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Princes Street Gardens © FreeFoto

July 3 – Summer in the City
Into Edinburgh

Morning; chill and dreary. We start our day with porridge, fruit and toast, discussing whether to drive into Edinburgh or take the train from nearby Falkirk. Wanting to maintain the level of flexibility we have enjoyed throughout our trip, we decide to take the car.

Knowing that today is our final day before leaving Scotland, Penny has kindly offered to do any laundry we might have, so we can head home with clean clothes. We hastily put together a small load with our thanks. Having repacked the night before, I paw through my suitcase and carry-on carefully, removing tee-shirts and socks that need laundering.

Our schedule for the day is very light: a visit to the Museum of History and shopping, which does not bode well for my overstuffed luggage. I'm not much of a shopper, but still have tee-shirts and other souvenirs to purchase for friends and family at home. Also, in the back of my mind is the desire to take a small gargoyle home with me. I've seen several in the gift shops we've visited here and there over the course of the past two weeks, but they've been too large to easily carry across the ocean.

There's also the gift shop at the museum to explore. I had seen several items from the museum offered in a catalog called Past Times that I've received in the mail for several years. I'm excited that I will be seeing them in person, rather than from the glossy pages of a magazine and admonish myself to maintain control.

Although very quiet and seemingly secluded, Oaklands is only five minutes from the M-9 and soon we are away and driving east. Before long we are in the midst of morning traffic, circling around roundabouts with the thousands of others making their way into the city. Towering buildings, of diverse architectural styles, close in on either side.

We pass through a succession of residential areas, giving me my first view of Scottish city-life. It's not much different from my own; there are petrol stations, news agents, grocers, children being walked to school by their mothers, men and women in both business suits and laborer's clothing heading out to work.

The residents of this city obviously take great pride in their homes. Whether a Victorian era manse or a modern high rise apartment, flowerpots and gardens are abundant and well tended. Edinburgh is very alive without the bounds of the historical sights which draw so many tourists here throughout the year.

For the first time I have the atlas open to a city map, studying it as we sit at another welcome stoplight. Welcome, because I realize I've guided Robin into the wrong lane and this gives us time to straighten ourselves out. Car parks are marked clearly on the map and soon we are pulling into a spot at the Castle Terrace car park.

Joining the throng of pedestrians, we make our way around to Princes Street, with the gardens coming into view. I'd heard, and seen pictures, of the flower clock and am pleased to peek over the wrought iron railing to see it for myself. A caretaker is balanced on a ladder laid at a steep pitch across the flower bed, tending the plants. I think to myself that we will pass back by here on our way out, and I will get a picture then, sans worker.

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