Sunday, February 18, 2018

Palace of Holyrood, Holyrood Abbey and the Royal Mile!


Edinburgh Day 2 part 2


Looking up at the Governors House on Calton Hill. The building built from 1815-1817 is what remains of the Calton Gaol. It looks a bit like a fairytale castle, but it was the largest prison in Scotland at the time.

I'd left the outdoor food fest over at George Square and was making my way down the Royal Mile ...


Here's a little Scottish Renaissance lute music for the post.




Love the detail of the signage and beautiful old buildings!


Kirk of the Canongate
Founded in 1688, Completed 1691

This cute church, just about a 5 minute walk from the Palace of Holyroodhouse. It serves the Parish of Canongate, the Scottish Parliament, Palace of Holyroodhouse, and is the parish church of Edinburgh Castle, even though its at the opposite end of the Royal Mile!

It's also where the Queen worships when she's in residence at Holyroodhouse.


I didn't go into the cute church because I realized I was only going to have about an hour at Holyrood.  The thing is, everything takes longer than you think it will take and in Scotland, there is a lot of "last entrance" times that are a half hour to an hour (or even more) before closing. I was hoping to meet my parents there but the whole rental car thing took longer than they thought, so I was on my own for the palace ...


Palace of Holyroodhouse
16th and 17th Century


"House of the Holy Cross"


At one end of the Royal Mile, sitting atop an extinct volcano, is Edinburgh Castle and clear at the other end, the Palace of Holyroodhouse. It is the official residence of Queen Elizabeth when she's in town, but its history is long and fascinating. 



Pipers and Dancers at the Palace, 1948



Queen Elizabeth arriving in Edinburgh, 1953
(It's goes on a little long but it's fun to see the beginning especially.)



My favorite thing in the Palace were the rooms of Mary Queen of Scots. Her bedroom has stayed much as it was in the 16th Century. Maybe it was my imagination or all the documentaries and visions of Katherine Hepburn in my head, but I got such a strange feeling in her bedroom. It was as if its history was just a breath away, and I was just for a moment stepping back in time.

It was there, in the little adjacent supper room, that her private secretary, the Italian musician David Rizzio was grabbed and dragged through her bedroom to her Chamber room, to be murdered by her husband and his conspirators. It all happened for Mary to witness, while the queen was 7 months pregnant with her creep of a husband's baby. Not really surprising that her hub wound up dead shortly after, with her married to a hunk played by Nigel Davenport opposite Vanessa Redgrave in the 1971 version. Sorry, I got cinematically distracted!


By the way, did you know they are making a new Mary, Queen of Scots movie?! Mary will be played this time by Saoirse Ronan (Lady Bird, Brooklyn ...) who I adore, and Queen Elizabeth I will be played by Margot Robbie. Hard to imagine miss Robbie as Q.E.1, but I saw a photo online and she was unrecognizable, receding hairline and all.

Below, a BBC Documentary about Holyrood, beginning with Mary, Queen of Scots, through the stay of Bonnie Prince Charlie, to Charles II etc.  In the documentary there are shots of the interiors. There is also a link at the bottom of this post where you can see photos of the interiors. No photography is aloud in the Palace of Holyrood, so this is the best I could do.  It was very cool to see the state rooms, thrown room and one of the big visiting areas where the Queen still receives people. It does feel lived in.






Holyrood Abbey
Founded 1128 AD

 

The ruins of Holyrood Abbey were so beautiful. This structure adjoins the palace and was my favorite thing about my visit to the grounds, along with Mary Queen of Scots rooms. The energy here was much more pleasant though! Happily, I had some beautiful moments of blue sky!



Here is a quick video with short history of the abbey.









Palace Gardens





I loved this little spot under the buttresses ... It would be a lovely spot to go back and sketch!






After Holyrood, I headed back up the Royal Mile and past the Parliament Building.


It was closed and I was getting hungry, so I didn't get good shots of this interesting building but I loved that on the outside wall, there were quotes by famous Scots.


This is my country
the land 
that begat me
These windy spaces
Are surely my own.
And those who toil here
in the sweat of their faces
Are flesh of my flesh
and bone of my bone.
~Sir Alexander Gray



 Then let us pray
That come it may
As come it will for a'that
That sense and worth
O'er a the earth, shall bear
The gree, an' a'that
For a' that, an' a'that
It's coming yet for a'that
That man to man
The world o'er,
Shall brothers be
For a'that.
~Robert Burns

The beautiful spire silhouette, below, is that of St. Giles Cathedral.


