The tattoo organisers give each group performers the use of a bus for a day to pretty
much anywhere we like. We decided to go to Stirling, which is an hour north of Edinburgh
and features as Edinburgh does a Castle on a mount, and is the home of the Wallace Memorial.
It was also where the Bridge of Allan highland games were taking place and we wanted to see it all.
Our bus left early in the morning driven by Dave a very friendly local Edinburgh lad
who was to become a good friend of the South African contingent during our stay and
even took to wearing a South African flag on his lapel.
The trip was quite quick and with a short stop at Bannockburn we got to the car
park at Stirling Castle within an hour. There were those that wanted to see the Castle
who got off the bus and others who wanted to proceed to the highland games to offer support
for our friends from the Pietermaritzburg Caledonian Pipe Band who were over in Scotland
to compete here and at the World Championships.
The Castle was very interesting if a little expensive and we took our time wandering around
the ramparts, great hall and the gardens but probably the most interesting part was the
Regimental Museum of the Argyle and Sutherland Highlanders, our fellow esplanade walkers.
Once we had finished there Dave and the bus had arrived back from Bridge of Allan
to collect us and to take us to the highland games.
Nestled on a field near the famous "Stirling Bridge" (scene of a battle) the field on
which the Highland Games was held was down a very pretty suburban street. Dave dropped
us off and gave us our pre-packed lunches, which should have come in wheel barrows
considering their size. I guess the Czech lovelies at Redford didn't want us to starve
and it made finding your friends amongst the crowds easy……they were the ones lugging the
large brown paper bags! One thing about the kitchens at Redford…..stingy could never be
used to describe them and we really appreciate it.
We found the other half of our contingent and sat down to watch the grade4 competition…..those
of us that managed to remain on our seats. Pietermaritzburg played very well and got a good result.
We then took to the stalls where deals were to be had on Inverness Capes
(because it rains so much in Joburg!) and various other items. There was even a stall
selling Springbok jerseys cheaper than you can get them in Joburg……eish, how…oh oh oh oh oh .
We then decided to take a trip out to the Wallace Memorial who is the "Braveheart"
of the movie fame. This one's Scottish and not a short confused Australian American with
a hatred for the English, although I'm pretty sure the Scottish one wasn't fond of his Southern neighbours either.
The memorial sits proudly on another hill on the other side of the town from the castle.
Its an impressive Gothic tower with turrets and an observation deck at the end of the worlds
narrowest staircase. We climbed and stopped, climbed and stopped. We stopped for two reasons,
the first was because each floor had a display and an audio visual event covering the history
of Wallace, the second was so that tourists who really shouldn't have been climbing the tower
could stop and have their weight problem dawn on them. It wouldn't have been so bad but the
stops seriously slowed our progress to the top and at one point there was some doubt as to
whether we would get there at all and even more doubt as to whether we would make our bus.
Needless to say we got to the top where the views were absolutely spectacular, the
castle across the valley and the river winding its way through fields that literally glowed in the sunshine.