Monday, July 19, 2010

The Tattoo...and I don't mean ink

We watched a lot of the British Open this past weekend. One look at the flags flapping in the wind and the golfers wearing jackets let you know it wasn't Florida in July. They were in fact at St. Andrews. Scotland.

And yes I am going to turn a mention of the British Open into a travel post so consider yourself warned. The thing is, I didn't start my blog until we were leaving the UK and I'm enjoying re- visiting some of our favorite places in my posts... putting words with pictures before the details become too fuzzy. I've had my blog bound into a book (two actually) and I'm glad some of our special trips are included there too.

Okay back to Scotland, which is known for lots of things besides hosting the British Open...gray skies, steady rain, stunning countryside, the Highland games, a monster named Nessie, a delightful accent, whiskey, haggis (can we all say ewww!) and the Tattoo. And when I say Tattoo I'm not talking ink. I'm talking about the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo which is a military band performance held throughout the month of August in front of Edinburgh Castle. If you are thinking that doesn't sound like your cup of tea you might find you are mistaken.

When we informed our girls (teenagers at the time) that we were going to drive to Scotland (flights were cancelled due to terrorism the previous day) to see military bands perform and oh, by the way, we will be sitting outdoors in a country famous for its rainy weather well, they were maybe a little less than thrilled. Sometimes teenagers need to just be pulled along with the family current and they end up falling in love with a place, a culture and an experience. They make a memory.

Edinburgh is so charming we couldn't help but love it. First of all...cute shops and lots of them. Teenage girls momentarily forget they are in town to see some sort of military band thingy when there are shops. Plus it was August which means The Fringe Festival was also in town and that is loads of fun.

The festival features street performers, musicians, theatre acts, artists, name it.

Can you tell they liked it?
We did a little sightseeing too which of course included a tour of the ancient castle.

A castle which incidentally sits perched on the edge of an extinct volcano.

And hey, how about those gray skies?

We wandered thru the shops and learned how good Scotch Whiskey tastes is made. When in Rome, right?

John Knox, the founder of Presbyterianism, hails from Edinburgh and his home is the oldest house in the city...

And then of course we had tickets for the Tattoo...

I confess my kids were not the only ones who had no idea what they would be seeing. All I knew was that everyone who had been said it was something you had to see if you were in Scotland in August and I try never to ignore a good travel tip.

We had fantastic seats facing the castle...the night air was dry and clear...there were bagpipes which always get the emotions churning...the music and lights and our family all scrunched together in our narrow uncomfortable stadium seats...and there were fireworks too. What is it about fireworks that make everything just a little bit more magical?

There once lived a well known Scottish poet named Robert Burns. He is sometimes referred to as Scotland's favorite son and every January an occasion known as Burns' Night is celebrated with dinners on or around his birthday. His poetry is read and there is a meal which traditionally includes haggis and whiskey. And I say if you're going to eat haggis you definitely need the whiskey to make you forget what you're eating but that might just be me. For those who don't know, haggis is a dish containing the sheep's heart, liver, and lungs all simmered together with spices for several hours in a sheep's stomach. Or in a casing but still...Shudder.

Anyway, I am going to close this post with a quote by the famous Robert Burns who wrote,

'Nae man can tether time or tide'

And isn't that the truth?

And a great reason to blog?


  1. Like how you put that sometimes teenagers just need to be pulled along with the family. I will have to tuck that tidbit away for future use. Your girls looked liked they were glad you did. What perfect seats you had for the show too!

  2. I always enjoy catching up on your adventures... even if it does include lil' facts like 'haggis'. Shudder, is right! What an amazing show. Love the rich history shared with your memories.

    I will take that teenager advice, too. I had to deal with a preview of things to come in one of my gals yesterday. It aged me a year... and a half.

  3. Isn't it nice to have something turn out to be even better than you thought? Looks like a fun trip. I love your closing mom always said you can't fence time which is kind of the hillbilly version of your quote. :)

  4. I really enjoy reading about all of the places you've been and the things you've experienced. My husband and I love to travel and I can only hope and pray that our lives will be filled with as much of it just as yours is.

  5. What a wonderful, never-forget type of day!! You're girls will look back and be sooo glad you insisted they attend. Wow!! What a great opportunity!

  6. Love, love, love it. I want to go to Scotland and pick up a hint of the accent and change my name to Catriona and live in a castle. A warm, heated one.

  7. Hmmmmm, seems I've experienced that same teenage grumbling only to delight in seeing him enjoy himself immensely! :-)
    I love reading about your memories and travels and girls! :-)
    Oh, but I do want to visit the UK one day!

  8. So glad you pulled me along. That was a great trip and I loved reminiscing. We we were so lucky with the weather! I loved the tattoo and the bagpipes. sigh. Peter btw loves haggis! blech.

  9. Another amazing story! Thanks so much for sharing it!

  10. I love that you relive your days in England in your blogs! The Tattoo is something I definitely would like to see. Thanks for sharing!

  11. I love all your stories and adventures! Makes me jealous of your super exciting life!

  12. Love this post and the wonderful pictures. Thanks for sharing your trip with us. Scotland is a place I may never get togo, but I love getting a glimpse of it through your eyes.

  13. I would love to visit Scotland one day. Great pictures! And yes, I'm a little jealous.