That's The Hat, but first, I last left you in Exeter where I sent most of the time babysitting my two ridiculously cute but snot/choccie bickie/carrot soup encrusted second cousins. Finally drove off to Bristol airport, through scenic scenes of postcardworthy scenery and past many a sign to many a toristy spot. "Oh, we could have gone there," says Cousin K as we merrily zip past sign post after sign post. I fix my rictus grin and loose all nerve feeling above the elbow as I attempt to placate the wee laddies in the back seat with toe tickles.
So CK rolls to a slow stop and out I tumble. Apparently the wee lad howls all the way home once he realises I've been dumped at the side of the road. I'm loathe to upset a kid I actually like, I find it stranely gratifying to be howled over. Nobody has ever howled over me before. At me, sure, but over my abscence, never Sure, it wasjust a two year old kiddie, but still, somebody missed me, once in this lifetime. Must send him postcards with koalas on it when I get home.
So I wait and wait and wait at Bristol and by the time I arrive at Edinburgh I'm 2.5 hrs late but there's cycnus39, ready to accost me and mock poor ol Big Red, which is no longer even slightly reminescent of red, these days. This is the old coat's last adventure, alas, as i ripped the lining in Narita.
Okay, at this point I'd like to say how very thrilled I was that cycnus39 was not only there to meet me, but one of those rare folks you meet online who is even better offline. Seriously. Suddenly I started having fun. So much fun in fact that I ended up laughing so hard I was seriously imperiling the panty shields (divert all auxillary power to the shields!) I haven't laughed so much in ages. Wheeze.
So I met Ezra, the car of cars, and I'm not just saying that, as Ezra drove me around on a castle crawl during The Great Blizzard of 2005, so I bow to the brave and noble and fetchingly metallic green Ezra.
We stopped off in Tescos for the essentials (film, batteries, Jude Law dvd) then did a blockie around The Castle at night, bought tatties with all the trimmings for dinner and parked under the castle and sniggered and giggled as it snowed. Most fun I've had in absolute ages.
Tuesday was our walking day as Ezra was off for his MOTs. We did Holyrood (sp?), at bloody last, for me, wot missed out on it last time, and saw the curious painting with the centaur (a hand vanishes, where, you don't want to know), the gallery of big beaks and poor David's blood stain. A bit of Mr Sheen should see that right, surely. Then we giggled as thoughts of dunking the shroud of Turin in nappisan whirled through our twisted little minds.
Then it was off through a slow flurry for a cream tea. No, I think that was before Holyrood, but never mind. I'd missed out on one in Devon (grrr), so I had one in the tweest tea shop in all of Edinburgh. Perfect. varina8, remember that one in Victoria? Twee-er. Really.
Then we did the museum and this was a real treat. It stayed open late so we did the Dinosaurs, which were just mechanical but very creepy and this is where the whole JP3 thing started, as you'd expect it would. Then I ooohed and ahhed over the Egyptian stuff ("Big sacophagus, little mummy"), the Asian stuff, the medeival stuff, and had to race through the Scottish bits, alas, but I saw the Lewis chessmen, horns and shoes and coins and horsie bits. Definitely worth a return visit.
Gently herded out of the museum we wandered across to a terribly posh pub and were seated in a far corner and were sneered at because we were filthy tea drinkers and unlikely to leave a tip. True, we didn't, but mainly because we were being sneered at for being filthy tea drinkers. he rest of the patrons provided a floor show, though.
At this point I should mention that after St Giles, I found a place selling hand knitted hats and I bought one. Poor Cyc was reduced to tears and having to walk ten feet in front of me to tr and retain her dignity. I didn't care. It kept my ears warm and I could tie it under my chin, and I can't see the pom poms bobbing about that cause so much mirth and hilarity and shaking of heads. So that is The Hat and it apparently will be having a guest role in my JP3 story, as Billy buys he bright tripey one I rejected and causes Alan all manner of grief by wearing it out in public, where people can see. Heh.