My parents were trying to figure out where to meet up, so we met at the Whisky Trail on the Royal Mile, and my dad and I did our first Whisky tasting of the trip. (That might have been my idea.)

I go for the very peaty stuff, while he goes a little more mild and not quite so smokey.

The Whisky Trail


These were the 4 that we tried. I have to say I'm a often a sucker for packaging and a pretty label but when it comes to Scotch, I am able to focus. My dad ended up with the bottle of Scotch, second from the right. A lovely smooth award winning Speyside Scotch. I got the one on the far left, and pictured below.

My mom was rolling her eyes at us. "You guys realize it's the second night of the trip, and you're going to have to carry around those bottles for the next 3 weeks?!" Yeah, it might not have been the brightest idea. In fact, it wasn't. But, when my niece and I popped open the bottle after a dinner when I returned to L.A., it felt awfully worth it. Delicious, and 1 of only 875 bottles.


Somehow, after we left the tasting, we scored a table on the next block down at the Whiski Bar and Restaurant, without too much of a wait! Thank goodness! It had been a while since I'd eaten those snacks at the park! On top of that I'd done the Scotch tasting and eaten a couple of short bread cookies, to boost the blood sugar after the palace. Um, protein please?


They played great music and when we were seated we ended up having a wonderful meal. I don't remember what my parents ordered but I had the Scottish Salmon and lemon cream sauce with mash potato. Yum! Why is the Scottish salmon so amazing?? It's so mild and lovely, I ended up eating a lot of it on the trip, and just copious amount of seafood in general!

Apparently, they have live traditional music every night but we were beat! We'd have to wait for our live music for another time.


That was kind of a long day, after having been to the Royal Mile Market, St. Giles Cathedral, National Museum of Scotland (all in my previous post) and then everything in this post. The following day? Mary King's Close, The National Galleries of Scotland, Edinburgh Castle and out to see the Royal Yacht Brittiania. Yeah, lots to do in and around Edinburgh!



Blessings and light!
(And sorry for the typos! Editing in wee hours!)





Sunday, February 11, 2018

Edinburgh Day 2- St. Giles Cathedral, National Museum of Scotland and Fest Food!


Edinburgh
Day 2


The Tron Kirk
designed by John Mylne
Completed in 1647

This old church has been many things, after it was no longer a church, including a concert/theater venue for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival but now it's full of artists and artisans, selling their goods, and arts and crafts. 

I had found out about it on Instagram with photos from one of its vendors, The Edinburgh Natural Skincare Co.  In fact, I didn't even bring lotion with me, determined that I would find them when I arrived in Edinburgh! (link at bottom of post)


Along with being natural products, made with yummy ingredients including essential oils, they have beautiful little hand lotion bars that come in cute little tins! I admit I'm a sucker for lovely packaging anyway, but in this case I'll be using my cute tin to make myself a little paint palette later. (When I do I'll post it!) 

I also got a wonderful Geranium and Sweet Orange Lip balm (and one for my sister too!), a shampoo bar (which I'm loving and contributed to the my fun fluffy hair I had whilst in in Scotland) and my mom and I also shared a big jar of body butter that smelled like sunshine! (No one is paying me, I'm just a fan.)


The girl, above, was adorable and helped us out with the slew of products. We left with a load of yummy goodies and headed to Starbucks for an Iced Green Tea. (My addiction!) What I didn't know was that would be my last (purchased) iced tea until I was in the Glasgow airport, heading for Italy, two weeks later. Apparently, it's only Americans and Canadians that ask for iced drinks, at least according to one server.

My mom and I ended up making ice in our AirBnbs and that is how the whole iced tea craving situation was dealt with. There is almost always a solution. Of course, you can always just order Scotch. 


St. Giles' Cathedral
Founded 1124


St. Giles' Cathedral as it stands today, is very different than the 12th century version, which would have been a small rectangular building. As the story goes, the church was burned down in 1322 by the English army. It was rebuilt obviously in a much larger and more ornate Gothic style architecture ... which I always love. (I mean really, how can you not appreciated a good arch ... or fifty?)

Over the course of the following 150 years, side chapels were added by local big shots and people with the cash to pay for them. By the mid 1500s there were around 50 side altars.


Beautiful, right?

"According to legend, St Giles himself had been a seventh-century Greek hermit who lived in the forests near Nîmes, in the south of France, with a tame deer as his only companion. One day the King of the Visigoths, out hunting, shot at the deer, only to find it held protectively in the arms of Giles, who had been wounded in the hand by the arrow. The King was impressed by the holy man, returned many times to speak to him, and finally persuaded him to become the abbot of a monastery which he founded for him. Giles was subsequently canonised, becoming the patron saint of lepers, nursing mothers and the lame."





