Saturday, January 4, 2014

The walking dead and loyal dogs

I don't really know if the dead walk at Greyfriars Kirk in Edinburgh.  I could imagine they do.  It's sort of a spooky place.  It's old enough.  Sandwiched behind the Flodden Wall and the Old Town. 
I finally found it after one day at my internship at NMS.  I bet when they built the church and planted the first few people there it was easy to find.  Now...a bit harder.  It's hidden behind bars and a computer repair store.
I had a hell of a time finding the statue too.  As a friend of mine said 'he's quite wee.'  It is a small statue, but it's not exactly hidden.  Apparently I was just not paying attention.

But once I figured out the church(sorry kirk)yard it was fun.  A bit creepy.  Especially this one memorial.

Well, I assume it's someone's memorial.  It could be real.

Not sure if it was a good thing that when I saw this the first thing I thought of was 'oh I know someone who would think that's so cool'.  He did, in case you needed to know.  I took more photos, mostly 'cause he asked.  But I did find the decorations interesting.  Especially when you could read the years.  It's very specific to a time period.  Like anything it has it's fashions.  I like the ones with wings best, but the pirate theme is topical, and it's always nice to see the gravedigger(I guess) represented.


Most people know the story of the loyal little dog known as Greyfriars Bobby.  If not, well, he was a Skye Terrier who along with his master lived in the area.  His master died suddenly and Bobby spent the next 14 years at his grave in Greyfriars Kirkyard.   Bobby and Jock both have gravestones in the cemetary.  But the dog is the draw.  It's why most people know the church and want to see it.

Even if it's not all true(really 14 years? Skye terriers don't usually live that long) it's not unusual for a dog to mourn.  It was also his turf.  So to speak. His headstone says it all really.  "Let his loyalty and devotion be a lesson to us all."  Perhaps we should learn a little from a loyal little dog who inspires to this day.

Thursday, January 2, 2014


One serious advantage of staying in Scotland for the holiday was the opportunity to attend the New Year's Eve party in Edinburgh.
Known as Hogmanay in Scotland(this link explains why in part) it's a major party.
The Edinburgh Hogmanay is world famous.  For good reasons.  Some of the reason are the music, the venues, and the fireworks from the Castle.

It was a great party.  It was jammed with people, 80,000 of us in a few streets in the center of town. 
As you can see...

And only 5 arrests!  As one woman said to me, explaining why "We're Scottish."  Yes, the alcohol flows.  And there are police.  But overall, it's amazingly civilized and friendly and fun.  My backpack was open and someone made a point of telling me.  In New York, I probably would have been robbed. 

Even with all the pushy-shovy happening most people are very chill about it.  It happens.  We are all going the same way, this is how it has to be. 

Edinburgh's Hogmanay is the best known.  There is a concert in the garden,(this year the Pet Shop Boys were the headliners) a street festival, a Keilidh, a torch procession, fireworks, and even a carnival.  It's recommended you get a hotel or something early.  Or live nearby.  If you want to go to the events, be warned, some sell out quickly.  This year the Keilidh did and the concert.  If you don't get to go to those, no worries, there are stages set up in the street festival.  And someone will start dancing and you'll get pulled into the circle.  Honest.

Fiddler's Bid is a folk group from Shetland that played on the Scottish stage.  Good music.  The accents were tough to understand though.    After we listened and danced to their set we moved on to the Rewinder stage which was the DJ and VJ set up.  The stage was set up on the Mound, so you had to head toward Old Town with a great view of the Castle.  This is a view of the party thanks to the BBC.  The Mound is in the upper left hand.

Which was the place to be.  Well, the three of us thought so. 
We ended up dancing to British club music with thousands of other people in the cobblestone streets. The view of the midnight fireworks was excellent.  My photos don't really do it justice.  Sorry 'bout that.

A wild party.  But fun, friendly, and hopeful.  All these people from all over the world doing the same thing in the same place and just having a good time.  People you'll never see again, but it didn't matter then.

Case in point... I met a girl from Mexico waiting in line at the toilets.  Had a great conversation with her for 5 minutes.  The funny part was some Scottish guy offered her 25 pounds to cut in line in front of her.  We both agreed that wasn't happening.  There are lines that cannot be crossed.

If you do one New Year's celebration in your whole life, this is the one.  Have dinner in a Scottish pub(mulled wine is recommended) ride the carnival rides, find a spot to dance the night away, look after your friends, sing Auld Lang Syne at the top of your lungs, and kiss a stranger at midnight.  You'll never regret it.
Happy New Year!  Make it a good one.  I hope it's blessed, happy, hopeful, and filled with wonder.