Greetings from the Old Sod

On Tuesday, I began my annual May visit to Scotland, although this one will be a more equal balance between golf and taking in all the other wonderful things the Scotlamd has to offer. I write this from my favorite city, Edinburgh, where I arrived just after the sun came up Tuesday morning after a flight from Hartford, CT, to Dublin and, after a short layover, on to Edinburgh. Motel One – Royal (it’s really a “hotel”) has become my go-to lodgings after a pleasant stay of a couple of days last year with my wife. Located in the Old Town section of the city, a block from Waverley Station and a couple of blocks below the Royal Mile, Edinburgh’s famed and historic shopping and dining street, you can’t be in a better position for pubs, both fine and casual restaurants, shops, and buildings that are centuries old.
Cockburn from breakfast seatHow I started my day; the breakfast view from the lobby of the Motel One- Royal. At the top of the two block long Cockburn Street lies the Royal Mile.

Last night’s dinner at The Malt Shovel, a well-regarded pub less than a block from the hotel, was exactly what you hope for in a UK pub; great selection of beers, a loud and convivial post-work crowd, and quite competent food, in my case a toothsome cheddar burger layered with cheese, lettuce, tomato and red onion. The cheese was barely melted but I didn’t care. Today, camera in tow and praying for at least a little sunshine,
The Malt ShovelThe Malt Shovel begins serving at noon, and they were setting up late morning as I passed by.

I started my walkabout along the Royal Mile, trying to tick off the many photo ops I had not found on prior trips and to recapture the best scone of my life on my first trip to the city in 2008. (Sadly, I did not find it and when stepped inside the tiny and highly regarded Milkman coffee shop, the young at the counter said "Sorry, no scones.") No matter where you point your camera in Edinburgh – east, west, high and low -- it is hard not to capture a great shot; the framings and perspectives seem to be pre-composed by ancient architects and volcanic movements. A walk on flat ground – asphalt or cobblestones – is more rare than skimming downhill or huffing uphill. The Edinburgh Castle hangs over the city, as does a volcanic mountain to the east (extinct, thankfully), just beyond the historic Hollyrood ("Hooray for Hollyrood!") but dramatic long flights of stone stairs up and down from one section of the city to the next, and almost endless narrow alleyways that twist and turn through centuries old residences and churches, beg for photo shots -- and make me thankful I no longer need to pay for film.
Bagpiper on Royal MileThe busker bagpipers are fanned out along the Royal Mile, just far enough apart from each so as not to overlap in terms of sound and tips.

I’ll be weighing in next week about the golf at Crail Golfing Society and its 36 holes, every one of them with at least a peek at the North Sea. It is the only golf community in the world with designs by Old Tom Morris (circa 1895) and a “new” Gil Hanse, Craighead Links which was one of his early designs (1998) and his first international assignment. After that, I head to the Highlands of Scotland on a buddy trip with my brother-in-law from London. No golf will be involved, but plenty of photos, especially on the Isle of Skye. And perhaps a wee dram or two.  Cheers.
Tourist photoI am not the only one with a camera who loves to take photos of dramatically long flights of stone stairs of Old Town Edinburgh. I had to wait for this lady's mate to take the perfect photo because, as I waited, she retreated down the stairs to check on the image, went back up for another go,and then another before she was satisfied. In any case, they were so riveted on their photo that I decided a model was more interesting than naked stairs. If they noticed, they didn't seem to mind.

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