Saturday, June 5:  A Wee Bit of Everything

Had requested haggis for breakfast, and ate most of it. Boys had a sample also, despite Pat’s misgivings. No immediate ill effects. A lot like a ground up sausage, only the flavors are much more intense.

Rode the bus into the usual stop, only walked in a different direction than usual to head towards the Museum of Scotland. Chambers Street had no cars on it, barricades down its length, and temporary signs announcing closures for later today to allow the “John Connolly March.” I thought to myself, “What good luck, we’ve stumbled on another parade.” So I asked an assembled group of four police what might be happening here. “Its the John Connolly March.” That much I’d figured out. “What would that be?” I asked. They all looked at each other, and finally one spoke up, “Irish activists.” A pause. “Catholics.” Then I understood. A march, not a parade, a demonstration. “Would we want to see this, or should we stay away?,” was my practical response. “You’d be wise to clear out of the area by 2 PM.” We spent the rest of the morning trying to arrange our schedule to be “out of the area” before the riot began.

First stop: Greyfriars Kirkyard (a graveyard). Here lies the body of a policeman, John Gray. His Skye Terrier, Bobby, only 2 years old at the time of master’s death, spent the next 14 years sleeping at his master’s grave every night, and died there. He too is buried in the kirkyard, and immortalized in a statue out by the road and a Disney movie.

The (free!) Museum of Scotland was extremely good, deserving of Rick’s three diamonds. As you worked your way up through the six floors, you progressed forward in time. I especially enjoyed the working machines from about the time of the industrial revolution: several looms, a three-story steam engine powered pump, and a whisky still. Adjoining was the Royal Museum, also free. The boys took in the natural history exhibit and a temporary exhibit with sports and fitness-related activities, while I ran an errand up to Royal Mile Whiskies. Lunch was in the museum cafeteria, hidden way back in the corner so as to not compete with the cafe in the three-story atrium of the old building.

We headed home on the bus, in time to avoid the forthcoming riot out front. Reloaded with computer and dirty laundry and took the bus back to the business district to wash and surf. We learned yesterday that one of our friends, a father of one of David’s classmates and a neighbor, has been in the intensive care unit, but today heard that he had gone home, so that was good news.

Back home with clean clothes, and the menfolk set out to scale Arthur’s Seat. Edinburgh has a variety of green spaces about the city, more a consequence of geography rather than city planning, it would appear. The most prominent, and very central, is Arthur’s Seat, a 750-foot high extinct volcano. It can be hiked starting at the bottom of the Royal Mile, but we could begin from our front door. Not fully trusting Rick’s sketchy directions, we left the road a bit early and actually climbed up to a false summit. But from there, it was easy to get over to the real one for the great views and the strong wind in our faces. (Photo 195) Roughly a two-hour walk round-trip. While we were away, Pat discovered Disney’s Greyfriar Bobby movie showing on television! And we only get about 3 channels. Whodda thunk?

Its Robert’s birthday tomorrow, but we had decided to go with a sure thing, and had reserved a table at close-by Hotel Ceilidh-Donia for a repeat of Thursday night’s dinner as his birthday celebration. The nightly specials had changed, but everything else was as excellent as the previous night. The boys repeated their wigwam, but their request for slightly larger portions mushroomed into a meal triple the size of the previous time. (David still ate all of his.) For dessert, a Homer Simpson cake appeared and Robert shrunk in embarrassment as the whole restaurant sang. Despite Robert eating a whole section with Homer’s wide eyes, we’ll still be having seconds for lunch on tomorrow’s car ride. (Photo 197)

Photo 195  David on Arthur’s Seat
Photo 196  Robert on Arthur’s Seat

Photo 197  Robert’s Birthday Cake
Photo 198  Glenfiddich Distillery, Speyside
Photo 199  Nessie, Robert, David