Thursday, July 12, 2012

Coventry Revisited

I went to Coventry this last weekend.  I have been there three times before, to watch a few plays.  This time we hung out a bit and I saw some things I had not before.  I did not have my camera, so I apologize for the lack of pictures, but there is one story I wanted to tell.

There is a beautiful church in the heart of the city called Holy Trinity.  There is a large chair with a wooden canopy and foot rest.  The chair is higher than normal.  Apparently this chair was built in 1833 when the church's vicar wanted to invite his friend to visit the church.  This would be no problem, except his friend just happened to be a bishop in the Church of Scotland.  The law at the time forbade Scottish clergy from setting foot in English churches.  This chair was the vicar's solution: the chair was carried outside the church, his friend, the bishop, sat in the chair, placed his feet on the rail and was carried inside, never actually setting foot in the building!

More Funny British Signs

I love the sings I see all over this country.  Here are a few more.  I did another on 24 March from Tewkesbury.

It is bilingual (American on the top, and British on the bottom)!

Ok, to be fair this was above a doorway that even a Hobbit would have to duck down in order to get through, but it it still unusual.

Just love the graphic.

The Brits are ever so apologetic.  

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Epic Adventure in Scotland: An Introduction and Conclusion

My friend Jamie and I were very excited to discover that one of our favorite actors was going to be performing in Macbeth in Glasgow.  His name is Alan Cumming, and is most likely recognizable to non-theatre audiences from The Good Wife.  Jamie and I bought tickets and decided to make a weekend of it.  We rented a car (new post on driving in the UK for the first time, coming soon) and headed north.

We learned many things, most of which were obvious, but were overlooked.  One of the most important: if you really want to visit an island that is only accessible twice a day when the tide goes out, and you are on a tight schedule, check the tide times more closely; if using a SatNav/GPS go with a Garmin, not a Tomtom, they are just easier to use and have much better search options; if you are a male and a female traveling together, assume everyone will think you are a couple (not necessarily a bad thing, just be ready for it); do not assume that your English Heritage membership card will not get you into Scottish Heritage or Cwd Wales, that could be a costly mistake; and bring wellies to Scotland if you can, you will need them.

In total, I drove 1,112 miles; stopped for gas four times; was unable to decipher a Glaswegian accent twice; slept in three cities and one town; tried the best whiskey I have ever  had; and ate my third, deep fried Mars bar.


Epic Adventure in Scotland Day 1: Stratford-upon-Avon to Glasgow

Once we picked up our car we decided to head to Hardwick Hall.  Bess of Hardwick built Hardwick Hall in the late 16th century.  It is a stunning building that was designed to impress, as well as to demonstrate the royal connection between the Hardwicks and Elizabeth I (Bess’ daughter was in line for the throne, though she was REALLY far down that line).  Bess was a remarkable woman; look her up if you have time.  Unfortunately, the postcode I put in the GPS took us to Hardwick Square, in a little town one hour away from the Hall.  By the time we figured this out we did not have time to go.  Sad.

We eventually made it to Glasgow, checked into out hostel and walked to the Tramway Theatre.  After getting slightly lost we got to our seats in time for the show.  And just so everyone knows, IT WAS AMAZING!  I know I can sometimes over use that word, but it was truly amazing.  Alan Cumming (you might recognize him best from The Good Wife) starred in a production that was set in a mental institution.  The truly amazing part was that he delivered nearly all the lines himself.  It was set up as though he was being observed for committing some un-named crime.  A man and woman acted as an orderly and a doctor, respectively, who just observed him, only having a few lines (most notably, as Lady Macbeth delivered the “out damn spot” speech, the doctor played the part of the Doctor, and the orderly the part of the Nurse/Lady).  It appeared as though he was having a mental break down.  I wont get into it here, but I will be writing a review on my dramaturgy blog later (

Here are some trailers for it on youtube that you might enjoy.

