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Daily Journal

June 28 – Maybe I'm A-mazed
Traquair House (Continued)

We walk out across the courtyard and take a quick tour of the Chapel. It's brightly lit and looks and smells freshly painted; preparations are underway for the wedding which will occur later in the day. The air is cool and misty and very refreshing back out in the courtyard.

Passing through wrought iron gates, we head around the side of the house to the gardens. Down a few very steep stairs and along a graveled walkway we meander, passing the brewery where we spy a huge pile of grain on the ground. Several pigeons are feasting. A lake is visible through the trees and two swans glide silently by. Fat brown bunnies hunker down motionless at the edge of the woods as we approach the back of the house.

And then, there it is – the maze. It's just like the one in the thrilling movie The Shining and I'm very glad it's not covered with snow so I don't have to keep an eye out for a maniacal Jack Nicholson.

A few steps into it and I feel as if I've entered the rainforests of the Upper Amazon. Apparently this hedge hasn't been trimmed yet this summer. A machete would be handy. Batting away swarms of midges, we pass our first landmark, a small tree, and make verbal note of it. We then commence to wandering around in circles, ducking as bees zip past from one side of the hedge to the other. Bee-52's Dana calls them; they're much larger and noisier than our bees at home.

After a half hour of finding nothing but dead ends we are a-mazed; completely and hopelessly lost. Dana decides to turn back and I can't help laughing to myself. If we can't find the center, how is she going to find the way out? Easily enough it seems; after only a few more minutes of wandering we all find our way back, unintentionally. I refuse to give up and take a different path. Dana too, changes her mind and forges on.

Robin is out ahead of me somewhere, I don't know where, and we call to each other, like a swimming pool game of Marco Polo. "Robin?" "Here!" "Robin?" "Here!" I push through the wet overgrown leaves, wondering whose great idea this was and laugh aloud. Oops, it was mine. Finally, finally we find the center. We can't get to it, but we can see it through the breaks in the foliage of the hedge. Good enough ... we're outta here!

Thankfully a family enters the maze just as we're closing in on the general location of the entrance/way out (man). We hear the gate clang and turn in that direction. Finally we can see the house again. What a trip! We walk back to the courtyard laughing and picking leaves off of ourselves.

We make a quick browse of the gift shop, then walk back up the path to the car park and get our cameras from the boot to take a long shot of the house from the lawn. Being the professional photographer she is, Robin has already finished with her shots before I have even managed to get my camera out of the case. I stand out in the middle of the lawn, frame my shot and push the button. Nothing. No click. Hmm ... I make sure I've turned it on, and check the battery. Everything's in order. I try again. And again. The button just won't depress.

At this time the sound of bagpipes fills the air. These are the first live bagpipes I've ever heard and while what's filling the air isn't exactly melodic, I mentally tick off another item on my "must" list. Walking back to the car, I practically toss my camera in Robin's lap, as if to say "Fix it," while I stand at the back of the car listening to the pipers, who are apparently there for the wedding, tuning their instruments.

I return to the car to find that Robin has removed the partially completed roll of film from my camera – my pictures from Stirling – pulling her jacket tight around it in order to not expose it (thank you Robin). She tells me that the shutter's frozen, and I heave an immense sigh.

I knew the condition of my camera was dicey. I'd had it in the shop only the month before leaving on this trip because of a frozen shutter. The advice of the camera shop, after they repaired it, was to replace it. Purchased fifteen years ago, it had served me well but I didn't want to add the cost of a new camera body to the expense of my trip at the time, and figured I'd take my chances. With luck like this – well, this is why I don't play the lottery.

We pull out of the car park to the sound of Scotland the Brave on bagpipes, heading toward Rosslyn Chapel. I'm a little bummed about my camera, but not too much. Getting upset about it won't change anything and I've already made the mental decision to buy a new one. I have no choice. Tomorrow we're going to the border abbeys, which have topped my "must see" list since its inception. I can't go without a camera in my hand.

As we head north through the Moorfoot Hills toward Roslin we discuss my options, finally deciding to ask Yvonne when we return to Melrose if she knows of a camera shop nearby. Otherwise, it will have to be a simple point and shoot or disposable cameras for me for the rest of the trip. I'm tempted to give my camera a good thump on a hard surface, thinking that might unjam the shutter, but contain myself and sit back to enjoy the scenery.

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