Leave the Kilts to Edinburgh (Part 1)

Right, first off, I don't like Scotch. Sorry, but it's an acquired taste I haven't been moved to acquire. It does smell lovely and peaty and smokey and all, but really as far as taste goes, I'd rather lick a mouse's ear... More for you, then, yes? But I have temporarily put aside my bias towards carb-laden beer under the addage of "when in Rome . . ."

I found something called "Bubble & Squeak" on the lunch menu today, which turns out is potatoes and cabbage. This pub offered more what I had expected of food inthe British isles : disgusting being one of the words you could use. That has it's benefits too though -- I need something to reverse the great food / personal expansion plan I have been on for the past week. A good week of British boiled food and canned soup should reduce me to the sveltness I was going for towards the end of 9 days in Burning Man.

I have found this to be a valuable resource: http://www.eeb.princeton.edu/~ben/vocab/vocab.html While almost nothing can save you from the embarressment of having to ask "What did you say? Come again? Repeat that, if you please?" about a dozen times per cab ride, the Scots are a warm lot, all told, and they will be happy to drop some of the broag when they can, to make themselves better understood -- especially if it's about Robert the Bruce, or William Wallace, or a favorite local pub -- when even the English have to have their movies subtitled. [ Trainspotting reference, eh? ] Speaking of movies, I have to see Eyes Wide Shut again over here, because it's not cut.

As Eve's husband, Chris was driving me to the Stirling trainstation this AM, (we were a bit late because he had to watch the news over and over for Hurricane Floyd info, as that is where he and Eve were going for a golfing holiday in October ) Chris pointed out this amazing 17-bedroom Victorian castle that had been on the market for 200 Pounds, but no one bought it. Apparently it was the maintenance, not the taxes that kept them away. He also said Stirling had enjoyed its prosperity during the last century as a mill town, because of the ready availability of fresh water running off the Ochills, into Mill Races, which collect the water and feed them to the textile mills. One of the old mills has become a tourist exhibit, with the old looms displayed. So there are these mansions sprouted around the gorgeous old Stirling -- and Stirling Bridge , which is famed for Wallace's victory against the English in 1297, and also for Robert the Bruce's defeat by the English in 1314. Well, the Bruce was downed at Bannockburn, actually, but very close by. His heart is rumoured to be buried at Stirling has been described as a "huge brooch, clasping Highlands and Lowlands together." Have enough single malt and you can just see it, can't you? Among the best remembered stories from Stirling is the murder of the Earl of Douglas by James II -- and the corpse being tossed out the window ! "Defenstration!" or rather "Guardez Lou" and Mary Queen of Scots was crowned in the Chapel royal there in 1543.

Right on the same street as the castle, is coucil housing, what we would call tenements or state-funded. But the pride of these people is so evident from their front yards and ornate gardens within what space they've been given. Very impressive.

Looming over the Wallace Monument, in the Ochills, is the "Witches Craig". Oddly enough, the next sign after that on the road is for "Blair Lodgie", a hotel in an old manor house.

The train ride was from Stirling into Edinburgh, and was about 1/2 an hour. The entire trip was through small villages that broke up seeming endless patchworks of hayfields and pastures. It is really country out beyond Edinburgh. And the lovely Linlithgow Castle, which I hope to visit someday.

OK, I spent about 10 hours at work, with which I shant bore you, except that it has given me reason to think I should come here about once every 3 or 4 months. It is hard to do a job based 40% on personality and 60% on persuasion* unless you are face to face. *Not scientifically tested. Actual figures may vary. Some results better under the influence.

After work, as the cabbie was taking me to the hotel, there was this incredibly vivid rainbow right in front of us! so I rolled down the window to take a picture. "There's such a lot of them here, miss," he sighs. I said something about it being new to me, and he made some comment about "All the Americans looking for the damned Leprechauns -- in Scotland ."