Monday, October 10, 2011

Excitement Around Every Corner

Where do I begin? We have  had quite the eventful weekend, which ended with a visit from the fire department. Let's go back to Friday.
Tenie and I were busy Friday running errands and stopping in at the Disney store on Princes Street. Glacier came along while we mailed letters, made haircut appointments and visited the bank. He was incredibly good all day, even ignoring other dogs and people cooing at him. The air was cold, but the sun was out, so it was a very enjoyable trip. On our way home on the bus, we started talking about how best to spend our Friday evening. We decided on a Ghost Walk-a haunted tour of parts of Edinburgh-and contacted the appropriate people and our plans were made.
We dropped Glacier off at home, making sure he was fed and had relieved and then headed out again; Mr. K included. Roscoe stayed home as well as we weren't sure how the boys would feel about haunted Edinburgh. We had a pretty tasty, but slightly expensive supper, at a pub called "The World's End." This pub has been standing for hundreds of years and there are rules tacked on the wall from 1782, which remind us to leave our various weapons at the door and that there is to be no "slap and tickle of the bar wenches." The pub is aptly named "The World's End" because it was just inside of the protective wall that surrounded the then one mile long by a quarter mile Edinburgh. People believed that anything beyond that protective wall was the world's end and that only vagabonds and thieves lived out there.
After Carmen arrived and food had been consumed, we wandered over to Saint Giles Cathedral where our tour started. We were a bit early so we walked around the area, looking in the windows of the closed shops just to get a feel for what was around there. Close to 9:30 we returned to the meeting place and our guided tour commenced.
Our tour guide was fabulous. He was not only a great story teller, but he really got to know his audience and tried to include them as much as possible. He had us both laughing and terrified all at once. He relayed what the living conditions would have been like within the protective walls. The city was small with a population of about 80 thousand. There wasn't any plumbing and although the first crudely made sky scrapers were designed due to need, the streets were covered in human waste. People would just open their windows every evening and dump their rotting garbage and "potty buckets" out the windows. Plagues ran rampant within the city and it's no wonder considering the living conditions. Yet, people still refused to go beyond the wall-they may be robbed by the vagabonds on the outside.
We moved from the cathedral on to a graveyard that was extremely old. It was very hilly and you had to watch your step. Our tour guide told us that it used to be a flat area with a low valley, but since so many people had been buried there, the terrain had changed. Apparently bones and even whole skeletons would sometimes surface due to the shallow burials, weather and/or people walking over the grounds. At one point a paved walkway had been built and during that construction, three full skeletons surfaced, despite the work not even going down a foot. We were also warned not to pick up any of the bones. Apparently there is a strain of one of the plagues that never dies, but lies dormant. This graveyard, called Grey Friars, is the home of Thomas Riddle's tomb stone and the castle that-like structure that inspired Hogwarts in the Harry Potter series. It was dark and very chilly, so we opted to go back during the day to see these landmarks.
We walked through the graveyard up to a set of gates. Upon entering the tour guide told us that it was called the Coventer's Prison. I had thought the prison was a building, but it turns out it  was a field.
This field was the place of punishment for the Scottish soldiers who committed treason against the English king. The story is quite lengthy, but it ended with 1200 men being punished for their actions by being sent to this field to lie face down for five, wintery months with little food and clothing. If they tried to escape, their friends and family members were executed. There are still musket ball marks on one of the walls standing. The prisoners could be released if they just admitted they were wrong and swore allegiance to the Crown, but I guess that just wasn't happening.
We then moved from the field to a tomb that has the best documented cases of paranormal activity. Apparently people have passed out in the tomb, vomited, been scratched/burned/bruised and many other things. The tour guide did a good job of getting the crowd worked up and right at the right moment, a black hooded figure jumped into the mouth of the tomb, screamed and then ran off; scaring everyone. One woman jumped so much, she launched herself into Tenie's arms.
