A Travellerspoint blog

Edinburgh and on to London

semi-overcast 18 °C

Got to Edinburgh airport to find that the car rental centre was about a km walk away. With our luggage you need to rent a car to get to the car rental centre! Really long delays at the Europecar counter whole had booked with, but no customers at all for the others.

Finally got away after a number of disagreements with counter staff at the car rental provider and a manager who clearly had no intention of ensuring that we were happy customers. We weren't and he knew it. Have used Avis so far this trip and they have been great.

Finally got to Melville Castle later than planned but what a place. Built in the 1700's this castle is set up really well.

Louisa was worried we may be late for tattoo as we were delayed at airport and Edinburgh traffic was terrible. Got to castle at 6:00 and arranged for 6:30 sitting at restaurant. Had to be away by 7:30pm. We had been in non-English speaking countries for last 4 weeks and Louisa felt it necessary to make the waiter and waitress aware of our need to get going by 7:30pm. Louisa took a minute to get out the following;

"We......have .....T...a...tt....oo ...at 9:00.....so.......need .....to....be.....out of.....here....by 7:30!

Yes madam of course was the response in perfect Scot English.

Had some Black Pudding due to the "when in Rome" Philosophy. Not bad actually.

Big crowd, spectacular show. Highlight for me was the Swiss Drummers. Their precision and routine where they swap drumsticks, share their drums all without missing a beat was fantastic.

Precision likewise with the American riflemen, when their rifles are fixed with bayonets and they are swinging and throwing their rifles around and a guy walks straight through them.

Manly-Warringah band was playing on the night. Must have been a huge thrill for them.

Rain held off fortunately as it had pissed down beforehand and the forecast was grim. The announcer went through the list of dignitaries and countries represented in the audience. There would have been at least 70% of the crowd from out of UK. He then drew everyone's attention to a guy in the crowd, the spotlights honed in on him and then he proposes to his girlfriend! He was in the cheap seats too, poor form. Not sure what she said but they sat together through the show.

Edinburgh the next morning to check town out with Jacinda who can come up by train...with a bag that we had left her in London when we took off to Scandinavia. This time though she had filled it with bricks! Could hardly carry it. Checked it into station lockers while we wandered around.

Bought some Anderson tartan, saw some sights and then went back to pick up the bricks and get back to the castle where our car was. Had been a fatality on a bus route which meant our bus was not getting through in the direction we wanted. Had to walk about 2km to catch a bus that would work. Did I mention the bricks? Could have left the thing on the sidewalk for the afternoon as no one could steal it.

Felt the obligation to check out a distillery before we left Scotland and the closest was Glenkinchie. Never heard of it but was beautiful. Very helpful guy there educated us in how to make Scotch. £4 for the tasting and chat. Great value. Tasted about 5 different scotches, working our way to smokier brews. Bloody wonderful.

Plan was to spend 3 nights working our way back down to London. First night was to be somewhere near the Lakes District. Got to Carlisle and called it quits as it was 7:00pm due to our late get away from distillery.

Carlisle hasn't got much going for it but found a great pub with well priced drinks and food.

Noted that their breakfast was priced at £3, full deal with bacon, eggs, tomato, baked beans and hash browns. Hotel breakfast was £10. Too easy.

Got to breakfast next morning at 8:30 to see a couple of tables already in to pints, but breakfast was good.

Windermere or Hawks Head was our destination for lunch. Beatrix Potter territory so was looking forward to some rabbit for lunch.

Lovely small, old towns enroute, and one pub we walked through had been around since 1612. Big sign on one of the doorways saying, "Bend or Bump". Half of this beam had been worn away by foreheads. Doorways were about 5ft tall!

In this pub there was an old collection of porcelain mugs and jugs hanging from the ceiling. In Australian outback it is bras and knickers. I like Australian outback pubs. You can also get a stubby holder in Australia. Have not seen one on our tour to date.

Unfortunately there were markets in every town we went through so once again we were a little behind schedule. We were heading to Liverpool to catch up with Davy and his family and stay at their little cottage. This cottage was built in 1650 and very nice....but it should be mandatory to wear a hard hat when staying there. In two days, if I smashed my head once, I smashed it 30 times....usually followed by some cursing from me and laughing from anyone else nearby.

John dragged me against my will to the local pub called the Black Bull whilst everyone else freshened up at the cottage. Nice place but of course one pint turned into three pretty damn quickly so we raced back and set off for a nice dinner in the middle of town.

Our original plan was for one night here, but getting in when we did and with recommendations from John and Delia Smith, we took up their offer of staying a second night and doing Davy Tours the next day. They believed that Liverpool deserved a little more attention and they were so right.

We went and saw Anfield the next morning, followed by Strawberry Field gates, and the Liverpool docks. Went into the Liverpool shop that is under the Kop, tried to find a Chelsea shirt. The ladies there weren't much help, and just gave me a weird smile. How about a Chelsea scarf then? Nup, same smile. Chelsea drink bottle? Nup, same smile. Could not believe it.

Then on to The Cavern. This is the place where The Beatles made their name and we had a great time there. There was a guy playing Beatles songs and the audience was right into it, so we had a pint and joined in the fun. This place is underground and very close. It was quite warm down there but the atmosphere was sensational.

