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post #299
bio: rich

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Holiday Part Two - Scotland

Hungover monkey
The morning after the wedding.
Lancaster, England.
Sunlight streaming through the window. Wedding clothes carelessly littered around floor.
There I am in bed - wide awake for some reason - with a viscous headache and a stomach that is saying to me, "you ate too much, and then you drank too much, and then you repeated this process about 7 more times. Oh and you just went to sleep only 5 hours ago".

Take my advice. Never go to a big party and then have to check out of your hotel room the next morning. You won't make it.

Enough about eggs, let's get cracking.

And we're off
We left Lancaster in England and headed to Edinburgh in Scotland. The landscape that was zooming by us was just gorgeous. I mean, really, it was soul crushingly pretty. So green and lush and colorful and the sky was big and blue with fluffy little clouds.
After I figured out what the speed limit was (70mph) all was fine.

We reached Edinburgh in about 3 hours - viva small countries! Our B&B was, not to overuse this word, lovely. Actually, here is a picture of our bedroom.
If you are ever in Edinburgh, stay at 4 Morningside. Wonderful hosts and a swell big-headed Labrador named Ben.

Edinburgh is a fine city with beautiful buildings and neighborhoods, friendly and patient residents, and (at least for us) generally tasty food. We wandered around the city after we arrived enjoying the sites, but started getting hungry and needed to find dinner. Our guidebook (bless it's soul) was good, but wasn't doing much for us in terms of food - we needed a CitySearch (curse their soul) or Vindigo or Zagats.

We found a decent alternative in an internet enabled phone booth - regular phone booth, but with keyboard and screen. We fed some coins in the phone booth robot and looked up some restaurant reviews with maps and directions. I even checked into happyrobot (it's a website I run) and left a message on the chat thing about writing from a phone booth. Did you see it?

We ended up at Stac Polly, a fairly (from what I can tell) well known restaurant serving nuevo-esque Scottish food.
I had their haggis, which was kind of like normal haggis, but with a better presentation. Actually, let me say, their presentation was gorgeous on everything we got. Added bonus: it all tasted super swell, too.

Big White Dog
Oddly, we kept seeing the same homeless man while in Edinburgh. Normal homeless guy, except he was wearing a lot of plaid and had this large white German Shepherd type dog. Every time we saw them, the dog was sitting there very somberly, almost guarding his turf - but, there was also something sweet about the dog's behavior. I could imagine someone writing a story about the man and his dog, and how they had been through all these adventures and hardships together... and how the dog had been his loyal companion the whole time keeping him warm and safe.
Kicking myself for not taking their photo.

Arthur's Seat
We went over to Holyrood Park (which I would pronounce just like "Hollywood", but doing so in a Scooby-Doo voice) and climbed up Arthur's seat, which ironically is not a seat at all but an extinct volcano.
Funnily (there's that word again) we took the longest route possible - totally roundabout way to get up there... climbing these steep paths over and over again and we finally arrive at the top and are rewarded by a beautiful view of the city.
It was a really nice view, actually.
We then look down on the other side and realize that there was a leisurely, grassy path with railings that ran straight down to a car park.

After scaling Arthur's Seat we zoom out to the Glenkinchie distillery for a nice tour of their operations. We had our own tour guide who was a great pleasure and entertaining, and of course the tour ended with a tasting session which we both enjoyed. Because of my work connection, we got to try a lot of the limited edition whiskeys they keep in the back which was totally cool (and tasty).
Riding on our small buzz, we then went and bought way too many bottles at the gift shop to take back with us.

Nepal + Poltergeists
Down the street from our B&B was a Nepalese style restaurant, which is suspiciously a lot like an Indian restaurant. We ordered way too much food and left fat and bloaty. For some reason we thought it'd be fun and goofy to take a nighttime ghost tour of Edinburgh.

They offer them all over in the old section of the city and we picked one that about guaranteed that we'd be attacked by a poltergeist. Why we thought this would be a good idea, I don't know.

