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Scotland '01
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Homeward bound

Days 6, 7 and 8

Approximate map of journey

Behind Ian and Elaines house was a field. Ian related the story of how a Roman encampment has been found there. It lies under the fields, protected by the soil, at present. The problem is that the farmers are using longer plough blades now and there is a real danger of the ancient encapmnet being destroyed.

There are two main ways of getting to Edinburgh from the Aberdeen area; the first is a quick blast down the coast road, the A-94, it's all now dual carraigeway, unlike when I used to work in Aberdeen a decade ago. There are some lovely views of little villages and plenty of views of the sea. But its not really taking in the scenery. The other route is a bit more inland and runs through Balmoral. It's not hard to find if you can read a map and then follow your own directions (which I failed to do), and is a much more sublime route. It is a route that runs through mountians, along narrow valleys with fast flowing rivers, and broad valleys with serpentine rivers in somulant mode.

From Kintore we headed due south, then south-west to finally pick up the A-93. It was in all the wiggling to get to the A-93 that we got a little lost, or at least got to see more of the countryside than we had anticipated. Once on the main road though we headed west then south. We stopped in to see Balmoral. Balmoral, one of the Queens houses. I am not much of a royalist, but it was a nice stop and due to the foot and mouth quiet, too. The thing that interested me the most at Balmoral was that the bridge over the Dee here was built by Isanbard Kingdom Brunel, one of the heroes of Victorian Engineering. This is a little bridge that could Balmoral, one of the Queens houses. take a tank... I suppose this is a good thing!

Breamar, the Queen Mothers home was the site of a great deal of Police and army activity but we never found out why.

Heading south now the road climbs. As it gets higher it becomes more twisty. Being chased by someone in a VW Shiroco, kitted out with loud exhaust, low profile tyres and many other apparent performance goodies, our rental car quickly found its limits. As the front end plough hopelessly through a tight right hand corner at over 70mph, I decided that this was not going to be the day we got to Glenshee in an ambulance.

Beyond the gravelly hills that mark Glenshee and its skiing facilities, the road drops to evermore gentle countryside, til about 20 miles from Perth a tameness overcomes both the road and the countryside. From here the drive was a quick blast past the Palace at Scone (Scone, Scone and Scone.... S-con and S-cone are different pronunciations of the afternoon cakes, and Scoon is the palace and ancient crowning site of the Scottish kings.) Scone Palace also has a great place we didn't visit this time but is worth an hour or two:- The Pinearium. This is a collection of various Pine tree species, including what must be two of Britains only Giant Sequoia Redwoods (yes, those BIG trees that normally grow in California).

We headed into Edinburgh on the motorway (doesn't everyone?) over the Firth of Forth road bridge. We amazingly found our central Edinburgh Hotel with ease. Situated not far from the center of Edinburgh in a lovely, and quiet mews it was to be home for two days.

Hotel frontage Normally when I get hotel rooms I don't ask for much, but in booking this one they asked if I wanted to upgrade for 10 pounds a day to the Club rooms. I said that would be very nice. Little did I expect that when they gave us the key to a room with the number 538 (or somesuch) then told us go to the second floor (not the fifth), that we would find ourselves in a named suite, not any normal room. OoH! It was a marvellous room. There were somethings missing, but in general the sherry decantor, the robes, impressive room size, and other facilities made up for the lack of A/C and clock/radio! Three massive sash windows looked out onto the street below. There really was not a lot to see, the street was so quiet, mostly just other hotel guests coming and going. The neighbourhood was classic Edinburgh: large four and five storey granite buildings in either long gently curved mews or short straight streets. With that Cobbled streets and shops in Edinburgh Sun thing still working overtime, the cold grey granite looked quiet gorgeous.

Taking a photo of that thing on the hill. Edinburgh Edinburgh is a modern city, it's also a fairly cosmopolitan place. We stuffed ourselves on French breakfasts and Indian Dinners while there. We shopped, we even took a look at that thing on the hill.

One of the reasons we were in Edinburgh was to see my cousin Alexander, his wife Carolyn and their children presented to the Moderator of the Church Of Scotland as they were about to go off to Malawi, Africa as missionaries of the Church, where he would be acting as a regional doctor. This presentation was being done on the last day of the General Assembly. This being an official event the entire Churches upper 'management' were present, as was Viscount Younger, the Lord High Commissioner, the Queens representative. Votes were taken on the minutes of the meetings, by the unusual to us method of stamping of feet. Such stamping lead us to reflect on what would a 'No' vote entail?

Finally, it was time to leave. We hustled the car one final time along the motorway through Glasgow to the airport. All was quiet. The airport was almost deserted. We got on the plane and were soon back in New Jersey.

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