Dirleton Castle

August 19, 2006 at 12:37 pm | Posted in Scotland | Leave a comment

The most impressive castle I have ever been to. Dirleton Castle. It breathes history (and I wouldn’t be surprised if it were haunted, like most of the places here in Scotland). When we got there, a wedding ceremony inside the court yard had just finished, with a strings trio playing while we explored the castle: magnificent!

Here is a bit of history from Wikipedia:

“Dirleton Castle (56°02′45″N, 2°46′42″W) is a medieval fortress in the village of Dirleton, East Lothian, Scotland. Built in the 13th century by John De Vaux and altered through various phases of conquest and rebuilding throughout the years, today the castle is partially ruined but is maintained as a tourist attraction by Historic Scotland. The name De Vaux also lives on in the village as the nearby Open Arms Hotel has named their brasserie “De Vaux’s”.

After being used as a base by Oliver Cromwell, the castle was partly destroyed in 1651 when attacked by cannon. It was soon acquired by a local family who lived at the nearby Archerfield Estate. After becoming renowned for its gardens it became state property in 1923.”

A few views of/from the gardens which “are home to the world’s longest herbaceous border, as certified by the Guinness World Records and are a popular setting for weddings and other summer events.”

The perfect enchanted little cottage…

On top of the tower

August 19, 2006 at 12:23 pm | Posted in Scotland | 2 Comments

There is a spot where one can climb on the roof of one of the towers of Direlton castle, even with bare feet, offering a view of the gardens. I thought, however, that the reverse view might be more impressive, in particular on behalf of the Scottish flag hoisted on this tower.

A brief explanation of the gesture which you can see below: a straightened index and middle finger with the palm facing inwards (a gesture which might be misunderstood outside of the UK – I thought it meant “I am going to grab you by the nostrils” until I became enlightened in Scotland)…

Here is an explanation by BBC H2G2 (excerpts):
“For people in the UK there is a significant difference of meaning depending on which way around the hand is held; with the palm facing out the gesture can mean ‘victory’ or ‘peace’ but with the palm facing in the meaning is an insult, meaning something like ‘get stuffed’, but more strongly worded.”

“The origin of this use is very hazy, steeped in myth, and sadly lost in the mists of time. The most often quoted origin, almost certainly apocryphal, dates back to the Battle of Agincourt between the armies of the English and French kings. The English bowmen were an important part of their king’s army and the French king decided that any captured English soldier was to have his first two fingers cut off, to prevent him from being able to use a longbow. As an act of defiance against the French generally, the English came to stick their two (attached) bow-fingers at them – a way of saying ‘we can still fire our longbows at you’ (or more generally ‘go stuff yourself!’).”

Whether this is an accurate account of this gestures orgin or not: This is at least what people have in mind when using the gesture.

The Dirleton Dovecot

August 19, 2006 at 12:09 pm | Posted in Scotland | Leave a comment

Some pictures of the Dirleton dovecot (“Taubenschlag”), a building to house doves, which were an important food source in the middle ages.

Apparently, the possession of doves was a symbol of status and power in Medieval Europe and the theft of a dove was severely punished. Only nobility had the privilege of having a dovecot. And the doves happily built their nests inside the dovecot – harvesting both eggs and meat was a piece of cake. (Some animals appear to be very thick indeed).

More views of the waterfront

August 19, 2006 at 12:01 pm | Posted in Scotland | Leave a comment

The life guard fair

August 19, 2006 at 11:46 am | Posted in Scotland | Leave a comment

On the water front the North Berwick Life Guards held they own fair to raise money and support for keeping their work going. Here are some of the fabulous items they had organised:

A wheel of fortune – the prize for the lucky winner: either a bottle of vodka or a bottle of gin!

This was my prize in the Lucky Dip (rummage through a box wood chippings to find some candy): They North Berwick candy rock!

Give the man three dashes of water for 50p!

Guess the weight of the fish!

Anf course: candy floss…

North Berwick!

August 19, 2006 at 11:35 am | Posted in Scotland | Leave a comment

It stank of algae and kelp (the brown seaweed that is apparentlz used in soups, yuk) and there was sandworm poo everywhere – nevertheless the North Berwick seaside was stunning! And the weather treated us kindly, too.

Scottish Sky, Sea and Sand

August 19, 2006 at 11:29 am | Posted in Scotland | Leave a comment

Scottish trivia, pt. 2

August 19, 2006 at 11:13 am | Posted in Scotland | Leave a comment

Having been here for two weeks now, I am acutely aware that my previous use of the terms “Scottish/British/English” was inexcusably fuzzy. Hence now a division between: Scottish and British trivia. And may the term “English” never make its way into this blog again! (unless the aim were to denigrate the English, provided they’re behaving English).

The Scottish thistle:

The Scottish flag:

British Trivia, pt. 1

August 19, 2006 at 11:08 am | Posted in Scotland | Leave a comment

The picture you continental Europeans have been waiting for: SPAM!

And apple pie which looks exactly what it is supposed to look like (judging from my very first “English” – consider the quotation marks – book).

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