Monday, February 17, 2014

Neither Rain Nor Snow . . .

Okay, catching up on last week and then I swear I will keep my life boring for a while.

Last week was one long whirlwind of trying to find a green tie for Isabel to bring home for t*.

It was an epic quest that took us through rain and snow and glom of nit, though none of these things stayed us abot our duty. 

Yep, we went all the way to Edinburgh, Scotland, in search of a tie. Of course, as long as we were up there, we saw some awesome stuff. We started with Mary King's Close. This is a cool space that's kind of hard to envision. Here's a start:

A 'close' is a narrow street; pictured above is Advocate's Close. The closes run parallel to one another, from the main road down to the water, short and very steep. The buildings lining it were some thirteen stories high. In due course of time, the buildings' bottom levels were abandoned as the city expanded outward (once being invaded by the English was no longer a daily concern). They decided to put a government building on the main road instead, and as the buildings on Mary King's close were still pretty sound, they just leveled them off and built on top. Which means that under the building is this wedge-shaped piece of street, abandoned and preserved. Very cool indeed.

Then we walked up the hill to Edinburgh Castle, just in time for it to start snowing like crazy. But we explored the castle anyway. Because we are awesome like that. 

We saw lots of cool stuff, including where they kept naval POWs from various wars (including our very own Revolution) and the cool stuff that the POWs made with soup bones and lots of spare time. Then we saw the Scottish crown jewels, which are very pretty. And we got to walk through the room where Mary Stuart gave birth to James I/VI . . . causing Queen Elizabeth to exclaim in despair, "the Queen of Scots is lighter of a fair son!" which I always thought was a good line.

 Once the castle was thoroughly explored and we were thoroughly frozen, we headed back down the hill, stopping to see a woolen mill where tartans get wove. Many a vendor and many a sign offered to sell me my clan tartan, and I had to disappoint them all by informing them that I am not, in fact, of Scottish descent, and thus have neither clan nor tartan.

We wanted to see Holyrood palace, but it was closed by the time we reached it, so we went to the Museum of Edinburgh instead and saw some cool stuff there. I found a chair . . . like, the upper-class taxi kind, the sort mentioned in books and the kind that Benjamin Franklin arrives in in 1776**. 
We also payed our respects to Sir Walter Scott, whose memorial might be even more pompous than Prince Albert's. Well, maybe 'pompus' isn't the word I want. This one's kind of too menacing to be pompus. Maybe 'grandiose.'

Seriously, if they built Malificent's castle in Disneyland, it would look just like this memorial. I was glad I'd actually read some Scott last year and at least had a clue what all the fuss was about. I still thought it was kind of a grim memorial to a fairly positive and very successful writer. He wrote about young women taking long journeys from Scotland to London. And speaking of which . . .

. . . due to high winds knocking power rails off trains, and trains running over things, and lots of other chaos, Isabel and I spent a good four hours and some on a dark, unheated, and motionless train. But we did get free cookies, and I got a lot of reading done (by flashlight), so that's good. And when we finally made it to King's Cross at 4:30 a.m., the rail company provided us and all the other passengers with taxis. It was my first taxi ride since arriving in London.

Friday we explored Westminster Abbey. Here is a picture of the outside, since they are not allowed inside.

We got to see the graves/tombs/memorials of: FDR, the Unknown Warrior, Lord Byron, Keats & Shelley***, Jane Austen, Fanny Burney, Elizabeth Gaskell, Dickens, Handel, Robert and Elizabeth Barrett Browning, C.S. Lewis, Lewis Carroll, Geoffrey Chaucer, Rudyard Kipling, Lawrence Olivier, Alfred Lord Tennyson, Sir Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, Richard II (poor soul), Edward VII (poor everybody else invested in making and keeping him alive), Henry V (one too many times into the breach, I guess), Anne of Cleves (the lucky one), and the two great rivals: Mary Stuart and my personal hero, Elizabeth Tudor.

We also got to see where the Stone of Scone isn't.

After our lovely tour, we walked a ways in the pouring rain to the Tate Britain, which was, as advertised, filled with art. Here is the Giant Gallery o' Victorian Stuff, which naturally was my very favorite.

Despite sore feet, we still managed to make it to the Barbican to hear the symphony and get some free chocolates.

All this was Friday, and Isabel didn't leave until Sunday, but nonetheless I'm saving Saturday for another post because I was off on adventures in Oxford while she explored the South Bank and finally found that dang tie.

So that's tomorrow's project. Now I'm going to bed on time like a gosh dang grown-up. Night!

*Read as 'Little Tee.' The three primary guys of the Guys' House are, in order of height, Taylor, Jeff, and Taylor. The Taylors are distinguished as "Big" and "Little," abbreviated to "Big Tee" and "Little T," written as "T" and "t" respectively. 

**A play my American history buff brother-in-law has not yet seen, to the shock and shame of all my family.

*** They only got one memorial to share between the two of them. Poor Keats & Shelley. 

1 comment:

  1. YAY!!! I'm in here! :-D ... :-D And the tie is certainly perfect and amazing! Thanks for all the hard work! :-)