I handed my camera to Jacinda and went to the gents. I came out and there was Louisa on stage with the guy, all set to sing Imagine with him. I left Louisa in the hands of Jacinda and Davy for one minute!!!

When you see the list of people/bands that have been on that very stage, and there was Louisa. Apart from the Beattles, there has been Chuck Berry, The Who, Rod Stewart, Status Quo, Rolling Stones, Queen, Stevie Wonder, Eric Clapton, Gerry and the Pacemakers, Oasis, Bo Diddley, to name a few. The guy did bring that to Louisa's notice a number of times to try and build some nerves, but I think Louisa was passed that. Just working on Louisa's stage name and I think it will be Lou Lou.

The guy really made a good time of it and Louisa did very well. The audience was very involved and it gave us the excuse to have a few more pints and soak up more atmosphere. This was 3:00pm in the afternoon by the way, and the place was going off. Being underground and no windows, it really felt like it could have been 3:00am.

Went to the Black Bull for a few drinks with John and Delia. Davy was getting his hair cut for the second time in a fortnight! We stayed on for dinner and then walked back to the cottage. Had a great time in Liverpool and one day may be able to scrounge a ticket to Anfield for a Liverpool home game. Maybe they'll sell Chelsea tops then.

Dropped the car off at Heathrow with 30 minutes to spare and then noted that we hadn't filled the tank up. Petrol here is about £1.20 and Europecar will charge us double that. The guy there was helpful and gave us directions, but the clock was ticking and there p%^%#}{£^ wouldn't hesitate to hit us with an extra day's fee for being 5 minutes late. They tried to charge us £15 per day for Sat Nav! Can buy one for that! Also told us that they don't supply spare wheels....it isn't compulsory. If you get a flat, you'll need Driver Assist, @ £5 per day!!!! WTF?

Anyway we got back with some time to spare and then headed on to our London accommodation. The reception guy informed us that he had "a lovely room for us". We asked for the wifi password and he said that it isn't complimentary, but£9.95 per day. Louisa and I arced up immediately and in his hands he had 5 complimentary 24 hour tokens...."but don't tell anyone". Geez.

Our room is 14 sqm and the double bed doesn't fit in properly. You can only get into it from one side. I know the rooms are 14sqm as that is what the lady said to me in reception when I asked for a new room. They were full and the only room available was an Executive Room.....for an additional £78 per night. Yeah right. Anyway, she agreed to ship in a fridge which was some consolation.

It is well situated and close to Jacinda and railway station.

Off to cricket at The Oval next morning. Bad weather predicted and Australia need 4 wickets. Following day is expected to rain all day. If we get 0 - 10 overs we get a full refund ($100 tickets). If less than 25 overs we get 50% refund. We ended up getting rained off at about 13 overs and met a member who brought us in to the members so we could drink pints in shelter and get a feel for the history of the place. Very old pavilion, but it feels pretty cosy.

Huge difference between Lords and The Oval members dress standards. Lords will let any member in who can prove their membership and wearing suit and tie. The Oval will not let anyone in the their members pavilion unless they are wearing pants! I was wearing shorts and sandals and asked the member we met, whether we'd pass dress regulations. He looked at me with this weird look as though I was thinking that my shirt didn't match my shorts.

I noticed at the ground that one of life's main principles was being broken. If you give the piss, you've got to take it. I was busting for one and had to walk half way around the ground, past 8 bards, to find a toilet! These guys are happy to give it but not take it!

The Barmy Army were singing timely songs like, "Singing in the Rain" and Yellow Submarine". All in good fun but when the players went off for rain there was a massive ovation.

So the Aussies came out a couple of hours later and knocked the Poms over in around 22 overs. Happy days, 50% refund.

Back to a nearby pub for a Sunday roast dinner, and I am still walking through doorways hunched over as though I am about to smash my head again. Probably a good 2ft clearance standing upright in these places, but I refuse to hit my head one more time!

Went and did the Buckingham Palace State Room Tour yesterday. The palace is only open to the public for around 4 weeks a year when Lizzie is at Balmoral. Fairly grand type of pad.

Buckingham Palace has 775 rooms. These include 19 State rooms, 52 Royal and guest bedrooms, 188 staff bedrooms, 92 offices and 78 bathrooms. The total floor area of the Palace, from basement to roof, covers over 77,000 square meters.

There are 1,514 doors and 760 windows in Buckingham Palace. All windows are cleaned every six weeks to keep them clean. There are 40,000 light bulbs.

The largest room in the Palace is the Ballroom, where Investitures and State banquets take place today. It is 36.6m long, 18m wide and 13.5m high. It was opened in 1856 with a ball to celebrate the end of the Crimean War. Table settings are exactly 46cm apart and there is a measuring implement to make sure that the President of Wherethefarkarewe isn't asked to sit at a place that only has 45.95 cm. Every setting has seven wine glasses for water and the various different varieties of wine!

The dinner plates were made in 1837 and silver guilted. Do not break one!

Anyway, heading off to airport. 6 weeks went far too quick.

Posted by mljjs 04:51 Archived in Scotland

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