Breakfast was simple, toast cereal and such. The manager encouraged me to take some yogurt and a bag of potato chips for later. Glad I did. When I needed the calories, nothing else was around.
The charming motel with the biggest and nicest room of the trip cost me £30, less than half of the price of the big hotel with a smaller room and no breakfast. Quite a bargain.
After breakfast, I had time before check out and the opening at Caithness Glass, so I took a walk in the drizzle. Three huge tractors stopped behind the motel. I took pictures for T. He does love his tractors. The farm lane looked private even though the gate was open. So I took a few photos of bleeding heart mint. At home this is a variety of wildflower—I don’t think ours is mint, but the flowers are the same—it grew thick and orderly like a crop. In the background of the photo you can see the line of a reforestation project, good old Douglas firs from Oregon. Unfortunately, they are not native and newer projects are using slower growing hardwoods.
Noted some rabbit droppings then saw the critter scuttling across the road. I miss rabbits on the mountain. I saw it again, or another one, in the garden just down the road. All the plants and flowers had netting and wire around to keep him out.
Across the A9 I saw the copse that might have a standing stone or round barrow. Big sign, faded but readable “No Entry. Dangerous Bull.” If traffic had been lighter I might have crossed the road to lean over the fence for a better look. The manager told me there was a ruddy big bull in that field most days. Other places put up the same sign just to keep folks out even if they don’t have a bull.
Stucco buildings near the motel looked new, designed to look like old stables. Last night I did see Mrs. LM riding outside my window.
I thought I’d lost my black sweater. After my walk I found it folded up neatly and left on the table by the front door. Thank you whoever found it when it fell out of my car. I do like that sweater.
I had good directions to the Caithness Glass Factory—one of the musts on my to do list. T and I have collected a number of pieces from this factory. I have special ties since I used the Whitefriars Glass blowers in London in one of my Merlin’s Descendants books. Caithness bought Whitefriars and still uses the tradrmark on a certain style of paperweights. But the signage on the last round about was vague and askew. I got lost 3 times before I went back to where I started from and found the proper cut off. Then I was in the wrong lane and on the motorway before I knew it. I saw a lot of Perth I hadn’t planned to. But towns here are compact geographically. I was only 1 hour behind schedule.
At the factory I met up with a tour group wearing Worldcon badges. It was organized by the con. Saw some people I vaguely knew, others I didn’t. But the glass took all my attention. I watched the blowing process for long as they’d let me in the hot, hot, hot, kiln room. Eventually I had to move along to make room for another group. Then I peered through windows at skilled workers putting together intricate lampwork. In the gift shop I bought 4 pieces. There are no “seconds.” Anything less than perfect is re-melted and made again. Bargains are in last year’s mass produced items that are overstocked.
After lunch I drove to Killross in search of standing stones. Ladies at the TIC directed me around Lock Levan. I saw 2 stones in a field. No place to pull off until ½ mile beyond. No shoulder to walk on if I did use the lay by. But the memory of the phallic outline is embedded in my mind. They looked almost like 7 foot high shitake mushrooms.
Eventually I met up with the motorway again and headed to Edinburgh. I had no map and signs were strange. Eventually I stopped at a chemist to buy a map. No maps, but a couple of customers took pity on me. She was Asian American, he Scottish. They’d met at the University of Washington in Seattle! They led me to the car park across the square from the hotel where I would meet T & L. I think I used up a lifetime of karma on this part of the trip.
Mid afternoon and hours before the Tattoo. So, we went shopping. I was very tired but enjoyed the craft fair and little shops on the pedestrian only street north of Princes Street. When I was here in 1971, this was a delivery alley only, and not a nice place to walk alone. Princes Street was very crowded due to the Fringe or Edinburgh Festival. Teeming masses worthy of New York.
After dinner and dumping packages we took a taxi to the tattoo. We got within 3 blocks of the security check. Almost like going through an airport scanner.
I’ve seen a lot of bagpipe bands and US style highland games. The Tattoo was marvelous and made every show I’ve seen pale in comparison. They had obligatory military pipe bands with dancers (none from US or Canada this year), kids on motorcycles, and a mock battle of Trafalgar complete with cannons and fireworks. The Royal Marines put on a skit about the Crown Jewels stolen. They had commandos rappelling down the castle walls, with more explosions.
Nothing beats 30,000 people joining hands and singing Auld Lang Syne at the proper joyful rhythm to round out the evening.
The crowds were horrendous, but amiable. We walked back and found the kilt shops open and doing brisk business. Everyone was as fired up and patriotic after the show. The photo is the tower of St. Giles Cathedral on the Royal Mile at sunset. The styling is similar to those in Germany from the Hanseatic League trade treaties
Phyllis Irene Radford is a founding member of Book View Café and blogs here regularly on Thursdays, the same day her cozy mystery “Lacing Up For Murder” by Irene Radford is serialized on the front page rotation.
For more about her and her fiction please visit her bookshelf here on BVC http://www.bookviewcafe.com/index.php/Phyllis-Irene-Radford/
Or her personal web page ireneradford.com