Behind the scenes discussion of the show, including short clips

[Attention Dr Who fans: if you really want a picture with a Tardis, I mean a police box, go to Scotland. I have never seen one in England, but I saw about five in Scotland.  This is the only picture of me in Glasgow.]

Epic adventure in Scotland Day 2: Glasgow to Inverness

We left Glasgow and headed for the Valley of Glencoe, with a stop on the shores of Loch Lomond, just outside the city.  

[The shore of the loch.]

[We were stuck in traffic for a while, so I was able to take a pretty picture of a thistle.]

Glencoe is a stunningly beautiful valley in the Highlands, famous for a massacre in the 17th century.  In February 1692 a group of Red Coats were sheltered in the valley by members of the MacDonald clan, who had made a treaty with the English.  For nearly two weeks the clan fed and looked after the English throughout the valley.  Then, on the morning on February 13, the English betrayed the trust of their hosts.  Each soldier was ordered to rise early, before his or her hosts, and kill them.  It is one of the bloodiest, and most cowardly acts the Red Coats ever committed.

[Driving though The Valley of Glencoe.]

[One of the three sisters in the valley.]

 [Another of the three sisters.]

[I forget what we were tying to do here, but it looks funny/strange.]

[This is from the visitor's center.  As cute as a Hairy Coo is, I think a baby Hairy Coo is even cuter.]

[These flowers grew everywhere in the highlands; it felt like only these, and rhododendrons, grew up there.]

[We took a walk around the visitor's center.  It was only about 20 minutes, and was beautiful.  Everything about the area reminded me a lot of Western Washington.]

[Aren't we adorable?]

We took a tour of the visitor’s center and then headed for Loch Ness.  The Loch Ness Visitor and Exhibition Center was quite good, especially for a monster museum.  It was nice that it took a skeptical view of Nessie, rather than trying to make something enormous out of nothing/very little. The little village in which Nessie exhibits are located is very cute; it is called Drumnadrochit and caters to the Nessie-driven tourists is a surprisingly tasteful way.  It was not a Nessire-Pallooza, as I was expecting.
Just five minutes down the road from Drumnadrochit is Urquhart Castle.  

[This is one of the only shots I have from Loch Ness.  This is from the visitor center's AV show.]

A settlement has been on this site since at least 500AD, and possibly further back.  It is gorgeously situated, over-looking Loch Ness, and giving the best views of the Loch (loch, by the way, is Gaelic for lake, compare it to the Irish, 'lough').  The castle is just a shell now, having been blown up in the mid 18th century to prevent the Jacobites from taking control of it (I will write a brief summary of the Jacobite rebellion later).

[Urquhart Castle with Loch Ness in the background.]

[You can see the castle's citadel on the right, the long wall with the flag pole poking out.  The citadel is usually the strongest place in the castle, and used as the last line of defense, should the castle be sieged and the walls breeched.]

[A trebuchet on display in front of the castle.]

[The interior of the castle.]

[Do you see any monster's in the loch behind me?]

[This was part of the old kitchen, it now serves as a great place to use as a backdrop for pictures.]

[You cannot see it too well, but there was a massive storm coming in from the right, over the loch.]

[How appropriate.]

[This is probably my favorite picture from the castle. It feels so lonely and beautiful.]

[I have wanted my picture with this sign since first seeing it on TV a few years ago; I do not know why, perhaps it is my love of the tacky.]

[This is the visitor's center we actually went to (we did not go to the one above).]

[We ate in a nice little restaurant in the village, next to a large group of Germans, who apparently parked next to us.]

[In case you were wondering if people actually eat haggis, they do; here it is on the menu.  It might seem strange to most people (after, all it is the ground up internal organs of a sheep, mixed with spices and oatmeal and then boiled in a sheep's stomach), but is it really so different than many types of sausage?  And it must be good if it has been eaten for so long and is still very prevalent to this day; it is on almost every menu.  Four years ago my friend Emily tried it in Edinburgh, and she loved it.  She ate it twice, if I remember correctly.  If I were not a vegetarian I would have ordered it.]

