Day 8 – We checked into Brunston Castle (in Daily, south of Ayr) Saturday evening, and had a great night’s sleep. It was a 3 bedroom, 1 story cottage overlooking a brilliant green lawn, the parking lot below, the main building and the hills in the distance, really a lovely view and very quiet. It was rather remote and took a while to drive there from Ayr (about 30 minutes). The strange thing was that although there were 3 bedrooms, all of the rooms had 2 twin beds in them. But it was very clean and comfortable with a comfy leather sofa in the living room and everything we needed, once we figured out how to work the hot water, that is.
We awoke early to implement my plan for Edinburgh. I reasoned that if we went on a Sunday, parking would be easier to find and we’d avoid the traffic jams of the weekdays. It turned out to be a great plan as we arrived in under two hours, found free parking in St. Andrew’s square, and were instructed by a friendly local as to how to find Edinburgh Castle, our first destination of the day.
Due to an extreme need to use a restroom, we stopped in the first public building we found with a toilet, the National Gallery. This had not even been on our initial list, but we were so captivated that we found it hard to tear ourselves away! Rembrandt, Reuben, Van Dyke, etc graced the walls! A treasure trove of beauty lay before our eyes with not enough time to appreciate fully, even the downstairs galleries.
We pressed on to Edinburgh Castle and arrived with a 25 minutes wait before the next guided tour. We sat down and enjoyed our packed lunch, leaving us with less to carry. We enjoyed the historical notes, the fascinating structures and the sense of being a part of history as we followed our guide. Once on our own we stopped in the War Memorial hall and I looked through the books of records of Highlanders who died in past wars, of course looking for family names. I found Guthrie, my mom’s mother’s family name, and Morrow, my children’s dad’s family name. Numerous references to Scots who left for America, Canada and Australia further bridged the gap, connected me to a people, land and culture for whom I’d long felt a fascination.
About 2:15 we took off at a fast clip down the Royal Mile, trying not to look in store windows. However, I did make David stop and take my picture with some male mannequins in kilts.
Holyrood Palace was striking inside and out! And, the headset provided was perfect, allowing me to descend into the history of the place with no distractions outside of my own thoughts. The paintings were outstanding and helped tell the history. The architecture and the elegance of craftsmanship, from the painted and sculpted ceilings to the intricate furnishings were beyond my imaginings. The Abby remains (no restorations here) made me wish I was a painter, as I watchied the shadows and light play across ancient rockwork. Walking in the garden, holding hands, we felt like royalty, enjoying as they once did, the solitude, songbirds and beauty of nature.
Upon exiting, there was a photo display of Queen Elizabeth, very tender, which we enjoyed. It gave us the sense of respect the British feel for their royalty.
We ate dinner at the World’s End (Dark Isle ale – yummy! Burger – yuck! Steak and Ale pie – yummy.) David traded with me, how sweet he is. We bought some fudge (unbelievably delicious, as most sweets are in this country), found our car, (Yeah!) and happily headed back to our lodgings.