At 7:45AM tomorrow morning, I will drag myself out of bed and clamber aboard a bus that will take me to Inverness and back, with stops along the way at Glencoe, Loch Ness, Urquhart Castle, and the Blair Athol whiskey distillery. Before I am swept away on a magical Highland adventure, I thought I should record this week’s antics before they are obliterated from my memory by the beautiful scenery, new experiences (and whiskey).
Halloween (or Samhuinn, as the Celts call it) is naturally a big event in the most haunted city in Europe. The city that runs daily ghost tours and is home to Mary King’s Close and the Edinburgh Dungeons is expected to out-spook even those spooky features during Halloween season. The Samhuinn Fire Festival, masquerade balls and scary movie screenings were all added to the itinerary. To start the week off, my flatmates and I paid a visit to the Edinburgh Dungeons—a haunted house/living history hybrid attraction that immerses you in Edinburgh’s gruesome past. Our experience would have been a lot more frightening if we hadn’t shared our tour with a drunken Hen Party, who laughed more than they screamed, but the underground boat ride, simulated hanging, and masked cannibals were more than enough to keep me screaming and hiding behind my friends.
On our way home, we detoured down the Royal Mile to pick up some chips. When we passed the David Hume statue, I noticed to my surprise that he was sporting a large orange hat that he hadn’t been wearing the previous day. Upon closer inspection, the hat proved to be a traffic cone. This Glaswegian tradition of dressing up local statues and national monuments is apparently spreading eastwards! My flatmate, in a drunken fit of Edinburgian pride, promptly climbed atop David Hume, threw his hat into the street, and shouted, “BECAUSE WE’RE NOT GLASGOW!” Fortunately, I have photographic evidence of this event—but unfortunately, I cannot share it here on the internet, for the sake of preserving the anonymity of certain parties involved.
Later in the week I finally visited the National Museum of Scotland, and lost a whole afternoon in the Scottish collections. The objects are displayed very creatively, and touch screens, please-touch objects, video and audio presentations augment the labels. The Natural Sciences collection is housed in one enormous gallery—a dinosaur skeleton is there to greet you, and all types of creatures hang from the ceiling. But best of all, the museum is completely free, which means I will enjoy many return visits!
I was thrilled to stumble upon the famous Lewis Chessmen, gorgeous medieval chess pieces found on the Isle of Lewis. Note the “beserker” rook left of center, who is chewing his shield in a fit of battle fury:
I also met Dolly the sheep, the first successfully cloned mammal:
This quote on the wall of the Scottish collections, from the 1320 Declaration of Arbroath, successfully sums up several hundred years of Scottish history: “As long as only one hundred of us remain alive, we will never on any conditions be brought under English rule.”
Halloween night itself was kicked off with the brewing of homemade Butterbeer, the most delicious drink in the universe. The ingredients included butter, cream soda, brown sugar, more butter, cream, and butterscotch syrup.
This was followed by drinks and dancing at Teviot (the student union), which was lit green on the outside and spookily decorated on the inside. Two excellent jazz bands were playing, and I had the great pleasure of dancing with a Dalek, who was surprisingly agile for an evil, extraterrestrial cyborg. (I saw several Doctors as well, but luckily the Dalek didn’t notice, and so bloodshed was avoided!)
The liquid offerings included Halloween themed shots (Blood, Alien Blood, Cat Piss, Vampire Blood, and Goop), and the Harry Potter themed pitchers, Malfoy’s Menace, Dumbledore’s Damage, and the Hogwarts Express. But in my opinion, nothing will ever be as delicious as our homemade Butterbeer, the envy of House-elves the world over. Another highlight of my evening had to have been when the staff at New Amphion let us play with dry ice:
So concluded my haunted week. Highland adventures await! The next time I write I will have seen (and hopefully captured) a shaggy Highland cow. We can keep him in the kitchen, and name him William Wallace. Pictures to follow.