2010 Vacation Day 4 [ G I ]

Today (Aug 2) we set out to see "Old Aberdeen," as it is called. I had planned to leave the hotel about 8, but I am finding this to be an admirable, albeit unreachable, goal. Unfortunately the plans I laid out do require sort of adherence to them - not like the airlines mind you but if we want to see "point "A" then travel to "point B" before noon then we sort of have to do this. Anyway, as it turned out, "Old Aberdeen" is mostly Aberdeen College, and trying to park there is like trying to park in Cambridge MA. WE decided again to leave for Brechin Cathedral in the town of Brechin. I was happy to see there was also Brechin Castle nearby, and the New Caledonian Railway.

The Cathedral would be a church by most definitions, but there was a Bishop there since like the 1300s; a Bishops sits in a chair called a "Cathedra" so even though the church is smallish for a cathedral, it is one nonetheless. It also has one of only two circular towers in Scotland, as most towers were built with square bases. The cathedral was beautiful, and had some amazing stained glass windows. There was also some Pict stone carvings in their collection. We listened to some stories from one of the church elders who happened by. He explained the history of the cathedral, such as when soldiers were garrisoned there, and why the columns on each side do not match (either bigger plans or lack of funds, or both).

We then walked through town a bit; I had been through her eon business and had seen the outside of the cathedral previously. But couldn't find some of the shops I remembered. I did have a Scottish beef and onion "bridie" (their equivalent of a Cornish "pastie" or meat pie). We drove to the New Caledonian Railway and I was prepared for a letdown as this is a tourist railway (last vestiges of the Caledonian Railway) that runs on weekends. Didn't even get to see any locomotives or rolling stock, but the restored Victorian-era station was a delight.

We then went to Brechin castle, but this was a real shock - the castle is only open 1 month a year for tours, as it is fully occupied. The owners did set up a garden shop and other retail shops on some land they sold. The god news is they had a theater/museum about the Pixcts, the first inhabitants of Scotland. They are obviously long gone now, but left behind pictograms (stone carvings), many place names, and the legend of the "lost Roman Legion."

From here we left for Glamis castle; this is a fully occupied castle that is sort of a living museum. We had a great tour although no cameras could be used. However my pen-movie-camera seemed to function fine and I'll post a movie and/or pictures once I edit it. The castle was full of absolutely priceless artifacts relating to Scottish and English history. It was also haunted, but the nun who accompanied our tour thankfully kept them at bay.

Due to timing, we (I) had to forgo visiting even briefly the St. Andrews golf museum (I mean what's so special, just the birthplace of golf), as well as the Dreel Tavern, which was supposedly one of the best true taverns in Scotland. Buit we had to keep everyone (especially that certain someone) happy. Of course it staggers the imagination to not understand if driving from Glasgow to Fort William to Inverness to Aberdeen to Cupar that we as a group would be together in the same car, and there would not be a lot of "me time." But I digress. Again.

We had a minor problem with the B&B we had arranged, as one guest decided to "stay on" as owner Nick put it. However he arranged a stay for some of us at a place about 7 houses away. Run by a very charming lady (with two hilarious Jack Russell terriers) we had a great stay. She told us a story about a calf they adopted when the mother wouldn't keep it, as it was born at an odd time of year. They raised it in the basement for 6 months!

I also had to really bite the inside of my cheek to keep from making a joke when the lady's aquarium sprung a leak. Not at the leak, but what she said. She told us (and I am not making this up) how her son was an engineer with BP, and when she called him, the best he could suggest to stop the leak was to put some plastic cling wrap on the inside of the tank (which did little). The lady applied some bar soap to the outside of the tank which seemed to stop the leak temporarily; at my suggestion she used a hair dryer to harden the soap. It worked, I guess BP should've called us a few months ago.

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