Bagpipers

When you think of Scotland what comes to mind? One of your first thoughts may be bagpipers. On my recent trip into Scotland I saw a few playing on the streets of Edinburgh.

This bagpiper is in a modern band, the Spinning Blowfish. They were playing near Prince Street in Edinburgh and selling their CDs.
This man was demonstrating the bagpipes for some students from Asia at the University of Edinburgh.
This man was playing near the National Museum of Scotland.
This man was piping on the Royal Mile in Edinburgh. We seemed to find at least one everyday on the Royal Mile closer to Edinburgh Castle.
Another one on the Royal Mile

It appears they play for tourists. Many spectators donate a pound as they play. The kilts may represent a pipe band they are in or their clan.

It is a treat to hear the sounds associated with Scotland. What’s more iconic to Scotland than pipers? Thanks to the pipers for performing on the street! It makes our trips more enjoyable.

Scottish Windows

One quote from Shakespeare is “The eyes are the windows of the soul.” What are windows a portal to? Edward Gorey once said “My favorite journey is looking out the window.” Sometimes my favorite journey is looking at windows. Here are some windows from towns within a short drive from Edinburgh, Scotland.

I think this one may be my favorite. I am partial to tea though.

Mehmet Morat Ildan is quoted as saying “If you want people to understand you, invite them to your life and let them see the world from your window.” You get to see a little bit of this person’s world through the window in the wall surrounding their property in the picture below. You get a nice view of their back garden.

Window to a walled in garden
Different textures

Mehmet Murat Ildon once said “It is not possible for a house to own a spirit without windows with flowers.” The window below looks quite lovely with flowers perched on the sill.

These windows make me what to live in these houses and towns. How do they make you feel?

Greyfriars Bobby

Have you ever had a pet that was very loyal to you? How do you honor a dog that went above and beyond in loyalty to his human? In Edinburgh, Scotland they found a few ways to honor one such dog. Greyfriars Bobby is not a tale, but a true story.

John Gray went to Edinburgh with his wife and son looking for work. He accepted a job as a police constable. He was provided with a place to stay in the neighborhood he worked in.

Working Dog

Police during that time worked with dogs. It is said John Gray adopted a Skye terrier around 1856. He named the dog Bobby. Bobby followed John around on his rounds. John and Bobby would make a routine of stopping at a coffee house near the Greyfriar’s Church.

John Gray became ill and in early 1858 he died of consumption or tuberculosis. Bobby followed the funeral procession through the Burial Gate to Greyfriar’s Kirk (churchyard) where John was buried.

One entrance to the churchyard and it could be the Burial Gate.
Loyal

John Gray’s family was said to have taken the dog home, but he kept returning to his master’s grave to hold vigil. James Brown, a gardener at the church, gave Bobby food and water and allowed him to stay. Usually dogs were chased away from the churchyard. Fellow police constables on patrol through the churchyard recognized John Gray’s dog and feed him a little as well. Also it is said a man named James Anderson, who lived above what is now the Greyfriars Bobby bar, would go and fetch Bobby on stormy nights and bring him inside his place.

A sergeant at Edinburgh Castle heard about Bobby and took an interest in him. Sgt. Scott trained Bobby that the one o’clock gun meant dinner. It became an attraction for people to stand at the churchyard gate to see Bobby leave at the one o’clock gun and walk to the Eating House. After he was done eating he would walk back to the grave. This continued when the place changed hands and was named Traill’s Temperance Coffee House.

Danger came when it was decided all dogs in Edinburgh needed to be licensed. If they were not they could be put to sleep or destroyed. The optics of putting such a loyal dog to sleep would have been terrible, so the Lord Provost of Edinburgh William Chambers stepped in and paid for Bobby’s license and bought him a collar.

Famous Dog

Newspapers started to write stories about Greyfriars Bobby. People came to paint pictures of him. The Traill family who ran the Coffee House Bobby visited at one o’clock everyday had a photo taken with him.

Bobby died January 14, 1872. The Traill family buried Bobby in a triangular flower bed beneath a tree in the Greyfriars Churchyard in secret. They put up a headstone that someone later removed.

Honoring Bobby
People think it is good luck to rub Bobby’s nose, but they ask you not to do that as it affects the statute.

In 1873 a bronze statue was made of Bobby with a granite fountain was donated by Baroness Angela Georgina Burdett-Coutts. There was a trough at the bottom of it for dogs to drink out of.

The Huntly House Museum in Edinburgh has two of Bobby’s items. They have the collar presented to Bobby by Lord Provost William Chambers. They also have the metal dish Bobby ate from at the Coffee Shop from 1862-1872. They also have the photo of Bobby with the Traill family and their coffee house.

In 1981 a new headstone funded by the Dog Aid Society of Scotland was erected for Bobby in the Greyfriars Churchyard. They believe it is in the same area he was buried.

