Rain! It was raining when we woke and rained until lunch time. Fine but overcast during the afternoon. Today was a real dog day, the day's tale has a dog theme.
We set out in the rain to discover Edinburgh, cold, wet, waterproof coats. On the way to Edinburgh we passed the main buildings of the University of Edinburgh and dropped in to Greyfriars Kirk and Kirkyard.
For the dog lovers, you may know the story of Greyfriars Bobby although it's probably a long time since you heard it. It was for me but I wanted to see the history of it. The story has a ring of urban myth about parts of it but the basic story is correct. For those who don't know, Greyfriars Bobby was a little dog owned by a local policeman, James Gray, better known as "Auld Jock". Bobby was his dog and they were virtually inseparable for around two years. Auld Jock died of tuberculosis in 1858 and was buried in the Greyfriars Cemetery. Bobby led the funeral procession to the cemetery and refused to leave after the burial. Although dogs were not allowed in the graveyard, Bobby stayed and eventually was accepted and allowed to stay, only leaving when the one o'clock gun at the castle fired. Then he went to the eating house where Jock ate and was fed. The council established rules that required dogs to wear a collar and be registered. Eventually, The Lord Provost took responsibility for Bobby's registration and bought a collar to protect the dog from harm. The collar is on display in the museum. Becoming known as Greyfriars Bobby, he guarded Auld Jock's grave for fourteen years until he died in 1872.
J K Rowling was a resident of Edinburgh when she wrote the first Harry Potter books. Some of the character names of the book come from gravestones in the Greyfriars Cemetery. One of those was Tom Riddle, "Voldemort". Apparently, the story goes that at the time she was here, she was too poor to afford heating for her home so she spent time in The Elephant House Cafe across the road from the cemetery writing her books.
From Greyfriars we headed on up to the Edinburgh Castle, still in the rain and the fog closing in making the castle an eerie sight. We toured around and through the castle looking at the various parts and rooms of the castle and looking at the Scottish crown jewels and associated items. Also wandered through the Great Hall, St Margaret's Chapel, the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards museum and the National War Museum. One interesting item outside was a cannon known as Mons Meg. Originally gifted to James II, King of Scots in 1454, the cannon designed as a siege weapon, was used until the 16th century. Weighing in at almost 7 tonnes with a barrel diameter of .51 metres, it could shoot a gunstone weighing 150 kgs, 3.2 klms. Another interesting and surprising thing was the Dog Cemetery for the soldiers' dogs. Very nice and has small gravestones for the dogs.
By the time we left the castle the rain had stopped and the day was warming up. We walked down the Royal Mile looking at the buildings and shops along the way. We checked out the Museum of Childhood, looking at historical toys, some even before my time. Very good collection and worth the visit. At the end of the Royal Mile is the Palace Holyroodhouse, the official residence of the Queen when she is in Edinburgh.
Opposite the Palace are the new Scottish Parliamentary buildings. Very impressive and unusual to look at but blends in well with the historic buildings in the vicinity. Some of the buildings are designed to look like the hulls of boats when viewed from above.
Walking back up the Royal Mile we stopped off at the Museum of Edinburgh. Interesting exhibits in an interesting building. We were looking for the Greyfriars Bobby exhibit but one other very interesting find was a couple of Elm tree trunks with one end shaped into a cone and the other a hollow of the corresponding shape. Apparently up to around 1800, it was common to use these hollowed tree trunks as water pipes, the ends fitting into each other and able to be sealed.
Apart from snapping off a picture of a hill called Arthur's Seat, that was about it for the day. It's a long hard climb to the top of Arthur's Seat, so we didn't attempt that but you are guaranteed a great view.