Edinburgh's Monument
to Walter Scott

Reb and Stef
visit England & Scotland

Edinburgh Castle
Click on any picture below for a closer look!

We visited England and Scotland in December, 1995 and January, 1996. We arrived Christmas Day, and proceeded northeast to East Anglia. Most everything in the country was closed, and we drove through a deserted downtown London during the journey. Our friend Philip made us a fine Christmas dinner, and even provided the accompanying Christmas crackers. We had never even heard of crackers before, but we enjoyed them nevertheless.

On Boxing Day, we had dinner at the Sweetman home. Afterwards, we all sat around the kitchen table playing Jenga. We also discovered some rather interesting reindeer in the house.

The next evening, there was a freezing fog. By the following morning, everything was covered in a rich coat of ice crystals. We did not let the fog deter us, and we took a drive over to Framlingham, home of Framlingham Castle, to have dinner with Gavin & Lynn on the eve of their Mexican holiday.

Our friend Elspeth put us up in her quaint little house, “The Coach House,” for a few days. It's right next to the park, in the heart of Ipswich. On December 29, we went by train to London. We did some shopping, saw a show, The Wind In The Willows, and went to the Victoria and Albert Museum.

One of the highlights of the museum was “Tipu's Tiger.” It is a carved and painted wood effigy which simulates the growls of a tiger and the cries of his victim. The victim's left hand is even jointed so it may move during the process. A low, wide door opens to the right of the handle, exposing some of the inner workings. The tiger was built and presented to the Sultan of Mysore during the 1790s. After his death at the siege of Seringapatam, it was seized by the British in 1799. Stef was rather grossed out by this exhibit, but Reb loved it!

We celebrated New Year's Eve with Elspeth and her family. The evening was spent telling stories, and at the midnight hour we listened to Big Ben chime on the television, had a toast, and then wished each other a happy new year.

On January 2, we drove to Peterborough and caught a train to Edinburgh, Scotland. It was quite foggy, and we saw little of the countryside during the drive and train ride. Fortunately, by the time we got to Edinburgh, most of the fog had lifted.

Once in Edinburgh, we walked the few blocks to our hotel, and passed the last part of Edinburgh's Hogmanay (Scottish New Year) celebration.

The next morning, we met Elspeth's friend Billy. He took us around the city and showed us the sights. Much to Billy's delight, the first thing we wanted to see was the famed rail bridge over the Firth of Forth. It took eight years to build, and opened in March, 1890. It is over one and a half miles long. At the time of its construction, it was the biggest bridge in the world, and the engineering marvel of its time. Standing next to it, you can't get a good idea of the sheer size of the bridge until you see a train go over it. (See picture on right) If you look carefully, you will note that each of the three main sections of the bridge is different. Also, there are two spans which are actually cantilevered out between the three main ones. Next to the rail bridge is a road bridge which was opened in 1964. Its opening brought an end to ferry service across the Forth, which had been active for some 800 years.

Dean's Village is one of the most picturesque parts of Edinburgh. Even the new buildings manage to fit right in.

Just off of High Street, Café Florentin provided us with a good place to relax for a while after a long day of sightseeing. It has numerous kinds of tea and coffee, along with a variety of delicious pastries.

Back at Billy's flat, we sat back, listened to music, and relaxed some more. Of particular note is the circa 1900 coal burning stove that is still used to provide some of the heat in the apartment. The stove is complete with almost all of its original attachments. These move the heat to the oven and hot areas on top which were originally used for cooking.

One of the most interesting things in Edinburgh is the monument to Walter Scott. It was opened in 1840, and it rises 200 feet, 6 inches. Although it is in the Prices Street Gardens, from the top it seems as if you are almost as high as the castle. We climbed its 287 steps to the highest of four viewing platforms. Why not use this ticket to view the monument?

If you would like more information on Edinburgh, you may wish to visit the Edinburgh and Lothians Tourist Board.

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