The Retirees go Abroad – Home for a Few Days then off to the Tattoo – Edinburgh’s Tattoo

With so much happening in Edinburgh, we decided to take the train from Dunfermline Queen Margaret Station to Edinburgh Waverley Bridge Station. This was a great decision given the traffic nightmares we had already endured.

We arrived at the station and made our way to the Royal Mile found a coffee shop beside the Jolly Judge bar down a lane after battling the crowds through the Fringe.

Photos of Edinburgh and the Royal Mile

We thought we were making great time until we got to within 100 metres of the Tattoo entrance. Here the officials Military Police and local Police were marshalling the ticket holders and corralling us until the gates opened. So there we stood for about ½ an hour before going through security then the ticket check then the ushers. Whew, nobody tells you about that.

Inside our seats were great except that we looked directly into the western sun. The set up was continuing and whilst people were straggling in the show began.

Photos of the set up the ceremonial introductions, the flyover and the massed pipers.

Somewhere in the massed pipers were the Manly Warringah Pipers but how to distinguish them I don’t know. We did pick out the Ghurkhas though. Then came the US Air Forces Special Command drill team with their bayonet fixed drill.

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There were fiddlers from the Falklands, dancers from Dun somewhere Bollywood presentations and Lotus Eaters and dragons.

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Even the PRC (Peoples Republic of China) sent the band from the PLA (Peoples Liberation Army). Not to be out done the Citadel Military College from South Carolina joined in.

Then the best act of the night – Switzerland’s Top Secret Drum Corps from of all places Basel. Finishing was left to the Queen’s Colour Squadron to show us “Marching up and down”. Followed by the Queen’s Own colours regiment.

The finale saw everyone massed on the parade ground whilst fireworks burst above in a twilight sky. Great show.

Then came the walk back to the train to find the next train came 90 minutes later. Oh well at least we got to sit down as we had to stand up on the train to Perth to get home.

The Retirees go Abroad – Home for a Few Days then off to the Tattoo – Culross and North Queensport in the Kingdom of Fife

We left Harrogate relaxed and prepared for rain wind hail and a long trip to Dunfermline. Due to the Edinburgh Festival the Edinburgh Fringe and the Tattoo accommodation was at a premium in Edinburgh. Dunfermline is in the Kingdom of Fife and just north of Edinburgh across the Firth of Forth Bridge.

We stayed at the Holiday Inn Express but the trip to get there was very tiring. Traffic snarls and Tommy leading us up the garden path meant when we arrived we just needed a drink. Fortunately the predicted bad weather did not eventuate. After some dreadful takeaway and the subsequent indigestion, we slept soundly awaking to a bright sunshiny day with little cloud in the sky. A great day for the Tattoo and our planned visit to the ancient village of Culross and the old ferry port of North Queensport.

Culross is a village and former royal burgh in Fife, Scotland. Originally Culross served as a port city on the Firth of Forth and is believed to have been founded by Saint Serf during the 6th century. During the 16th and 17th centuries, the town was a centre of the coal mining industry. Sir George Bruce of Carnock, who built the splendid ‘Palace’ of Culross and whose elaborate family monument stands in the north transept of the Abbey church, established at Culross, the first coal mine in the world to extend under the sea, in 1575. The mine worked the coal seam under the Firth, with ingenious contrivances to drain the constant leakage from above. This mine was considered one of the marvels of the British Isles in the early 17th century, until it was destroyed in a storm, in 1625.

Photos of the palace and the family monument in the Abbey church.

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Culross’ secondary industry was salt panning. There was a considerable export trade by sea in the produce of these industries and the prevalence of red roof tiles in Culross and other villages in Fife is thought to be a direct result of collier ships returning to Culross with Dutch roof tiles as ballast. The town was also known for its monopoly on the manufacture of ‘girdles’, i.e. flat iron plates for baking over an open fire. The town’s role as a port declined from the 18th century, and by Victorian times it had become something of a ‘ghost town’. The harbour was filled in and the sea cut off by the coastal railway line in the second half of the 19th century. The village has some unusual street names also.

Photos of the town buildings, streets and the sea wall

The other notable building is the remains of the Cistercian house of Culross Abbey, founded 1217. The tower, transepts and choir of the Abbey Church remain in use as the parish church, while the ruined claustral buildings are cared for by Historic Scotland.

There is a bust in honour of Thomas Cochrane, 10th Earl of Dundonald outside the Culross Town House. He was the first Vice Admiral of Chile.

Photos of the bust Town House and Cistercian Abbey ruins.

We also visited North Queensport the home of the world’s smallest light house. Primarily we went there to view the rail bridge the road bridge and the new bridge under construction. The village was also a snapshot of history losing its importance as a ferry port when the road bridge terminated a need for a ferry service.

Photos of the rail bridge, the road bridge the stanchions of the new road bridge the modern Liner terminal, the smallest lighthouse and someone’s lounge room we mistook for the lighthouse.

I would have to say that Culross was one of the prettiest villages we have visited. We had arrived early and we seemed to be following the postie or vice versa. We chatted to him few times and noted he was wearing shorts and a short sleeve cotton shirt whilst we were dressed much more warmly. He pointed out a few things particularly that the television series Outlander and several motion pictures have used Culross as a location.

