It was with great excitement that we traveled up to Scotland. Not only was a beauty of a city waiting to be explored at the time of its annual art festival (Fringe), but also Sean & Jen’s wedding and our start of the Scottish National Trail. All in – close to one month in one of my favorite countries lie ahead. I remember only too keenly the time during my Lhotse preparation up here. And I want more 🏴 🏕️🦕⛈️🌲
Previous blogs in Scotland
Socialising with the wedding crew
After sorting some last yet essential hiking kit (such as boots & sleeping bags), we joined Jen & Sean for a social evening at The Devil’s Advocate pub in Edinburghs old town. Many familiar faces from Ibiza and some faces I hadn’t seen in years. A good time also for Laura to meet some new people including several Spanish speakers. Great fun.
Edinburgh sightseeing – story telling time
I don’t know how many times i have been here before. Maybe more than ten times. But often for work and with little time to get to know Edinburgh better.
We headed straight for the High Street where the annual arts festival Fringe (the largest worldwide) was in full swing. Street performances en mass and a flurry of actors marketing their perforamances for the day. Everything goes really. Great athmosphere.
As usual, i got myself on a free tour. This time with city explorers. What a great way to explore town. Starting from its origins centuries ago, the city wall and its limitations, the subsequent construction of the Georgian new town, the famous children of Edinburgh and Scotland and a few entertaining tales. Some of what i learned I share below.
Adam Smith: Certainly the most famous one of the economists though also very active in philosophy and writing. His book ‘The wealth of Nations‘ remains a key pillar of classic economics and his masterpiece. His contributions to free trade thinking have most certainly improved so many livelyhoods.
Man is an animal that makes bargains: no other animal does this – no dog exchanges bones with another.
– Adam Smith
Walter Scott: This Scottish novelist might be less well known to many though his works like Ivanhoe might already sound more familiar. The monument dedicated to him remains the tallest in the world dedicated to an author. His novels revolutionised and initiated Scottish tourism in particular his popular works ‘Waverly Novels’ (sold 2m times in France alone… In tbe 18th century!).
Success – keeping your mind awake and your desire asleep.
– Walter Scott
Robert Burns: Scotlands national poet that is celebrated each year at Burns night. In 2009 he was voted the greatest Scot of all times by the Scottish people.
There is no such uncertainty as a sure thing.
– Robert Burns
GAURDY-LOO and the origins of being “shit faced”
Back in the day when they threw their chamber pot contents into the street they didn’t just do it whenever. There was a special time when the bells from a certain church would ring and then everyone would open up their windows, chamber pots in hand. “Gaurdy-loo” would be yelled out and then SPLASH into the street it would all go. Excuse the terrible spelling of that phrase, but it’s kind of hard to hear the french origin with the Scottish accent, essentially in French, that meant “dirty water.” Over time when toilets began to come into play it shortened itself and this is where “loo” came from. (Another fun fact, here in the UK it’s a port-a-loo rather than a port-a-potty. Sounds much classier, don’t you think?)
Now the times that the bells tolled also happened to coincide with another time regulated event, when the bars closed and the drunks came home. Apparently at this time there were a lot of foreigners in Edinburgh, trying to be protected from the English, so they weren’t entirely accustomed to all of Edinburgh’s culture. When someone yelled “Guardy-loo,” instead of running and hoping to escape the splash zone, drunk and disoriented they would look up, and the phrase “shit-faced” was born.It is 3am in a cafe on the last road to nowhere. There is a waitress with no name, past or future, and only the radio to drown out the silence. She seems stuck in the same place at the same time; if she stops, the world may stop too. Merging physical theatre and dance with aerial circus, held together by performance poetry and an eclectic soundtrack, Rogue Play’s 65-minute, high-energy piece explores loneliness and detachment, the tenderness of unexpected connections and the ultimate peace that comes when we accept the world as it is.
The story of Maggie Dickson
While exploring the Grassmarket area of town you will most certainly hear of Maggie Dickson. The place was formerly the lifestock market, but also a place of execution.
A popular story in Edinburgh is that of Margaret Dickson, a fishwife from Musselburgh who was hanged in the Grassmarket in 1724 for murdering her illegitimate baby shortly after birth.
After the hanging, her body was taken back to Musselburgh on a cart. However, on the way there she awoke. Since, under Scots Law, her punishment had been carried out, she could not be executed for a second time for the same crime (only later were the words “until dead” added to the sentence of hanging). A subsequent inquiry found that many others were burried alive as scratch marks in their coffins indicated.
Her “resurrection” was also to some extent seen as divine intervention, and so she was allowed to go free (and avoided paying taxes owing to her death certificate). In later life (and legend) she was referred to as “half-hangit Maggie”. There is now a pub in the Grassmarket named after her.
Greyfriars Bobby – a story of a loving dog
The best-known version of the story is that Bobby belonged to John Gray, who worked for the Edinburgh City Police as a nightwatchman.
When John Gray died he was buried in Greyfriars Kirkyard, the kirkyard surrounding Greyfriars Kirk in the Old Town of Edinburgh. Bobby then became known locally, spending the rest of his life sitting on his master’s grave.
Let his loyalty and devotion be a lesson to us all.
– scripture on Bobby’s grave stone
He is now burried on Greyfriars cementary close to his master and honoured every year. On this cementary you will also find several grave stones with names that inspired A. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter characters such as Thomas Riddel aka Lord Voldemort (she wrote the first two books in a cafe opposite the graveyard and came here to find inspiration).
Let’s got to the theatre… The 3am waitress
I actually never attended a play etc in Edinburgh even though i was at the Fringe before. Laura pick out a dance theatre. Little text from actors, but background voice and lots of expression anfld movement. Liked it as the performance went on. Very different to what I have seen before. Here the promo video.
Description: It is 3am in a cafe on the last road to nowhere. There is a waitress with no name, past or future, and only the radio to drown out the silence. She seems stuck in the same place at the same time; if she stops, the world may stop too. Merging physical theatre and dance with aerial circus, held together by performance poetry and an eclectic soundtrack, Rogue Play’s 65-minute, high-energy piece explores loneliness and detachment, the tenderness of unexpected connections and the ultimate peace that comes when we accept the world as it is.