When there’s not enough time in the day (Part 1)

You know it’s been a successful trip when there is never enough time in the day. Every day on this trip has been full and interesting, no matter where I have been. And I have been to some places. Since my last post, I have been on a tour of historic places near Edinburgh that appear in popular culture, to a playground in Glasgow, and a weekend away to visit my cousin on her sheep farm.

“Camelot, tis a silly place.”

If you recognise that line you’re undoubtedly a Monty Python fan. Specifically a fan of “The Holy Grail.” On Thursday I joined a group touring several historic spots that have also appeared in popular culture. The first stop was Doune Castle, which is where said Monty Python movie was filmed (as well as the tv show “Outlander.”)

Doune CAstle, Scotland

Although the draw here was the popular culture angle, you end up learning quite a lot about the castle, the former residents, and life in a castle, through an excellent audio tour that is done by Terry Jones of Monty Python fame. You go your own pace, and room by room listen as he describes the purpose of that room, how it would have looked when the original residents lived there, and other interesting facts about life during that time period. Some of the rooms were up steep circular stone staircases, some were down uneven stone steps. It was all freezing cold, as you can see there was snow on the ground, and it was quite chilly in general. Some of the rooms had huge fireplaces, but I cannot (or, “cannae,” as they would say here) imagine ever being comfortable living here, not matter how big the fire in the fireplace was.

The tour also went to Rosslyn Chapel, which appears in the end of the film “The DaVinci Code,” as well as the Temple Kirk, which is not in any specific work but is associated with the Knights of the Templar, circa 12th century. (“Kirk” is Scots for church.) The entire thing was organized by students, specifically the students who belong to the “Late Antique and Medieval Postgradudate Society.” Now, I enjoy literature and I enjoy history, but I would have been completely intimidated to join up with a bunch of students under that banner in any other circumstance. Yet here we all were, our group leaders, and 14 participants all traveling around together to learn about these sites. The group leaders told us about the significance of the sites as we visited them, and successfully created a very open and welcoming atmosphere to a group that included computer science students, visiting Japanese students,  and myself, as well as students of history.  The trip was designed so that anyone could learn, no matter what your background. All you needed was an interest.

Next up, I’ll tell you about Friday, when I helped out with a volunteer group that is helping a community in Glasgow to build a playground for the neighborhood. And eventually I hope to get caught up enough to tell you about my day today!

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