Monday, July 27, 2015

Meeting a Celebrity in Edinburgh

The Royal Mile Edinburgh on a quiet morning.

We only spent a couple of days in Edinburgh on this trip. For me, our visit brought back memories of my last visit when we lived in England in 1989-90, and my friends Sheri and Marney came to visit, but it was Kevin's first visit to the city.

We visited many of the usual tourist sites and also the Scottish National Gallery of Art, where Kevin could view works by two of his favorite artists, Henry Moore and Francis Bacon.

Earthwork outside of the art museum.
The new Scottish Parliament building was also high on our agenda.  I'm sorry to say that I'm not a fan. The building attempts to bring in elements of Scotland with stones that resemble those of ancient monuments, wood that echoes the forest, and projections on the front of the building that look like ancient spears. Plaques with quotes from Scottish writers are also embedded in its walls. But it seems, to me, to be trying too hard, and it doesn't fit well with Holyrood Palace, right across the street. But that's just my opinion.
Take a look here, and see what you think. 

I guess I’m just getting to be a curmudgeon.  (OK, so “getting to be,” might be an understatement.) I was also incensed at what has happened to the Camera Obscura in Edinburgh.  I remembered it from my previous visit to Edinburgh, and wanted Kevin to see it. Then, it was simply the Victorian camera obscura. Then, I climbed the stair, and reaching the room at the top, I saw the projected image of the city of Edinburgh.  I thought it was wonderful.  But now, apparently that’s not enough for our digital world. 

Tower hosting the camera obscura

Now, the site is billed as the “Camera Obscura and the World of Illusions,” and the owners have tarted it up with mirrors and optical illusions.  No! No! No!  It should be enough to see what our predecessors marveled at and be amused at this antiquated treasure.  Of course, they now want the equivalent of about $18.45 to view it, and you can’t simply pay to see the camera obscura alone, so we declined the opportunity.

Kevin takes in Edinburgh Castle.

The highlight of Edinburgh, for me, was Edinburgh Castle.  We had a great guide, Frank, who made the castle and its history come alive with a mixture of historical stories and humor.  As I remembered from before, he recounted how in Greenwich, the international prime meridian, the troops fire off twelve cannon rounds every day at noon, as they have for (centuries?) so ships at sea could synchronize their clocks.  But the thrifty Scots changed that tradition. In Edinburgh, for ships anchored in the Firth of Forth, the Scots, even today, fire their signal at 1 p.m. And that requires only one cannon shot, which represents a significant savings of ammunition! (But we were there on Sunday, the one day they don’t fire a shot.)

Frank, our guide, was so enthusiastic, he obviously loves his job.

However, what really made the day special was that we had a celebrity on our tour (wait for it)—Shaun the Sheep!  Yes, I confess that I am a big Shaun the Sheep fan.  I like it so much that I’m tempted to make an affection for Shaun, the claymation character created by Nick Park of Wallace and Grommit fame, as a litmus test for friendship.  If you don’t like Shaun the Sheep, then there’s something wrong with you!  (No, I wouldn’t really go that far.) 

The young couple from Germany who are carrying our woolly hero have a Facebook page and website called, “Shaun on Tour.”  I couldn't find it, but maybe you can? There are a few sites with the same idea, people who are bringing Shaun with them on their world travels. Why not? Can you imagine a better ambassador for peace? You don’t have to know English to enjoy the adventures of the crafty sheep and his winsome flock. I will close with the final lines from the Shaun The Sheep song: “Perhaps some day/ you’ll find a way/ to come and meet with Shaun the Sheep, to come and bleat with Shaun the Sheep!” (And I did.)

Hint to family:  See the Shaun doll? You know what I want for Christmas, right?

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