At the Marriott this morning we had the pretty much standard buffet breakfast except the service was not up to Marriott USA standards. They were short on plates, glasses, forks, and cream, but we managed anyway.
On the bus ride north, Geoff explained that for Scotch to be Scotch it has to come from Scotland. Actually, the Irish made it first and even they got the technique from the Middle East. Of course we all know that Edinburgh is pronounced “Edinborough” which is pronounced “Edinburro”.
He also mentioned other things Scotch: Kilts, Golf, and Bagpipes. He explained that golf got its name because there were no other four-letter words left. He also explained that Ireland gave bagpipes to Scotland as a joke, and the Scots haven’t got it yet.
A forerunner of the bagpipe was the uilliann, which, instead of using lung power, had a bellows under the players arm. It came from Ireland, and is still played in that country.
We were headed for Hadrian’s Wall which was built in 122 by the British to stop the Picts which were the early
Scots. It had three purposes: 1) to mark the northern border, 2) to protect the Brits, and 3) to tax trade. It was built from East to West and took six years to build and was 72 miles long. The eastern part was built of stone which was available, but the Western part had to be made of soil.
On the subject of empires, the size of empires was limited by the speed of travel in those days. As a result the Roman Empire and Alexander’s Empire were roughly the same size.
Going on to castles, Geoff mentioned that they were not square but usually had five or six pointed to aid in defense, and that moats rarely had water. Ditches around the castle between walls would serve the purpose just as well. Also, who would use valuable oil to pour on the enemy? It was usually water or sand. They would open the first portcullis, keep the second closed, and pour whatever it was through the “murder hole” on the attackers. Actually, instead of trying to invade a castle, it often made more sense to starve the inhabitants by means of a siege.
There were many border wars, well beyond my capability to take notes. One thing for sure, William Wallace, of the Braveheart movie figured in many of them.
About this time I got a text message on my cell phone, to call in number back in the states because my data usage was high. It turned out I had run up a $353 bill using 18 MB of data. I said, “What can be done about that?”, and he said you can buy a plan for $30 which would cover my existing usage, plus allow me about 100 MB more. That
seemed like an offer I couldn’t refuse.
In Hadden, Northumbria we stopped at The Swan for lunch,
where we ate the lunch we had
ordered a couple of days earlier. Most people had ordered soup and a sandwich.
An old man came into the restaurant and struggled to his seat, and I offered to buy him a coffee but he declined because he said, “They take good care of me here. I come to lunch every day.” He continued, “You can buy gammon and eggs or gammon and pineapple but I order gammon with
both pineapple and eggs.” Shortly thereafter Teresa and I talked to him as he was sitting in his car. He’s a retired farmer who might’ve gone into raising dairy cows except that he did not like to get up that early in the morning. So he was a vegetable farmer and raised meat cows.
On our way again, Geoff played a CD of Scottish music on an Irish uilliann, including Amazing Grace.
We stopped at Hadrian’s Wall, also called “Linus Britannicus”, for pictures.
Items noted on the way, purple Heather, which looks more like groundcover than a bush, and a “Manor Keep” which is much smaller than a typical castle, but has some of the same defensive features.
The Scottish border was marked by two large stones each marked “SCOTLAND” and “ENGLAND”. The best part was a bagpiper in full regalia who played the whole time we were there.
As we approached Edinburgh, Geoff mentioned that it had been a major financial center for some time (and perhaps still is). The Scots are careful with money. He said copper wire was invented by two Scotsmen fighting over a penny.
As it turned out, one month from today the Scots will vote on whether or not to secede from Great Britain. No one is really sure how the vote will go.
We passed the “Capon Tree” were rebellious Scots were hanged, beheaded, and their heads used to play soccer.
We arrived at Jedburgh Abbey which was in ruins, and Mary, Queen of Scots house, which looked to be in pretty good shape. Shortly thereafter we we visited Jedburgh Woolen Mill for a shopping break. I found what I wanted, a book about the history of the Scott side of my family, and a caramel ice cream bar.
Geoff introduced us to “Irn Bru” which is the national soft drink of Scotland. We also learned that tomorrow will be a day of the Fringe Festival, with buskers from all over the area. Should be fun.
We passed a number of houses with roofs that sloped on all four sides, which seems a poor way to construct an attic. I intend to find out more about that.
We got to the Thistle Hotel a few minutes before dinner, which was OK, but not great. It was an interesting day with only a slight amount of rain.