Having walked all the way around Edinburgh Castle on day one and developed quite an obsession with the city’s most dominating monument, I felt it only fitting to wile away the afternoon amongst its cobbled streets.
Joining the throngs of tourists queuing beneath the castle’s portcullis, I began what can only be described as the longest audio tour known to man. The Castle and Royal Mile are the perhaps the most famous example of the geological structure known as a ‘craig and tale’ – in Scotland anyway. The Castle sits proudly on the rocky volcanic plug, the craig, an isolated mountain acting as a shield to the softer rock around it, which is eroded by the last glacial ice age carving its way across the landscape. Finally, leaving a tapered rocky ramp, the tale, in its wake. (Geography was my favourite subject!)
The castle, one of the Kingdom of Scotland’s, most impressive fortresses, is now home to the Honours of Scotland – the oldest set of Crown Jewels in the British isles. Worn in coronations of Scottish Monarchs from Mary I in 1543, they were sealed in great chest behind a bricked up door in the castle, when the Acts of Union 1707 were ratified, forming the Kingdom of Great Britain. Over 100 years later Sir Walter Scott retrieved them from their intended eternal resting place, amongst much rumour that they had gone missing, for public display.
The stone of destiny, or the Stone of Scone, the ancient coronation seat of the First King of the Scots was stolen by Edward I of England and carted off the Westminster. The geological relic now sits alongside the Honours after it was returned in1996 having spent 700 years in the Coronation chair (Goddamn Brits always stealing ancient relics!).
After I spent the best part of the afternoon imagining myself as Mary Queen of Scots reincarnate, I rejoined Alice for a slap-up Thai banquet, drinks served by waiters in posh kilts and our last show – Benny Davies: Human Jukebox. A musical genius that plays the best melodica you’ll ever hear.
Laden with shortbread, and dined on Harvey Nich’s finest poached egg and haggis (you have to really, eh?), I took one last look at the royal seat as Bagpipes floated their way along the Royal Mile.