U.K. 2013


Day 5, Saturday, September 7

We had a bit of excitement last night after we went to bed. The hotel’s fire alarm went off – it was a deafening sound. We put  on our clothes, grabbed our passports, and walked down five flights of steps, out into the rain. After about 15 minutes, they announced that it had been a false alarm. The whole thing was rather unsettling.

When we got up this morning the sun was shining brightly into our room. After another great breakfast, we took a taxi to the Scottish Parliament building for a 10:30 tour. It is a very modern building which was built in the 2004. There had not been a Scottish Parliament since its adjournment on March 25, 1707. On September 11, 1997 the people of Scotland voted in a referendum in favor of a Scottish Parliament. On May 12, 1999, the first meeting of the new Scottish Parliament took place.

 We were part of a group of 12 with a tour guide who showed us most of the building.  There were a lot of interesting architectural designs, many of them being symbolic. The tour lasted a little over an hour.


Across the street from the Parliament building is The Palace of Holyrood House, which was on our list things to do today. Holyrood House has been a royal residence for over 500 years. .  The origins of the palace lie in the foundation of an Augustinian Abbey in 1128 by David I.  There is an interesting legend which attributes the founding to King David's vision of a stag with a cross or rood between its antlers.  The name Holyrood may also derive from the precious relic supposedly a fragment of the True Cross, which had been brought to Scotland by David I's mother, St. Margaret.  The King dedicated his new religious foundation to the Holyrood.

 It was James IV (1488 –1513)-who decided to convert the royal lodgings in Holyrood Abbey into a Palace.  It was here that Mary Queen of Scots lived.  We visited the room where her husband, Lord Darnley, Mary’ second husband, had Mary’s secretary, David Rizzio murdered.  Darnley thought something was going on between Mary and Rizzio.  We had audio guides for an interesting tour.  Queen Elizabeth shows up every once in a while.  We were so hoping to see her! 



 The tour of the palace ended in the abbey ruins which were connected to the palace.  The tour of the palace ended in the abbey ruins which were connected to the palace.  The first church was too small and a new building program was begun in 1195 and continued until 1230 to provide a much larger more ambitious structure.  Extensive monastic buildings were added to accommodate the large community, including cloisters, a chapter house, and refectory and guesthouses.  The Abby was completed in 1250 but the stone vault caused problems from an early date, and in the 15th century to levels of flying buttresses were added for support.

 The Abby suffered badly in the 1540s from destructive raids by English armies, and the nave is all that remains today of the Abby's originals structure.  The monastic buildings were abandoned after the Reformation and the Abbey itself suffered from extensive damage.  The nave was the only part retain for use and in 1633 underwent major renovations.  In 1688 it was ransacked by an Edinburg mob.  In 1758 stone slabs were added to strengthen the roof but the extra weight hastened its collapse 10 years later leaving the abbey in ruins, which remains to this day. The ruins were very similar to what we experienced at Melrose Abbey yesterday.  We spent about an hour looking at the ruins of Holyrood Abbey.

It started to rain so,we went into the Palace Café for lunch.  We split a hamburger, about 4 french fries and a strawberry and cream scone. 

Adjacent to Holyrood is the Queen’s Galley.  We had bought a combination ticket.  The exhibits change periodically.  The present exhibit was Leonardo Da Vinci – The Mechanics of Man. 


 Around the walls were framed pages from Da Vinci’s drawing of various part of our anatomy.  Next to these drawing were modern 3 D photos of the same parts of the body. It was a very interesting exhibit.

We had planned on seeing the Queen’s Yacht but it was 3:00 and it closed at 4:30,  so we started walking back on the Royal Mile to our hotel.  The streets were rather steep. 


We stopped in a church named Canongate Kirk –a Presbyterian Church.  King James VII (and II of England) arranged for the parish church of Canongate adjacent to the Palace of Holyroodhouse to become the Chapel of the Order of the Thistle, and ordered that money left at the disposal of the Crown by a merchant, Thomas Moodie, should be used to build a new building, which was started in 1688,  The interior of the building was completely reorganised in 1817.  A fire in 1863 did considerable damage and, in 1882, another extensive alteration was carried out which involved alterations to the galleries.


  It was in 1938, the 250th anniversary of the foundation of the present building that Dr Ronald Selby Wright announced his plans for a revolutionary renovation.   Enough had been raised for a start to be made in December 1945.   The boldest change was the color scheme – the pews painted light blue, the pulpit a darker blue, and the walls white.  It was a lovely church, and we were glad that we had an opportunity to spend some time in it. 

  As we left, it started to rain again –hard, so we caught a taxi back to our hotel.  It was about 4:30 so we decided to rest and eat dinner here at the hotel tonight. The weather has been very strange today, although the natives say it typical. It has been cold – in the low 50’s.  It rains hard, then the sun comes out and the sky turns blue, a few minutes later it rains again.

We went down stairs to the Galvin Brasserie De Luxe for dinner.  It is the same room in which we have breakfast.  We had foie gras for a starter, Kathleen casselot (duck, sausage & lamb), I had a delicious sliced roasted chicken with summer vegetables and pasta in a broth.  For dessert we shared a wonderful rice pudding.  



Day 1 -Arrival in Edinburgh

Day 2 - Edinburgh

Day 3- Edinburgh to Inchcolm Abbey

Day 4 - Edinburgh to Melrose & Rosslyn

DAY 5 - Edinburgh   

DAY 6 - Edinburgh

DAY 7 - York  

DAY 8 - Durham

DAY 9 -York 

DAY 10 - Lincoln

DAY 11 -Ely  

DAY 12 - Peterborough

DAY 13 - Cambridge 

DAY 14 - Ely to Worchester  

DAY 15 - Tewkesbury and Gloucester

DAY 16 - Hereford         

DAY l7 - London   

DAY 18 - London  

DAY 19 - London   

DAY 20 - London to Guildford, Chichester, Midhurst

DAY 21 - London      OUR LAST DAY