There are Holiday Inns and Travelodges in the UK, but they are the minority and most travel accommodations are bed and breakfasts, or “guest houses”- which have such a friendly and homey feel. I have always loved staying at a bed and breakfast because breakfast is always a really fun opportunity to meet people and eat a home cooked meal. The Albert Hotel was a bed and breakfast and so Saturday morning we had our second experience with a Scottish breakfast, but we opted out of the black pudding and haggis this time.
After breakfast Richard drove my parents back to Edinburgh to pick up their rental car, and they took Miriam with them. So the boys and I walked down to the pier. North Queensferry is in the Kingdom of Fife, and it’s so beautiful. There were those purple and blue clouds again, contrasting with the dark green landscape. I had fun taking photos while the boys played on the rocky beach.
We gave each of the kids £5 to spend on our vacation and Eli and Simon chose these military helmets. (Cameron chose a small toy tank and Mim chose a toy Queen’s scepter from the castle.)
The town of Queens Ferry was established in 1068 by the Queen so that there could be regular ferry crossings across the inlet from Edinburgh to northern Scotland. Forth Bridge
, the red bridge in the pictures below, was built from 1883-1890. There are books written about the building of the bridge, at its peak it employed 4,000 men and 63 men lost their lives working on the project. I marvel at engineering feats that seem to come ahead of their time and require such personal sacrifice. This bridge is now used for the railway, and there is another bridge built more recently that is used for vehicles.
After Richard and my parents came back, we packed up and headed for Perth. We ate lunch at a French restaurant that will be the focal point of my culinary fantasies for a long while to come. My parents had just been telling us about how the food in France is all so delicious. I wish I could remember the French name of the dish I had, but it had potatoes, lardons, and the most savory cheeses. Even the kids devoured their meals, and we all smiled with satisfaction at all the clean plates at the end of the meal. Then we had some macarons from the restaurant bakery and if they hadn’t been so expensive I would have tried one of every flavor. There was hazlenut, lemon, peanut butter, passion fruit and chocolate, salted caramel, basil and lime, vanilla, chocolate, raspberry. They were as beautiful as they were delicious. (If you haven’t noticed, food is as serious as any part of our travel experiences.)
After lunch we drove to Scone Palace. (Pronounced “Scoone” if you want to sound Scottish.) Scone palace was the coronation site of Kings and Queens of Scotland for hundreds of years. I couldn’t quite get my head around the significance of the ceremonies that took place at this quiet and serene palace in the Scottish countryside.
This is just a replica of the stone that where the kings and queens sat for their coronation ceremonies. The actual stone is in the Edinburgh Castle exhibit with the Scottish Regalia.
The best way to explain Scone Palace might be to compare it to Downton Abbey, the home of a wealthy aristocratic family. But it had more historical significance as well, and Queen Victoria had her own room here because she enjoyed visiting so much, which was totally understandable because it’s so scenic and feels remote.
We toured the palace, which actually is still the home of the Earl of Scone and his wife. His son is the Viscount of Stormont and he is therefore married to the Viscountess of Stormont, and they have a son as well. He is not yet married but what pressure! There was a guide in the palace who valiantly tried to explain to us how the aristocracy of Earls, Lords, and Viscounts was organized, and with several comparisons to Downton Abbey as a reference for us sort it out, I think we came away with a vague idea. It is quite fascinating actually and I think I need to dig up some movies to help me really get a handle on it. (Or read a book, but don’t movies about Earls and Lords sound so fun?) The guide told us that there is a running joke among these families “Produce an heir, and one to spare.”
The palace was lavishly decorated and really fun to walk through. There was also a special exhibit about Dido Belle, probably because of the recently produced British movie about her life- which of course now I’m dying to see! I know I post a lot of links, I do that for your convenience if you are curious, because I reference them to help me get my facts straight. But if you don’t click on any other link- read about Dido, it’s a really neat story.
After we toured the palace we took the kids to the playground on the palace grounds. There were a lot of fun things there. Richard doesn’t get to go to many parks with us so it was fun for him to watch the kids on the zip line and it was a nice break for me to take pictures while he pushed Simon in the swing.
Bracing herself for the high-flying finish…
The view of the property from the playground. The Murray family (Earl of Scone) owns something like 30,000 acres at this location.
The road coming in toward the palace. I can imagine what a welcome sight it would have been coming up that road in a carriage or on a horse in the Scottish rain…
The original palace gate.
This was our third maze, and it was the prettiest by far. I loved the green and red hedges and it was star-shaped. I’m going to shamelessly boast that I was the first one to the center. I think I’m getting the hang of this maze thing…
It was a really beautiful afternoon by the time we left Scone Palace. The sun was shining and it just felt like the most pleasant place on Earth. I’ve never seen grass so green. Richard was so impressed he said he wanted his Heaven to be a place like the grounds of Scone Palace.