We did not take time to change money at Heathrow which was a mistake. On BMI Midland airline into Edinburgh everything on the cart was for sale (and we thought United could be cheap), not even water was free. So we were parched and hungry upon landing, so after collecting our luggage we changed money and had some lunch before taxiing to Edinburgh University. (We learned on the return that we could have used a credit card, but they didn’t tell us)
I am not sure I really appreciate how exchange rates are set, but the dollar against the pound is worth about 52 cents. The problem is that everything priced in pounds is about the same as you expect to see in the States in dollars. So a Coke cost one pound or 2 dollars. We are eating 30 pound dinners at moderately priced restaurants. I guess this offsets the price advantage we enjoy in Africa and Asia.
Judith’s conference is at the university and we stayed in a very, very small dorm room, but did not have to walk down the hall to go to the bathroom. Our bathroom was the size of a small closet. Truly! European living at its most symbolic.
Amongst some of its more famous former students Edinburgh University can count philosopher David Hume, chemist Joseph Black, John Witherspoon, a signatory of the American Declaration of Independence, Charles Darwin who briefly studied medicine, novelists including Robert Louis Stevenson, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and Walter Scott , Peter Mark Roget of Thesaurus fame, Joseph Lister who introduced antiseptics into surgery, James Simpson who pioneered the use of chloroform in midwifery and surgery and James Hutton, the father of modern geology.
Below is a photo of one of old buildings at Edinburgh University established in 1582.
The first two days Judith is conferencing and I am getting on and off a tour bus the first day and golfing the 2nd day.
Following the death of Sir Walter Scott in 1832 there was a feeling in Edinburgh that a monument should be erected to Scott's memory. There was a competition and this is the results. The tower is 200 feet tall and has 287 steps to the top. It is adorned with 64 statuettes of Scott's book characters. It is situated off the Prince Street the main street in downtown Edinburgh. This Parthenon-like structure is called the National Monument which sits on top of a 350 ft. butt called Calton Hill. In the background is the Firth of Fourth. The monument and was meant to honor Scottish soldiers killed during the Napoleonic Wars. The project ran out of money in 1829 and was never completed. East view from Calton Hill. South view from Calton Hill—Holyrood Castle to the left and the Scottish Parliament in the center. View to the West from Calton Hill. The domed capital building is in the center. The is the North view looking at Edinburgh Castle on the left and the Balmoral Hotel Clock Tower to the right. The Scott tower lies in back of the Clock Tower. The Old Calton Burial Grounds is at the foot of Calton Hill and features the Emancipation Monument erected in 1893 dedicated to the soldiers of Scottish descent who died in our Civil War. David Hume’s tomb is on the left. Playing golf in Scotland is one of those things that a golfer should do, if possible. I rented clubs so I didn’t play are well as usual, especially missing my putter, but I did play seven holes very well (six pars and one birdie) and the weather was good. I played with a member of the club and he was quite a character. Obviously he had a few shekels because he had his own “buggie” or golf cart that he hauled from his home a short distance away on a small trailer. He said he was negotiating with the police to be able to drive it to the golf course. He would not leave it at the course because of vandals and he got all red in the face when he started to rant about the morality of the young. He would ride down the fairway with me and chat as I walked along. He liked to talk about the courses he played in America and was proud of the fact that he played Pebble Beach for $25. I, of course, was obliged to ask how this was possible (current fee is $450 and you have to be a quest of the lodge there) and he replied that it was that long ago.
Golf is Scotland is a more sociable game with the courses being designed for walking, spacing the green and the tee for the next hole close together. There is no turn after nine holes at the club house to grab a hotdog and cold drink and usually the ninth hole is far away from the 1st and 18th holes. No drinking water on the course either. Usually there are no buggies available or even allowed on some courses and the choices are to rent a trolley (pull cart) or to walk and carry your clubs. My bag was light, not filled with extra balls and rain gear, so I carried it. I hadn’t done that in more than 35 years I’m sure, but the course was flat and not too much of an effort. The Scots are also more interested in groups moving along rather than trying to have foursomes which tend slow play. Finishing is 3 ½ hours is more normal where a round in the U.S. is typically 4-4 ½ hours. Caddies can be hired on the famous courses or you can hire a bag carrier who only carries your bag.
She became Queen of Scotland after her father, King James V died 6 days after her birth and she was crowned at 9 months old (1543). She was not only the Scottish queen, but as Margaret Tudor’s granddaughter she was next in line to the English throne, after the children of Henry VIII. A treaty arranged for her to marry Henry VIII’s son Edward, but the Catholics opposed the plan and she was sent to Catholic France as a child and married Francis II, son of King of France, Henri II, at the age of 16 (1558).
