Joined: 4:50 AM - Aug 07, 2017

11:40 PM - Nov 05, 2017 #241

Well, I did it: I booked my tickets and got my seat assignments for a trip to the UK next September!  I'm using frequent flyer miles for the plane trips so it was a little tricky getting flights but now all is set.  I'm flying into London and will spend several days there seeing friends, visiting LJG-related and Sherlock sites as well as the usual tourist attractions and Stonehenge.  Then up to Edinburgh for several days to see lots of Outlander-related places in and around there and a side trip to Orkney.  Back to Edinburgh to meet a friend (a Brit) and rent a car (she will drive!) and a couple days more in Edinburgh and environs.  Then she'll drive us to Inverness, where we'll stay a few days and visit Culloden and other nearby sights.  We'll return to Edinburgh and both of us will fly home from there.  She has told me about a British chain of hotels with reasonable prices and I found what looks like a great B&B in Inverness in the Lonely Planet guidebook so that is a relief because finding places to stay in my budget was my biggest concern.  The trip is 24 days total.  I can't wait!  (Zahia, I'll be in touch with you eventually with some questions.)
If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use in reading it at all. ~ Oscar Wilde
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'I noticed you capped all my best quotations,' said Lymond absently. ~ The Ringed Castle
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Joined: 7:17 PM - Jan 02, 2015

12:18 AM - Nov 06, 2017 #242

Ooooo...how exciting!!!!  👍  Sounds like a fantastic trip!  I'm so excited for you!  You'll have an amazing time, and come back immediately wanting to jump back on the plane!  What is the hotel chain?  We managed to use a bunch of Airmiles to stay at Best Westerns for free, which helped our budget immensely.  Contact me whenever you want.  😀
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Joined: 4:50 AM - Aug 07, 2017

12:43 AM - Nov 06, 2017 #243

Yes, I am very psyched, Zahia!  The hotel chain is Premier Inn and the B&B in Inverness is Ardconnel House.  I hadn't thought about using miles for the hotel stays; that's a good idea, too.  :-) 
If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use in reading it at all. ~ Oscar Wilde
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'I noticed you capped all my best quotations,' said Lymond absently. ~ The Ringed Castle
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NigheanDubh
Clan Fraser
Joined: 3:16 AM - Sep 17, 2009

1:52 AM - Nov 06, 2017 #244

LeslieEmrys, it will be a great trip.  I've done England and Ireland.  Been 221 Baker Street.  My dh and I are Sherlock buffs especially with Jeremy Brett as Sherlock.  He's our favorite.
I am so excited for you.  You must post photos.  If you have a jacket cover of Exiled, take a photo of two and then post in our thread 
Where in the world are you exiled?
"'I wish to God,' said Gideon with mild exasperation, 'that you'd talk--just once--in prose like other people.'"
--Game of Kings
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audiobooklover
Clan Fraser
Joined: 10:09 PM - Jul 19, 2010

2:28 AM - Nov 06, 2017 #245

Wow LeslieEmrys!  Sounds like a wonderful trip.  I'm excited for you (and just a tiny bit jealous).  Can't wait to hear about it and see pics after you return.
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Joined: 7:17 PM - Jan 02, 2015

12:25 AM - Nov 08, 2017 #246

Leslie, a friend of ours suggested using our Airmiles for accommodation instead of plane rides as it is a way better deal, and it is!  We got 21 nights free (well, it cost us $60 CDN for all the nights) so it made sense for us to do that.  We're madly saving again...

We did see a lot of Premier Inns all over England, and a lot of them in very convenient places.  We'll have to look into it for the next time.  Staying in B&B's though, is so much fun.  You really feel like part of their family...well some of them anyway!  I keep meaning to get back to writing about our trip, but it seems my time is not my own.  Plus, I'm kept rather busy every Sunday/Monday!  😉
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Joined: 4:50 AM - Aug 07, 2017

3:02 AM - Nov 08, 2017 #247

ND: I don't have "The Exile" book itself but will an image on an iPad suffice?  I'm planning on taking my iPad with me so I could do it that way instead.  :-)

Zahia, I looked at using my miles for hotels -- got a message about that last night -- but I've decided I want to save my remaining miles for another trip to a different country.  That's great that you got so many free nights, though!
If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use in reading it at all. ~ Oscar Wilde
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'I noticed you capped all my best quotations,' said Lymond absently. ~ The Ringed Castle
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Joined: 7:17 PM - Jan 02, 2015

10:16 PM - Nov 18, 2017 #248

More of Day 4:  Edinburgh

I haven't been able to get back to our trip for it seems like ages, so here goes.  At least I have a journal that I can refer to...