Then on to Inverness, the northern most city in Britain.  Inverness is a small city, with a good feel to it.  We took a walk, recommended by the hostel, called the Queen’s Way Walk, that took us along the river, over the Ness islands and into the city.  We were very tired and so did not do much before going to bed.

[Inverness Castle.  The statue out front is of Flora MacDonald, who helped Bonnie Prince Charlie escape the country after the Battle of Culloden.  She supposedly dressed him as a woman to hide him from the English.]

[Remember I mentioned the rhododendrons? Well here is a picture.  All of them that I saw were the this same purple color, and many where easily over fifteen feet tall, if not twenty.  This was taken on the Ness Islands in Inverness]

[This is really a picture for my friend emma, who loves rabbits.  This little guy was eating grass in front of a church in Inverness, just a few meters from his hole.  He was only about the size of a kitten.]

Epic Adventure in Scotland Day 3: Inverness to Edinburgh

We left Inverness and headed for a few sites just outside the city.  The first was the Culloden Battlefield.  In 1745 Bonnie Prince Charlie’s army was defeated by the British at this battlefield, ending the Jacobite cause and firmly establishing the House of Hanover (then only recently come over from Germany, and still the family that rules the UK) on the throne.

[I love this marker, placed on the battlefield to mark the place where the English dead are buried.  There is something about the simplicity and abruptness that just says so much.]

[This cottage was on the battlefield during the battle.  During the late 19th century, while repairing a wall, a cannonball was found, lodged in its turf wall.]

[This is a Victorian marker, placed here by the man who owned the field at the time, to commemorate the battle.]

Near by is a Neolithic site, the Clava Cairns.  This is a series of four Neolithic stone rounds, one very tiny, and two that were once burial chambers (the fourth, between the two burial chambers is similar to the others, but has no passage-way, and so there is much debate as to its purpose).  It is a beautiful site, enclosed by a Victorian oak grove (the Victorians thought it was a Druid temple, and so imposed their romantic ideal on the site). 

[The top of this mound, like one of the others, would have had a domed roof at one time.  This mound is the farthest east of the four, and on the Winter Solstice (the longest day of the year) the setting sun enters the passage way and lights up the interior of the chamber, which was lined with quartz stone in order to magnify the light.]

[Here is s better shot of the passage way.  It would have been kept low, so that anyone entering would have to stoop.  This kind of low passage way is common in neolithic, Celtic sites.  In domestic buildings it forced intruders to adopt a prone position in order to enter a house.]

[This is the central cairn.  It lacks a passage way and does not show evidence of a domed roof, like the others.  Archaeological research has shown that fires where once built in the central circle.  These combine to make some think that it was used as a ceremonial circle, perhaps in relation to the burials taking place in the other cairns.] 

There are many iconic sites in the Highlands, one of which is the Hairy Coo, or Highland Coo.  Coo is the Gaelic and Middle English word for cow.  They are adorable.  The shag of hair covering their eyes is so cute you just want to hug them...if it wasn't for those enormous horns.

[Isn't he cute?]

Next we headed for Cawdor Castle.  This castle is related to Macbeth, but no scene is set here in the play.  When the witches meet Macbeth in the beginning of the play they tell him that he is Thane (similar to an Earl) of Glamis (which he is) and that he is also Thane of Cawdor and will be King.  Macbeth and Banquo, Macbeth’s best friend who he later has killed, do not believe this until soon after, when King Duncan makes Macbeth Thane of Cawdor, confirming the words of the witches and sending Macbeth on his downward spiral.  The castle is lovely.  The Dowager Countess of Cawdor still owns the castle, and the parts on the tour show a castle that is really lived in to this day.  For that reason alone it was worth the price of admission.  It was interesting to see the modern decorations.  In the living room is a desk with family pictures and coffee table books on modern British sculpture and architecture.  One room was clearly designed in the mid-eighties and consisted of green and peach everywhere.  We did not have much time in the gardens, but the short look we had made us wish we did. 