Until the Reformation, it was a Catholic Church but in 1560, Scotland became officially Protestant.  (It's now The Church of Scotland.) It's way more complicated than I want to go into here but I'm going to add a documentary links, if you are into it. I love that stuff, so I went nuts watching all the YouTube documentaries I could find on Scotland. Of course, depending on who makes the documentary or even biopic, you will see very different versions of John Knox, who preached at St. Giles and helped along the Reformation in Scotland. 

 



The unicorn! Love that the Unicorn is National Animal of Scotland!


Here he is, below, John Knox. John Knox was born near Edinburgh in 1514 or 15. Like Martin Luther he started as priest before converting to Protestantism. He got famous preaching in England but had to bail for mainland Europe when Edward VI died and Mary Tudor (aka Bloody Mary) took over the crown. Otherwise, like many others he might have been burned at the stake. 



When (Bloody) Mary Tudor died, Queen Elizabeth I took over. He had already made sweeping comments about how women should not be in charge, so when he came back to Isle, he headed to Scotland with the pleading of protestant nobles. Mary of Guise was in charge in Scotland while her daughter Mary Queen of Scots was living in France with her (also a king) husband. Mary of Guise was catholic and everything was in chaos with a struggle between the two versions of Christendom.

Long story short, Mary of Guise died and there was a treaty with the French who'd been allied and fighting along side the Catholics, and Protestantism won out. Thus ... The Church of Scotland. 



Of course, Mary Queen of Scots came back (a Catholic) but she had to try to let everyone know that she was going to live and let live on the whole religion thing. That, my friends, is a story for another day. Suffice it to say, Knox didn't buy it and he and Mary did not become best friends. He was totally freaked out that she'd be like Bloody Mary, and that the whole Protestantism thing would backslide.


On a lighter note ... cool pipes!




The Thistle Chapel
Completed in 1911
designed by Robert Lorimer



"The Order of the Thistle is Scotland’s great order of chivalry, and membership is considered to be one of the country’s highest honours. The Order is traditionally given to 
Scots or people of Scots ancestry, who have given distinguished service. Appointments are entirely in the personal gift of the Sovereign." - from the website



The craftspeople who did the work on this ornate chapel, with its beautiful detailed carvings, were incredible! 




Back in the main church, a rehearsal was going one. As you can imagine, with the acoustics, it was magical to hear beautiful classical music while looking up at all of the gorgeous stained glass windows.




Holy Socks for "wee bairns."


St. Margaret, St. Giles and St. David


My mom snapped this of me near the entrance where are these lovely "gates." (I''m wearing my Clan Cameron tartan scarf. I do love to theme dress!)


Here's a great BBC Documentary on John Knox. It took some time to find an even handed doc. Much out there either is made by Protestant Knox Super Fans or at the other end of the spectrum, those that put him forward as a nightmare, chauvinistic zealot, or the jerk who was a thorn in the side of Mary Queen of Scots. Thankfully there's the BBC doc, which feels a little more scholarly and shows him with some complexity. Plus, I love a good reenactment that's done on location!

Part 1


Part 2


Part 3


Part 4


After that we were off to one of the most visited destinations for visitors ...

The National Museums of Scotland


How beautiful is this light filled gallery?!


I could have spent so much more time in this museum. There is so much fascinating Scottish history! Then, there are all of the things the Scots invented, which makes sense when you realized they had one of the highest literacy rates before most countries attempted to educate their working class. Anyway, there are all sorts of reasons for that, but this post is getting very long! A fantastic book that covers this is How the Scots Invented the Modern World, by Arthur Herman. (link below)

Anyway, I was excited for their big special exhibition Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Jacobites! 350 objects, and non of which I could take photos of! Most pieces were brought in and many are owned by the Queen Elizabeth!

Here's the curator explaining the exhibition. I'm not sure if the person who filmed it drank too many cappuccinos, (very shaky!) but he shows my favorite painting at the beginning!



Since the painting is owned by the Queen and they don't have the rights, I guess that meant no postcards or prints. It was so beautifully painted. Ugh. All I could do was photograph the catalog in the gift shop. I didn't want to carry the heavy book around for the next few weeks!


One of the pieces in the exhibition, was an amazing tartan suit owned by one of the Jacobites. This short video shows this incredible piece and tells the story of tartan and the man who wore the suit. By the way, I would totally wear it. Maybe not together though. ;)



This next one is kind of fun. The actor who played Bonne Prince Charlie in Outlander was at the exhibition and interviewed about the various exhibits, which they show in the exhibition. Kind of nice because I couldn't take photos for you!



