Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Last Explore of Edinburgh

Today was our last full day in Edinburgh; we spent it making sure we'd entirely explored the Royal Mile. We had prevously walked from North Bridge west all the way to the Castle, so today we walked east to the Parliament (actually, to the bus stop just before it, since we had walked from Parliament to the bus stop on Monday we visited it and the Palace of Holyroodhouse).

Part of our time was exploring shops for souvenir gifts; there are a lot of such, along with restaurants, on the Royal Mile.  But we also found a few interesting historical spots, such as this one:

The raised words above the passageway read "Heave awa, chaps, I'm no' dead yet." A local merchant (located inside the Close) said there are several versions of the story behind it, but the one he told us was that the owner of a tenement in the Close tried to add a door to it in 1861, not knowing he was cutting through a load-bearing wall. The tenement collapsed. Rescuers found survivors in the top layers, then started finding only dead bodies. Night was approaching, and they were ready to stop, when they heard the voice of a young boy say "Heave awa, lads, I'm no' dead yet." He was the last survivor. Not long after, Edinburgh established a building authority to prevent such incidents. There's a slightly different version on the Royal Mile website.

The reason we wanted to find it is we heard that the sign inspired the "I'm not dead yet" scene in Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Some members of the Python team apparently went to the University of Edinburgh.

We passed by John Knox House. Knox was a major figure in the early Presbyterian church.  One source we read referred to him as "controversial". The negative side we'd heard earlier in the vacation, regarding his destroying stained glass windows as "idolatrous", and refusing to negotiate with Mary, Queen of Scots because she was a woman and a Catholic.

During the trip we were constantly reminded of how much history the Old World has compared with the New. There are plaques all over the place. For example, there's a marker at the boundary between old Edinburgh and Canongate, now absorbed into the much bigger modern city:

 We ate a large late lunch at the Conan Doyle pub, which is close to the author's birthplace (which, unfortunately, is now a car rental agency, the house having been demolished years ago).
There's a statue of Sherlock Holmes across the road.

Finally we headed home and mailed some postcards. British mailboxes look a little odd to a Canadian:
Tomorrow we take a train to London, spend Friday there, and I fly back to Montreal on Saturday. Margaret will go on to the Cantabile Choir tour in France, then come back to England for another week.