/ Scotland2017

A pig playing bagpipes

Reunited with Liz today. Apparently she's expecting to be collected just after 10am, which means I have to be offsite before 9:30. 30 mins to put the van into "on the road" mode, 30 minutes to tidy away bedding and get breakfast, 30 mins for ablutions, teeth etc. Better set an 8:00 alarm. The sacrifices I make in the cause of domestic harmony!

Collected Liz at 10:20.

We're on the road, might as well have a driving day so we head for Galashiels. Now a sign of a failing town is a closed charity shop. Galashiels had two! Actually it did have a few nice local shops but we could find little to detain us too long.

Melrose was a totally different kettle of fish. I'm sure my reading audience is well enough read to be familiar with Melrose Abbey and, to my shame, I'm sure most of you remember the Antonine Wall and the Roman fort Trimontium at nearby Newsteads. I didn't, so was surprised to stumble on Melrose's Roman museum. And what a gem. To save retyping here I'll just paste my Google review:

Museums don't get better than this! A collection of Roman artifacts and facsimiles of ones so important as to be housed in the National Museum of Scotland. The highlight is either the fantastic silver denarius horde spanning a dozen or so emperors, or the curator. Now here is someone that knows his stuff and oozes enthusiasm in every pore. He'll flit you from case to case pointing out the key finds and detailing the history of the site. You'll learn more about Roman Britain from 10 minutes of his company than hours of trying to make sense of museums yourself. Once orientated you are left to wander and fill in all the gaps.

So well worth the modest entry fee we just had to leave a donation!

Yes, it was that good and if you find yourself near Melrose I highly recommend a visit. The author Lindsey Davis did, having had a book-launch there the previous evening.

The abbey was interesting but somehow I expected more.

It had Robert The Bruce's heart (supposedly)

and a famous bagpiping pig gargoyle

and several other interesting gargoyles (most of which I failed to photograph because I nudged my phone camera to a most weird setting).

The only thing that set it apart from most other ruined abbeys was the 74 step spiral staircase up into the bell-tower.

Mind you, whatever they put in water round here is worth drinking. After a highly enthusiastic museum curator we are greeted by Historic Scotland's most bubbly ticket vendor. Full of chat and cheer, obviously Melrose has yet to hear that Scots are meant to be bleak and dour.

There's a National Trust garden and a Historic Scotland mill but time is pressing on and we must away to Edinburgh and the campsite.

A note about Mortonhall campsite. It's a nice, typical enough campsite but two things set it above most. Firstly it is only 10 minute walk to a bus service to Edinburgh that runs every 9 minutes during the day and well into the wee hours of the morning. Secondly it has a bar/restaurant on site. Cheapest beer in Edinburgh with 3 real ales and a reasonably priced food menu that is a bit more upmarket than burger and chips. My game pie was marred by an overpowering stock cube or gravy granules but was nevertheless very good and Liz had no complains about her steak pie. Nice to be able to dine on site.