The End Is Near!
DAY FOURTEEN: The Tide Is Out, Glamorous Glamis, Something’s Brewing, Mums The Word, Costumes Party, Pass On The Scone, Peacock Paradise, It Doesn’t Look Like A War Was Fought Here, TV Hotel, Geez No Photos Again, Town Tour, Get In Out Of The Rain, Computer Glitch and We Better Take The Train
After a delicious breakfast at Chapel of Barras, our first major stop was going to be Glamis Castle. Since it didn’t open until 11 a.m. we detoured to see the “charming” seaside town of Stonehaven. Unfortunately the tide happened to be out (again!), so Stonehaven was not quite as charming as the photos we had seen prior to departing for our trip.
It was not a long drive to Glamis Castle, which was the childhood home of HM Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother (which is why “Mum’s the word here”), and also the birthplace of Princess Margaret. To get to the castle, we first drove up a mile-long drive with the turrets of the castle reaching toward the sky.
We were a little early, so we walked around the exterior waiting for our tour to start. Glamis is where William Shakespeare’s Macbeth resided and before you could say “Double, double toil and trouble; Fire burn, and cauldron bubble,” Tracy and Mary joined the witches out in front for a photo op. I was going to ask our wives if they had forgotten their brooms, but thought they might fly off the handle, so I refrained.
Tracy and I invited the assembled guests to enter the castle (although this really wasn’t the entrance).
This would actually be a frustrating day photography wise, because none of the places we were going to visit allowed interior photography (one of my biggest pet peeves), so the few shown here were taken off the internet.
We were placed in the first guided tour (free) of the day (no audio guides). Our tour leader was Andrew, and he gave us an interesting overview of the castle.
As a quick aside, Glamis Castle is supposedly the most haunted castle in Scotland. We never did run into the ghost of The Woman Without A Tongue, who has been seen wandering the grounds pointing to her disfigured face.
Rooms included The Drawing Room…
...along with the Chapel and The Dining Room.
It’s a beautiful castle, and I wish I had photographs as a memory. We also learned that Princess Margaret was the first Scottish born princess born in Scotland in 300 years.
Afterward, we walked into a room set aside for a special display featuring Coronation robes. Numerous dresses, robes and coronets worn during the coronation ceremony for King George VI and Queen Elizabeth in May 1937 had been loaned to Glamis Castle. We could take photos here.
The centerpiece of the exhibition was a 5 1/2 meter long robe (I knew I should have learned the metric system as a kid) worn by Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother. As the Doobie Brothers might have stated, it had a Long Train Running.
As we drove out the long driveway, Kim asked where we were headed next. “Perth,” I answered. “Isn’t Australia a pretty long drive?” he quipped. Luckily we only had about 48 hours before our flight home.
The Scone Palace is located in Perth, Scotland (a much shorter drive than Perth, Australia…don’t think they’ve built a bridge to Australia anyway), and when we arrived we were told that once again no photography was allowed inside (grrr).
We decided not to pay for the Scone (although I could have used some coffee), but instead strolled over to a grassy area where a friendly peacock was showing off his colors to a number of interested spectators.
He definitely posed for those cameras and phones going off…
By now, we were really hungry, and since our home for the evening was not far away, it was off to check out Falkland. “I hope that war isn’t still going on,” I said. The silence from my fellow travelers was deafening.
As we drove into town, I read that Falkland is situated in the heart of Fife, and it took every ounce of my being not to make a reference to the Andy Griffith Show.
When we walked up to The Covenanter Hotel, a group of people were gathered in front. “It’s always nice to have a welcoming committee,” I said. As it turned out, this is another spot in Scotland where Outlander is filmed, and our hotel doubles as “Mrs. Baird’s guesthouse, while the nearby Bruce Fountain is where the ghost of Jamie looks up at Claire’s room.” I have no idea what that means, but we will start binge watching soon.
Our two rooms located upstairs were rather shabby with a little mold in the shower. Unfortunately I couldn’t time travel back to one of our good showers.
