A Capital Day Out !

Monday 20th April – (Day 39)

It had been a pretty good week up here on the Northumberland coast, plenty of warm sunshine during the day, albeit chilly starts and chilly ends. I also received an unexpected Email from one of my blog readers, what a small world it is, Rachel lives and works on ‘Holy Island‘ and told me that only the ‘Tourists‘ refer to it as ‘Lindisfarne’, which I am pleased about, as now when I hear that name I can go back to thinking about ‘Lady Eleanor‘, ‘Meet Me On The Corner‘, ‘Run For Home‘ and of course the original version of ‘Fog On The Tyne‘ which, as people of a certain age group will know, were all hits in the 70’s for the Tyneside Group called ‘Lindisfarne‘. So now when we visit Holy Island we will have our own resident expert to give us the ‘nod’ on the best places to go, and if we are lucky maybe even a nice cuppa, provided that this time we check the ‘Safe Crossing Times’ !!

The week didn’t end quite as well though, there I was just innocently chewing on a spearmint chew when I felt a bit of a crunch, now I knew that this sweet was a chew and not a piece of ‘Nut Brittle’ so it had to be bad news, and I was correct, on closer inspection of half-chewed chew, there it was, staring up at me, a filling !! So now I need to locate a local Dentist who can replace the missing filling sooner rather than later.

We had mixed feelings about our days off, there would be no customary lay in as we had to get ‘Big Momma’ to ‘Broxburn’, on the East side of Edinburgh, for her annual service and MOT which, according to ‘Snoopy’ was a one and a half hour drive and we needed to get there by 08:30am !! However, on the plus side, once we had handed her over we could catch a bus into the City. I had lived in Edinburgh many years ago and since then had re-visited several times so there wasn’t much left to see, except that was for one major sightseeing location, namely the ‘Castle’. I know what you are thinking, how could we have not visited the Castle on any of our previous visits, I don’t know the answer to that only that we hadn’t, but we would be able to remedy that oversight now even though our most recent ‘Castle’ experience had been a bit of a disappointment.

It was a beautiful morning, the sun was already shining, the sky was lovely and blue, albeit the normal typical chilly start to the day, no matter, we would soon have ‘Big Momma’s’ engine up to temperature to provide some welcome in-cab heating. It was a relatively uneventful drive across the border and for some long stretches the ‘A1’ hugged the Coast and we enjoyed lovely sea views. We had just passed ‘Torness Power Station’ when I saw another sign that stated ‘Cement Works‘, now I just happened to say to Shazza, “It’s true, it really does“, she scowled at me blankly but couldn’t contain herself, “What are you going on about” she said. I gave her one of my mischievous smiles and explained that the sign had stated that ‘Cement Works’ and I was just confirming the accuracy of the sign. “That” she said, “Was not even like a joke, never mind not being even mildly humorous“, she can be so harsh at times !!

‘Snoopy’ could not have foreseen the amount of traffic we would encounter once we got onto the Southern Ring Road around Edinburgh, but perhaps I should have done, after all it is Scotland’s Capital City and we had hit it right on the morning rush hour. However, we were only fifteen minutes late arriving at the ‘FIAT Commercial’ service centre. Once we had done the paperwork and handed over the keys we made our way to the bus stop for our day in Edinburgh. Whilst waiting for the bus, we had just missed one but they ran every twenty minutes, I made a phone call to a Dentist in Berwick to try to arrange an appointment, the lady on the other end of the phone advised me that registering as a ‘Temporary Patient‘ was not a problem but the earliest they could see me would be the end of May and that was for a ‘Emergency Appointment’ !! I told her that I would try elsewhere first and then I rang a second number I had copied down before we left. This lady advised me that it was a ‘Private Practice‘, interpret that as ‘Expensive Treatment‘, I asked how much for a filling and for the second time in a week felt the blood drain from my veins, Eighty Pounds for a filling !! For another Twenty Pounds I could have had more ‘shares‘ in Alnwick Castle !! But, as they say, beggars  can’t be choosers and as she could fit me in the following week, the appointment was made and just in case you were wondering, the appointment is for 2pm and not ‘Tooth Hurty’ !!