After spending some time at Greyfriars Kirk we walked along Candlemaker's Row towards Grassmarket Square, looking at shops along the way and trying to figure out where to have lunch (or in our case, breakfast!!).  We came across a pub called The Last Drop, which seemed like a bit of an odd name till you read the history board on the outside of the building (most of the pubs have its history written on the wall or on a board).  This pub was the place that criminals would have their last meal and pint before they were led to the gibbet (and hanging) at the Square, just up the block!  Can you imagine eating anything knowing in that a few minutes you'd be hung?  They could probably see the gallows from where they were sitting, and the poor souls that preceded them swinging in the wind as they downed their last pint.  Ugh, such harsh times.  I wonder how many would forgo their last meal and instead opt for a second pint??  "Good to the Last Drop", just before you go to your own "Last Drop".  Despite the grisly name and history, we had a lovely lunch.  😉  It was a beautiful sunny day, and I had a pint of a very nice dark Scottish Ale, and my husband has a picture of me trying to get it all, because it was really Good to the Last Drop!  I have a video of him where I asked him whether he enjoyed his lunch and pint...and he says yes, but his life has been crap and that we should just get his hanging over with!!  He's a joker...
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You can see the noose in the sign name!
You can see the noose in the sign name!

We walked up Victoria street which is filled with really neat shops, and one caught my eye immediately!  It is the shop that JK Rowling got her inspiration for Diagonally, and Mr. Ollivander's Wand shop!  It was such a cute little store, and I would highly recommend any Harry Potter fan who can get to Edinburgh go in there.  It was filled with all kinds of Harry Potter merchandise and curiosities, but it was also the way the store was laid out.  I asked the shop lady if I could take pictures and video inside and she said yes, but the video is what really shows it.  The shop is a very small room on the bottom floor absolutely crammed to the gunnels with stuff, but then towards the back of the store is a steep winding staircase...and the store continues along the sides of the walls going up the stairs till you get to the top where there is an even smaller room...filled to the ceiling with more stuff!  It's just so tiny and crammed, and filled with charm!  A picture doesn't really show it well, but my video does.  I probably can't upload it, so pics will have to do.  You can buy wands there, costumes, books, and even Bertie Bots Beans!!  You take your chance, though...you may get ear wax flavoured!!  Such a fun place.  
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Who knows what's inside these boxes??
Who knows what's inside these boxes??

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You feel like you're right inside the movie!
You feel like you're right inside the movie!

Close by we just had to go into a cheese shop, filled with cheeses from around the world, and a whole lot made right in Scotland.  We bought 300g of Auld Reekie cheese from Edinburgh (of course!) which smelled strong but tasted yummy.  It smelled even stronger when we discovered it at the bottom of my husband's backpack over a week later!!  Yikes!  There was also an amazing used bookstore on that street which was absolutely crammed with books, and a lot of them very old.  You could spend a day just rummaging through the shelves.  The store was only maybe 7-8 feet wide but it ran deep into the store.  You literally had to squeeze by if someone was standing and looking at a book.  My husband found a very old book describing the Isle of Lewis (where his mom's family was from) and he was tempted to buy it, since we were headed there eventually.  He didn't, but maybe he should have.  Edinburgh is just such an interesting place, and it's so old and filled with history and historical figures  that you can 'see' Walter Scott and Robert Louis Stevenson (and Robert Burns for that matter) going into that very bookshop to see whether their book had made it onto the shelves!  It's fun to imagine.  

We continued walking around, eventually ending up on the Royal Mile, so we decided to go to the Writer's Museum to see if we could take the free literary tour.  We were too late (again!) so we went into the Museum instead.  What a treat!  Several floors dedicated to various writers and their lives.  On the bottom floor was Robert Louis Stevenson and I was amazed at what a world traveller he was for his day...and ours too!  He eventually died in Samoa, and he was mourned as a national hero...he was so beloved because of how he was so respectful of his host country and its people.  Way ahead of his time because certainly back then the British had a sense of entitlement and superiority, and they travelled with that attitude; conquering and subduing as they went.  

