TAILS OF A TRAVELLING CAT
Greetings, humans! Today we had a fantastic guided tour of the city provided by Sue. Our first stop was the floral clock, a giant, working clock made entirely of flowers (as the name would suggest). Next up was Edinburgh Castle, history time, where stands were being set up for the military tattoo, which is held in the Castle’s car park every year – it’s more glamorous than it sounds. Huge towers of red and blue plastic seats loomed above us as we walked through to the ticket office and into the outer part of the castle, where we then queued for a while to get tickets. No matter, it provided a good opportunity for pictures of the castle and the view. The castle was built very high up on what almost looks like a rocky cliff face, located in what is now Edinburgh Old Town.
The castle was built in the 12th Century on the top of a spectacular extinct volcano called Castle Rock, the right place to build the castle then! The volcano has been extinct for over 340 million years, so nothing to fear, one hopes.
The Castle was continuously under siege, first by the English, then by the Scots to reclaim their castle, and so the battle went on until the castle eventually became a prison for military prisoners in the 1700s. Now it is one of Scotland’s most popular tourist attractions. Thanks to Edinburghcastle.co.uk and the Edinburgh Castle pamphlet for providing information I could base my history lesson on.
Once we had our tickets, we could enter the second line of defence (a portcullis and a ticket scanner) up onto the battlements. There were lots of cannons here, all pointing out at the city far below. I am a fan of cannons, usually I like sitting on them, however, one particular cannon was so big I could sit inside it. This was Mons Meg, a particular beauty aimed directly at Debenham’s (not my choice). The cannon balls were bigger than me, which was rather disconcerting. After this we visited St Margaret’s chapel, the oldest building in Edinburgh, built in 1130. Despite its age, it was still in pristine condition although it was very small. However, as it was only designed for one person, I suppose it was actually quite large.
Shopping done we then continued along the Royal Mile which runs from the castle through the middle of the Old Town. We cut through some narrow steps and returned to the New Town. Interestingly, the Mound which is between the Old and New Towns was built on top of Edinburgh’s rubbish, which had for decades been tossed into the city’s loch. I was rather alarmed at the mention of the loch, but it was drained three hundred years ago (ish) and now forms Prince’s Park. Even more interestingly, the trains leaving Edinburgh Waverley Station pass through the Mound and under Prince's Park via tunnel, this was the way we passed yesterday on route to Perth, and will pass through again when we leave on Tuesday.
Lunch was found! Holy Cow was a fantastic vegan restaurant located in a basement flat, once we were inside though, it was easy to forget we were half underground. Especially when the food arrived. Both humans ordered burgers which were gargantuan and came with a shovelful of potato wedges. One burger was the Thai carrot, incorporating peanuts, chutney and red cabbage, the other was a falafel burger, topped with carrot and tomato, both garnished with garlic mayo.
The burgers were so big the humans had no room for cake, but the options looked good, raspberry red velvet, assorted cheesecakes, chocolate and peanut butter. I bet they were good.
Feeling very full, we left Holy Cow and headed through New Town, marvelling at the beautiful (but very expensive) Georgian terraces which, built since 1715 seemed to make up the majority of this section of the city. Yes, the New Town was built in the 1700s.
On the way back, we passed Bute House, the Scottish equivalent of 10 Downing Street, but without all the gates and security guards. Does this say something about the different cultural and political climates, perhaps? I’m a cat, it’s not my place to say.
We crossed back over the famous George Street, at its end with Charlotte Square. The street was meant to have been bookended with churches, however although the Charlotte Square end church did get built, the other book was missing, instead a rich person’s villa was built. Hmm, not sure what happened there. We made it back to Prince’s Street to catch the bus. This street is also nicely contained with the Balmoral and Caledonian Hotels at either end. Both were huge and grand, I’m sure a night in either would have been equally as pricey.
We made it back to the house and sat down to relax for the evening.
Until next time,
PS. Let me leave you with a selection of Edinburgh photos, enjoy!