The bus journey into the centre of Edinburgh took Forty Five minutes, but it was interesting as it took the route along the road near to where I used to live, okay so there were a few changes but only in the names of some of the retailers, the old familiar long-standing institutions were still there, namely ‘Murrayfield Stadium‘ and ‘Edinburgh Zoo‘. We got off right on ‘Princess Street’, the Main Street, but now they had ‘Trams’ running up and down as well as loads and loads of buses. After a stop for a small ‘snackeroonie‘, okay I confess, a large snackeroonie, we climbed our way up to the Castle which dominates the skyline as it stands guard over the busy City below. We were both a little apprehensive, perhaps we were already all ‘Castled’ out, would this be yet another disappointment. We knew we would have to pay an entrance fee but were pleasantly surprised, after paying Fifty Pounds for our last Castle exploration this time it was only Thirty Three Pounds, but would it be worth it ? Well let me put you out of your misery, the answer is a most definite yes, this really is a Castle that stands head and shoulders above all the Castles that we have visited so far, the biggest problem I have now is trying to decide which of the dozens of photographs that I had taken, to leave out !!

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Okay, so let's get the 'Selfie' out of the way now !!

Okay, so let’s get the ‘Selfie’ out of the way now !!

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This is the 'One o'Clock Gun', every day it gets fired, I will leave you to work out at what time it gets fired..................?

This is the ‘One o’Clock Gun’, every day it gets fired, I will leave you to work out at what time that happens……………..?

I guess you could say that this Shazza getting the 'Big Guns' out !!

I guess you could say that this Shazza getting the ‘Big Guns’ out !!

Wonderful view over the City

Wonderful view over part of  the ‘Princess Street’ Gardens and Princess Street itself then across to the ‘Firth of the Forth’ where the Royal Yacht ‘Britannia’ is moored, these days serving as yet another major visitors attraction.

Inside the Castle walls there are simply loads of streets and alleyways to explore.

Inside the Castle walls there are simply loads of streets and alleyways to explore.

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Huge buildings within the Castle, many are now Museums housing dedications to the troops that once used the castle as a Garrison .

Huge buildings within the Castle, many are now Museums housing dedications to the troops that once used the castle as a Garrison .

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The Castle Garrison also housed a prison, it was quite interesting to wander around and see the conditions that the prisoners lived in, but more interestingly was these little snippets of information on prisoners entitlements …………

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The Graveyard within the Castle for the 'Regimental Dogs'

The Graveyard within the Castle for the ‘Regimental Dogs’

This gives some scale of the size of the inner parts of this Castle, this is looking down towards the 'One o'Clock Gun'

This gives some scale of the size of the inner parts of this Castle, this is looking down towards the ‘One o’Clock Gun’

Impressive architecture within the Castle

Impressive architecture within the Castle

Looking down the barrel of a canon !

Looking down the barrel of a canon !

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And then it was time to leave again !!

And then it was time to leave again !!

Believe me when I tell you that these were just a selection of the photographs, however, they don’t tell the whole story of our wonderful visit. In addition to the various Museums and the prison, their were staterooms to wander and even an opportunity to view the Scottish Crown Jewels, you meandered up and through rooms that told the story of how they were crafted, lost and then found again, culminating in the actual ‘Crown Jewels’ themselves in a large glass case. I did suggest to Shazza that we could perhaps attempt a quick ‘smash ‘n’ grab‘ to try to recoup some of the funds shelled out on our recent acquisition of a certain ‘Spanish Bolt Hole’, however, she pointed out in no uncertain terms that she didn’t think we would get away with it, and that in the process I could end up losing my own ‘Crown Jewels’ !! I thought better of it !

There are of course the usual ‘Tourist Tat’ gift shops in the Castle at strategic points, several in fact, and a shop dedicated to the ‘Whisky Experience’, well being in Scotland’s Capital City it would have been rude not to offer at least a ‘wee dram‘ before attempting to sell you several bottles of the stuff. I wasn’t tempted, not at those prices anyway but we did purchase a ‘Christmas Tree’ Decoration, we collect such trinkets from places we visit all around the world, our Christmas tree is now more of a ‘Travel Log’, did you see what I did there, ‘tree’ and ‘log’………… !!

Now I know that I am a self-confessed history heathen but I can say in all sincerity that the Thirty Three pounds entrance fee was worth every single penny !! However, I can also say with confidence that we are now finally all ‘Castled’ out, well for a little while at least, and it did make a nice change from visiting Cathedrals in search of ‘Tombs’ that may, or may not, have contained the remains of certain famous people !!

We walked back down towards the City, still with my camera trigger finger ready…………..

Could have had a 'Wizard' of a time in here !!

Could have had a ‘Wizard’ of a time in here !!

