My Scotland Adventure

Another lovely weekend with friends and Austen related adventures have ended. Not only was it filled with friends, a certain birthday but also a grand regency ball. New friends, old acquaintances and of course the rumors I had heard about Stuart Marsden calling the dances at the ball, was true!

My companions this time around was; my regency sister Christin and good friends Eva and Elaine. Eva, Elaine and I had planned weeks ahead of the weekend, to ensure that Christin knew nothing of our plans for her birthday, including the many gifts we had bought for her.

Well we arrived in Edinburgh, and managed to hide the gifts at our accommodation – before we joined Christin at Grey friars Bobby: a statue of a famous dog but also a tavern named after the dog’s owner. IMG_1339

The comical thing was that we had intended to join a Harry Potter walking tour, but we didn’t manage to find the starting point, which annoyed us, all to a certain extent.

After we had dealt with our disappointed hopes, we walked around on Victoria Street, one of the main streets where we saw the cafe where J. K. Rowling wrote “Harry Potter and the sorcerer’s stone”,

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Well Eva, Christin, Elaine and I visited several tartan shops to find appropriate sashes for our gowns for the ball the next evening. While we looked for the sashes, Elaine pointed out a sign which read;

IMG_1352 Yes, that Robert Burns, the poet!

While we were at it, we ran into an old friend, namely dance Master Andrew Rawe and his lovely girlfriend Sophie, who was also exploring Edinburgh. We ended up at Brassiere Valérie where we took tea and crumpets. Then we parted ways from Sophie and Andrew, we walked up to the Castle, Edinburgh Castle that is. We took pictures from the outside.

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Entryway to the Ministry of Magic

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Saturday dawned.

We visited the graveyard to find Tom Riddles and McGonagall’s graves – and we did find them – and posed for HP related photos, and I fell over Sir Walter Scott Sr.’s grave, which quite surprised me, since I didn’t know that family was Scottish.

I bought a gift for a friend at home, in form of a Slytherin scarf, when we passed the Harry Potter shop.

We also once again walked up to the Castle, and this time entered on the tour. The girls and I had started this joke between us that all we did was walk on stairs/steps which also held true for the castle, funnily enough. Since there was many a step when walking around the castle.

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But my goodness that castle has a very dramatic and bloody history! From the earliest days of the 1100s and all the way up to WWII, it has been bumped, burned, captured, taken or housed royals; including the famous Mary, Queen of Scots.

Actually in 1503 King Henry VIII’s sister Margaret was married into the Scottish royal family, to unite the two countries – it ultimately failed.

It was another 100 years before Scotland and England was united by inheritance and rules of succession, namely after the death of Queen Elizabeth I of England, when her cousin: King Jacob VI of Scotland became King James I of England – and united the two countries.

Pardon me for this little history lesson, dear readers.

After the tour of the castle, we hurried to our dance practice at the Assembly Rooms, which was housed in an old Georgian building. 2015-09-28 19.13.22

I reacquainted myself with several people from Bath, met new people and was taught new dances, including a few quadrilles by the excellent if firm dance master, Stuart Marsden. Quadrilles are tricky, so personally I think I prefer the country dances, but they are good fun – once you understand the patterns.

Then we returned to our accommodation, to shower, dress and prepare for the evening ahead.

We managed to get there on time, where to we talked and met everybody who was to attend the grand regency ball, which had last taken place in the self-same rooms 200 years before in 1817 on March 11th.

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Photo credit: Juliette Lichman

The ball room was quite amazing, a long gallery of a room, with several beautiful chandeliers, and since I am a singer, I thought the acoustics were quite beautiful.

As seen we had quite a lot of fun, as several gentlemen were in kilts or uniforms. But to say the truth, we had a ball, and a lot of fun! Laughter was ripe and so was silliness.

During the evening, I had the pleasure to dance with James Arnott, a new acquaintance – but also a regency dancer from the Hampshire dancers, if I am not mistaken. Also during the evening, I also made new friends, one I hope to see in Copenhagen in the coming summer.

After several dances, dinner and dessert, we as guests were showed the excellent show off of a Scottish Reel, which was rather amazing! The dancers were excellent, and personally I thought it took a lot of energy to pull it off.

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Photo credit: Juliette Lichman

The evening ended on a familiar note of ‘The Savage’ dance which lovers of Pride and Prejudice will recognize as the dance where Mr. Darcy comments, “Every savage can dance” (Jane Austen) it was wonderful to dance it again, it is full of energy, life and happiness. And lastly our dancing master told us that we had permission to dance The Waltz. A dance I love, and always think of as a very romantic dance.

When the ball ended, several of us walked to ‘The Dome’ a bar and restaurant in Edinburgh, where we had drinks and could toast the birthday girl, my dear regency sister on her 26th birthday.

Sunday dawned after a few hours of sleep; we packed our things since we all were leaving during the day. Eva was the first, who was leaving, so we went out for breakfast at a café.

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Strawberries on toast for myself, and a full traditional Scottish breakfast plate for my dear regency sister, which included a bit of haggis, rather brave of her. Afterwards, Elaine, Christin and I made our way to the Georgian House – a National Trust Property.

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In my eyes it does have a small reassemble to Lyme Park which portrayed Pemberley in the ’95 version of Pride and Prejudice. Well, Christin left us to go to the airport and therefore Elaine and I continued on our last day of adventure.

Once inside the house and past the desk in the hall, it felt like we had returned to late 18th century or early 19th century, despite our modern clothes I could easily imagine myself there during the early 19th century during a morning call to the Mistress of the House. Elaine and I tried to write with a very faulty pen and ink, and we had black ink on our fingers for hours afterwards, haha.

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We visited the whole house, including the butler’s room in the basement, alongside of the kitchen which was spotless; I did wonder if they had a Cook like Mrs. Patmore? Well Elaine and I spent quite some time in the shop attached to the house, as we walked back towards the castle district we walked on a street, which reminded me rather a lot of Great Pulteney St. in Bath – it felt like being back in south England once more. Can’t wait to be back!

On Victoria Street I ended up buying a scarf for myself in the Gryffindor colors, much to Elaine’s amusement. Then we made our way to The National Portrait Gallery, where we were meeting James Arnott for tea, before I had to be in the airport. After a lovely tea, and a very quick peek at a few portraits I was off back to Roseberry Crescent for my suitcase and then I was off to Edinburgh Airport, which sadly ended my visit to Edinburgh for this time.

I look forward to returning, hopefully next year. I hope to see more acquaintances there as well.

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