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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Catching up on the drive to Inverness

So... It’s Wednesday. I’ve missed an entire day of typing/blogging. Stay Calm & Carry On however, be prepared for a long post.
 We awakened yesterday, breakfasted, bathed, dressed & eventually headed out. We went to tour Traquair House, the oldest, inhabited house in Scotland dating to the 11th century & still inhabited buy the successors (through a nephew) who brew, bottle & market ale. 27 Monarchs have stayed there including Mary, Queen of Scots who spent her last night, before she fled Scotland & was condemned to death by Elizabeth I, there They are a Catholic family (or were) and fell out of political favor with EVERYONE, except the priests they were hiding, and ended up selling off property to settle debts which reduced the size of the estate greatly and then, it sat empty for nearly 100 years while the heirs lived elsewhere. The good news is that there wasn’t enough money to ‘Victorianize’ the place so it’s still very much as it was in the 16th/17th centuries. 
Great house. Great museum, filled only with actual things from the house & family: Quilt embroidered by Mary, Q of S; Cloak worn by her ladyship when she went to visit her husband in The Tower on the night before he was to be beheaded and traded clothes with him so he could sneak out; vestments worn by priests made to look like/double as bed & pillow covers & bell pulls to make them easy to hide. Great tour. Had lunch there, then went back to the house for a bit.
Grabbed our warmest clothes & headed out again for town stopping at Roslin Chapel. Fantastic! We had a great guide who was quite funny. She was there before Dan Brown when they averaged 8,000 visitors a year & survived the 1st year after “The DaVinci Code when they had 170,000. There are some wonderful carvings (pretty much every column, vault, door/window frame and lots more) and the history (family church on land still owned by the St Clair family who are the heirs of the Laird who commissioned the church. Of course, he died during the building and his son was much less worried about his soul than the father’d been so he but an exterior wall where none should have been & called it done when it was just the Presbytery. Hence, it’s a chapel, not a church. (Also and active Episcopal Parish! I will go to Sunday services there next I’m in the neighborhood.) 
The rumors abound about the place including the treasure of the Templars, the Holy Grail, the missing statues  (127 of them) from the chapel, the Ark of the Covenant, are, or at some time have been, believed to be hidden in the crypt which has been sealed for hundreds of years & the current Laird refuses to open ‘because there’s nothing there but dead knights... let them rest in peace.) The rooms (2 of them) downstairs used in the film, had been the residence of 9 priests during the early years of the church so that one could always be saying mass for the family. The sitting room opens out into the grave yard. 
We left there & headed into town, parked, picked up tickets & queued up for The Bad Boys of Ballet’s performance of Rock the Ballet. Oh my! That hour went by in about 14 minutes. We then had dinner at a pub-ish place, freezing off various parts of our anatomy at the last available table on the terrace, and then headed to the Castle for the Tattoo. Several hundred military personnel in full regalia playing pipes, drums and an amazing variety of other instruments, as well as Scottish folk dancers & some maneuvers teams for good measure, was like the largest half time show ever except that we stood to sing God Save the Queen & then all joined hands to sing Auld Lang Syne before the finale with fireworks, then the Scots version of Taps by a lone piper on the battlements as they retired the flag. I almost wept. 
After, car, home, bed.
We’re now breakfasted, bathed, dressed and in the car on the way to Inverness, Via Sterling Castle & several other exciting piles of medieval stone (I’m beginning to feel the way I began to feel in Rome about fallen brick walls... seen one...,) so we can spent a moment looking for the Locke Ness Monster. 
I’ll let you know this evening if we find him!

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