If you one of those history enthusiasts who would rather travel back (and forth) in time than into infinity and beyond, then Edinburgh is a place for you.
The moment you land at Edinburgh Airport you get the impression you arrived in Hogwarts – Harry Potter-styled wizardly outfits are scattered all over the place. You stand a good chance of bumping into J.K. Rowling at the grocer’s.
Even the contemporary Fringe Festival has the feel of a Victorian fayre: street performers, jugglers, comedians and all manner of things bizarre and freaky call out to you from every street corner.
The most modern building to visit is Hollyrood, the Scottish Parliament building, but from there it is only one-way street back in time.
Historical fireplaces took my fancy, maybe because I had overestimated the Scottish Summer average temperatures and felt slightly on the shivering side.
Edinburgh Castle oozes history, the blood shed in endless battles and sieges trickles from the castle walls, the ghosts of betrayed leaders and prisoners of war haunt even by daytime (the night must be seriously overcrowded) and battle cries can be heard over the cannon fire.
And if you are still not satisfied that you have travelled far enough, you can always descend underground to walk the ancient Mary King’s Close (not recommended for people with claustrophobia).
And finally, you can’t have Edinburgh without a bagpiper – so here is one for you:
It was time for crossing the North-South divide and following the grand old Duke of York to the top of that hill. We travelled to York ready for a frosty reception and the War of Roses. But it was a friendly and warm place, and it offered peace to the world on all fronts.
For a few days we lived in the friendliest little B&B, run by a Viking-type character with red hair, plenty of tattoos and non-nonsense approach to hearty, protein and fats-packed breakfast, bless him! We dined on traditional Yorkist food, slowly becoming full-blooded troopers.
For some diversity, we lounged in Turkish Baths: a whole evening dedicated to sweating, braising our bodies on full heat and then dipping them in an ice-cold pool. Something akin to making wrought-iron swords of ourselves. There was some hyperventilating on Husband’s part, but he recovered quickly and without grumbling.
On a cultural front, we visited York Theatre Royal to watch Agatha Christie’s murder mystery (nearly wrote mysery!). It was excellent, stylish and true to Miss Marple.
But the most satisfying was just loitering around York and inhaling its atmosphere. We scaled the walls and were nearly swept off them by the gales. We trotted to and fro in the Shambles, searching for ghosts of the past.
York Cathedral took our breath away. It’s a living form, not a building. It sits on ancient foundations which outdate the Romans, and it rises all the way to heaven. One can just settle down in a pew and soak in the spirits that float there free and unobstructed by the twenty-first century. Some of them have their heads immortalised in one of the chambers.
We didn’t put two and two together when, five months ago, our shower room was flooded due to someone plugging in the sink plughole and turning on the taps in the wee hours of the night. We blamed each other. Everyone shouted and swore innocence, and no one believed any of the other two. Of course, we didn’t have a clue that it was the Ghost.
A couple of nights ago the Ghost returned to haunt the shower room. It clearly has a huge problem with that particular room in the house. This time, he (or she) turned considerably more violent and punched the shower door. It was 3am when glass shattered and spluttered to the floor, sending us all into a state of panic.
Clever Ghost, managed to utterly annihilate one glass wall but left the parallel shower door intact.
That experience was marginally more unnerving that the flood, but again we blamed unspecified vibrations and an old house inadequacies on this unfortunate development. So the following night the Ghost attempted to paint the bathroom door white. He (or she) didn’t do a half-decent job of it so we washed the paint off.
Now, I’m not one for believing in ghosts, especially if they choose my home for their antics, but the damage to the property is a touch too much! How on earth are we going to explain this ghostly invasion to our Insurer?
Did I mention that our home is located in the middle of a lovely and, until now, peaceful graveyard?