Thursday, June 26, 2014

No, I Didn't Die.

Yeah, my resolution to be a better blogger has gone the way of all such resolutions, and this space continues to languish with neglect. I am going to blame it primarily on summer. It is mostly summer here . I do not like summer. I do not do summer. My toleration for heat is next to nothing. There is some swelling of foot and ankle, dull headaches, sleeplessness, lassitude... I get cranky. I take it out on people. I become a harpy. My family - who inexplicably love me - don't like me much during this time, but hey, neither do I... and I don't like them either, so we're even.  I read an article recently, about Seasonal Affective Disorder - which is usually a winter-induced condition. According to the article, however, it can, occasionally, be  caused by summer weather. Tempting as it is to say that I suffer from SAD-ness, I am man enough.... woman enough.... adult enough to own that I have a deficiency of self-control, and not excuse myself on the grounds of weather. I'm just saying that it is good to know.

As I said, I am blaming my silence primarily on summer. That is my story and I am sticking to it. Although... there really was a good reason for not posting.... once upon a time.... a long time ago.... back in May. I was on vacation for the first time in a couple years.  Life, you know. Sometimes, even if one needs a vacay, it is just not the time for such things.

I went to Scotland, and it was lovely. I stayed here:


It was verra wee, and comfortable and cosy:

It was in a place called Portobello, a Firth-side suburb of Edinburgh. It was removed enough from the city to be very quiet and nice, and yet, if I walked down the road a wee step, there was a train stop, and I could be in the High Street in a mere 5 or 10 minutes.  There was a lovely little burn, and a forest walk, just outside my front door. I spent a lot of time wandering there:

The Burn

The Walk

The grass in Scotland is often full of little daisies - sometimes a lawn will be quite white with them. I think these are properly known as Marguerites:


It was also very close to the Firth - only about a mile away, and a nice easy stroll. Sometime, I walked by the water, and watched the storms come in:

The Beach at Portobello

And sometimes, I walked along the red side walk of the Promenade, where there was a place to get Nutella flavoured ice cream! Nutella. Ice. Cream.... I miss that stuff:

The Promenade

Incidentally, the Scots seem to have a rather curious attitude towards springtime: once they decided that it is spring, by golly, it is spring, whether it is still cold enough for a coat or not.  People go to the park, and take hikes in the hills. There are food vans about, selling hamburgers and ice cream.  Young ladies in strappy sandals pick their way around puddles. Now, this attitudes is actually quite familiar to me, as I live in the mountains, and have observed men outside in a snowstorm, snow-blowing 2 feet of snow out of their driveways, whilst clad in shorts. What surprised me was the number of people in coats, eating ice cream in the rain. At first, I was merely amused, but felt no particular urge to follow their examples. The shear number of ice cream cones walking about, however, began to prey on my mind, and before I had been there many days, I was actively prowling about for a place to get some, and joined the legions of folk, eating ice cream, in un-ice-cream-like weather:

Ice Cream in Princes Street Gardens

I have been to Scotland before, so I didn't do the touristy things, like going to the castle:


 Nor did I go to Holyrood Palace:


I did, however, go for a hike, one bright, and very windy day, up on Arthur's Seat, and the Salisbury Craigs, that are part of the old parkland belonging to the palace:

Salisbury Craigs

Arthur's Seat. There is a fantastic view of everything
from the top, but the wind was so fierce, I thought I might
get blown away, so there are no pictures of it. 

It takes a couple hours to walk around the whole area  and though it is not really a rigourous hike, there is no denying that it is a good stiff walk. This is the first time in a couple years that I was able to do a good stiff walk, and I enjoyed it exceedingly. I even took a selfie, which is an accomplishment for me, as usually I avoid being on any side of the camera... and I was using a disposable Kodak camera:

Hello there!