In the meantime “Bloody Mary” Tudor died childless and the English throne was passed to her unmarried half-sister Elizabeth I. From the Catholic point of view, Mary had a better claim on the throne and Henri II declared his daughter in law the rightful queen of England. Henri died in 1559 and Francis II became king of France making Mary queen of France and queen of Scotland at the same time. But the following year both her mother (Mary of Loraine) and her husband Frances, the king, died.
She decided to return to Scotland probably to get away from her mother-in-law. In the mean time Scotland had become Protestant due to the influence of John Knox. She married her cousin Lord Darnley who had Mary’s Secretary David Riccio, murdered in front of her while she was pregnant at Holyrood Castle, one mile away from Edinburgh Castle. Riccio was Italian and thought to be a spy for the Pope by the Scottish court so his death was taken lightly except by Mary. Riccio was a friend, perhaps lover, and someone who Mary trusted. Darnley and Mary’s son, James VI, was born at Edinburgh Castle.
Now with an heir for the crown in hand, Darnley (who was not too bright, arrogant, and cruel) dispensable and he was killed, probably by James Hepburn, the Earl of Bothwell, whom Mary married 3 months later. This was a tragic mistake. She was seized by the protestant army and taken to Lochleven Castle. There she miscarried Bothwell’s twins and was forced to abdicate. She escaped to England where Elizabeth I, her cousin, had her put under house arrest for the remaining 19 years of her life. She was beheaded in 1587 for her involvement to assassinate Elizabeth. In a weird twist of history, her son James VI became the king of England (James I) when Elizabeth died childless. Mary was 6 feet tall, with red hair and strikingly beautiful. It is documented that she played golf at Edinburgh and St. Andrews in 1567 (on the same day Darnley was murdered). So much for traditional marriage.
Herd is something for dog lovers. According to the commonly accepted story, Bobby was a Skye Terrier dog belonging to a Jock Gray, a farmer from the Pentland Hills, who regularly dined at an inn in Grassmarket, not far from Greyfriar's Churchyard. When Jock Gray, died in 1858, the dog refused to leave his master's grave. He turned up regularly for 14 years at the inn at Grassmarket which had been frequented by his master and was fed there by locals who were taken by the dog's devotion. The cute life-size statue to Bobby (undoubtedly the most photographed dog in Edinburgh) was erected on top of a drinking fountain outside Greyfriar's Churchyard shortly after the dog's death and in more recent times Walt Disney made a film about the dog's devotion.
So off we go tour the Highlands with 7 others, with a young robust guide who wears a kilt and speaks the brogue, but not too heavily. We travel south on the Eastern side of Loch Ness and return on the Western side. We stop frequently at some outstanding vistas and attractions and are entertained along the way with some history and other lore. For instance, he believes that Mary’s escape to England was probably made possible by her using her feminine charms, something not covered in the history books and he emphasized that bonnie Prince Charlie was an alcoholic and that fact probably had a lot of bearing on the decisions he made. This helps to make history come alive. I am sure there are many who dreaded history in high school because it was boring and required memorization of dates. It needn’t have been that way.
One thing our guide told us was about the ancient Scots believed that the spirits lived in the earth and the concept of spirits living in the sky was beyond them. So the song about Loch Lomand that goes,”You take the high road and I’ll take the low road, and I’ll be in Scotland afore ye”, refers to the fact that the spirit world would help them to arrive sooner, via the low road.
We stop at the Northern end of Loch Ness and on a very tiny beach, this redheaded boy is playing. There are lots of redheads in Scotland.We visit the battlefield of Culloden, where in 1746; the Duke Cumberland defeated the Scottish forces led by bonnie Prince Charlie. Our guide gives us the battle details were are really quite interesting. And by necessity, gentle reader, back to history.
We all reminder that Mary Queen of Scots son James the VI of Scotland became James I of England, hey? Well, at least to the English he was James I. During his reign, Shakespeare and Sir Francis Bacon became literary giants and due to his divine right of kings had the Bible translated and revised to form the King James Version of the Bible, which nowadays is considered the foundation of Christianity.
Well his son became king after he died, Charles I (who was beheaded) at the end of England's Civil War in 1649. After the Civil War, Oliver Cromwell and the Puritans ruled England but when this government failed, Charles I's son Charles II became king next (1661)coming out of exile and all the legal papers were post dated to indicate he became king right after his father's execution. During Charles II's reign the country was under siege by the plague and the Great Fire of London 1666. This period was known as the Great Restoration and the Puritans lost their influence, causing some of their sects to migrate to the colonies of America. His wife Catherine bore no children, but Charles sired 12 children with 7 mistresses. One of the children is ancestor to Princess Diana and when Prince William become king, he will be the first descendant of Charles II. Interestingly Prince Charles' 2nd wife Camilla, is also a descendant of Charles II.
