable and was more than happy to impart some history to those of us who were willing to listen – most on the bus.

We first went around Edinburgh new – that is to say, anything built after the 1800’s – before going to see the older parts – pre 1800’s. We did not get to see Holyrood Palace, as yet the reason is unknown. However, we did get taken around the Queen’s Gardens and saw the newly hatched cygnets with the momma and pappa swans. Apparently, these two swans are so aggressive they have battled all other contenders for the upper lake way. All the other swans can be found co-existing on the lower lake.

Richard explained that Edinburgh was built on basalt and in the mouth of an extinct volcano crater. The Queen’s Gardens are around the upper rims of the crater, and on the other side of the crater is Edinburgh Castle. You can see all entrances to Edinburgh from up there, both by land and by water – river or sea.

We passed many places of interest, including the drinking clubs that the university students belonged to whilst apparently studying. The stupid things one had to do in order to be allowed membership simply boggles the mind – like writing your full name upside down after imbibing four pints of ale. This is one of the more reasonable ideas.

If you wished to join the Dirty Laundry Club you had to wear dirty clothes under your outer wear and be smelly. Anyone who washed was not allowed admittance!!

Also we passed the pub where Sir Arthur Conan Doyle drank whilst at uni in Edinburgh. It probably will pain the English to have to admit it, but Sir Arthur was born in Edinburgh. He did not publish his writings until he had left the place however, as he had fashioned Sherlock Holmes on one of university professors.

Also Ian Fleming – author of James Bond – was from Edinburgh, as is Sean Connery who played 007. There are many other famous people who originate from Edinburgh but they have yet to percolate to the front of the brain from all the rest of the information I imbibed.

After the visit around the environs we went up to Edinburgh Castle. They are in the process of setting up the seating for the Military Tattoo, even though it is not to be held until August. It is also fully booked out already. When you see the area that is actually used for the display it is really quite small – and filled in by cobblestones.

The area of road is called the French Road because it was actually built by French Convicts whilst the Scots were away at war. The Scots were seemingly often at war!! We were able to view the Memorial Room which is dedicated to all those people who helped save democracy in the United Kingdom. After that we entered the part of the Castle where Mary, Queen of Scots was born and proclaimed Queen whilst just 9 months old. Henry VIII had plans to marry her to his son who was also born around the same time. The Scots sent her to live in France so that he could not have her kidnapped. She was Catholic and Henry, of course, was Protestant (now called Episcopalian).

We did not have enough time to see much else (another reason to return says the guides) before it was time to catch the coach back to the hotel for lunch. Russ and I dined in the Rugby Union Bar – no smoking, great food at a reasonable price – and now I am about to finish this part of the diary so Russ can download the update on the website.