Monday, 5 June 2017

Scotland #3 - Edinburgh

Edinburgh Festival
Edinburgh Festival
Everywhere you look in old Edinburgh there are old churches. Really old churches. At a guess I would say they date to the early 1500’s most of them. Some are perhaps older. The thing is, many of them are not being used as churches. Near the castle is a magnificent old church. Today, no longer a church, it is the venue of the world famous Edinburgh Festival. A little farther down the Royal Mile a church has been turned into a shopping center. I saw numerous other examples. I am drawing the conclusion, unsubstantiated I admit, that these were the Catholic Churches put out of business by John Knox during the Reformation.

Edinburgh National Portrait Gallery Interior
Portrait Gallery Interior

Edinburgh National Portrait Gallery
National Portrait Gallery
The most beautiful conversion I saw of religious space to secular space was the National Portrait Gallery. The building takes up almost an entire block and must have been an important church in its day. The government has made brilliant use of it, maintaining its impressive high square foyer with its surround of gothic arches. Above the arches is a complete pictorial history of Scotland through its famous men and women.  It begins with the Stone Age and ends with what I assume from the clothing to be the late nineteenth century. The gallery itself is well worth visiting. In the portraits lies a very complete history of Scotland. I would probably not have visited it if I had not needed it for a scene in my book. But I’m very glad I did.
Edinburgh Botanical Gardens
Botanical Gardens

In the morning we went to the Botanical Gardens. I have loved gardens all my life and visited them in every part of the world where I’ve traveled. For sheer beauty, these are comparable to the best I’ve seen. We had lunch out of doors in this beautiful setting.


The Royal Ship Britannia
Tea Room on the Britannia
Today on our last day in Edinburgh, we chose to be real tourists and visit the Britannia, the ship that used to take the royal family on vacations and on tours of the far flung bits and pieces of the Empire. It was on the Britannia that the young Princess Elizabeth met and fell in love with the handsome naval officer Phillip. While certainly a luxury ship in every way (it carries a Rolls Royce and a large sailboat) the actual accommodations were simple and understated. We had lunch overlooking the sea in a tea room that used to be the royal dining room.

Edinburgh Princes Street Park
Princes Street Park
On our way home we stopped by Princes Street Park, a beehive of bucolic activity. This park is built on “The Mound”. When New Town was under construction in the Eighteenth Century, all the dirt and other debris excavated was dumped between the New Town and the Old Town. Ever enterprising, the Scots turned this pile of dirt into a beautiful park for all to enjoy. It is unusual in that it starts high on a hill and quickly drops to a deep, very green valley. Today,  people sat on benches, stretched out on lawns and in general enjoyed the exceptionally warm, sunny weather.

Back to the Royal Scots Club to pack, our six days in Edinburgh end tomorrow morning.


Watch for Blair's newest thriller, Fatal Charm 
Coming in 2017

 Fatal Charm by Blair McDowell
A perilous scheme to thwart ruthless adversaries hurtles successful jewelry designer Caitlin Abernathy from her comfortable California studio to the streets of Paris and the beaches of Brittany as she attempts to return a priceless stolen heirloom to the Louvre.

Colin Stryker, the devastatingly handsome history professor from Ireland who has appointed himself her protector, fights to rescue her before her captors add murder to their crimes, while at the same time unraveling the torturous train of events that led to the original theft.

With every moment fraught with danger, can the chemistry already between the two ignite into passion?

Praise for Fatal Charm:

"If you love well-crafted romantic suspense where the mystery is every bit as mysterious as the romance is romantic, check out Blair McDowell's work.  I found her through a book tour 5 years ago, and she is one of my happiest discoveries."
-  Marlene Harris,

"The elegance and beauty of Paris as the central backdrop for the intrigue, adds color and movement to the drama.... I particularly liked the attention to food as a gathering point and motif throughout. I was drawn back to my memories of Paris -- the sights, sounds and aromas. It's these small touches that inject an extra dimension, a 'je ne sais quoi' into the mix."
-  Heather B,

"Fatal Charm is well-written and engaging.  The book has a fast pace which makes it easy to read and enjoy.  Blair McDowell is an illustrative writer which allows readers to visualize the scenes in their head.  This brings the characters and story to life for  me.  I thought the mystery was complex and intriguing.  I enjoyed the many twists and turns."
-  Kristina Anderson,

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Blair McDowell