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Edinburgh and Hopetoun


Wednesday dawns and we leave Phip and Tim pretty close to the appointed hour. They have been kindness and generosity personified, and our Scottish experience has been hugely enriched by their efforts to point us, and take us, in the right direction. It’s been fantastic in the Border country and we’ve cut our time short for the Highlands. But no matter.

The goal is Edinburgh and Bas has personal ambitions to visit Rosslyn Chapel, 2 museums, and the whole of Edinburgh before our scheduled arrival at Kerry & Bris Bovill’s home at Hopetoun by 5.00pm. In the event, we do our usual getting lost thing, despite Phip’s written instructions to the park & bus station in Dalkeith. The problem is that Phip said to take the A720 at a particular roundabout …… but the A720 goes in both directions. We choose the wrong option and sail off into the distance with Edinburgh getting smaller and smaller behind us.

Relations somewhat strained (the navigator still grumbling about never travelling without a fuckin’ GPS ever again, as if this fact is somehow my fault) we eventually reach the centre of Edinburgh and of course it’s worth all the effort. Even though it’s raining. We are equipped for such contingencies and each acquire an umbrella as well.

greyfirarsMost of the destinations are jettisoned; but those we achieve are fabulous. The tour of Mary King’s Close gives us an insight into life there 500 years ago – not enviable. The Mylne ancestors are duly photographed (or their memorial is) at Greyfriars Kirkyard, as are many other enchanting tombs and stained-glass windows and fabulous old buildings.

The guide in Greyfriars tells us some grim and gruesome stories; one in particular is the story of a barred alleyway of tombs we had found and photographed, which had a sign indicating it was a jail – here in the churchyard. Turns out that 2000 unfortunates who had been silly enough to sign the Covenant to follow the Church of Scotland many, many years ago (enough to stop you going to church, really) were thrown in there and the key thrown away; anyone who fed them was thrown in too (someone must have had a spare key) and they were left to the elements.

Kind of puts a different slant on the perils of signing on the dotted line. Our guide says it’s haunted, and that he wouldn’t go there during the day let alone at night.

Robert acquires a tweed coat and tie, another dream fulfilled, and we take the tourist bus tour of Edinburgh in which the commentary appears to be out of sync with the sights described but nonetheless is great, a potted City of Edinburgh. So, we’ve seen everything! Tick off Edinburgh; of course we could spend a week in the city but we haven’t got a week. Our next task is to get lost finding Hopetoun House, where we are staying the night with Kerry and Bris Bovill; we do admirably at that but on the plus side accidentally discover the way to the airport, a skill we will need on Monday if we ever find our way back to Edinburgh after our travels.

A road maintenance worker finds us sitting beside the highway with an upside-down map and puzzled looks on our faces, and offers to lead us to the Hopetoun House turnoff. We arrive at the Bovill’s house an hour later than planned but to a warm welcome and familiar faces.

A late night around the remains of a delicious meal in their gorgeous home and still there is a lifetime’s reminiscing to do with Kerry, a member of one of our family’s great family friends the Reynolds’s.

©jane grieve

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