Quilts and Other Stuff from Frances

Day 8 – Wednesday, May 2nd

The day began with a wonderful breakfast cooked by John. Michael opted for a simple omelet since he would be eating off and on during his working day. I, on the other hand, selected the “Cooked Breakfast” which consisted of fried egg, 2 rashers of thick bacon, a sausage, grilled tomatoes and grilled mushrooms!!!! Christine questioned whether I wanted a fried egg or a poached egg, “because the poached one has much less fat”!! A good B&B owner is ALWAYS looking out for their guests!! She wrote out a list of places that I “must see” today, so I will have to hoof it to get to them all.

As poor Michael headed out the door to work, I caught a bus to the city center of Edinburgh and the Royal Mile. The Royal Mile is a street that runs from Edinburgh Castle to Holyroodhouse Palace, with many, many interesting things to see in between. So, naturally, my first stop was at a discount department store called Pound Stretcher!!! I enjoyed looking at the variety of things for sale and even found a “Yorkshire Pudding” pan that I decided to pick up on my way back home.

My first sightseeing stop was at the Children’s Museum. It is a wonderful place which is dedicated to the life of children through out the ages. I enjoyed seeing “Bunnykins” bowls, which our kids had in Australia, a Punch and Judy Puppet Stage, various model train set ups, and LOTS of toys. My favorite thing here was an area devoted to needlework that had this quote about quilting…..”I must allow, it is very silly to tear up large pieces of cloth, for the sake of sewing them together again. But little girls often have a great many small bits of cloth, and large remnants of time, which they don’t know what to do with; and I think it better for them to make cradle-quilts for their dolls, or their baby brothers, than to be standing around, wishing they had something to do.” According to the author of this quote (Mrs. Childs), by 1842 patchwork was “old-fashioned” .

My next stop was at “The People’s Story”, a museum that tells the story of the life, work and leisure of ordinary people in Edinburgh from the late 1700’s to the present day (at least that is what the sign out front says). My favorite thing in this museum was….surprise, surprise…. a banner/quilt that was made in 1992. I was VERY impressed with the applique work done on the quilt, and especially with the use of black or grey netting as an overlay to show the shadows in the picture. When I entered this museum, it said to ask before taking photos. When I asked, the guard said “you can take them….just be sure to share the big profits with me when you make money off of the photos!!”

As I left the museum, I noticed a church-like structure with a bright red door. I walked over and discovered that it was the entrance to a cemetery. It was fairly dilapidated and most of the inscriptions were not readable, but it seemed that most of the graves were in the 1800’s, however I did find one that was 1777. Among all of the big and fancy headstones, I found a small stone in the grass that read “Adam Smith”. A few feet further along, I found another one. I am wondering if this the name that they use for the “unknown” or paupers graves. I will try to find out!! The funniest thing about this foray was that there was a businessman sitting on one of the low walls and eating his lunch…..I guess that it was a quiet place to take a break during the day!!!!

For lunch, I chose a cup of tea and two HUNKS of fudge….I saved ½ of one of them for Michael. I first visited another chocolate shop that had 1 inch chocolate squares that were highly decorated with various designs on the top of the chocolate. But, since I couldn’t find a price list, I opted to keep on going….didn’t really want to find out that 2 pieces of chocolate would cost 20 pounds!!! As I was walking, I passed this one take-away place that ALWAYS had a line out front. When you looked in, people were shoulder to shoulder inside with 3 or 4 outside at all times. I wonder exactly what they served!!!

After lunch, I headed to the other end of the Royal Mile to visit Edinburgh Castle. It is an impressive place, built out of a mountain of rock in the 11th century. Apparently the original “castle” part has been destroyed over the years and the parts that are left now are from the military garrison. It was interesting to see the ways that the castle was protected…..7 gates going up to the castle and LOTS of canons. I saw St. Margaret’s Chapel which is still in its original state, although it was built in the 12th century. It had three beautiful small stained glass windows in it and was a very quiet and comforting place. I also visited the old Royal Palace, which now is empty, but is still used for official functions. I saw the “Honours of Scotland” (Crown Jewels) and the “Stone of Destiny”. The Stone was given to Scotland to symbolize their sovereignty. However, the story that we heard at our B&B was that the original stone was stolen by students from University of Edinburgh and was not found for some time. Apparently, many people tried to make a stone that looked like the original, so they are not REALLY sure that they have the original one!!! My favorite part of the castle were the views from the top of the garrison posts. I could see the ocean and was struck with the great number of castle and church spires that were also visible. There is a large, stain-glass enclosed building at the top of the castle mound which is a Veteran’s Memorial. Unfortunately you could not take pictures inside. The main chamber had large carvings signifying each of the companies of Scottish troops that had served from 1914 through 1948. Underneath each carving, there were two red leather bound books that contained the names of each of the people who had died during this time……it was very moving!! The stained-glass windows were not the usual Christian scenes, but instead contained pictures of war time happenings. The one that I studied the closest was a tribute to the women serving as nurses in the 1940’s.

On the way to the castle, I stopped in at a shop that contained a Tartan weaving loom. It was not being used while I was there, but the operator was setting it up for a future weaving. I loved seeing the huge spools of thread and the many bolts of tartan fabrics. The shop was VERY well laid out as you had to go thru every little specialty area to get to the weaving demonstrations…..a good marketing plan.

I am always fascinated by the names of streets and stores along the way. Today I found “World End Close” (an alleyway), “Has Beans” (a vintage coffee house) and “Clever Dicks”, a bistro.

Michael called at four to say that he was through for the day and that he would meet me for dinner, so we shared some “Mozzarella Pomadora” (Buffalo mozzarella cheese and plum tomato slices, drizzled with olive oil and basil), and a Margharita (Cheese) pizza. We got to our B&B about 7:00 and crashed for the evening.

Speaking of our B&B, we came in to find that Christine had made a few “improvements” to our room while we were gone. She moved our dirty clothes from the floor to the bottom of the closet, rearranged our towels on the towel bar and moved our toothbrushes to their proper holders!!!

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