The museum is full of art, artifacts as well as serving as a natural history museum and science center! The next photo is a bit blurry but you can maybe make it out and get a sense of the scope.


Since the Edinburgh Fringe Festival was going on, there was a free concert in the big open gallery of the museum!


They were playing music that went along with the Bonnie Prince Charlie exhibition but my video was short and pretty bad, so I played detective and found a YouTube video of this pair of musicians playing another venue!




Clarsach
15th Century
West Highlands


One thing I'd seen online was the "Mary Harp." Having my own past experience as a harpist, I had to see it! Isn't it beautiful!? Love the carving on the neck!

It's said to have been a gift to Mary Queen of Scots and I loved trying to imagine her playing it!


"This harp was traditionally said to have been given by Mary, Queen of Scots to Beatrix Gardyne of Banchory, while on a hunting trip to Atholl, c. 1563. It is also said to have been adorned at one time with a gold portrait of Mary, which could be the real reason for its association with her. New research suggests that this portrait might have been a gold half-ryal coin from her reign. Beatrix Gardyne married John Robertson of Monzie sometime before 1564 and this could have been added then to a treasured family heirloom to emphasise the importance of the marriage.
Harp music was important in the Highlands in the Medieval Period, with great lords retaining their own harpers. A 15th-century grave-slab in the chapel at Keills in Knapdale, has a carving of a clarsach similar to the Queen Mary Harp, and may have been made for a member of the Mac an Bhreatnaigh family of Gigha, hereditary harpers to the Lords of the Isles."
My travel journal sketch ...



Saint Andrew - Patron Saint of Scotland


This beautifully ornate and delicate necklace was worn by Mary Queen of Scots. For some reason this one got to me, imagining this actually hanging around her neck.


More Unicorns!

The Royal Arms of James V
Carved Oak Panel
1540s


Sort of Gruesome ... The Maiden, used from 1564-1710, for beheading criminals. Given by the Lord Provost and Magistrates of Edinburgh, to the museum in 1797.


This is a replica of the tomb of the Mary, Queen of Scots' at Westminster Abbey.


Heart Locket 
Gold Enamelled, Onyx,
Cameo Portrait of Mary, Queen of Scots
locket, late 16th Century
Cameo and mount, French

Penicuik Jewels (numbers 2 and 3)
16th Century
Said to have belonged to Mary, Queen of Scots


Penicuik jewels, said to have been given to one of Mary's supporters during her imprisonment.


Remember Dolly? Well, I guess she was a Scot.

Dolly the Sheep
1996-2003
Roslin Institue, Midlothian, Scotland
Ovis aries Linnaeus, 1758 - Sheep
Born to a surrogate, she's known for being the first cloned mammal.


Buddha Amida 
Japan, 1800-1850


Scottish entrepreneur, James Douglas Fletcher (1857-1927) Acquired this sculpture in 1902, for his home Rosehaugh, on the Black Isle.

I ended up getting so hungry I couldn't stay any longer. My parents left to pick up our rental car, and I headed to George Square where there was a whole big food and drink area set up for the Festival. 


Edinburgh Food Fest
George Square
University of Edinburgh


So many yummy food trucks and vendors! Above creme brûlée, and below ... Covfefe coffee. Funny Scots. ;)



There were so many people! They laid astroturf so everyone could just sit anywhere and when it started drizzling people didn't even move! So funny, in most places people would run for shelter.



I'm not really sure why this looked so good, or why I thought an Espresso martini would be good on an empty stomach.


But it looked so fabulous, I had to have one! About 2/3 the way through though, I realized I needed to go find food!


my travel journal


I had seen the food truck Alandas on Instagram and hunted it down. They had Fish and chips, but I'd had those the night before so I got a mini lobster roll, which was OK.


And then I got smoked salmon, which was delicious!!! I should have gotten 2 of those. Anyway, I highly recommend getting that if you see their truck.



I love this video. So cute. Probably because on the whole, I love the Scots. I first found it on the National Museum of Scotland website. Definitely, worth a watch. All different kinds of Scots! ;) 
If the video looks green, click on the bottom right hand word that says "VIMEO" and you can watch it on that site.



Well, after filling my belly with espresso martini and seafood, I headed back to the Royal Mile and walked all the way to Holyrood Palace. On the walk there I just kept looking around at this beautiful city and thinking, I could totally live here!

Edinburgh Food Fest-George Square

Next up, Royal Mile, Holyrood Palace, and more Edinburgh!

Blessings and light!