We made it out of Edinburgh and up to Pitlochry without running over anything. I took several turns driving our car and it was mostly ok (although Andria may disagree) ahem. The concept wasn't difficult for me to grasp (so far...knock on wood). My brain switched easily to roundabouts and wrong sides. The hardest part for me was knowing where the edges were on the car. It feels like you're driving into incoming traffic when really you're doing the opposite and hugging the sidewalk...or other lane full of cars. It wouldn't have been so bad if it was just one thing, but in this case it's like driving in San Francisco (hills and windy streets) with a stick shift, on the wrong side of the road and car. Pedestrians, buses, delivery vans...insane. Once we got out of Edinburgh though it was much easier.
Our first stop after church was Blackness Castle where all of the "Fort Willam" scenes from Outlander are shot. The custodian was so very nice to show us his little album of pictures from when the Outlander crew was there. I can't imagine how they got all of those trucks and cranes in on those little back farm roads. The neighbors must have thought they were building a space shuttle in their backyard.
Next we went to Stirling Castle which was three times bigger than Blackness, but was trying maybe a bit too hard to be touristy whereas Blackness castle felt stark raving intense (I'm sure it had nothing to do with picturing BlackJack Randall there) . Still, I feel like I learned the most about Medieval life at Stirling Castle and I took lots of notes so hopefully my Emilie book will have a ring of authenticity.
From there we wandered around Falkirk looking for Braveheart ghosts (noticing a theme? shame). We were totally in the wrong spot, but we did stumble upon the last vestiges of a Roman wall. It was the far north border of the empire, so here we are standing in Ancient Rome on the cusp of barbarian land.
We did end up finding the real battle of falkirk a la the Braveheart scene with Mel Gibson...we actually drove almost right over it on our way to Stirling Castle. The problem with Scotland is that for such a tiny country, they pack in so many awe inspiring moments I don't have time to emotionally recover from one before being thrust into another. I ran into a little boy at the top of a stone spiral staircase who said mournfully to his father "but I don't want to know anymore about my history".
For my husband and any Ohio family, Pitlochry is about half the size of Poland Village. We're staying at one of those hotels that's a restuarant on the bottom and rooms on the top. The restaurant is full of non ironic Lord of the Ring's sounding food, and after we finished our fare and curled up in front of the fire listening to Scottish folk songs, I told Andria not much has changed since the days of travelers stopping at inns for a bit of stew, ale and a bed to sleep in for the night.
I felt like the opposite of the Grinch. The music and people got to me, and my heart felt two sizes too big for my chest.
Church this morning was even better, but I won't even attempt to describe it...I could never do it justice. St Giles is the big cathedral in Edinburgh and the "mother" kirk in the Church Of Scotland. It was a catholic church, then briefly Episcopalean I think and then Presbyterian. Since I'm also a (late to the game) Presbyterian, I cried as soon as I heard the opening call to worship and it was the same that my own pastor would be saying in a few short hours across the globe. I've always loved the timeless echoes of songs and scripture, but standing in that old church made it all too real. It was like being in Narnia and Rivendell and Hogwarts all at the same time...but real.
(This one from google)
I so badly want to bring my kids on a trip like this.