Prestonfield House

Hello Readers,

Hope everyone is well.  Today we are going to hang out in my favorite city – Edinburgh.  I booked us a champagne afternoon tea at luxurious Prestonfield House.  So touch up your lip gloss, Ladies.  Men, grab your wallets.  A warm welcome, fine dining, and hospitality awaits!

20180118_142141

When Mr. C and I travel to Scotland (or anywhere where we stay more than two or three nights, for that matter), we always prefer to rent a private residence rather than stay in a hotel.  It not only allows us the experience of living like locals, but it’s so much more pleasant and economical. A rental provides all the amenities of home – a laundry facility, plenty of room to spread out, and perhaps best of all – a fully equipped kitchen.

Oh, now don’t give me that look.  What, you don’t like to cook when you’re on vacation?  Haha -that’s okay.  Me either, actually.  But, luckily for me, Mr. C does!  And on top of that, his culinary skills are sublime.  He’s definitely a keeper.

Read more

What Lies Beneath-Part 2

Hello faithful readers,

This is an update to my original article that I posted about a week ago, just before Halloween.  The Real Mary King’s Close was so kind to grant me permission to use their awesome photos.  All photos in this post are credited to them.  Many, many thanks, indeed!  Now you’ll really be able to get a feel for this hidden treasure.  Enjoy.

Sooo, who’s ready to meet some ghosts?  Me too.  Let’s go!

In my previous blog post (What Lies Beneath-Part 1 ), I gave you a little history of how the city of Edinburgh was built.  How it expanded east from the castle and how Mary King’s Close and the other nearby alleys came to find themselves frozen in time underneath the City Chambers. 008 The Exhibition Room_previewSo now we are ready to head below ground and visit what I think is one of Edinburgh’s most compelling attractions, The Real Mary King’s Close.001 The Real Mary King's Close Logo_preview

Read more

What Lies Beneath-Part 1

Greetings everybody,

Are you feeling adventurous? I hope so because I would love for you to join me on a little trip below the City Chambers on Edinburgh’s Royal Mile.  Below the Chambers, you ask?  Yep!  We’re soon going to head underground to visit The Real Mary King’s Close.  So, if you’re game and not too afraid of the dark, come on!  I promise, I won’t jump out and scare you (although I can’t promise no one else will…).

Deep below ground, beneath the tourist hustle bustle, the souvenir shops, pubs, performance artists, and busking bagpipers, there lies a hidden labyrinth of narrow alleyways and abandoned dwellings.  It is an utterly fascinating and well-preserved peek into what life was really like in Edinburgh’s 17th century past.  But to understand it more clearly, I need to tell you a little bit about how the city of Edinburgh grew.  That’s what we are going to focus on today.

You might recall that the city of Edinburgh had its beginnings outside the walls of Edinburgh Castle and eventually spread east along the sloped stretch of road called the Royal Mile.  Because the city was surrounded by a wall meant for protection from invaders, Edinburgh’s residents (who coped with extreme overcrowding) were unable to expand the city outward and were therefore faced with no other alternative than to build up.  What they ended up with was a web of narrow alleyways (called closes) that led off of the Royal Mile, with buildings that grew many stories high.

Read more

The Wizard of West Bow

Hello, Readers.  I can hardly believe we are already in mid October!  Where I live the weather has cooled down (mostly) and the trees are beginning to don their Autumn wardrobe.  I’ve switched out my own closet in favor of jeans and sweaters and have planted the pansies and mums.  The little pumpkins I purchased are sitting pretty in the garden, blissfully unaware that in another month or so they are going to become pies.  Poor little fellas.

In keeping with our October theme, today I would like to share with you a tale that is everything weird, disturbing, and strange.  As they say, you can’t make this stuff up. A perfect fit for Halloween, I think.

Today’s story is an extraordinarily puzzling one about a gentleman named Major Thomas Weir.  History remembers him better as The Wizard of West Bow.

20171015_144940
James Skene|Public Domain

Read more

Deacon Brodie-The Real Jekyll and Hyde?