Wednesday. The great castle crawl. And the day dawned to an absolute whiteout, but we bravely set out anyway and did one castle, knee deep in snow, and borders and Starbucks and I would have been happy at that. Oh yeah, the day before we'd met in Starbucks on the Royal Mile and it was the perefect place to wait and write postcards.
So anyway, the weather cleared a little so off we set to castle #3. Cyc, I posted my castle porn home so you'll have to fill in the names, as I can only remember it was Castle C, then castle D which had a draw bridge, dungeon under the abby and murder holes and conveniently located across the road from a nice warm pub. Then we did the man's man of castles: Tantallan. sitting atop an extremly wind swept cliff, it was the only castle, ironically, to be manned. The chap castigated us because the police sad only essential journies, as if castle crawling was a frivilous occupation. I mean, really. He gave us an hour and off we set in sleet and winds that were fraqnkly terrifying to wander about the bleak beauty that is Tantalan. Yup, it's a castle, all right.
Turned bak with the sleet on our backs and wound through tiny lanes to Castle H, which was nestled the in most postcardy of valleys. It was only a wee castle, but sweet and pretty.
Dinner was Maccas and the evening's entertainment JP3. Alas, junk food and cheese meant he dinos couldn't be heard above my gurling innards, but we watched it on slo mo and I saw things I'd never seen before. Hilarity ensued (cf Big Top Billy). Oh yeah, they also make *dark chocolate* Tunnocks teacakes now. That I live in such an age of wonders.
Thursday, my last day in Scotland - weep. But what a day. It started out cold and sleety but by the time we got to Stirling it had come out fine, so Cyc decided to take me on a slight detour to Inverary. Just a slight detour, mind. Highlights, aside from the incredible LOTR worthy scenery included the emergency pit stop in Kibbin where we burst in like banshees, startling the local patrons, who could have been lying there with their throats slit for all we stopped to notice. Travelling with hot drinks is civilised, but requires frequent stopping, alas. Luss provided pretty views and teapots with teddies on top. I had to take a photo of both, just to prove their existence. It's also where the High Road is filmed.
And this was after I finally achieved Pineapple. Yup, the big Pineapple at Falkirk is, indeed, a big pineapple. You've got to admire a man who wakes up one morning an decides to put a big stome pineapple on top of his house. Or not. :)
Inverary was just too pretty for words. Dinner in the George (1778) was dissapointing though, but the rhubarb crumble was nice, even though it arrived looking like somehing out of Star Trek sitting on a plate. It's life, Jim, but not as we know it.
Then we belted back in the dark and snow for my plane, and I failed to make promised witty observations to keep Cyc awake, though she got so punchy the road signs amused :) One farewell, one race onto a plane and it was off to Nottingham, where I was picked up in the snow by an Uncle with a silver Jag. Whoo, tres posh.
So the next day I did a nearby big old Elizabethan pile that was also a really cool natural history museum, old school, full of stuffed beasties, dioramas (love em!) and gentlemen's collections of winged and long leggedity beasties, all framed and under glass. Apparenently one of the owners was a Royal Society founder, or maybe *The* Royal Society founder. Cool, anyway.
Day 2 meant Bolsover Castle which wasn't rufty tufty like the ones oop north, but the pretty painted walls and ceilings made me swoon, in any case. Big, girlie castle but very pretty. The fountain featured rude stone carvings, so that was a bonus. DRove past the twisty church steeple, Chatsworth house, the old mill where the Industrial Revolution started, the cable cars that were in that episde of Peak Practice (I was only watching for Jamie Bamber, I swear), and scenery, scenery, scenery. So much my head hurt. Stopped off at a posh food shop. Drooled. Drove through Derbyshire in a silver jag, and behind a bright pink Barbie car for a good bit of it, to my amusement. ah, childhood fancies, check.
And that's it. Today is lunch with Cousin Bob. Better get off Uncle's PC, he's very busy.