Journey from Edinburgh to Cardiff

Made Monday, June 30

The sea shows up through a break in the hills and I am surprised at how close we are to the coast.

A field, closely mowed, is fenced off by trees and I can see a church steeple, probably from the 1700s, over the top.

Then, as I watch, a huge manor appears. It is in the country and is probably not a bunch of flats now. It faces the railway and is quite imposing. Six different building times, probably, based on the heights of the various parts.

Down the hill from the manor house a flat field has tents pitched, both huge and smaller tents. I wonder if they are re-enactors and, if so, what they are doing there. I can’t imagine it being anything else, a mile or so from the town.

We follow the coast and a golf course appears between the railway and the sea. It’s a Monday and the holes appear to all be being played.

I see a small group of mobile homes, and think of the storms we learned about at Whitby, and then I see a stone house, probably a couple of hundred years old, with no roof—only the walls still stand—right on a jut on the coast.

We cross a bridge to a river and I am surprised by a huge house, probably 15,000 square feet, sitting on three or four acres of land. Whatever town we are leaving has lots of single homes where we are. Single homes and big ones.

I enjoy seeing older buildings. Yes, some of them are probably only Victorian, but many are Georgian. Most of those older have been torn down and/or rebuilt. I’m sad about that, but understand. Each age has its own virtues. One of ours is to value the past.

The bridge we just went over looks like an aqueduct with lots of arches. But the bridge that is visible from our bridge is a newer one, with only three arches to span the river.

A young girl sounds more American than Scots, but her mum is clearly Scots. We heard children at Falkirk Wheel who sounded American, but their father had a good English accent. I wonder if all the American television is effecting the accents more than folks here realize. I think if they realized, they would not have so much television from the US.

Though I know we aren’t far from the coast, the hills obscure the view. Every once in a while I can see the waterways where the tide has pulled the water out.

One thing that amazes me about the farms here is how many buildings there appear to be. I can see one now with four buildings, but they’re huge. Grama and Grampa’s farm had four buildings, but they were the house, the chicken house, the cow shed, and the building with the skunk in it… What was that building?

I can see a small island out in the sea for quite a ways and there appears to be a castle on top of it. I don’t know what it is. I wonder how long it has been there and how many people/families it has seen come and go.

Our next stop is Newcastle, which was a coal mining town. How do I know this? There’s an old saying, which most people apparently don’t know, about bringing coals to Newcastle—meaning something is a waste of time or ridiculous. We’ve actually been through it before, on our way to Whitby, but I don’t remember much about it because we just went through it.

We’re an hour into the trip and the sky has gotten cloudy. This area might get rain today, as some of the clouds are quite dark.

These are rolling hills, almost berms, and a house is nestled in the trees between two folds in the land. It’s quite arresting, even though the house is less imposing than usual. I think it is what you might call romantic.

We’re passing lots of sheep. Some with black heads, but most without.

And there’s what looks like a runway with cows on it. I’m not seeing the stone boundary markers we’ve seen other places. Here there are hedges and trees… Though more hedges than trees.

And we’re coming into a small town, as we pass a trailer park—with twenty trailers set on an angle, two deep, curtained off by trees along the railway, but with no trees in their park.

The town is about as big as the trailer park, though wider, and it may have been as wide on the other side of the railroad tracks.

We’re two miles or more from that town and there are three huge buildings, each four townhouses, on about four acres. What is that about? And then a mile further on there is a huge processing area for crops. Then another mile and we’re in a largish town, with apartment buildings as well as houses.

Am I using up any of my words by typing? I hope so. I have way too many words that I haven’t used here.

There’s a coastal town on a peninsula, with townhouses painted in different colors. Are they Victorian or newer? They’re at the land end of the town, not the part closer to the coasts.

I saw a deer, standing alone in a field. The next field over was full of sheep.

We just went over a bridge and down in the valley there were sheep next to the water and above them an entire dense forest. It was gorgeous.

If these are not native trees, as seems likely, they are still thick and luxurious. In farming country I doubt folks would plant them to be filling in space, though I can see them being left for boundaries—or just here where the hillside is steep.

I’m going to have to do some research on Caledonian native trees.

Did I mention Scotland has windmill farms? We saw one in Stirling and, as we came out of the trees just now, I saw another single line of windmills around a large plant. These are not Texas-size windmill farms, but they are Texas-size windmills.

There was a coal mine, cut into the ground and still being dug up, with a pile of orange dirt making a new hill… Is it like in the Sacramento, California area, where the little hills were old gold diggings? Are these little hills old coal mines?

And there’s another open hole, that seems to be new as trucks are running across it and it’s only about three feet deep right now.

Then, outside of any town I saw, a set of allotments (what we call community gardens). They do like their gardens here, both for flowers, in their yards, and for veggies.

Another bridge and a deep ravine with gorgeous trees going up either side.

Then an RV park and a set of about twenty green railroad storage units. Then the town. I like the big rectangular stones the buildings are made of here. The few (and rare) brick buildings look like they should be at home, since there are so few of them.

As I wrote that, we passed three subdivisions of brick homes. The first were small ranches, about half brick. The second was full of two-stories, all brick. The third was also two story brick homes, but bigger and nicer looking, though I can’t really say why. Maybe they had more yards.

The little girl in front of me if four and likes dinosaurs, especially those with tails that can smash things. She has hundreds of dinosaurs upstairs in her bedroom at home, though most of them are small. And under her bed she has three guinea pigs, named George, Pep, and Plezley.

CastleGate in Newcastle is beautiful. The first things I noted were graffiti. But then there’s a silvered concert hall or something and a small church that’s old. We passed parts of an old castle or tower that is mostly new bricks now. There’s the city wall. Next to the Genting Casino on Forth Street.

The train is stopping permanently. There’s a fatality on the track to the south. So in an hour this train will be going north again.

I’m not sure how or when we’ll get to Cardiff today—or if we will. I guess I might see more of Newcastle than I expected.

I think it’s ironic that I just read this morning that only 1.2% of their trains are stopped or don’t go… And we’re on one of them. Of course, they probably have tens of thousands of trains, so 1.2% is still quite a few, potentially. When I saw that this morning, though, I thought it would be stopped due to weather… Apparently not.

I guess we’re in England, now, though, so this is the end of my Scotland trip anyway.