Tuesday, January 03, 2012

UK Christmas - Stirling

What a grand day with Julia!  Since its dark till nearly 9 a.m., the house is very quiet until about then..and Julia and I usually meet in the living room with our morning cuppa about that time, warming ourselves in front of the absolutely lovely gas fireplace.  A word about the weather - don't pick January unless you don't have a choice!  And if you come for the Christmas holidays, those rarely occur in the summer!  The nights are very long and the days are very short, so a lot of sightseeing gets done in the dark.  Its also quite cold - while London was much warmer than expected, Scotland is not only cold and damp but the winds have been horrific--102 mph in Edinburgh, 96  mph in Stirling the day AFTER this visit.  Needless to say that was a day we stayed inside Julia's lovely manse the entire day!  The damage done on the windy day was disastrous--bridges were closed to all traffic (for fear of blowing off!), trees came down, high-sided vehicles blew over on the roadways, chimneys and roof tiles came tumbling down, and trash bins sans trash were blowing everywhere...not a pretty sight.

But now off for Stirling..a lovely drive,  bits of sunshine mixed with sprinkling rain, until we got farther north when we started to receive snow warnings on the highway electronic billboards!  Yikes!

Stirling Castle experience was just grand.  Its bitter cold - and the wind is really blowing.  They have tall metal fencing barricades set up along the wall up to the castle to keep we tourists from being blown off!!   The scaffolding is all down and the remodeling of the lliving quarters is completed, Julia was happy to see, and it is magnificent.  We became part of a tour group with a delightful guide that I did not have trouble understanding...we saw all the places we visited when we were here for the wedding a few years ago, including the Great Hall, which is now complete with a Christmas tree, and massive curtains on all the walls to protect against the cold, and 3 huge fireplaces going (for looks only--electric).  It was fun to show Julia where we were six years ago (is that when it was?)

The private living quarters are amazing.  Two of the rooms had folks in them in period costumes to visit with you.  All the colors in the wall paintings and the ceilings were so bright and colorful now that they are restored..saw the outer & inner courts of both the King and the Queen, as well as their private bedrooms (which were only for looks, and they really each slept in another little tiny room off the bedroom - go figure!)

We had lattes in the Castle Cafe which was really a blessing by then, and helped us warm up, and now the rain is coming down harder and we decided the best thing to do is head for home ASAP...again, the snow warnings were going, and Julia says we passed several trucks bringing  stuff to put on the roads..so they are expecting the snow but only up north.

It was such a treat to be back in Stirling Castle and see all the improvements that have been made in their restoration project.

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