After our little ghost tour, we found a pub called The Whisky Room and stopped in for a drink to warm up. We headed home shortly after finishing our first drink and we all fell into our respective beds and slept heavily.
The next morning, under a grey and misting sky, Tenie, Carmen and I headed out to the Edinburgh Market. I originally thought I would bring Mr. G, but since it was an open air market and I had a person guide, I opted to leave him at home. A little rain getting from one location to another is one thing, but wandering about in it at a leisurely pace, it quite another.
We perused the vendors and all fell in love with one called the Chocolate Tree. We all bought specialty chocolate and Tenie got some home made ice cream. I bought some deer sausage, Ginger and Orange hand made soap, unpasturised honey for Roscoe's allergies, a chunk of smoked garlic cheddar and a cup of coffee to warm up with. The cheese is probably my best purchase. It was smoked over oak barrels that used to contain whisky. It is smooth and creamy and extremely flavorful. The dark chocolate complete with ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and a few other spices is the second runner up.
After the market we strolled down Princes Street and stopped in at Saint John's church as they were selling items to fundraise for different charities. Carmen bought holiday cards and the proceeds went to a Scottish charity. After a bit more wandering, Tenie and I decided to call it a day and we headed home. We finished the day off by watching a few episodes of Castle and I gave her a massage. (My table just arrived and she paid for her first massage by purchasing me a set of sheets).
Sunday was warmer and sunny, but I was worn out from the previous days. I had planned to just sit at home and drink coffee, but Carmen called and said La Sensa was having a sale. So, I showered and Mr. K, the boys and I met Tenie and Carmen and walked to the mall that is near our flat. I really needed new bras and got fitted since UK bras are sized  much differently than North American ones. We were there for a while and then returned to our flat for some supper and a few more episodes of Castle. The girls headed home and Mr. K and I started getting ready for bed and that's when it happened:  the carbon monoxide detector went off. We thought it was a fluke so pulled it off the wall and plugged it back in. It went off twice more and that is when we phoned the fire department.
They arrived, thankfully sirens off, and three firefighters came up and inspected. There wasn't much they could do. They don't even carry detectors. What is funny is that we are instructed to phone the fire department by the National Health Service website. After some investigation and realising that we didn't have anything that used gas running, they left. I wasn't feeling strangely and the dogs weren't acting sick, so we figured we were fine. We had opened the windows and turned on a fan. We both needed to wind down a bit and sat down to do so when the door buzzed again.
It turns out the fire department called a "gas engineer" for us and he came into the flat and checked everything out. He said that there wasn't anything wrong and left. We both felt better and fell into bed exhausted. The problem is, it went off again today. The only consistent thing is that every time it's gone off, our dryer had been running. Approximately ten to fifteen minutes after the dryer is finished, the detector sounds its high pitched, ear splitting warning.
Our dryer is electric and is a condenser, which means it has a tank inside where all of the water goes. So, we're not exactly sure what is going on. Maybe the detector is sensitive to steam? Either way, every time I run the dryer I'll make sure to open the window that is behind it.
I feel as though I have written a novel, but as I said above, it was quite an eventful weekend. Every time I sat down to write, I was whisked away to do something else. I'm not complaining. I love being busy. The only thing is, I could do without having to call the fire department at 1 in the morning.


Amber DaWeenie said...

Wow.....I really enjoyed reading this post. We recently saw a movie called "Grayfriars Bobby" which centered around that same cemetery. Edinborough sure has a lot of history behind it. You now live in such a facinating place!


(Sorry about that noisy alarm going off).

Torie said...

I'm sorry that you had quite a crazy weekend. Good that you were kept busy though.

At least you know the carbon monoxide detector works!


browndogcbr said...

Hi Y'all,

Thanks for the wonderful Hallowed Eve tour.

We're sorry to hear about your night time waking nightmare. Hope y'all get caught up on your rest.

Y'all come by now,
Hawk aka BrownDog

L^2 said...

Oh wow, those detectors are annoying when they go off, especially when there's no cause. Glad you figured out it has something to do with the dryer - hopefully you can avoid it going off all the time.