Sunday, August 5, 2007

Welcome to Scotland. We stole the tune to their national anthem. "my country tis of the...LET FREEDOM RING." Theirs say's "GOD SAVE THE QUEEN."

10 hour bus ride. We stopped in Haworth, England, where the Bronte sisters grew up on the way up. (authors of Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights). The town was absolutely adorable- I want to go back- I didn't want to leave. Cambridge is relatively flat compared to northern England and Haworth is on rolling hills- you get a work out just walk through the cobblestone streets and everywhere you look you see green and gold hills of farm land.
We hiked around the famous moors. They were lovely. Foggy, cold, and damp and completely COVERED in purple heather! We had a photo op of me sitting in the heather and making heather angels in the heather and such. I enjoyed the attention. Unfortunately they are not in full bloom right now so they are more green than bright purple but that is okay.

I bought a feather dip pen and sone sienna dipping ink! Then I journaled with it! I was so excited. I also bought a wooden calligraphy pen for myself. I can just insert the various nubs that I already have- perfect. My handwriting needs alot of work though.

So then we got to Scotland and the mountains made me want to be on a motorcycle so bad! Actually, I met a Bostonian drummer man in Edinburgh and struck up a convo because he was wearing a Harley Davidson t-shirt and he said that he wanted to rent a bike while he was here but they charge you by the kilometer and not many places rent them so he couldn't. Sad- Sorry Bob. Anyway, we came up to the Firth of Forth off the of the North Sea and there were huge cliffs on the water-WOW. I melted. Edinburgh is a prettyneat spot. It's built between two mountains and there is huge mound in the middle on which a fortress was built starting in 1093 under King David of Scotland. The town basically grew up around the castle. It is so wild- there's just this random huge 4 sided batholith-like rock. there is absolutely no way to get over those castle walls except through the court. I stole these from the internet: href="">

The first night we were there, we ate a yummy pub dinner and then hiked up one of the mountains called Arthur's Seat. It's a Volcano so it is like a three pronged peak with a grassy knoll between them. you can see where the lava flowed down the North side into the Firth. It probably wasn't too smart to hike up there at 9:00 at knight but the sun doesn't go down until 11:00p here so... There were 5 of us and we had to climb a garden wall and hop some barbed wire (which was invented in Texas by the way) and climb a 10 foot rock wall to begin. The Scotland National Flower is the thistle- there are so many of them and they hurt through your jeans making climbing a strategy. We visited both mounds- it is fun because the land between them is just a soft slope so we could roll down it till it bellied out and then go up the other, much rockier one- it looked kind of like the endless stair into Mordor- I was looking for gollum. The view from the top was incredible. I really dont even know how to describe it. The mountain is sandwiched between the sea and the city and there are higher peaks in the distance behind the farmlands. So if you turned to the West, twilight was pink and purple and orange and the clouds were navy and few and it looked like they were being sucked away from us through a funnel because of the wind and their elongated shape. We could see the old city and the castle and the first with the light reflecting off of it. We were there during their summer festival so the Military Tattoo (which went to the next night) was being held in the castle court and we could barely hear the drums from that. The wind up there sucks sound up- you can't yell across long distances because your voice is stolen as soon as you talk- like Arial in the Little Mermaid. Then if you turned to the East, the sky was already deep navy on the horizon and there was an almost full but very big, low, yellow moon just over the water. It was pretty much breathtaking. Climbing down in the dark was an adventure.
We toured the castle in the morning. That was SO fun! there is so much history there it is crazy. It's huge- and various parts of it have been blown up and re-replaced and re-re-replaced. I can picture armed men running around there and calling out orders and big warships coming out in the harbor. There are like 10 batteries and the biggest canon in Europe is there.
The stone of destiny is there so i got to see that- England stole it from Scotland hundreds of years ago and sat it under their coronation chair- which i saw in Westminster Abbey in London (1,000 year old fancy chair)- until 1950 when some Scottish school boys stole it and took it back to Scotland. They didn't official get it back till 1999. Saw more crowned jewels, a scottish veterans memorial and such.

Leading down from the castle, there is a road called the Royal Mile and it is lovely but sadly so touristy; it leads to the Palace of Holy Rood. Entertainers lined the street- which was always fun. there were at least two random perades marching down it- one was women in lingerie. Jesse and Dave bought kilts (flippin £70)

Some of the buildings look normal stone colored, but some are oddly black. The reason for that is that was a less environmentally friendly manufacturing center, the smog was so bad that it turned the buildings black. The normal ones are the ones that have been sand blasted since then. geez. I ate a baked potato with cheddar cheese and cold corn in it for lunch. They don't know what chili is here. The Queen of England goes up to live in the palace of Holy Rood in September but when she is at Buckingham, Holy Rood is open as a museum. It is very fancy of course- nothing like Kings of France though- I dont think England ever got that outrageous. I saw marry queen of scotts bed chamber and the blood stains on the floor from where Rizzio was stabbed 56 times in 15__ and the skull of Robert the Bruce- the skull was random placed on display between a necklace and a brooch. awkward. My favorite part though was the old chapel out back. there was a monastary there a long time ago and it is just ground ruins now. the chapel though, the roof collapsed in the 1600s and was never repaired. So it is basically ruins now! I wish I could have been alone in there a while. It was so beautiful