Bobby’s master, John Gray’s headstone

Various books were made in his honor telling his story. A Disney movie was made about Bobby, although they say the facts are incorrect.

These are just a few of the books written about Bobby.
This book is more factual. The author sites sources for his information. I used this as one of my sources for this post.
The statue of Bobby is in front of this pub across this side street.

There is a pub now near the statue named Greyfriars Bobby.

Pub sign for Greyfriars Bobby

Greyfriars Bobby was an incredible dog with an incredible story. How loyal is your pet? How far would you go to honor your animal friend?

Culross

Culross, Scotland is one of those places that hits two birds with one stone. It is a filming location for Outlander and quite a pretty little town.

Filming Location

Culross appears as the fictional town of Crainsmuir in Outlander. It featured in both season 1 and season 4.

The Merkat Cross (Market Cross) was the center of Crainsmuir. It was the location in Outlander where Geillus was sentenced to burn for being a witch. It is also the location where Claire and Jamie rescue Tammas Baxter, the tanner boy. The Merkat Cross also features in Captain America: The First Avenger (2011). In Captain America Culross stood in for a Norwegian town. In season 4 of Outlander, Bree is rescued from the cold by Laoghaire near the Mercat Cross and she discovers she is Jamie’s daughter.

The town has lovely cobblestone streets.

Laoghaire’s house for outside shots is also near the Mercat Cross.

Other movies filmed in Culross include 39 Steps, The Little Vampire, and Kidnapped.

The Town

Culross is a very well preserved 17th century town. It has buildings that are being maintained by the National Trust. There are many beautiful spots within the town. I was on a tour, so I had limited time to spend. If you are staying in Edinburgh and have access to a car it is about 25 miles away. It is around 33 miles from Glasgow.

They do have a few nice little shops and restaurants. We ate at the Biscuit Cafe. I had a nice soup and a friend traveling with me had flatbread pizza. Both meals were very tasty.

I recommend stopping here for more than just an hour or two. The cobblestone streets are not busy with cars. It is a charming location to walk around and take in the 17th and 18th century architecture.

You can walk up this path to get stunning views of the village from above.
Views from above the town

Linlithgow

Do you know where Mary Queen of Scots was born? Did you know that spot was also used as a filming location for a television series? The location is Linlithgow Palace, and you can walk the grounds.

One wall on the way in shows the succession order

Linlithgow is in a town of the same name in West Lothian area of Scotland. It is about 15 miles outside Edinburgh.

History
Linlithgow from the back

Mary Queen of Scots was born in Linlithgow Palace in December 1542. A few years later she was sent to France to attend school. She was Catholic and Scotland was transitioning to becoming a protestant nation. She later occasionally stayed at Linlithgow during her reign.

View of the fountain and courtyard through a window

Another figure who visited the Palace was Bonnie Prince Charles. Supposedly when he visited in September 1745 the fountain was made to flow with wine in his honor.

Fountain at Linlithgow
Close up of a section of the fountain

You can drive to this location or take a tour. Some tour companies include this in their itenerary. I will not name the tour I took on this post.

Leaving the grounds heading towards the village/ town.
Filming Location

This location has also been used in television programs. This stood in for Wentworth Prison in Outlander. This is where Jamie was tortured by Captain Black Jack Randall.

Another show that has filmed here was Outlaw King. This is about Robert the Bruce. Robert the Bruce’s men captured the castle in 1313. The fountain is visible in some scenes.

Like many castles it is not in tip top shape, but it is worth seeing. Are you a history buff? Are you a fan of Outlander? This location may interest you.

Elephant House-Harry Potter

Have you ever wondered where great writers have set up their office? Have you ever wondered where they get the inspiration to write? If you are a Harry Potter fan, one location the author J.K. Rowling worked on writing the series was The Elephant House in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Rowling took a lot of her inspiration for the books from different locations in Edinburgh. So if you plan to visit some of these locations, add the Elephant House to your itinerary.

There are new articles about Rowling posted in the restaurant as well as photos of her working on the story lines for the series.

As the name suggests, this restaurant has an elephant theme. There are elephants around the restaurant. There are elephant figurines, posters, and even an elephant chair in the restaurant. They also encourage you to donate to a charity that benefits elephants.

I went with a friend who is a big Harry Potter fan. We ate lunch, although they are known for their coffee and pastries/ desserts we were told.

Chicken wrap
My friend ordered the pizza. She ended up sharing some with a little girl next to our table who was visiting from Shanghai. Her aunt was taking her to various Harry Potter locations.

If you would like to see a location J.K. Rowling penned the Harry Potter series visit The Elephant house in Edinburgh, Scotland. See where a great writer worked and have a cup of coffee or more.