We also saw the rooms dedicated to Robert Burns, and I have a photo of the article in the London Times that announces his death in 1796.  Lots of memorabilia.  We eventually got all the way to the top floor (a small room) that had an 18th century printing press in it!  It took up the whole room!  That was fun to see.  It was behind glass so my photo isn't very good.  I'm sure Ron & Co went there to research how to build one for the show...for a particularly special episode...😍

More adventures to follow later...
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audiobooklover
Clan Fraser
Joined: 10:09 PM - Jul 19, 2010

11:24 PM - Nov 18, 2017 #249

Thanks Zahia, for letting us share in your adventures.  Looks like a lot of fun to visit the various shops and museums.
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Joined: 4:50 AM - Aug 07, 2017

12:11 AM - Nov 19, 2017 #250

I am going to make a list of all your recommendations, Zahia!  :-)  What was the name of the Harry Potter-inspired store?  It sounds great and I'd love to find it when I'm in Edinburgh.
If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use in reading it at all. ~ Oscar Wilde
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'I noticed you capped all my best quotations,' said Lymond absently. ~ The Ringed Castle
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Joined: 7:17 PM - Jan 02, 2015

10:26 PM - Nov 19, 2017 #251

Leslie, I think it's called Museum Context on Victoria Street in the shadow of Edinburgh Castle.  I've got a picture of the outside of the store if that helps, but I just went onto Google Maps and typed in Victoria Street, Edinburgh.  You could then go onto street view and 'walk' up and down the street till you find the address, but honestly...it's such a cool street to poke around the shops.  We didn't get to the second level, but there's a Scottish Genealogy Heritage place there that I just saw!  Gotta go back, Jack!  😀
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And the inside of the store, a bit dark, but it's going up the staircase with the store hanging all over the walls! 

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I wish, as always, we had more time in each place.  Don't rush yourself when you go.  We didn't but there is just so much to see! 🙂

Edit:  I just found it on streetview...and the address is 40 Victoria Street.  Enjoy!

Second Edit:  One picture seems to be from Nov 2016 and it doesn't have Harry Potter stuff in it, but the second one I found from Aug. 2017 had lots of Harry Potter merchandise in it.  We were there in mid May of 2017.  It makes me wonder if it's a travelling store somehow.  
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Joined: 4:50 AM - Aug 07, 2017

2:12 AM - Nov 20, 2017 #252

Thanks, Zahia!  I will do my best to find it and check it out as I enjoyed all the Harry Potter books. 
If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use in reading it at all. ~ Oscar Wilde
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'I noticed you capped all my best quotations,' said Lymond absently. ~ The Ringed Castle
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Joined: 7:17 PM - Jan 02, 2015

10:11 PM - Apr 08, 2018 #253

More of Day 4 in Edinburgh:

After going on a wild goose chase up and down the Royal Mile for some Heather Stone Jewellry for a friend (there's a great little video on how this unique Scottish jewellry is made https://www.heathergems.com/makingheathergems.php) we made it back to the courtyard outside St. Giles Cathedral for the start of our Mercat Tour Ghost Walk.  The weather was beginning to change.  For most of the day it was a beautiful sunny day, but the clouds were thickening and the wind was picking up.  It seemed appropriate that we were about to embark on a creepy, skin-crawling adventure.  We hadn't been on one before, so we were excited.  Our guide was Artemis, a young lady dressed in black with a large black cloak and blue hair!  Her first order of business was to smoke out the witch amongst us by asking a couple of questions.  Her first question was..."Are there any left handed women here".  Darn!  I glowered at my husband and said, "I'm not a witch, I'm your wife and sometimes I don't even want to be that anymore!"  A couple of people laughed...😂 Found out on the very first question, and turned in by my own chuckling husband!!  She brought me up and began to demonstrate various methods of torture that the very efficient Witch Hunters of Edinburgh would use to help women 'confess' to being a witch all of which led to the 'rightful' conclusion that the woman was a witch and should be put to the ultimate test of Witch Ducking which always ended in death.  There were five witch hunts from 1590 till 1727 when it was abolished, but not before hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of innocent women were murdered.  It's very sobering, but Artemis somehow made it entertaining.  