That evening, I went with 3 other girls to the harbor and ate in the cutest friendliest all-wood pub at a table that overhangs the water. Mushroom soup and a childs order of pesto pasta with cider.
And went to the famous annual Edinburgh Military Tattoo in the evening. The tattoo takes place in the court of the castle! That's the part just outside of it- like in Ever After (one of my favorite movies ever-it's been too long since I've seen it) when Danielle "goes to court" and she is outside of the palace on the elevated stone walkway where only courtiers can go- that's where we would be. They started at dusk with fireworks and canons then the gate to the fortress opened up and Royal Army Band of Bagpipes marched out. They were in full traditional dress- a hundred and something bagpipe players! It sounded like nothing I have ever heard and I loved it! They did an aggiestyle turn around and marched out with loud drums!

Other acts included: the Middlsex County Volunteer Fifes and Drums. they're from Boston and are dres like 1770s militia men. They carried an American flag of course and played Yankee Doodle on their way out. (the harley davidson guy i met was a drummer in that group), A marching band and drill team from a girls school in Taiwan, Massed Commonwealth Highland dancers (Lesley and Sarah Elizabeth would have loved them) they did trad. highland scotland footwork and made fun designs, A bunch of stunt devil boys on motorcycles came out for intermission- they were funny and crazy- making body pyramids on zooming motorcycles, driving backwards and doing death crosses, driving on ladders, and one big jump at the end, The Band of the Moscow Military Conservatorie- I enjoyed them- very Russian, Mounted band of the lue and Royals! they were a band on horseback-geez, Trinadad and Tobago Defense Force Steel Orchestra- welcome to the carribean mate- the only steel band orchestra in the world! They were awesome. a bunch of black guys in all white shimmying their shoulders and playing music that Jimmy Buffet would enjoy. A woman decked out in feathers came out and limbod under a flaming stick, The the Massed Military band came out again and they were my favorite.

On Saturday, about 12 of us drove up to Pitlochry (about an hour and half northwest) and went on a seven-mile hike. That was adventurous and gorgeous! I don't like taking pictures so i didn't take my camera. I'll get pictures from friends and a video from laura of me making a heatherangel in the heather on the side of a mountain. we started in deciduous trees and creeks and flowers; and walked a constant incline for two miles into all conifurs. then we cam to an area with absolutely no trees but it was ALL heather. We climbed up to well, the second highest point and we could see for miles- including a medium-sized castle neat a village down below! The heather is softer than it looks- or springy at least. so as long as you are wearing jeans and cover your face, you can roll down hills of it and actually feels quite nice. The heater comes up to about mide calf so you can't just run through it like normal, you have to either bounce or high-knee it. I went bounding across the little hills on the big hill and first i compared myself to a gazell and then i recompared myself to Amanda price skinny dipping- running high-kneed across yards of shallow water till you get to waist deep. I climbed up a big rock in the middle and spread my arms into the wind and sang that one song "I'm Alive I'm Alive I'm Alive..." I wanted to sing louder but I was with three girls. the wind helped in stealing the sound anyway. We walked through a low part of greener grass but learned that the reason it is so green is because it wet there- really muddy wet- as in i definely ruined my maroon deisels. i'm sad. surprisingly wet feet didn't bother me at all- they dried quick tho. Hiked back from heather to conifurs to deciduous and flower to ice cream which was pretty much the best ice cream i have ever had in my life. Something I learned: I think i would be okay with going on a few day hiking trip. when we finished i was nowhere near ready to stop. The backpacks that some of the boys brought here are really easy to carry- it's like they lie to you about how much they weigh. i think i'll ask for one for Christmas. One of the boys here, Jesse, he and his brother hiked the Appalachian Trail in 99 days last summer. All the way from georgia to maine in one trip would be a little much but to divide that up and go up parts of it for a few days at a time over about 10 years would be cool huh. Anyway. Hiking was fun and it didn't stop there! We hiked back up Arthur's Seat for sunrise! And I didn't sleep a wink that night! ha. We walked into town for a late dinner at a Chinese Buffet- yum and then went to this spot called Three Sisters. I could not figure out what that building used to be but it was something odd in like 1750 something- old. now it is a bar and restaurant. I bet there were about 20 of us out (mostly girls) and they played 80's and 90's music the whole time! So there was no excuse for grinding. We just jumped and bouncy personal space danced and laughed and sang at the top of our lungs the whole time. We are really clicking now- i feel really comfortable with these people and our conversations are getting deeper and I even tackled a girl today. I like it that i can be out without a drink in my hand and be comfortable. I didn't drink at all when we were out. I have a drink with dinner sometimes and i have gone to pubs a few times too but it is never more than one and half the time i dont drink anything at all. i like it better like that. We stayed there until 2am then walked back and played ball in the parking lot and then those of us who hadn't given up and gone to bed (about 6) hiked up for the sun rise. it was cloudy so it wasn't an amazing sight- the sky just went from dark to grey to light grey but that's okay. i'll save that experience for another time. i slept solid, curled up in a ball the whole drive home!

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