Sunday, June 20, 2010

A Quiet Day in Edinburgh

By Claire
We both woke up at quarter to 4 this morning. It was hard to figure out who that was talking and then I realized it was from the “Moonwalk,” a breast cancer walk that started at midnight. We were warned that there might be some noise as the group made their way past the campground. However, this sounded like a DJ making announcements and cheering people on. We did manage to get back to sleep but both of us were exhausted this morning. Three days of fast and furious sightseeing has taken its toll. We decided that since the weather is still spectacular, we should take advantage and do something easy and outdoors. The Royal Botanic Gardens fit the bill perfectly. Along the way we ran into some crew members from the walk. Yes, at 11 am people were still coming in from the 26 mile walk.

I've met a number of people who are participating in the walk--mostly on the bus. I'm very impressed with what they are doing. You can easily spot them in their white t-shirts with pink, lacy bra on the front.

The bus dropped us right across from the gardens and we took a leisurely stroll along the winding paths. It was nice to see families and couples out in the sun, enjoying this beautiful place.

We decided to try the cafe and had a nice meal on their patio. We certainly can't complain about the food in Britain.

We found this fossilized tree, the largest in Britain. It was discovered about a mile from here at Craigleith Quarry, now the site of a retail park. Pitus withami grew in swamp forests during the Carboniferous era 320-340 million years ago.

Next to the tree is the Palm House.

We worked our way towards the Queen Mother Memorial Garden and discovered a lovely area with a small building and a maze. The interior of the building is walled with shells and the ceiling with pine cones. Notice the thistle, the national emblem of Scotland.

'A Prickly Tale'

By John A. Duncan of Sketraw, KCN, FSA Scot.

The Scots Thistle

The prickly purple thistle was adopted as the Emblem of Scotland during the rein of Alexander III (1249 -1286). Legend has it that an Army of King Haakon of Norway, intent on conquering the Scots landed at the Coast of Largs at night to surprise the sleeping Scottish Clansmen. In order to move more stealthily under the cover of darkness the Norsemen removed their footwear.

As they drew near to the Scots it wasn't the only thing hiding under the cover of darkness. For one of Haakon's men unfortunately stood on one of these spiny little defenders and shrieked out in pain, alerting the Clansmen of the advancing Norsemen. Needless to say it was the Scots who won the day.

The first use of the Thistle as a royal symbol of Scotland was on silver coins issued by James III in 1470

The Memorial Pavilion

The shells and pebbles were collected by schoolchildren across Scotland. Native and exotic cones representing the four corners of the globe were collected from the Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh, and its three regional gardens.

Our original plan involved taking another bus to the start of the Leith Walk, as recommended by Marilyn. However, we were really dragging and ended up riding the bus and enjoying the "walk" from our seats.

Back at Homer, we lazed in our chairs in the sunshine until we couldn't take the heat anymore and had to move under our awning! We did not expect this in Scotland. The clouds roll in and out and there are always predictions of rain, 20% or so, but it never comes. In fact, this is part of the weather report which included news about cold fronts and rain all over Europe: "...a ridge of high pressure allows for another warm and dry day over the British Isles."

Have I mentioned that we love Edinburgh? We're looking forward to what's ahead in this wonderful country.

Give me but one hour of Scotland, Let me see it ere I die. ~ William Edmondstoune Aytoun

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