We were by now incredibly hungry, so we walked a short distance to the Lomond Tavern for a late lunch. It was slammed (we procured the last available table), and our lunch that included beef curry (excellent), chicken tikka, lentil soup, shrimp cocktail and sliced chicken with potatoes was just what the doctor ordered.
Our next stop was ostensibly Falkland Palace & Garden. Upon arriving, we were once again told that there was no interior photography (the “No Photo Trifecta”). I took one for the team (£12.50) and decided to pay a visit. Kim and Mary walked off to have tea for two while Tracy took a nap. Falkland Palace & Garden is where Mary Queen of Scots came to hunt, play tennis and go hawking, which is one way to prey. These were some of her happiest days.
…but the National Trust of Scotland stepped up to the plate in the 1950s and now the palace’s reconstructed rooms are a place where visitors can tour without their cameras (once again, photos from internet). Each room has a docent who tells the tale of Falkland Palace. I believe they wore traditional garb, but without a camera to remember, I’m not sure.
I thought the high point of the visit was the Chapel Royal, which remains a practicing Roman Catholic Chapel. The docent in this room was quite talkative, and after awhile I prayed she’d let me get outside before the rain hit.
There are fruit trees in an ancient orchard, a wildlife meadow, and it was nice having this expansive space nearly to myself.
It took a while, but I finally found what I was searching for… the oldest Real or Royal Tennis Court in Britain. This court was built for King James V in 1539, and where Mary Queen of Scots would pick up her racquet on occasion.
The court hasn’t seen much love lately (not sure whose fault that is), so the net result is a rundown space. Hopefully someone will serve as a benefactor to help restore it to its former glory. I did, however, overhear someone giving it a back-handed compliment.
…however they declined renaming the road “Mane Street.”
Since everyone had abandoned me, I meandered around town for about half an hour (rain was imminent). I came upon the Falkland War Memorial, with names listed under “First World War, Second World War, Other Conflicts.”
Next to the memorial was a colorful cart full of flowers. A sign on the cart said it was “donated to ‘Falkland in Bloom’, in memory of founder member Alf Turpie.” Falkland in Bloom has recently been renamed Visit Falkland. Besides floral displays, recycling and conservation projects, the Visit Falkland Project (not related to the Alan Parsons Project) also repaired potholes for filming of our new favorite series we haven’t watched yet, Outlander.
As I strolled through this charming town…
…the skies opened up, and I, who foolishly never carries an umbrella, scurried back to the hotel.
Turning on the news, we received our first hint that our trip back to the United States might become a little complicated, but we didn’t know how complicated until later.
Our dinner that night was at the hotel, which was fortuitous because yellow storm warnings were being posted, and the rain was coming down in sheets. The meal at The Covenanter was going extremely well until a ding rang across our phones. I was fairly confident that the alert had nothing to do with a rare San Diego Padres victory.
It seemed the BA computer problem had now become a major glitch, with reports stating that flights in and out of Heathrow would be greatly affected, perhaps for days. Since we had a flight out of Edinburgh Monday morning to Heathrow so we could catch our late afternoon Air Zealand flight, we had a decision to make…hope for the best or find an alternative route to Heathrow. We decided on the latter.
Kim quickly booked us an early Monday train to London where we’d hop on the tube to the airport. Another day or two in Edinburgh would have been fun, however there were two corgis at home who were anxiously awaiting their parents return (our cats didn’t give a damn).
On our final full day in Scotland, we’d hit the links, check out one last bit of ruins, drive through some coastal fishing villages and eventually make our way to South Queensferry for a final dinner at our hotel, a place that looks much better on the inside than out.
The following morning we’d catch the early train, transfer to the tube, and arrive at Heathrow in plenty of time to partake in a leisurely lunch before our flight home. What could possibly go wrong? Oh yeah…me!
Next: DAYS FIFTEEN & SIXTEEN: Sneaking Into Church, Missing Links, Our Foursome’s All Here, Walking A Famous Bridge, A Cathedral In Ruins, Narrow Minded, Neuk Neuk Neuk, Saving Next Time For Bruce, Go Forth, South Dakota, Last Supper, Everything’s On Track, Don’t Sleep In The Subway and A Bloody Mess At Heathrow