[Jamie in front of the drawbridge into the castle.  Unfortunately photography is not allowed inside the castle, so there is nothing to show from the interior.]

[This is me in front of the castle, showing how large it is.]

[I saw this in the garden and thought of Grandma Wissie, so I took a picture.]

Next on the list was the town of Pitlochry, before going to Glamis Castle. Or that was the plan.  About one hour outside of Edinburgh we hit a major traffic jam.  Just six cars ahead of us three cars hit each other, causing an accident and back up.  No one was hurt, but due to the narrow roads it took quite a while to clear the scene.  We decided we would not be able to see Glamis Castle, and instead would spend more time in Pitlochry.

For those of you who do not know, Glamis Castle is the site of Macbeth’s murder of King Duncan in Shakespeare’s play (the historical event happened a few miles away).  There is a great line that Lady Macbeth says, in relation to the castle: “The raven himself is hoarse that croaks the fatal entrance of Duncan under my battlements.”  I was hoping to get a picture of Jamie and I under the battlements, and caption it with that line (with Duncan being replaced by Jamie and Jason, naturally).  Oh well, next time.  On 25 August there will be an outdoor performance of Macbeth at the castle, and I am hoping to attend.

We arrived at Pitlochry and went instantly to the Edradour Distillery, the smallest whiskey distillery in Scotland.  We took a tour and I bought a bottle of their 10-year-old single malt.  I am not usually a whiskey person but, when warmed, it smelled like a cedar sauna and tasted like it as well (go with me on this one, it was quite good).  The distillery itself is so cute: little white and red out buildings alongside a river and pushed up against a pretty green hill.  We ate dinner in Pitlochry and then moved onto Edinburgh.

[I thought I had more and better pictures, showing the landscape and the distillery, but alas I was wrong.  This is me in front of their, now disused, malting barn.  In order to malt barley for whiskey, the dry barley is soaked in water for two days, until it sprouts and the sugars begin to form in the grain.  It is then dried.  In the old days (up until about the mid 80's, when this barn was disused) that involved laying the barley on a perforated floor, under which a kiln was used to heat the barn.  Workers had to constantly turn the barley in order to prevent fires and evenly dry the grain.  Once it was dry you could begin the whiskey making process.  Now, larger companies malt the barley for every whiskey distillery in Scotland (the guide was sure to tell us that no one malts their own barley anymore, even Edradour), and this involves heated tumblers that do the job faster.]

[Edradour is the smallest distillery in Scotland, producing only fifteen barrels a week.  This is their storage shed, which smells like whiskey.  There are only about 5,500 barrels in here.  That might sound like a lot, but consider that it takes a minimum of three years aging to be considered whiskey, and the minimum they age here is ten.]

[These are the two stills they use at Edradour.  The production is so small that they need only these two, relatively small stills.  The one in the back is used first.  When the spirit comes out of that it is about 19% alcohol.  It is then distilled though the second, which jumps it up to 60%.  Water is then added to make the alcohol level correct and the spirit is moved into barrels for the aging process.]

We decided to spend our evening in Edinburgh doing the Auld Reekie ghost tour, taking us into the vaults of the city.  I took this tour four years ago with my friend Emily, but Jamie had not and she was excited to see the scary bits and hear the ghost stories.  It was a basic tour, but incorporated history (yay!) and ghost stories along with accounts of torture, as well as a torture museum.  The big draw of the tour is the vaults. 

