Wednesday morning, goodbye Cardiff, hope to see you again.
This weekend begins the Six Nations games. Rugby matches between, England, France, Ireland, Italy, Scotland and Wales. Friday night was England v. Wales in the Millennium Stadium next to my hotel. It's supposed to be Cardiff's Mardi-Gras. Unfortunately my time is not my own so instead of enjoying the festivities I had to move on. As it turned out, the tourney's most hated team, England beat Wales 26-19.
Heading East towards London I tried to grab a picture of Bristol Bay. The weather's starting to get ugly and breezy.
Wednesday and Thursday I spent in Manchester. Not a lot of time for sight seeing but I did swing by Old Trafford, home to Manchester United. No pics but I have a postcard.
I did happen to find a Tiki Bar that makes their own bitters. Behold a "Sharks Tooth", Demerara rum in a cherry rinse stirred with fig and grapefruit bitters. Akin to a Rum Old Fashioned.
Not quite the Foundation (Milwaukee) but nice for Manchester. Sorry about the water on the lens. The winds had started picking up in preparation for my drive to Scotland.
In Manchester, single moms will cut you for looking at them wrong. Sometimes just because they're out of menthol's.
Friday brought me to Edinburgh (Ed-in-burrah). 75 mile an hours winds through the mountains and pouring rain made things interesting (the highest recorded was 125mph just West of my route). The mountain scenery and swollen rivers were beautiful but I didn't want to take my hands off of the wheel to snap a photo.
After getting checked in I stopped into the Mercat lounge for a Ploughman's Fayre dinner. Pickles, olives, beets, sausage, ham, cheddar, colby, brie, fresh bread and a salad. Solid dinner but Tennent's lager is forgetable. No pictures because I left the camera in the car and the weather was howling.
At the desk clerks suggestion I went to the Rat Pack for a cocktail and some entertainment. Kind of unnerving when the boucer's selling coke, the manager is stealing bottles of liquor, the drummers high as a kite on pills and the "entertainment" is a Russian import singing over basic piano cords reading (poorly) from her laptop. "If it's not great, then it will be an experience". and it was.
Saturday morning bright and early. Walking to Edinburgh Castle, trying to find the way in (and up). How far do I have to walk around this thing?
As you walk around the castle you notice a lot of pebbles, stones and rocks on the path. Sort of unnerving when you find yourself confined by a fence on one side and the cliff face on the other. This little fella must have weighed 50 pounds, I bet it made a big thump (it looks bigger due to the angle).
How far do you have to walk? Zoom in and look at the poorly signed paths. None of them lead up to the castle but I didn't let that stop me from walking every one of them......
Parts of the castle were built in the 700's. Other parts, like the Royal Palace that you see here were built in the 11th century. I didn't spend a lot of time at the castle (you'll see why in a minute) but the Scottish Crown jewels are there as is the Stone of Scone.
What's the Stone of Scone? It's the coronation stone of Scottish Kings. It was stolen by England in 1296 and was placed underneath the coronation chair at Westminster Abbey. It was only brought back to Scotland in 1996 and has to be returned to England at each coronation there. Just like the English to make sure that everyone knows their place.
Looking North over the "New City" area of Edinburgh from the castle. Below is Hanover Street headed towards the inlet and Princes Street, the main drag. The inlet on top is the Firth of Forth, Firth meaning estuary.
Just down the street from the castle is Cadenhead's Whisky Shop. The shop bottles full cask strength whisky (Scotch Whiskey) and has 40 some to sample or purchase. I spent an hour with Mark learing about whisky, barreling, ageing, etc. I could have spent several hours more but after the first hour my pallet was shot and I couldn't tell the difference. I did select 3 distinct bottles, I don't know who's going to help me drink them....
Here you go. I wasn't able to snap any pics of English country gentlemen in their Harris tweed but I was able to get a pic of a piper. It was pretty cool to see some of the arriving wedding party dressed in Kilts. I briefly looked into the highland shop by the hotel and kilts are outrageously expensive (500 pounds+)!
On the way back I had to stop in at this pub. Some pubs in the UK have clever names, others are simply named after the picture above their doors. I.e. White Hart, Queens Arms, White Swan, Beefeater, etc. Others have clever historical or literary names (although the pubs rarely live up to the clever moniker).
Roibert a Briuis (Robert The Bruce) welcomed the conquering English King Edward (I) as he thought it would improve his already wealthy families status even further. After swearing allegiance (like most Scottish nobles), Bobby joined the revolt against England with William Wallace (Braveheart) hoping to become King of Scotland.
Edward squashed the rebellion and Robert pledged his loyalty to the crown, again.
In 1306 Bobby killed his most powerful rival John Comyn and declared himself King of Scotland.
Edward once again back handed the rebellion. Bruce fled to Strathfillan, an island in the North Sea and Edward kidnapped his wife.
Bruce spent a year in exile plotting his return famously while "watching a spider slowly spin his web".
Edward (I) dies, his son Edward (II) is crowned king.
Bruce returns to Scotland and over the course of the next 3 years frees the country from English rule. He then went on to invade Ireland unsuccessfully.
The pub was just OK.
It lasted longer than I thought but I finally injured myself overseas. Tuesday while walking through a customer site I tripped over a doorway and slipped on water re-twisting my ankle. (I rolled it good a couple of years ago jumping off of a boat, but I didn't spill my drink!). It's been OK this week as I've spent most of my time sitting or driving. After walking around today it hurts a little. Ice and Compression I'm on it. Elevation and Rest aren't going to happen. I'll cab it tonight and maybe tomorrow but I've got shit to see!
I had "stovie", slow braised lamb and potatoes in a veal jus for lunch. Really nice.
Got my hair cut from a South African ex-pat.
And finally, I love the way you treat me big H.
Post script. The desk staff at the hotel have been pretty good with recommendations for lunch, dinner, parking, maybe not so good re: the nightclub. In spite of the painin' ankle they sent me back to the center of town for dinner, to a Mexican restaurant. Yes, a Mexican restaurant in Scotland.
What a pleasant surprise. Pollo de Mole, my favorite. I am a happy man right now; time to rest.