James II, Charles II's brother becomes king after Charles II died. James II married a commoner, Ann Hyde and only two children survived infancy, Mary and Ann. Queen Ann died in 1671 and James married
Mary of Modena a 15 year old Italian princess by proxy in 1673. Well, James II was doing all kinds of things to arouse opposition using despotic methods of government, but probably the worst thing was promoting Catholicism AND producing an heir, James Francis Edward Stuart. Well, the Protestant nobility and clergy had enough of that and they enlisted Protestant William of Orange to intervene. William had married James's daughter Mary II from his first wife Ann Hyde.
When William showed up with and army, James II lit out for France and was disposed. He was the last Catholic king of England. In fact soon after Parliment passed a law forbidding any royalty from ever marrying a Catholic. Parliment passed laws that gave the crown joint ownership to William and Mary, two for the price of one. The college in Willliamsport, Virginia founded in 1693 was named after them.
Mary died in 1694 and William ruled until his death in 1702. As they had no children the crown fell to Anne, Mary's sister. .Anne ruled from 1702-1714 and Anne had no heir. What to do? The next line of succession should have been James II’s son James Francis Edward Stuart. In the meantime, James II the disposed king was being supported by King Louie XIV in order to cause trouble for his enemy William of Orange and when James II died he declared James' son to be the king of England, James III. There were a lot of others in England, especially in Scotland that supported James II. They were called Jacobites (Jacobus was Latin for James) and as soon as James II was disposed, the Jacobites started rebellions and won a few battles here and there but seemed to lack a strong and charismatic leader.
A portraint of Bonnie Prince Charles, grandson of James II.
By not allowing Charles Stuart the crown, the nobility and clergy, desperate to find a Protestant, made George I king, a person who could not speak English. The Stuart line of succession was gone and the new king was the first of the Hanovian line. He was the great, great grandson of Charles I and was German. By the time the colonies were rebelling, George III was king. He suffered from mental illness at times.
Here’s the point. Mary Queen of Scots had an influence in Scottish and English history that ultimately had an effect on the development of the United States.
So I have been permanently impressed with the people and the courage and attitudes they have brought to America.
Our lodging at Syke. This was a hunting club. The restaurant was good here and without a car, we were not burdened with scrounging for food. Our view out our front window.
There is an annual race up the slope of this mountain each year. Winners make it in slightly less than an hour.
We arrive in Fort Williams and taxi to a B&B called The Grange. It is really, really a nice one and has a view of Loch Linnhe. Fort Williams is close to Ben Nevis the highest mountain (2150 ft) in Scotland and home of the only ski area in the UK. Due to a mild winter, there was not enough snow until a huge storm in March this year which left enough snow to ski through April.
Things always seen in the UK
Towel warmers in the bathrooms. (How else to get the towels dry in this damp island).
Spiral racks to hold toast brought to your breakfast table.
Electric hot water pots in your room with tea bags, instant coffee tubes, with brown and white sugar, liquid milk and short bread cookies all on a tray.
220 volt outlets with an on-off switch at each outlet.
A variety of showers that have different ways of operating sometimes causing a delay of 5 minutes before figuring it out.
Lots of separate hot and cold faucet outputs.
Haggis (only in Scotland) actually not too bad when mixed with nips and taters but nothing to get excited about.
Clean, on time trains.
In June in Northern Scotland, 22 hours of daylight.
In June in the UK in 2006—World Cup complete coverage on TV.
Judith’s birthday-Tuesday June 27th – mostly sunny.
I took Judith to Inverlochy Castle for lunch. We sat outside and enjoyed lunch then strolled around the Castle and grounds. The castle is a working hotel and the cost to stay there is between $600-1000 per night, hence, just the lunch. In the book "1000 Places To See Before You Die", it says that Queen Victoria said, "I never saw a lovier or more romantic spot".
The resort is almost identical to the resort we stayed in Georgia, the Chateau Elan, and there were a lot of male golfers from America and Canada staying there. If wives were along, they went into St. Andrews and shopped or toured the sights. Here I found a soda machine and an ice machine, just like at home.
So the next day, I dedicate to golf. I play one of the courses at the resort. It is a links course and it is difficult. But outside of a couple of holes where my drive landed in the deep rough, I played pretty well for me, with 6 pars and a total of 92. I was in more bunkers than any round in my life. The wind was with me off the tee on this hole and after my long drive, and I had about 120 yards to the flag. I hit a sand wedge so it would land well short of the hole. I hit what I thought was a perfect shot. The ball then bounced onto the green, rolled off and went down the steep imbankment behind touching the North Sea. The clubhouse is in the distance.