In the 18th century a bridge was built in Edinburgh, and in order to maximize the space, a series of storage vaults were built in the arches.  These rooms became popular as a place to safely store goods, but the material used in their construction soon made them less than ideal.  Lime was used to construct the vaults, which is a very porous material that water can seep through.  The lime walls, combined with the very wet weather in Edinburgh, caused damp conditions that ruined the goods stored in the vaults, so they were disused. 

At the time Edinburgh was a very cramped city.  People from all over the country were flooding into the capital, as well as many Irish who were trying to escape the famines in Ireland.  It became illegal to be homeless in Edinburgh (caught once: flogged with chains; caught twice: hung), so the poor moved into these vaults.  There is no light in these rooms (“If you could afford a candle, you could afford to live somewhere else.”) and dozens of people could be crammed into one small space.  The city authorities did not bother going down in the vaults, as there were far more people down there than there were authorities to deal with them, and so let them alone.  Criminals thrived in the vaults, where you could kill a person and no one would see, even in a crowded room. 

The vaults were cleared and sealed in the 1870s, and forgotten about until 1972, when students living in what is now The Torture Museum heard a constant scratching behind their wall.  When they investigated (ok, they didn’t investigate, they tore a whole in the wall) they rediscovered the vaults.  I wont go into the specifics of each room, or of the various stories, but it was creepy!  There is a coven of witches who practice in the vaults, hoping that they can negate the negative energy of the space with their practices.  The man in charge of the coven, George Cameron who is now in his 60’s, refuses to enter one of the rooms in the vault after he spent the night there.  He decided to spend a night in the room with only a sleeping bag, flashlight and book, in order to investigate some strange going-ons.  Nothing happened until 2am, when he heard a noise in the hall.  “Is anyone there?” he yelled.  Hearing no reply he got up and went through the metal gate that covered the door to look around.  He came back to the room and the gate and been closed behind him.  He opened it, entered the room and said, “Is anyone here.”  He will not tell anyone what happened after that.  He says that if he did tell, no one would enter the vaults again.  He only entered the room one more time, when his coven formed a stone circle in the room as part of a ceremony.  The circle is meant to attract and capture evil spirits.  No one is allowed to enter the circle until the guide says it is ok.  Our guide would only let people get in the circle once she left the room.  She said she has had three people enter the circle, turn white and fall to the ground in a seizure, with blood coming out of their noses. 

And then we went to bed.

Epic Adventure in Scotland Day 4: Edinburgh to Berwick-on-Tweed

Waking up in Edinburgh, I was filled with joy.  I would FINALLY get to go to Edinburgh Castle, after missing it four years ago.  The castle is situated on a cliff that over looks the city.  It was a grey, misty and dreary morning as we climbed the hill to enter the site.  We started with the free 30-minute tour to orient ourselves to the place (or, for my British friends, ‘orientate ourselves’).  The castle was begun in the 11th century when the king of Scotland at the time decided to spend more time at what was then a hunting lodge.  Over the centuries it has grown around the top of the cliff, which has created a layout and feeling unlike most castles. 

[I like a nice bagpipe to underscore my entrance into a castle, it seems somehow fitting.]

[This is the ceiling in the room where Mary, Queen of Scots gave birth to her son, the future King James VI of Scotland and I of England.  The "IR' stands for Iacobus Rex (King James in Latin).]

[The same room.  The 'MR' stands for Maria Regina (Queen Mary, in Latin).]

[This is a hall built off of Mary's apartments.  During Mary's reign she was not very safe (a good deal of the country, including her nobles, hated her) and she had to move from the Palace of Holyrood House to the safer confines of Edinburgh Castle.]

[This is a Victorian recreation (read: fantasy) of what the castle's medieval hall looked like.]

[This is the Scottish National War Memorial, built in the 1920s.  It is the most impressive war memorial I have seen.  There are no pictures from the inside as photography is not allowed.  Inside are shrines to the each Scottish regiment, including their flags and books of the dead, which you can actually open up and look through.]

