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Edinburgh, Forfar & Beyond

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Thursday, May 17, 2007

   Today we said goodbye to Kilbirnie and boarded a bus at the BuchananClick here for an enlargement Bus Station, to Edinburgh, due east of Glasgow about 40 miles.   The bus ride was picturesque and (compared to the train) relatively inexpensive, about $25 round trip per person. We arrived at Waverly Station in EdinburghClick here for an enlargement at 2pm and were greeted by Tim Hawarden, who immediately began our history tour through the notable areas of downtown, as well as an excellent view of the city and a rock formation called "ArthuClcik here for an enlargementr's Seat" from the Royal Observatory, where Tim worked until he retired in 2006.  While there, we got to view a collection of rClick here for an enlargementare books, originals from the works of Copernicus and Galileo, among others, dating back to the 14th century! After our tour, Tim drove us to their home, on Merchiston Avenue in Edinburgh, where we were greeted by our hostess, Tim's lovely wife, Frances.  We discussed oClick here for an enlargementur various world travels over afternoon tea, then Tim excused himself and went about preparing our evening "feast".  At his summons,Click here for an enlargement we were seated around the dining table for an exquisite homemade bouillabaisse, Tim's specialty. (Jeanie enjoyed eating prawns for the first time!)  Click here for an enlargement

After a great night's sleep in their guest room (Tim's officeClick here for an enlargement converted into a splendid bedroom), we headed north to Forfar and the highlands.  We crossed the Firth of Forth, a river with very strong tides and currenClick here for an enlargementts and an impressive bridge, and stopped for lunch in Dundee, once famous for its jute processing plants, and now the home of the tall ship "Discovery", renown for Antarctic explorations.  After coffee and a decadent slice of chocolate cake, we continued north to Forfar, where Jeanie's grandfather Bill was born anClick here for an enlargementd raised until traveling to a warmer climate!  The Ednie & Kinninmonth Hardware store is no longer there, but a shoe store now occupies the building, which Click here for an enlargementstill stands in great condition.  A local tailor, Mr. Jarvis, quizzed us on our genealogy and gave us directions to the local cemetery, but from the thousands oClick here for an enlargementf tomb stones we did not find the resting place of Jeanie's great-grandfather Andrew Ednie. 

As it was getting late in the evening, (although it didn't look like it yet, since the sun doesn't set until after 9pm this time oClick here for an enlargementf year), we headed for the Hotel at Glen Clova, a beautiful hiking area in the highlands, where we spent a fun evening of dinner and conversation.  Tim & Frances first visited the hotel on Click here for an enlargementtheir honeymoon 23 years prior.  It is still a popular destination for hikers and locals, and the food, ambiance & locale were all wonderful.  It was great to be cozyClick here for an enlargement and warm and look out at the wind and rain outside as the evening skies darkened.  After we finished a lavish highlands meal, Tim drove us home while the three of us napped.

On Saturday May 19 we stayed a little closer to home.  Castles of earlier historic timClick here for an enlargementes of William Wallace, Rob Roy and Robert the Bruce graced the countryside.  Movies like "Braveheart" and others passed before our eyes as we imagined the carnage of conquests and troubled times in Scottish history.  We stopped at the Rob Roy museum in Callendar, and a nice lunch at an out-of-the-way cafe served as a perfect midday pleasure.  Click here for an enlargement

We returned south to the town of Falkirk, location of the Falkirk Wheel, an engineering masterpiece which moves vessels downriver using one iClick here for an enlargementngenious wheel in the place of 12 different lock maneuvers.  What used to take 3 - 5 hours and lots of manual labor now takes 5 minutes and is completely automated.  For those interested in more about the wheel, you can visit www.thefalkirkwheel.co.uk .

Next we drove to the home of Frances's mother, Lynn Shaw, where we were greeted by Lynn as well as Tim's son, Sam.  The fellowship was wonderful, and we enjoyed the hospitality of this gracious lady.  It became clear to us where Frances'sClick here for an enlargement lovely traits come from!  A delicious home-cooked meal and good conversation was had by all, then Sam chauffeured us back to Edinburgh.  Tim took care to point out to us the crescent moon and Venus, and the Hawaiian star "Hokule'a" in the clear night sky. 

Having been persuaded by Frances to stay another night, we began our Sunday morning with a visit to the Gilmerton Dykes Church of Christ.  We shared an uplifting worship experience with some fine Scottish Christians.  Brunch of smoked salmon omelettes was prepared for us upon our return by "Chef Tim", Click here for an enlargementfollowed by a brief nap. 

Jeanie & Frances had decided it was time for a local garden tour,Click here for an enlargement so we headed off to a home in the local community whose owner occasionally opens her property to the public for viewing, to raise funds for the local garden club.  Frances enjoys visiting this garden often throughout the Spring Click here for an enlargementand Summer, and Tim collected a jar of pond scum to investigate later under his new microscope!

Our visit to Edinburgh was now complete, and quite delightful.  On Monday we said our goodbyes to this wonderful coupleClick here for an enlargement, and Tim drove us back to Waverly Station, where we boarded the bus back to Kilbirnie.

-Robert & Jeanie


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