From the drive up on the Friday 13th May to the drive home on the 19th.
Arrival evening was taken with the "welsh" in Biblos restaurant where we sampled the Haggis Tatties & Neeps (Haggis balls in deep fried batter) Excellent.
Day one Saturday started with an excellent breakfast from the Ibis Hotel on South Bridge Street, followed by a leisurely stroll to the Waverley Station to board the local train to Dunfermline on the other side of the "Forth" so over the Forth rail bridge with views of the new (still in construction) and the current (under repair! Again!) road bridges. So we arrive in Dunfermline to board our coach for the next two days with the driver Arthur and the days guide/host Bro James Swann (PM of Lodge Elgin of Bruce Lodge). So sorting ourselves the coach takes us to the birthplace and early childhood house of Sir Andrew Carnegie. After the cottage visit we "strolled" up the road & hill to the Dunfermline Abbey, the burial place of more Kings & Queens than any other Abbey or Church in the UK. The guided tour inside the Abbey and the surrounding yards was most educating and fascinating. a lunch/snack was then taken in the City Hotel before boarding the coach which took us to picture's village of Culross to visit the National Trust of Scotland's Palace or Great Lodging of Culross, built for Sir George Bruce. The Palace and many of the villages houses/cottages are managed by the NTS. Following ice creams on the green in the sunshine we were coached to Limekilns and the Kings Cellar and the home of Lodge Elgin Bruce where the stories from Brother Jim were wonderful and kept all amazed (& very amused!). On arrival at the Lodge rooms we were met by David Starbuck and our European brethren Markus Renggli & Reinhard Gerlich who had arrived at the Ibis that afternoon and picked up by Bro. Gerard O'Donnell our local contact, BUT the highlight was when Bro's Herbert Lazet and Sjoerd Papa from the Netherlands stepped from their motor bikes and opened their "leathers" to reveal full dinner suits! We had planned that we would be entertained by Lodge Elgin Bruce BUT due to small numbers had to be revised. Our tour of the Lodge rooms completed some hour plus latter was then onwards to our evening meal at the "Riverview Restaurant" and after the coach back to the Ibis.
Sunday and an early start for the coach drive to the borders and on to Abbotsford and the home of Sir Walter Scott (writer and Freemason). PM saw us traveling through the picturesque river Tay valley to Roslin and the Rosslyn Chapel to explore the mystery and discover the History or the KT? or satisfy the curiosity from the Da Vinci Code? I came away having satisfied that curiosity but a little disappointed, don't get me wrong the American guide certainly knew her history and stories and I'd like to leave it at that. The "ONLY" S&C's i found were upon a tomb stone in the cemetery! Back to the Ibis and farewell to Arthur our fantastic driver. Wash and brush up before we (Vicky & i) took the stroll to the evening not at the Scotts Guards but a wonderful Italian restaurant "Mama Roma" on Antiqua Street. Here we dined and were entertained by Bro. Alan Rutland a member of Lodge St David No 36 (Uni Lodge) and a PM of Lodge Holyroodhouse St. Lukes No 44, on the life of Sir Walter Scott. Walking off the meal and wine back to the Ibis.
Monday and a later start took a short stroll walk down to Holyroodhouse Palace, passing the Lodge rooms of the Operative Masons of Cowgate. Following the tour of the Palace and coffee, we boarded the open top bus to the Botanical Gardens, we (Vicky & i) took the route around the city to the gardens again (well worth it) before getting off to have coffee and snacks in the gardens and walks before catching the last bus back to the city and a very short walk to the Ibis.
Tuesday and another early stroll to the Waverley Station and Scotts monument to board the open top bus tour to take us out to the Royal Yacht Britannia in Leith with "fast track" tickets to the Yacht. New sites to see on this wonderful Yacht and a meeting with an ex RM Yachtsman for a deeper "secrets" of the Yacht. PM saws us boarding the bus still out in the open sunshine to get of at the stop on Cannongate close to St. Johns Street to visit the home of the Royal Order of Scotland to visit the "oldest" purpose built Lodge rooms in the world and the place where "Rabbie Burns" was initiated and made Poet Lauriat (check out the picture!) the tour guide of the rooms was conducted by Bro Maurice Wilson MBE a Past Substitute Grand Master and the Immediate Past Provincial Grand Master of Edinburgh, and a Past Master of Lodge St. James's Operative Masons No 97 (felt very humble and privileged). Head is now full of masonic knowledge i'm bursting! BUT catch a "Fast Black" and onwards to Lodge Edinburgh St. Mary's Chapel where the Lodges first minutes were recorded and available (certainly meeting before that date!) 1597 (see picture of Master in 1597. Again our excellent guide Bro. Alan Dickson (see the talk on Walter Scott above) gave us a wonderful enlightening talk on the rooms Etc. So then another "Fast Black" to the Ibis and ready for the evening masonic meeting. Fast Black to Dunedin Caritas Lodge No 1361 (short meeting !! 2nd degree with TB!) but the meeting was followed by the festive board with the ladies and a late return to the Ibis.
Wednesday dawned "wet" but our first damp day, not enough to stop us taking the air after another FULL breakfast and the walk up the Royal Mile to the Edinburgh Castle and buildings including the WW1 memorial. Following the One o'clock gun firing it was down the hill and across the rails again now in the sunshine. St. Georges Street to the Grand Lodge of Scotland Lodge rooms and Museum and a guided tour FASCINATING and NO S&C's in the halls as its used as a public meeting and entertainment arena! The evening meal at the "City Cafe/Restaurant" was too much for my hearing aids even on "T" so Vicky and I ate in the Italian Restaurant opposite for "Glasgow Pizza"! we met up again with the party in "Foggs" the Ibis for final drinks and goodbye's before readying for the 300 mile journey home on the Thursday.