Posted in Travel

Lost in stride

It’s well known that my sense of direction is a

bit suspect at times. Today, apparently, it didn’t even exist. I’ve been turned around all day and thankful for my man and his great directional prowess. Fortunately we were walking around Edinburgh and not driving around Scotland!We had a lovely breakfast out with family at Queensferry. This is home to 3 bridges that fascinates engineers for sure. I remember clearly on our first trip to Scotland a couple of decades ago we had to find somewhere to pull over so we could get a picture of it. It’s chock full of history and quite an engineering feat. They worked 24/7 for 7 years and 59 lives were lost during the creation of it.

Then we hopped aboard a Scot Train bound for Edinburgh. No hastles of parking and it was a nice change for Ron from driving. Public transit is always interesting people watching.

People were the one commodity we never ran out of today. Sunday on the Golden Mile probably had more people than we’ve seen in the rest of Scotland!! Seriously.

We meandered around and were interested in a variety of things; history, architecture and Harry Potter/J. K. Rowling spots. We saw tons of all those items. Our afternoon beer was at the Tollbooth Tavern, historically home to the worst prison in Scottish history. Such a cool building.

We saw an unusual number of unicorns – bet you didn’t see that coming! Although now the picture of the 3rd and funniest one is gone.

A mystery but I must move on to catch up. Unicorns are a royal symbol so while they seem like a new hot ticket kid item they’ve always had a special place in the symbols of royal families.

We visited the entrance to two royal castles set in the Golden Mile; Edinburgh Castle and Holyrood Castle. The later was closed to the public and the former had an excessive number of tourists so neither of them got more than a few photos.

We didn’t manage the Harry Potter walking tour but did it more the Sherlock Holmes way; a bit of sleuthing here and there. Tom Riddle’s grave was easy as the grass is indeed trampled. Victoria Street was a dead ringer for Diagon Alley. A few others were more vague and others not worth tracking down. The cafe where she wrote the first one and the hotel room where she finished the seventh weren’t on our agenda.

It’s important to recognize the line between fact and fiction and I didn’t want our entire time to be eaten up by that.

So we wandered over and around; checking out old buildings and new ones. They have a significant amount of construction within the downtown core. There are all these little tiny lanes off the Golden Mile and they lead into more buildings.

It’s much easier to see from up top. Using his engineering brain Ron was able to figure out that one entire block in behind.

Totally hidden behind a slightly new looking bigger entrance through two buildings. It’s such a hilly city and has so many crossing weirdly angled streets I was quite happy by this point to let him navigate.

We managed the correct platform (and no the ticket lady didn’t look amused when I said I was sure we didn’t want 9 3/4) and the train rattled us back to where we started. I tried to walk the wrong way to get out, giving those boots one last work out!

Thankfully once back on the road my navigatioal skills did return to get us back to my young English cousin’s house.

We then spent a couple more hours discussing ancestors and English history. Hence the no blog post as I was only a quarter done on the train using the free wifi. It’s always a scramble to catch back up but I’m hopeful.


Posted in Travel

Medieval Steps

Today we ventured into the medieval past and stepped back to 1460 at Gainsborough Hall. This is a wonderfully preserved specimen of a rich baron’s home.

As two people who love architectural and historical details it was a win win for sure. Add to that how well it was presented and the fact that we got in for the “concession” rate available for seniors it was a double bonus.

The great hall is so wonderfully preserved. The ceiling alone is worth the admission price. The stone tower, the buttery (where the butler stored the beer,wine and meed) and the pantry added to the ambience.

The half timbered building was started by the Burgh family who have the most interesting history and connections to royalty. It was built between 1460 & 1470 by Sir Thomas Burgh; a wealthy, powerful and flamboyant man.
His grandson died in 1528, leaving his eldest son, sir Thomas as head of the family. In 1529, his son and heir, Sir Edward, married Catherine Parr, The couple would stay at Gainsborough Old Hall until 1530, when they were granted their own manor in Village of Kirton-in-Lindsay.(see side note in an upcoming post about that town and my connection to it).

In this hall both Richard the 3rd and Henry 8th dined. The latter visited Gainsborough twice; once in 1509 and again in 1541 with the doomed Queen Catherine Howard. The Queen was accused of indiscretions both at Gainsborough & Lincoln and she was executed. Catherine Parr, by this time a widow became the final wife of Henry 8th.

But what really fascinated both of us was the kitchen rooms. They hadn’t been modernized anywhere along the way and the interpretive displays were so well done. Even the ceiling was fascinating with a cupola for letting out smoke still intact. The size of the fireplaces was so massif and the 2 bread ovens were amazing. The kitchen servants lived above the kitchen in assorted little rooms.

The family had the east wing complete with the tour room while the guests stayed in the West wing. Outside on south was a garden which replaces the original market that stood there. It’s a great example of what a medieval garden would have looked like.

The windows alone show the amount of money that was poured into this establishment. That doesn’t even touch upon all the other items that highlight what am amazingly well preserved manor home this is.

We climbed the 49 steps up to the top of the tower. We saw the amazing views but also the Tudor Rose carved into a ceiling that Henry 8th was never going to see even though it was put there to prove their loyalty. Instead; tourists hundreds of years later stare at it and are amazed at the workmanship.

There are more pictures, says the person with hundreds of photos on her phone, but alas I have not figured out how to do a slide show of them here from my phone. I also can’t remember what program my friend uses for putting hers into a gallery of nine. So that means that’s it for this post.


I just learnt tonight that my cousin and her husband went to a Hunt Ball in the late 70’s in the great hall before it became a museum. How cool is that?