A Too, Too Brief Visit to Edinburgh, September 22 and 23

This is a travesty.

Sunshine Finds Edinburgh
Sunshine Finds Edinburgh

Just two days in Edinburgh, one of the northern hemisphere’s most beautiful cities? And one of them a sunny day.   Yes, that’s all our rapidly diminishing time in the UK allowed.

Tomorrow we leave for Paris, so this is it.

Two days. How could we make the most of them? Actually, we did pretty well. Andrew Owens met us at the train station. He’s a friend not only good but strong. He picked up our suitcases and headed up the long exit staircases. Then a quick bite of lunch and we were off to Roots, our reason for this trip, to say hello to his  campus ministry teammates.

ROOTS Campus Ministry Team
ROOTS Campus Ministry Team

We were interrupting their work day, so after kibitzing awhile we were ready when Andrew invited us to see something of his town. He turned out to be an accomplished tour guide, providing informed commentary as he led us through


Edinburgh’s famed castle (which dates back to the 12th century) atop the city

Castle View of the Kingdom Below
Castle View of the Kingdom Below
St Giles Cathedral
St. Giles, the City’s Cathedral



followed by a restful visit to St Giles Cathedral.




and back to Roots to pick up our luggage on our way to our B&B. By now we’d walked enough. Andrew recommended a taxi. He got no argument from us.

The B&B host apologized when he saw how old his newest guests are, because all the rooms were already taken except a small one up the stairs to the second (in America, the third) floor. But it was clean, well furnished (a bed, a desk and not one but two chairs), and best of all, our very own bathroom complete with a sparkling clean shower.

Everything you could desire. Just one minor problem. In the morning the water was missing. Not just in our room, nor just in the B&B, but in this whole section of Edinburgh. A city crew was working on the municipal water supply, it seems. Without warning they shut the main.  Fortunately our host had a good supply of bottled water in store. And he had the right priorities. No showers, maybe, but breakfast as usual. I agreed with his values.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Last night Andrew and Kate (and toddler son Ozzie) invited us to their flat (also several flights up) for an excellent takeaway Thai dinner. Teammates Meredith McKinney and Dee Humphreys joined us. The evening passed quickly. Ozzie provided the entertainment. He has mastered about 20 animal sounds. I can’t do an acceptable bark. Impressive.

We met with the whole team (Tim Campbell and Amanda Sills joining us) after breakfast for a brief discussion. They asked for some words from me, (note how polite these young people are!) so I shared the same thoughts I had presented at Canvas in Birmingham (I’ll type them out as a post to be filed in the Sermons category of this blog. I didn’t notice anyone taking notes as a way of hanging on to my every word, so I’m accommodating them. They didn’t ask for the notes, but I’m sure that was an oversight).

Again we left so the Roots team could get to work and we could spend a few hours as regular tourists.

Spires & Starbucks
Spires & Starbucks


We boarded an intra-city tourist bus  to get a feel for the whole town.





Yoda Visits Edinburgh
Yoda Visits Edinburgh







A special treat was the guide, a bona fide Scotsman. Three clues convinced us he was genuine: 1) He said so. 2) His Scottish brogue was thick enough we could have used an interpreter.

traditionl-brogues-worn-with-kilts3)He wore a kilt and accented it with the shoes befitting the uniform. He wanted us to know they were genuine and not like those execrable hush puppies some ignorant men might pair with their kilts.

We learned a lot from his monologue, but our real enjoyment came from his wit and his enthusiasm about his beloved city and its history.

We weren’t far into the one-hour tour of the city when Joy began lobbying for a Lawson return for a longer (“at least a month”) stay “next time.” Here’s the problem with bucket lists. I think I’ve mentioned this before. No sooner do you check off a place you have long wanted to visit than you put it right back on the list for “next time.” At this rate we’ll have to keep traveling until we’re 105 years—and still we won’t have exhausted the list.

After the tour we had time for just one more substantial visit (and then a quick look at another).

The Queen’s Entrance
The Queen’s Entrance

Joy chose the Holyrood Palace, one of Queen Elizabeth’s four palaces. She comes here for a day or so once a year and holds a lawn tea party for 8000 or so of her closest friends. She was out of town today, so we got a pretty thorough look-see in the buildings and grounds.

The King’s Bedroom
The King’s Bedroom
“The Hat” in the abbey ruins of Holyrook Palace.
“The Hat” in the abbey ruins of Holyrood Palace.

Holyrood has served as a royal residency since the 1500s, most famously the home of Mary, Queen of Scots (whose residency was abbreviated when Queen Elizabeth I had her beheaded).

View of the Scotland’s Cliffs From the Palace Gardens
View of the cliffs 
from the Palace Gardens

Then on to a quick visit to the national museum, just a couple of blocks from Roots. Joy and I went different ways. My highlight was visiting the wildlife gallery, housing some of the finest big animal taxidermy and skeletal reconstructions I’ve seen anywhere, including an elephant, giraffe, giant deer, etc. Joy won the bragging rights, though. In addition to visiting the fashion gallery and looking in on the finalist pictures in the annual Wildlife photography competition, she went to the technology section where she peered on the permanently stuffed sheep Dolly, of cloning fame. How can you top that?

After we joined the Roots team for dinner at Mum’s, their favorite local eatery, Amanda guided us to the train station for our two-hour ride back to Kendal for our last night and day in the Lake District.

We weren’t ready to say goodbye to the UK after just a month here, but we had to. The Lake District, Birmingham and Edinburgh won’t be forgotten. They are, as I said, back on the bucket list.

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