I particularly avoid taking selfies, as a general rule. I tend to face a camera as though it were a firing squad - squaring my jaw, and looking it in the eye, and challenging it to do its worst, which it obligingly does. Sisterly advice told me to tuck my chin, and look at the camera from under my eyelashes. Since I was taxed with bringing home pictures of myself in the scenery, and since I would rather crawl into a hole than ask a complete stranger to shoot me with my bright yellow, cardboard camera, I practiced taking my own picture. Sometimes they turned out pretty well:

Mahri - Agent of SHIELD (See my shoulder?)
Taking a Selfie in an old cemetery off the Royal Mile 

Sometimes they did not:

I will look happy in this picture, if it kills me

Sometimes, I look confused:

I know that button is around here somewhere... tuck the chin...
look up through the eyelashes....

So mostly, I stuck to pictures of scenery, such as this loch, with a flock of birds circling above it:

Or this building, which I believe is a ruined abbey:

Or this curious bit of graffiti:

Gollum Discovers Facebook

And one day, I Went On An Adventure. I caught a bus in Edinburgh, and took a long, very scenic trip through the Borders, to a place called Innerleithen. I got off near the Post Office, and walked 2 miles of country road to Traquair House - the oldest continually inhabited house in the country. 

Outside Traquair House

If one is fond of history - as I am - it is an excellent place to visit.  Mary Queen of Scots visited there with her husband, Darnley, and her rosary is kept in the little museum.  The family are Catholic, and traditionally Jacobite, and the entire estate is steeped in that history. I had a blast touring the place.  There were two libraries, full of the widest range of books, from the philosophers, to popular fiction, and everything in between. 

I am demonically pleased to be in your library.

There is a semi-hidden room at the top of the house, where the family's priest would have lived. It was illegal to house a priest, while the Penal Laws were in effect. There is a secret staircase behind the bookshelf in the priest's room.... well, it isn't secret anymore. The bookshelf is opened, and one can escape through the low opening, and down the steep, narrow stairs.

I escape through the secret staircase. Apparently, I have not
grasped the severity of the situation.

Traquair House receives no state funding - or very little at any rate - and they support themselves by means of tours, craft sales, and .... beer making. The beer making is sort of a happy accident, when the old brewery was rediscovered in the 60s. All of the equipment was in perfect working order, so the brewery was restored, and they began brewing their own beer:


There are also the Bear Gates. You cannot get into Traquair House through the original gates - they are locked, and have been locked since Bonnie Prince Charlie went into exile after the Jacobite defeat at Culloden. The Laird of Traquair chained the Bear Gates shut, and vowed they would never be opened again, until a Stewart sat on the throne. And they are locked still:

I was not ready to come home at the end of my trip. I was enjoying myself very much - and, incidentally, eating far too much fish and chips... with malt vinegar, of course. But home I must come, and I think I am finally resigned to being Here and not There.


Kiri Liz said...

The pictures were wonderful, Mahri!! Thank you so much for sharing! I really enjoyed this post. :)

Mahri said...

Aw, thanks Kiri! They did turn out better than I expected :-)

Bella Rose said...

"I will look happy if it kills me" LOL. Mahri I love you. You make me laugh and you always cheer me up 8-D I liked your library selfie. Just remember its not a gun its a camera, and you'll be fine.


Katrina DeLallo said...

PICKCHERS!!!! That always makes a post so much more better.

In an effort to make you blog again, I haz given you a tag. *TAG!*

Jack said...

I am impressed you didn't die. This is one of those moments in life where Hardison needs to show up and cheer for you for not killing anyone.

Cameras are horrible and I understand you not wanting to get in front of one. Also, they can be disguised as a gun so there is that to consider. Cold War, wasn't it? When people were putting small caliber pistols into them and trying to carry out assassins. So in general it is just safer overall to avoid getting in front of one.

But good for you attempting selfies and making yourself come back from Scotland. I am still impressed you managed that one. Had I been in your place they would have had to drag me back kicking and screaming.