Part of the street in the upper City known as the 'Royal Mile', the venue for many of the events during the annual 'Fringe'

Part of the street in the upper City known as the ‘Royal Mile’, the venue for many of the events during the annual ‘Fringe’ Festival

At least this 'kilted' gent didn't have any bagpipes or asked for anything to be placed into his 'Spirren' !!

At least this ‘kilted’ gent didn’t have any bagpipes or asked for anything to be placed into his ‘Sporren’ !!

A view of part of the Princess Street Gardens, very quiet on the day we visited but in the height of Summer almost every blade of grass is taken up with hoards of Tourists resting their weary feet.

A view of part of the Princess Street Gardens, very quiet on the day we visited but in the height of Summer almost every blade of grass is taken up with hoards of Tourists resting their weary feet.

It had been a long day, we attempted to have a walk along the shops but we were just too tired, it was mid-afternoon and so we decided to catch the bus and head back to the garage to see if ‘Big Momma’ was ready to take us home. She wasn’t and we were told it would probably be after 6pm before it would be ready !! We had no option but to sit in the ‘Customer Waiting Area’ where we waited, and waited and waited. Finally at 6:15pm we were told that ‘Big Momma’ was ready to go, there had been no problems and after a ‘Major’ Service she was given a clean bill of health, namely a MOT Certificate. We had one stop to make before heading back to Berwick, we wanted to re-fill our LPG tanks, we had last filled up on our way to the Campsite on the 13th March and although we had been on EHU we had used Gas for cooking and the occasional use to boost the heater, water and habitation, so it would be interesting to see what we had used over the last Thirty-nine days. I had seen in one of my LPG Guides that there was a Service station quite conveniently located off the Ring Road at the ‘Dreghorn Link‘ so no need for any deviations off route. ‘Snoopy’ took us straight onto the forecourt of the ‘SHELL’ service station which was, as the guide had stated, literally just off the exit slip road. Even better, the Auto-Gas Pump was located with the normal fuel pumps so I topped up with both LPG and Diesel, we were quite happy to discover that we had only used Eight Litres of gas.

We arrived back at the Campsite just after 8pm, Thirteen hours after leaving and we were both pretty well buggered, but it had been a good day, ‘Big Momma’ was all serviced and so she was good for another year and we had had a good day at the Castle into the bargain.

Now then Shazza, where are you taking me for the next Expedition …………………………….. ?

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24 Responses to A Capital Day Out !

  1. tomhope2421 says:

    Edinburgh is such a wonderful city,it was 15 years ago since I last visited so I’m well over due, on my list….. 👍🏻

    • Our club site on ‘Marine Drive’ is in a great location and the last time I was there, a mini-bus service ran several times a day taking Campers to the City, and collecting them later. But there is always the bus as well. Or a very nice site at Berwick-upon-Tweed where you can take a train to Edinburgh (45 mins), I am told the site staff are really friendly and helpful 😄👍🏻

  2. Chris/ Belgian Beauty says:

    Congratulations to Big Momma! Well done! Well, that was a nice combination of a boring must do and a lovely day off!

    • Albeit a long one !! ‘Big Momma’is now 5 years old so was very pleased that she is still getting a clean bill of health 👍🏻 It was a bonus being able to get into the City, as you say it helped pass the time on a boring, but essential, ‘must do’ task !!

  3. Hi Eric, we stopped off at Berwick overnight on Sunday with the hope of catching up with you.Unfortunately it was your weekend off and of course you were taking Big Momma for her service on Monday so had left early.Maybe we will meet later in the year.Congratulations on the purchase of your new Spanish residence it sounds wonderful.We are currently touring Scotland for four weeks our maiden voyage in Dora the Delaware,everything good so far.Will keep in touch.

    • Hi Martyn, I was told on Wednesday that you had been on site, sorry we didn’t get chance to meet you but hopefully we may get another opportunity 😉 Enjoy your tour of Scotland 👍

  4. Are you going to the Royal Yacht? If you do, please consider buying my friend’s book – A Yachtsman’s Tale – I think it is still sold on the ship. It’s full of amusing stories about his life serving as a Yachtsman on – yes you guessed it – the Royal Yacht. He invited me on board and I did the two-and-sixpenny tour on it’s last trip into London and it’s really quite interesting, and well worth a visit – as long as it’s not too expensive that is.