In the spirit of October and upcoming Halloween festivities, I thought it might be fun to do a few blogs this month that highlight some of the weird, dark, and spooky stories of Edinburgh’s past.  Edinburgh’s history is full of accounts of unsavory characters and macabre tales, each with the ability to intrigue and fascinate even the most incredulous among us.  It’s going to be a lot of fun to research and write about them for you.

To kick things off, I would like to introduce you to a man who was (or who was at least in part) the inspiration behind Scottish author Robert Louis Stevenson’s famed 1886 novella,  The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

That man’s name was William Brodie.  Or as he is better known, Deacon Brodie.

Exif_JPEG_PICTURE

Read more

Victoria Street-The Grande Dame of Edinburgh’s Old Town

I have a girl crush.  Her name is Victoria.

I mean how was I not to fall for her?  She is everything  that makes me happy.  She’s sophisticated, unpretentious, cheerful, elegant, vibrant, charming, and just the sight of her causes my heart to beat a little faster.  Simply put, she’s beautiful.  I think it might be love.20170929_081248All right, I’m just being silly.  A girl can have a little fun on a Friday morning, right?  Seriously, though, I do love Edinburgh’s Victoria Street.  In my first pre-trip research, I had seen plenty of pictures in my guide books and on the internet.  But it wasn’t until we actually rounded the corner from Old Town’s George IV Bridge and I caught sight of old Victoria that I realized what a lady she really is.

Read more

The Bridges of the Firth of Forth

The wheels on American Airlines, Flight 6404 gracefully departed the Edinburgh, Scotland runway and we rapidly ascended into the sky on the path towards home. Always a bit of a nervous flier, I tried my best to relax and breathe while our aircraft climbed ever higher.  I leaned my head back against my seat and tried to focus my mind on the wonderful memories of the previous two weeks.

Still ascending, our pilot banked a left turn.  My husband quickly turned my attention to the window where I caught sight of the massive Forth bridges rising out of the water below.  As if on cue, the floodgates opened as the realization finally hit me that I was being carried far away from the place that I love so much.

20170922_163941I stink when it comes to goodbyes.  It makes no difference if the thing I’m goodbye-ing is a person or a place.  My eyes will inevitably leak.  And, of course, my cry is never a dainty, pretty cry.  It’s quite the opposite.  As someone who normally keeps her emotions in check, this snotty outburst always renders me red, puffy, and embarrassed.  My tears on the flight that day were no exception.

Read more

Follow the Cobblestone Road-Part 2 (Grassmarket)

Reader, I’m glad you are back!  I am so enjoying writing this blog. Writing is such a fun hobby for me and I feel privileged that you indulge me in sharing something I love.  I hope you are having fun as well, learning a little bit about Scotland.  Thanks for popping by!

A few days ago I gave an introduction to Edinburgh’s Grassmarket by telling you a story of one of the most famed individuals to ever be associated with this area. Raise your hand if you remember her name.  I’m kidding.

Her name was Maggie Dickson, i.e. Half-Hangit Maggie (see previous blog post) and I’m sorry to say, she was not the only one who faced her mortality on those gallows.

Read more

Half-Hangit Maggie

Pull up a chair and let me tell you a story about a woman named Maggie.  Maggie Dickson, that is.  Or as history remembers her, Half-Hangit Maggie.

Maggie Dickson was born in Musselburgh, Scotland in the very early part of the 18th century.  For reasons that are unclear, her husband left her, and she was forced to look for work elsewhere. Fortunately, as good luck would have it, she was able to find work at an inn in Kelso located in the Scottish Borders.

Things were humming along quite nicely until Maggie became involved with the innkeeper’s son.  And, well, you can probably imagine what happened next.  Yep.  Maggie became preggers.

Not wanting to jeopardize her job, she made the decision to conceal her baby bump.  The months ticked by and sadly, her baby was born premature and died.  Still trying to conceal the pregnancy, Maggie decided to place the little body in the nearby River Tweed.  She couldn’t go through with it, though, and chose instead to leave the baby on the bank of the river where, of course, it was discovered.  Maggie’s secret was uncovered and she was arrested for concealing her pregnancy.  It’s likely that she was also accused of killing the child, but accounts of the story differ.

Read more