[This is the memorial from the other side.  The part that sticks out is the actual shrine.  There is a green granite altar, on which sits a silver casket that holds over 150,000 names of the dead.  The altar is placed directly above the highest point on the cliff, on the exposed rock that sticks through the floor.  Above it hangs a carving of St Michael the Archangel, carved from an oak tree.  It was beautiful.]  

[In Victorian times the soldiers stationed at the castle began using this small plot of grass as a cemetery for their dead dogs, and other regimental mascots.]

[I believe this is called Mogs Meg.  It is an enormous cannon given to the king of Scotland as a wedding present in the mid-medieval period.  To give you an idea of its size, each of those stone balls on the ground is about twice the size of a soccer ball.]

[This is the chapel of St Margaret.  Margaret was the Mother of King David of Scotland.  When she died, he had this chapel built in her honor.  She was soon canonized (made a saint) and it was christened under her patronage.  The interior is small (only holds about 20 guests if you are having a wedding) and includes one of the only Norman archways in Scotland (Norman architecture entered Scotland though England, where is was introduced by the invading Normans.  By the time the English had invaded Scotland, Norman architecture was on the way out, explaining why there is so little Norman architecture in the country).]

[This is the closest the castle has to a dungeon.  From about 1750 until 1815 the castle was used to hold prisoners caught by the British at sea. ] 

[In case you can't read this sign, it is a list of the daily rations given to each prisoner in the castle.  The note at the bottom says that Americans were considered pirates, and so only received one pound of bread a day, not one and a half.  I guess when you rebel against your mother country, they don't think of you as any normal criminal.]  

Out next big stop was to be The Palace of Holyrood House, the Queen’s residence in Edinburgh.  For those of you who do not know, Edinburgh has a very famous High Street, called The Royal Mile.  It starts (or ends, depending on how you look at it) at the castle and goes in a straight line, downhill, to the palace.  Along this street are many other famous sites, including St Giles’ Cathedral, Mary King’s Close and The Vaults, as well as more tacky souvenir shops and kilt makers than you can wiggle a sporran at (if you do not know what a sporran is, look it up, then imagine someone wiggling one…I promise the mental image will at least make you chuckle, if not laugh out loud).

Now here comes the sad part, and disappointment number three of our trip (Hardwick Hall and Glamis Castle being one and two): the Queen was home, meaning the palace was closed.  I have never been to the palace, and neither has Jamie, who was in Edinburgh a month before our trip, so we were very excited to see it.  It was quite a disappointment.  The Queen’s Gallery was open, but we were geared up for the palace.  We turned on our heals, took a brief jaunt through the gift shop (we had walked all that way, we might as well do something) and headed back up The Royal Mile.

[The palace.]

What followed was mostly the uneventful ducking into and out of tourist shops that is a sure sign of a bored tourist trying to kill some time.  
[No explanation needed.]

We stopped in St Giles’ Cathedral and had a look around.  And so now, some history: While it is called a Cathedral, St Giles’ is not actually a cathedral.  The church is a conglomeration of six Scottish churches that make up the founding church of Presbyterianism.  Presbyterianism does not have Bishops, and a cathedral is a cathedral because it contains a cathedra, or Bishop’s throne.  Therefore St Giles’ is not and cannot be a cathedral in the literal sense.  The word cathedral is added to imply its importance to Presbyterianism by comparing it to its non-Presbyterian counterpart, the Episcopal cathedral.  SIDE NOTE: the Church of Scotland is Presbyterian, while the Episcopal Church of Scotland is like the Church of England, the Church of Wales or the Episcopal Church of America, because it has Bishops, around who the hierarchy is situated.  Episcopal comes from the Latin word for Bishop: episcopus.

[The outside of the cathedral, showing the crown shaped turret, for which it is so famous.]

[The interior of the cathedral.]  