The tour was fun and informative, at least in the beginning. Edinburgh has what might be described politely as a "F*cked up" history - burning witches and housing the poor in an underground city. We then were taken to a graveyard, and then on into what is called the Covenanter's Prison - a section of the graveyard that is locked and has rows of crypts. Why it's locked and haunted and the history I forget because I was genuinely spooked and worrying more about booger men and werewolves.
Well, it's spooky, but it has more to do with the storytelling than anything. And there is also a bit of a gimmick that I won't go into here - we weren't attacked by ghosts is all I will say.

few links about spooky ghosts...
Underground vaults
Poltergeist Attacks On Tourists Increasing In Edinburgh
The Poltergeist at The Covenanter's Prison
Haunted Edinburgh

Ciao Edinburgh
Our last day there we woke up early and went to the camera obscura, something I was really looking forward to but turned out to be a bit of a let down partly due to the goofball presentation they give.

We did that, had a nice French lunch, packed up our car and motored west towards the Trossachs and Loch Lomond.

bonus for Anne
Traditional Haggis (from Evelyn Hlabse)
1 sheep's pluck (stomach bag)
2 lb.. dry oatmeal
1 lb. suet
1 lb. lamb's liver
2 1/2 cups stock
1 large chopped onion
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper, Jamaica pepper and salt

Boil liver and parboil the onion, then mince them together. Lightly brown the oatmeal. Mix all ingredients together. Fill the sheep's pluck with the mixture pressing it down to remove all the air, and sew up securely. Prick the haggis in several places so that it does not burst. Place haggis in boiling water and boil slowly for 4-5 hours. Serves approximately 12.

very nice. do I want to know what Haggis is? Even when well presented. I would have completely miss-spelled Glenkinchie.
I love "funnily enough".
and poltergeists.
»anne ||  8/6/2003 ||  11:29:28 PM
Anne. Haggis recipe at the bottom of this entry.
»:r ||  8/7/2003 ||  9:48:17 AM
grew up eating brave, Anne.
»nate ||  8/7/2003 ||  10:21:27 AM
Rich -- you actually enjoy haggis? That's punk rock.
THanks for the ghost links. I love ghost stories. Love 'em love 'em love 'em!
»chris ||  8/7/2003 ||  1:01:34 PM
I think the Scots like their dogs. Up in the castle there's a dog's cemetary, with lots of sweet little tombstones. A guide also told us the story about this one dog who made the rounds everyday with his person like the Big White Dog, and after the person died the dog continued to make the rounds alone for years afterwards. Good Scottish pups!
»bunka ||  8/7/2003 ||  1:32:54 PM
let's not forget the scottish pup "Greyfriars Bobby" - the famous dog who sat on his owner's grave for years and years and was made into a book/movie. See the link below. cute story that they took lots of liberties with.
»:r ||  url || 8/7/2003 ||  2:11:11 PM
it was haggis, but it was presented wrapped in filo dough. tasty though (if you think about it - it would have to be tasty once you get over the squeamishness of some of the parts)
»:r ||  8/7/2003 ||  2:12:53 PM
Save me some Whiskey!
»pony ||  8/7/2003 ||  4:31:32 PM
you've got to prick the pluck to keep it from bursting?
oh my
»anne ||  8/7/2003 ||  9:50:02 PM
your photos, they make me cry. except for that waterfall soft water thing. please tell me if you start putting cabbage on babies' heads and we'll talk.
»user ||  8/8/2003 ||  10:54:27 AM
So they put homeless dogs in underground tunnels guarded by ghosts (maybe I should read the story again). I love the pictures and I agree with chris, ghost stories are a jolly good time. cheers
»binx ||  8/8/2003 ||  12:38:28 PM
just looked at photos of fun from scotland. rachel actually gets exponentially prettier every year she's been alive. You're a lucky man.
»blaine ||  8/8/2003 ||  1:45:47 PM

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