Rachel in London

Rachel is spending the June 2009 term in SMU-in-Taos, where the photography courses she is taking will complement her journalism degree. After Taos, she’s immediately off to SMU-in-London, where she’ll study journalism from the British point of view, as well as the history of postwar European cinema.

Read more from Rachel in London

A Salute to Scotland

023.JPG As I glance out the window of the train into the vast city of Edinburgh, my heart melts within me and I know at that moment that I am in love. I was sorely tempted to, on the spot, take the advice of Bill Parrish in Meet Joe Black, “I want you to sing with rapture and dance like a dervish.”

Thursday, July 16

I glance at my screen monitor … yikes … 2 in the morning! I sigh, groan and stretch in my chair. My bottom is numb. Finally, the rough draft for Professor Pederson’s class is done, 1,000 words and all.

Don’t get me wrong: I am fascinated and loved researching the impact The Pilgrim’s Progress and John Bunyan had on British culture, religion and media. I am so weary, and my eyelids are heavy. It hardly seems worth sleeping since we all leave for Edinburgh, Scotland, this morning at 5 a.m. But some rest is best. I climb up the three flights of stairs and fumble my way into bed. Where’s a lift when you need one?

003.JPG All of us board the train at 7 a.m. We arrive at our destination four and a half hours later. I must have dozed off several dozen times onboard. As I step out into the fresh air and sunshine of Edinburgh, I gasp in delight.

015.JPG I have never been outside of England before. Edinburgh and indeed most of Scotland are very hilly! We pull our tired bodies up the very steep cobblestone (yes, the original streets back from the olden days) streets to the hostel we are to stay in for the night. There are 14 of us to a room. The rooms themselves aren’t that bad. Suffice to say, you don’t want me to describe what the bathrooms looked like.

008.JPG We make our way up the hill, more like a small mountain, on which Edinburgh Castle resides (overlooking the entire town). I am strongly reminded of Edoras in Rowhan, that Tolkien writes about in The Two Towers.

I explore the castle and see the crown jewels of Scotland, learning more about the history of their kings and of Mary Queen of Scots. She was crowned queen at 9 months of age. Also on display was the Stone of Destiny. This stone is said to have been the throne of the first king.

Some say that this is not the original stone and that when King Edward IV wanted to assert his power, he sent his men to pillage and take the stone away to humiliate the Scottish. The Stone of Destiny was at rest in an abbey at that time. Some monks replaced and hid the real stone with a false one. The real Stone of Destiny was said to be smooth and blackish in color, engraved with many Celtic sayings.

Edward IV had never seen the stone in person. It is said that the monks probably replaced the real stone with a stone used to cover up their latrines. Edward IV began to have doubts as to whether this was the real deal and so never built his throne over it like he had first intended.

002.JPG Next, I make my way over to the chapel-like building honoring the Scotsmen and Scotswomen who fought in the two World Wars. I come across a room full of bronze engraved soldiers on the wall and read a saying that borders the entire room, “Others also there are who perished unknown. Their sacrifice is not forgotten, and their names, though lost to us, are written in the book of God.”

At 4 p.m, we start on the guided tour of the Royal Mile. We stand in the square where many hangings often took place, as the guide tells us the tale of Maggie Dickson. Now, while I don’t quite recall her crime, I do know that she was hung, proclaimed dead, and placed in a coffin. Her family stopped at an inn to have supper and left the coffin outside. A passerby came into the inn asking whose coffin was out front. He then went on to tell them that the coffin was shuddering and noises were coming from it.

The family hurriedly went out and opened up the coffin. As they did, low and behold, Maggie Dickson sits upright and is alive! It is taken before the court and decided to let her live because they feared God. The townspeople were sure he had resurrected her and it would be bad fortune to take her life again. Dickson also got to remarry her husband, who was declared a widower.

We ate dinner at the pub called Deacon Brodie’s, which was used for the book and setting of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Deacon Brodie was an upstanding citizen by day, although he had three different families around the city, each of whom did not know about the other. Brodie was a cat burglar by night and was finally caught and brought to justice.

I am in the mood for a cold coffee and decide to hit up the Starbucks right by the hostel. I go inside and ask the clerk for a Coffee Frappachino and a small chocolate brownie. He smiles at me with perfect white teeth and repeats back to me my order in his charming Scottish brogue, “So you’ll be havin’ a Carmel Frappachino?” I laugh and say, “No, coffee not carmel.”

013.JPG He then proceeds to get my pastry and ends up handing me something that has carmel all over it. I am completely abashed for a moment. Before I could tell him I didn’t order this, the lady clerk starts laughing and says, “He’s determined for you to have something carmel.” He and I end up breaking out in loud laughter and my order is finally sorted.

Now I need to get off to bed early because I leave tomorrow morning for the Haggis Tour. I am excited about sharing all the tales of the tour!

Peace out, friends!

Share this story:

    About Sarah Hanan

    EA-PubAffairs(Periodicals)
    This entry was posted in Rachel in London. Bookmark the permalink.