  5. Baxterbus says:

    Edinburgh is stunning and you did it justice – all our favourites there (except Grey Friars Bobby!). We are so overdue a health check on Dora Explora – Iain has fixed all our current woes but sure a garage will have field day when we get back 🙂

    • Yes Edinburgh is well worth a visit for several days to do all the sightseeing stuff, I think we have done it all now except the ‘Military Tatoo’ and the ‘New Year Eve Fireworks’ 😄

  6. Ste T says:

    Now I’m liking to jokes Eric and thought your cement one was funny. Not only that but as you were passing the sign topical too. It seems that Ann is the same with my jokes as Shazza is with yours. At the supermarket checkout whenever we are buying melons, as she’s placing them on the belt I always say, “Nice melons you’ve got there Ann!” Now I ALWAYS laugh and I’m sure you are doing too, as will all your readers. Yet she just gives me that look and doesn’t so much as smirk! They just don’t get it. They’re living with two comedy genii yet don’t appreciate us. I wonder if Eric & Ernie had the same problems with their wives? 🙂

    • It’s always nice to be appreciated, especially from a kindrid spirit !! I know what you mean mate, i think it’s the ‘female’ gene, they lack the ‘sense of humour’ one, now that’s just lost me half, if not more, of my blog followers and readers 😳 And talking of ‘Eric & Ernie’, we have had some beautiful weather, must be the songs I sing during my ‘Bin Run’, the one that makes our Campers smile is when I am singing ‘Bring me sunshine’, even when it’s sunny or raining 😂 I occasionally change it to ‘Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life’.

  7. Debs says:

    I am Glad big Momma got a clean bill of health. Sounds like a very long day.
    I love Edinburgh great city
    I hope everything goes ok at the Dentist 🙂

  8. anteater says:

    Hi Eric and Shazza,

    Firstly, congratulations on your Spanish purchase! What a surprise! You have probably got in just in time at the low prices. I expect you have charges to cover maintenance etc. so it won’t in any way be a millstone round your necks when you are elsewhere.

    Now, I don’t know if it is me (oh, certainly it is!) but those pics of Edinburgh Castle etc. do absolutely nothing for me (and this is no reflection on your photographic skills of course!) I absolutely hate the dark granite of those parts – designed to depress anyone I think. Bring me the white Andulcian villages and sunshine any time! However, am glad you two have had such a nice time exploring up there. I bet you are dying to spend time in your Spanish place tho! I am in our caravan almost every day (except yesterday as I seem to have gone down with another bout of a ‘flu-like illness….), and have been putting a few ornaments etc. to pretty it up. Just like you we’ve got all the timing wrong as we will be in Italy in September when we could have been taking the caravan down to France and staying in that! So it will go down late November (oh well, an extra little holiday anyway!).

    I hope the warden work is going well and that you are not too worn out!

    anteater

    • Yes, we are now responsible for paying the bills on the property, Water & Electricity (Standing Charges), IBI (Equivalent to Council Tax) and Communal Charges (Pool Maintenance & Garden Landscaping and cleaning of all Communal Areas, Stairs, Landings, Lifts etc) and we also have taken out Building & Contents Insurance but all of that only equates to €250 per month.

      We are certainly looking forward to getting out there in November, obviously to use the Apartment but also to enjoy the immediate area, the Beach, Marina and Town all within walking distance as well as places to explore/visit a little further afield.

      The ‘Elf & Elfette’ duties are as expected again this year, very physically demanding and long hours, but we have superb Wardens this year and we really work well together as a team so it makes it enjoyable.

      So you are getting two holidays eh !! 👍🏻 Enjoy 😎

  9. Hi Eric
    Can you help please. We are travelling to Morvich on Saturday 2nd May and will be approaching on the A832 to Achnasheen and then the A890 to Morvich.During your time at Morvich did you travel these roads in Wuxley and do you deem them suitable for motorhome travel?Your advice would be greatly appreciated,many thanks Martyn.

    • Martyn, we didn’t take Big Momma on those roads but did explore all around the area in Wuxly. These roads are used by trucks as well as Cars towing Caravans and of course Motorhomes. The roads, where they narrow, have plenty of pull-in’s so you should have no problems, however, depending on the day you are travelling and the time, allow a good journey time as it can be slow going if their is a lot of traffic on the road. That in itself is a bit of a laugh, we are not talking major tailbacks here, but when you keep having to pull over it can be slow going, but the scenery is well worth it, enjoy 😉

  10. Thank you Eric,you have put my mind at rest.Will let you know how we get on.we have hired a car for a couple of days to explore the west coast.😃

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