We returned to the hotel just in time to rug up for the Tattoo as the clear skies had brought the cold and the wind.

The Retirees go Abroad – Home for a Few Days then off to the Tattoo – Fountains Abbey

Fountains Abbey is one of the largest and best preserved ruined Cistercian monasteries in England. It is located approximately three miles south-west of Ripon in North Yorkshire, near to the village of Aldfield. Founded in 1132, the abbey operated for over 400 years, until 1539, when Henry VIII ordered the Dissolution of the Monasteries.

The abbey is a Grade I listed building owned by the National Trust and part of the designated Studley Royal Park including the Ruins of Fountains Abbey UNESCO World Heritage Site. For more of the history of the site go to:

Nerida Bishop had been telling us for ages that this was one place we had to visit and she was right. For our experience we walked through a forest along a cliff edge to reach the abbey ruins. Along the way we stopped at a bird hide to see what creatures were in the forest. The groundsmen set up a feeding site for the birds and one squirrel must have thought he was a bird. Not content with scavenging on the ground he climbed up on to one of the feeders – well see for yourself.

Then we made our way down to the ruins and met the volunteer guide showing tourists through the site and giving us the history. It seems that a number of Benedictine monks decided that life was too easy around York and they had lost their religious way. They formed their own group and were given some lands in this valley where they nearly froze to death but having survived went on to prosper join the Cistercians and suffer the same fate of the Benedictines – victims of their own earthly success, until Henry VIII took all that earthly success for himself.

Well in 400 years they developed this Abbey to the point where it was more palace like than abbey. The ruins tell you that but the giveaway is the last of the Abbotts built a tower for no other reason than to have a tower and show off the wealth of the abbey. Anyway enjoy the photos, they include the water mill which believe it or not was still working until 1936 and then became a generator for Fountains Hall for another 20 years.

Despite the ruins being at the bottom of a cliff the imposing tower was evident from far away. As we climbed down the cliff we could see the body of the church with the large set of storage rooms running across the face of the Abbey. The Abbey is located beside a creek which once ran straight but has been diverted to one side and used to carry waste and sewerage from the Abbey. The roof and windows have been gone for a long time but it is obvious that the weight of the roof and enormous windows caused stresses on the building frame with buttresses built to re-enforce walls and window cracks cover with clever masonry figures.



The watermill although not as impressive has proved to be the most resilient building and it still generates power for the Hall today.



As we departed we made a quick call to the Hall where a wedding was occurring. There was not much to see really but it was interesting to learn that the Lord of the Manor had supported Charles I in the Civil War and lost his fortune for choosing the loosing side.

The Retirees go Abroad – Home for a Few Days then off to the Tattoo

Since we returned from Buckingham Palace we have continued our routine as members of the community in Long Eaton. Part of that routine is to assist at St Mary the Virgin Church at Attenborough. On our last working bee we were not sur e whether we may fit in another working bee so I took a photo of the Clean – up Crew. It has always been enjoyable working with this group of dedicated volunteers. As we work amongst the graves most days, we can probably include a few of the spirits around the place but of course they were absent for the photo.

Photo of the crew in the Vestry at morning tea


The other group we routinely meet with and work with is the Rotary Club of Nottingham. The same thing applies here. We enjoy the company of all the members (despite their gentle ribbing when Australia shows its glass jaw in the cricket) and they seem to genuinely enjoy our irregular appearance and assistance. George, one of the senior members of the Club has held an annual Summers Garden Party and has done so for years. He always seems to pick the summer day and then the weather returns to usual UK weather and this year was the same. Though I was not confident that it was warm enough for swimming and stayed dry.

Photos of our host George, the new President John and Geoff, Past President Roy and David Kerry and the girls

The UK is a small place when compared with Australia but despite this it is always taking us longer than planned to travel anywhere by car because of the infernal delays on the motorways and slow trek when forced onto country roads even though the scenery is often stunning. So we planned our trek to Edinburgh (some 5 hours north) into two days – Harrogate and Fountains Abbey on day 1 and Edinburgh day two.

Harrogate is north west of York and famous as a spa town in Georgian times. Our hotel – the Majestic – although a relic of the Victorian age, is a good example of the idle pursuits that the town became famous for. Built in 1900 in 12 acres of parkland and only 5 minutes walk from the centre of Harrogate the hotel must have been the 7 star hotel of the Victorian era but today it suffers from its glorious past belonging to an era that is not to everyone’s taste today. Sad opulence I would describe it as. But it provided a wonderful backdrop for our wedding anniversary and staging point for Fountains Abbey and Edinburgh.

Dinner in the dining room that night and breakfast the next morning before we took to the treatment rooms for a massage and then a relaxing swim and spa. The way it should be always.

The town itself was easy to navigate but seemed to have become stuck in the same era as the Majestic. However we found a park with a photo frame and when others saw us a number wanted to copy us and we became unofficial photographers for three or four families.

Photos – Harrogate park and the Majestic Hotel


Nearby to Harrogate is the ruins of Fountains Abbey and its gardens and it is a story in its self for another day.