Christmas in Ednburgh

11 Jan

We had two tentative bookings for house sitting jobs over Christmas but when both of these fell through we decided to take up Seth and Esthers’ invitation to join them in Edinburgh.  We booked seats on the Mega Bus from London to Edinburgh, going up on the 23rd December and returning on the 31st. ( It was my intention to see the spectacular fireworks display around the Thames.)   We also needed to remove our motorhome from London by the 2nd of January as the following day the new Low Emission Zone regulations came into force.  If we stayed where we were at Rob’s place we would be fined 100 pounds per day($200)!


The bus journey up was pretty full and stopped off at many cities to exchange passengers.  I had heard that if they were pushed for time the bus would not stop for comfort or refreshment stops, but basically I didn’t believe this!  Well, it proved to be true about the refreshment stops anyway, the bus did have a loo in the back.  So it was nine hours of sitting still!  I had packed sandwiches but no drinks.  We travelled up the M1 all the way to Newcastle up by the border and then the road narrowed somewhat and became the A1.

What a blessing to be able to Skype home! We'd love to hear from you too.

Esther with the MacDonald's pet corn snake

It was great to see Seth at the bus station!  We took another bus home and met his sister, Rebekah, and her English husband, Tim, in their home before Esther came home from work around 9p.m.  Big hugs all round!  The following day we watched these four people go to great lengths to prepare a feast to share on Christmas Day.  And what a feast it was!  It was delightful to spend Christmas Day with fellow New Zealanders, with an Englishman thrown in!  It would have been a bit sad to have been all by ourselves.  

I took a fancy to him.....located in the suburb of Leith where the de Reus' live

Some many churches in Edinburgh that some are sold. This one to a joiner

Advertising Banners promoting Leith and it's rich history - "Trust the local boy, vote Roy"

You find surprising things in Edinburgh - these are made from car parts

Although there was no snow, it was very cold in Edinburgh.  One day we had a high of 3 degrees and the night-time low of 2 degrees!  And VERY windy, which chills you down all the more.  No matter, we made the most of our time visiting sites almost everyday.  We visited the Scottish Museum twice (of course), two Portrait Galleries, Rosslyn Chapel and Edinburgh Castle.  We did lots of walking and enjoyed the fact that the city is very compact.  The grey days spoiled the atmosphere somewhat, what with grey stone buildings and grey clouds and rain every day.   The transport system is great, only buses as the city is built on volcanic rock and proved too hard to dig an underground system.  The fare is the a flat rate no matter how short or long your trip is and one day passes make it even cheaper.

The Proclaimers are from Leith too

Rosslyn Chapel was excellent, very ornate and beautifully restored.  We took a very informative guided tour.  As there was a No Photo Policy please access the website to get a feel for it.  It dates back from 1446 and was built for one family initially.

Walking up Leith Walk towards the centre of town, about 15 minutes away. Believe me the sky was not this bright!

Round the corner and you get to the Castle

Mary Queen of Scots

The surprising interior of The Scottish National Museum

We love squirrels!

The outside of The Scottish National Museum

We've seen so many Occupy sites around the cities. Very brave in this weather!

The Scottish Portrait Gallery

The first ever pneumatic tyre made by Mr Dunlop for his son

Unfortunately, we were unable to take photos inside the Rosslyn Chapel. Here's a sample of how ornate it is, a grave plot in the grounds

You have never seen so much tartan! Even the buses are upholstered with it, including the CCTV

Inside a small chapel in Ed. Castle. I look like an Eskimo because outside it is pouring and freezing!!

Looking up to Edinburgh Castle

Of course it was dark by the time we emerged from Edinburgh Castle, after all it was 4p.m.!

Our highlight was during our last evening with the MacDonald’s and de Rues’!  Tim was busy making dinner, Seth was in their bedroom, Esther was still at work (they both work shifts) and Rebekah was in another room as well, leaving Dennis and me in the lounge. 

Just down from the Abbey stood Rosslyn Castle in ruins. Notice the brown hedging. You see this everywhere, I think it may be some sort of trimmed elm trees

Next door to Roslyn Abbey is The Old Rosslyn Inn, 1660. "Among distinguished quests: EdwardVII...Robert Burns...Sir Walter Scott...William and Dorothy Wordsworth

The next minute in walked a Scottish piper dressed in full regalia, pipes going full noise with Rebekah and Seth coming up the rear presenting the haggis!  The piper was actually Tim, who regularly busks with his bagpipes, to great effect.  Tim then proceeded to address the haggis reciting Robbie Burn’s famous poem in English, from memory.   As befits a man with a Linguists Degree, he delivered this great discourse with relish and aplomb in a broad Scottish brogue and with a dirk hidden in his sock he stabbed  the aforesaid haggis!  And then we were invited to eat the haggis, tatties and neeps (swedes), which proved to be rather delicious.  A fitting end to our very enjoyable stay.
Our bus drive home was very quiet.  Just four passengers and two bus drivers. Each man drove half the way back and either spoke to each other in Indian or slept the rest of the time.  They had me a bit worried initially as they turned northward for sometime, but they had decided that since all four of us were going directly to London and they had no one else to pick up on the way, they took a faster route going just alongside Glasgow and down through Birmingham on the M6, on the other side of the island.  And it proved correct as we were an entire hour earlier in London than expected.  When we got to Victoria Coach Station the city was so busy that I promptly agreed with Dennis that it was “Nuts” to stay in town for the fireworks!  The following day the TV news said 250,000 were in town for the show!

Our very own Piper and Reciter! Wonder what the neighbours' thought when he started up, as we were in a block of flats!


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