[This is looking east down the central aisle.  One big difference between Presbyterian churches and Episcopal churches is the orientation of the congregation.  Traditionally the congregation faces east, towards the altar, but in Presbyterian churches the actual direction does not matter.  So in St Giles' the altar is placed in the crossing (it is the white cube in the middle) and the congregation is seated, all facing in towards the center, completely surrounding the altar.  This is not true of all Presbyterian churches, but in doing this the church has taken a step to distance itself from more high church practices.  The logic being that the idea of facing east is not in the bible, and therefore has no apostolic or biblical precedence to be followed, the same reason used for the exclusion of Bishops in the church.] 

Now for some brief religious history (you had to have known it was going to come at some point).  The reformation occurred in Scotland separate from England and created a distinctly unique form of Protestantism (remember, England and Scotland were not joined under one crown until 1603, when Elizabeth I died and her cousin, James VI of Scotland, was crowned James I of England).  Scottish Protestantism was more of a grass roots movement, having relatively more to do with the general population’s feelings than in England, where (depending on which historians you read) the Reformation was a top-down affair.  In 1637, Charles I ordered uniformity in religious worship in his kingdom, imposing the English Book of Common Prayer on the Presbyterian Scots.  This may have sounded small to some, but the Reformation had made the Scottish Presbyterian church more low-church than the English Church (the contention over Bishops is still alive today).  The day that the Book of Common Prayer was to be instituted in Scotland was in July 1637.  On that day a man began reading from the Book of Common Prayer in St Giles’ Cathedral, when Janet Geddes (possibly not actually her, but the oral tradition says it was she) stood up from her three-legged stool, picked it up, and threw it at the pulpit, causing others to do the same, which then caused a riot in the church.  This began The Prayer Book Rebellion, which quickly spread though out the country.

[This is a sculpture in the cathedral commemorating Janet Geddes, supposedly near the spot where she actually threw the stool.]

We said good-bye to Edinburgh and headed south for the border and the walled town of Berwick-on-Tweed, in England.  This town, situated on the river Tweed, hence the name, was a point of contention between the Scots and English for centuries.  Being so close to the border it was constantly held by one side and then attacked by the other, before switching hands, at which point the fighting would start again.  As part of its defenses the town is nearly completely encircled by a medieval wall.  We decided to stay here because I have wanted to see Holy Island (site of Lindisfarne Priory, home of the Lindisfarne Gospel) for years, and it is not very easy to get to without a car.  Well as the name implies, it is an island.  A few times each day the tides recede and allow for access to and from the island via a causeway (like the house from The Woman in Black, in case you have seen that movie).  When we got to our hostel in Berwick-on-Tweed I saw the posted tidal times.  The first time we could cross was not until noon the next day, and we would not be able to come back until 5pm.  We were out of luck.  We would have to go somewhere else.

Berwick has had a military history since the middle ages.  The military ran the town for centuries, and that is still evident when you walk the walls.

We ate dinner at a lovely restaurant called the Queen’s Head Inn and then walked the walls of the town before going to bed.  For the next day, we decided to go to Hadrian’s Wall since our plans for Holy Island had to be binned.  

The following pictures are from our walk on the wall.

[Notice the paved areas on the left?  This is where cannons were once stationed, looking out over the river.]

[The estuary where the Tweed flows into the North Sea.]

[This is an 18th century gunpowder supply building for the military.  Notice the buttresses on the side?  These seem strange for such a small building, but they are there in order to add extra strength, should the gun powder explode.]

Here are some random pictures that did not make it into the story above.  Enjoy!

[Should I storm the castle?  Or should I get tea?]

[Tea it is.  I am happy with my decision.]

[Bachelor party in Edinburgh.]

[The inside of the Clamshell Chippy, where I got my deep fried Mars bar. It you have not had one, you need to try it.]

[Me, contemplating my deep fried Mars bar (on the paper in front of me) and a delicious beer.]

[The interior of the fried wonderfulness.  The coating is not the good part, the good part is the warm, melted goodness of the bar.]