Artemis led us down the street a bit to Bothwell Close (below), a very close and constricting alleyway off the Royal Mile.  She described what life was like in Edinburgh in centuries past.  I'm sure most of you know that Edinburgh's nickname was Auld Reekie, and there is a definite reason for it.  Even though Edinburgh now is made of stone buildings 7 or 8 stories high, during the Medieval period the buildings were up to 14 stories high, and made of wood!  You can imagine how rickety the buildings became, especially towards the top.  Which floor you were allowed to occupy depended on your station in life and your ability to pay.  The bottom floor was undesirable (for obvious reasons), so the first and second levels were reserved for people who could afford more rent.  The higher up you went, the lower the rent because the buildings became quite unstable as well as the fact that everything you owned would have to be hauled up questionable stairs, including all your water.  It follows that what goes up also comes down, including the contents of the chamber pots.  A person probably should carry the contents down the stairs, but there were a lot of stairs, so the easier method would be...just tip it out the window!  Garde-loo (gardez l'eau ~ "watch for the water") became the famous call in Edinburgh to listen for, because if you were on the street below you had only a few seconds to run before the contents of the chamber pot landed, and splattered.  Yuck!  The problem, too, was that the street would already have a whole lot of slimy, smelly and slippery 'stuff' on it, probably mixed with rain to make running extra treacherous!  Artemis was very descriptive in bringing Old Edinburgh to life, and we had no problem imagining what Jamie and Claire would have to deal with navigating through the streets and closes of the city!  It's amazing that anyone in Edinburgh ever survived, it was such a cesspool.   IMG_5121 - Copy.JPG
Then we headed down a different street towards the Edinburgh Vaults.  The vaults were built when the stone arches of the South Bridge were built and completed in 1788 and the backs of the arches were enclosed by tenement houses.  For about 30 years the arches were used to house taverns, workshops for cobblers, tailors, bakers and other tradesmen, as well as storage space for the merchants.  Eventually it became an area for homeless people and criminal activity like illegal gambling taverns, illegal whisky distilling and even a place where body snatchers would store bodies possibly before transporting them to the university down the road for posthumous 'research'.  Conditions in the vaults deteriorated so that by 1820 most of the businesses left, and by 1860 even the people left.  Eventually it was closed up completely, till 1985 when it was discovered by the city's excavation where amazing midden was discovered with things like children's toys, medicine bottles, liquor bottles and other household items.  Mercat Tours innocently began doing mercantile history tours in 1990 of the area with its bare but excavated floors, but it wasn't long before some of the tourists began telling of hearing, seeing and feeling things that were not exactly present.  They decided to begin documenting people's stories, and soon found there were lots of similarities in the stories given by scores of unrelated people.  There was one area that had a particularly malevolant ghost (called 'the Watcher'), and we were standing in it!  By this time, we were deep in the underground vaults, with it's cold, dank musty air sending chills down our spines...and we're not easily spooked.  

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Outside the Watcher's chamber was a hallway that had lights in it.  One day there were three groups of tours staggered and waiting at the bottom of the stairs to go in.  The first goup began, and when they got close to this chamber, all the lights went out.  They fumbled around and eventually stumbled towards the exit.  As they were leaving that area, the lights came back on, but they still decided to end the tour anyway.  They met the second group at the stairs and the tour guide told them of the problem with the lights, but they decided to continue on with their tour because the group leader had a flashlight with him.  When they got to that specific spot, the hallway lights went out again, so the group leader got out his flashlight...only, it wouldn't light up.  Thinking maybe the batteries were dead or it was defective, they headed back.  Again, as they left that area the lights came back on.  Odd.  They met the third group at the stairs and recounted to them what had happened.  It was a group of seven boy scouts...all of whom had flashlights so they would be ok.  They went ahead with the tour, confident in their flashlights.  Well, they got to the same place and...you guess it, the hallway lights went out.  They immediately got out their flashlights and not one of them could be turned on!!  To boot, as they left the area, the lights didn't turn back on so they had to create a human chain with each boy having his hands on the next boy in front's shoulders all the way to the front, with the tour guide at the head of the line.  Eventually when they stumbled back to the stairs the boy that was at the back of the line asked where the 'other' person was behind him with his hands on his shoulders!  A couple of people in our group were freaked out by this story, and even my husband felt something pushing on him from the side.  He thought it was me, but I was on the other side of him, and there was nobody else beside him.  As I said, we're not easily spooked, but this did it.  There was nothing in the vaults, no tricks, no gimmicks, nothing jumping out at us from behind closed areas...nothing.  Just a vacuum of sound, the darkness and the musty smell of old stones and dirt.  It was very effective.  

By the time the tour finished and we were above ground, the clouds and mist had descended on Old Town Edinburgh, shrouding the Castle...perfect!  


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After that great tour we went to the Robbie Burns Pub for a pint and some musical entertainment.  There was a trio (bodrain, tin whistle and guitar) there playing raucous tunes, one I recognized as an a Capella tune by Stan Rogers called Barrett's Privateers...a song my son and his buddies sing when they're having a pint or two!!  Such fun.  Edinburgh has got to be a must see for anyone going to Scotland, and we hated to leave but we had lots of great memories and experiences.  
Last edited by Zahia on 7:59 PM - Apr 10, 2018, edited 1 time in total.
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audiobooklover
Clan Fraser
Joined: 10:09 PM - Jul 19, 2010

12:09 AM - Apr 09, 2018 #254

Great pics and stories, Zahia!  Thanks for sharing.
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Joined: 4:50 AM - Aug 07, 2017

5:01 AM - Apr 09, 2018 #255

What a wonderful day!  Thanks so much for sharing your photos and stories -- they really bring the city alive!
If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use in reading it at all. ~ Oscar Wilde
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'I noticed you capped all my best quotations,' said Lymond absently. ~ The Ringed Castle
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