Driving, Romans, Vikings and fire.
Stay on the left side. Keep your front right corner on the middle lane stripes, never stop in a roundabout. But nobody told me how to approach a roundabout when you need to take a third exit. I have to say, the Scots are nice people, respectful, convivial and even a little tolerant, esp when I had to go around again, or cut them off to get over. (The English...not so much.) Only 4 honks over 370 miles and a few turnabouts due to not wanting to cut someone off and having to turn around. My poor daughter bore the brunt of my self-vexation, I had to explain that I wasn't mad at her as she also had to learn-by-fire how to navigate. This experience should make her an excellent driver.
On route to the airport to pick up the rental car, the taxi-driver asked "Can I give you a suggestion for driving on the left?" "Yeh, of course." "Switch you watch to your other wrist." "Cheers!" Best advice so far this trip. I totally bungle the SatNav I was lent by Michael and so we had to burn my data on my phone, but we managed to get out of Edinburgh and down to York with a few stops along the way.
The roads in these little villages hardly have room for two-way traffic, even on the high street, never mind the parked cars, facing either directions, on both sides. I deftly wind my way around a tourist caravan (tour bus), when another greets me with it's impending grill. I can only see a narrow drive and a right or left turn. GPS is not helping, so I go right (wide-right) and see a stone church with cars everywhere. The church seems unimpressive compared to all the hub-bub. "That's Roslyn?" I thought it was more off to itself, in a field, not surrounded by houses. I can't find parking so I turned down a road to "Roslyn Garden Park", the road is too narrow to make an 8-point turn, so I continue until this enormous nature perserve opens up and lots of lovely parking and turn-around space. I see a trails map and take a look at it. Yes! A trail to the chapel and castle! Serendipity at it's finest!
Like the hiker I profess to be, we load up and travel the footpath, over a lovely, mossy bridge and up to the castle ruins. I am pretty sure the ghost of King Arthur, Lancelot and Gwenivere are misting through the remnants of the holy cross arrowslits. They could have a serious awesome renaissance festival at this park! We continue past an area of Commonwealth War Graves and round a bend. There is Roslyn, in all its glory, surrounded by lots a greenery and a visitor center, and loads of parking. Apparently when I was focused on navigating the buses, I missed the entrance. But our way was better!
Roslyn is a lovely chapel built in the mid-late 1400s under the King James', it's of Norman influence and famous for it's stone masonry and carvings, now a Mecca for Freemasons, mostly due to Dan Brown's DiVinci code. Stories and myths abound but I personally like the green man and nature images carved forever in her stoney-breast. Lovely exterior flying buttresses and floral reliefs makes one want to don Nottingham lace and English silks and have lute music in the background.
There are two ways to head towards York, our destination for the night, so I took the third! I was thinking we'd take the Newcastle route and see a newly opened Roman Fort historical site but am shied away due to the population density and manufacturing landscape and the A1 seems just as unappealing. So, we route the A64 and joy of joys, there is another Roman fort and a bit of Hadian's wall to explore. Along the way is a 12th Century Abbey, we didn't stop, but I pointed it out, as John and I had visited there 16 years ago.
The Roman ruins were interesting but a little hard for the kids to appriciate since it's mostly just rock foundation. I learned an interesting tidbit: Romans, instead of grid street design, laid streets out like spider-webs from town centers. This was reinforced with my daughter, she had an epiphany in understanding how city centers were laid out on the map here in England, things were coming together for navigation!
We pulled into York for the night and I finally have my coachman breakdown. We turned on guidance but it leads us to the back of the hotel. An alley (if you think the roads are small, try an alley), cars parked on both sides, and narrowly 2" on either side of the vehicle, I have to navigate with the mirrors in different locations to the norm. This time I'm only in 1st gear but what makes opposite driving hard is the gear box is still the same (1st upper left, reverse lower right, etc. with the left hand) this sounds like it should be better but it's not, our brains, when switching, want to switch the patterns, too. It's like rubbing your belly and tapping your head. Down-shifting for a roundabout is particularly stressful. Anyways, I get past the aisle of cars into a street of row houses and a dead end. Thankfully, there was enough room to do a 20 point turn (okay more like 5) but I have to go back the way I came. I come to as close to crying as I have yet on this trip, this was the moment, it was past 9:30pm and I had no choice but to adult and get my kids to their hotel. We re-map and figure out where to go and we DID it!
Checked in and off to sleep in a single room crammed with a queen bed and two twins, one glass door, no windows and a titchy bath. I have been sharing the queen beds with Ethan, who, btw way, kicks and talks in his sleep. Here, the mattress was only 4" foam and a plywood split platform... Awful bed but I was so tired from my reenactment of 15yo drivers-ed that I sleep until 3am when the whole hotel (10rooms) were woken-up by the fire alarm. The lovely ladies next to our room, that had gone out drinking until 2:30am, decided they needed a last smoke before they went to sleep. No harm done except loss of sleep. Joy.
York is a favorite town off mine. I love the history, the river, the Minster, the old English lanes and the Boulder-like local crazie people walking around, it gives this town a character all it's own. It was a holiday weekend, so it was very crowded. But, I walk the kids past the statue of Constantine, pulled the Romans to the Catholics story full circle (see my blog on the ChiRho Labarum). Unfortunately, what I really wanted to show them, the Jorvik Center, was closed due to flooding damages, so they vote for another Dungeon. These character reenactments, while a bit showy, do give the kids the history of the area, the Vikings all the way up to the 1800s, local lore, period clothing through the ages, hardships and medical advancements. And, ironically, I was chosen as the witch on trial, found guilty and burned at the stake! I guess I have been truly indoctrinated now. 🌛🌝🌜