Edinburgh and Kippen

Trip Start May 30, 2008
Trip End Nov 02, 2008

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Flag of United Kingdom  , Scotland,
Saturday, June 21, 2008

Caught the train up to Scotland at the crack of dawn and watched the beautiful scenery go by. Had to carry my extremely heavy bag up the hill to the old part of Edinburgh - note to self, will have to chuck/send stuff home else I will have serious back problems on my return to oz. The backpackers I stayed in was really great - clean, friendly, and right opposite the Castle.
Edinburgh is so beautiful. Many more proficient and expressive writers than me have described its charms so I won't exhaust my superlatives here. Suffice to say, when I was walking back to my hostel over the bridge towards the old town, with the sun coming through the clouds to shine over the castle, the ancient buildings and the gorgeous greenery that stretched out around and beyond the city, I got chills.
Went on a three hour free walking tour (the guides survive on tips alone), which was surprisingly informative and really well done. Discovered more and more that the town is packed full of Aussies - the first guy I spoke to on the tour was from Blacktown, and, when hearing I was from Castle Hill, expressed his condolences to me that the Tav had shut down. Cooked my first hostel meal (mmm, rice with tuna and tomatoes), and then was convinced by these funny Canadian girls, Solei and Sophie, to go on a ghost tour.
As some of you know, I do have a predisposition to nightmares, so I was very hesitant to go on a tour described as 'the scariest in Edinburgh'. But it turned out to be a lot funnier than expected - the guide was really entertaining (I could listen to his Scottish accent all night), and the information was kind of a horrible histories of the area. The scary bit was when we were taken into a tomb where there has been 'paranormal' activities. Luckily, being summer, it wasn't dark, or I definitely would have freaked out. The guide was telling us about all the terrible things that had happened to tour groups in the past, when a guy dressed all in black with a creepy mask on jumped out and scared the bejesus out of all of us. And, because I'd lost my voice that day, I couldn't even scream. I just stood there with my mouth open looking stupid. It was fun, but afterwards me Solei and Sophie had to go for a drink to calm our nerves and check for poltergeist marks. 
The next day, thanks to the glories of facebook, I realised a fellow Flying Bat, Sabs, was also in the lovely town of Edinburgh. So we met up and headed to the Castle together in the morning. She thinks its hilarious that I take notes while walking around - but I can't help it, my inner nerd just has to record information! After seeing the war memorial, the Honours of Scotland and pestering the staff in the castle with all our many questions, we went to see a 'living history' show in one of the castle rooms. And when they asked for a volunteer to play Mary, Queen of Scots, Sabs pushed me forwards. So I had to pretend to be the pregnant Mary in front of about a hundred people. The only concern I had was when the woman doing the show told us that the way pregnant woman used to counter the pain of childbirth was by blood letting...and then came at me with a knife. I survived to tell the tale, however, and Sabs kindly got my horrified expression on video.
Sabs got hers though - the woman asked for volunteers to pretend to be satyrs (who used to entertain at Mary's banquets), and I pushed her forward. She had to turn around and shake her 'tail' at everyone - much more embarrassing.
After we were castled out, we headed to a local pub and ate haggis. I have to admit I was quite scared, but found it tasted like the inside of a meat pie but a bit more peppery. Great with the addition of some tomato sauce mate. After that feast, I walked off the offal by climbing to the top of Arthur's Seat. Wow. After I stopped huffing and puffing (thank god I did my couch to 5k running program before leaving oz or I would never have made it), I was knocked out by the beautiful view. It's a pity photos can only give you a tiny understanding of the majesty of the landscape because it was absolutely gorgeous. Headed out that night for cider and pints with Sabs and her friend (and fellow Battie) Jane. Ended up dancing to very cheesy music and then headed home to bed.

On the train to Stirling in the morning (with a slight headache from the previous night) and was greeted by Jill at the station and taken to her little villiage, Kippen. Her and Alan haven't seen me since they came to Australia in 1988, when I was a precocious two year old. Met their lovely kids, Emma, 11, and Rory, 6, who are teaching me the Scottish lingo. Went for a walk to Loch Katrine and had a picnic surrounded by midges (horrible little bugs that swarm around you and leave welts when they bite). We then headed off to a local music festival and saw the Red Hot Chilli Pipers - a bagpiping rock group.

Have just been chilling in their villiage today. Played a bit of golf for the first time in my life with Alan and Rory (I wasn't too bad), then a pint in the local pub. I love the Scottish accent and the feel of villiage life. Everyone knows each other and everyone speaks really slowly and self assuredly. I asked a local in the pub about what mountain we could see in the distance, and the man took about 2 mins of sucking in air, considering, looking around, drinking his beer and then finally gave me the answer - "och, tha thare's Ben Ann, dochaknoow lassie?"

Just had a delicious Sunday roast dinner and treacle tart for dessert, then went and read Rory a nice bedtime story. Apparently I gave him shocking nightmares yesterday after I told him all about funnel webs, redbacks, box jellyfish and tiger snakes, oops! After the kids head to bed, Alan and Jill and I are going finish the night by tasting different types of Scotch whiskey.

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lind on

Adventures galore. Sounds great. G'day to Jill and Alan and kidsxx

Send back some heavy stuff to Marion's place.

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