Well we’ve reached the end of the line. Yesterday we had no intention of slowing day, and we enjoyed a final dinner with birthday singing and our big surprise for the group.
We began the day with a short breakfast. Blood pudding still holds little appeal to everyone (except Alex), and we met up with our new driver (John) for our final day. We piled into a new van- with card tables… and headed to our first stop of the day- Bannockburn.
We pulled up to the site of the great Scottish victory, and had a quick chat regarding the significance of the moment. Outside of the military implications, Robert the Bruce’s great victory against Edward II may be more symbolic than strategic, but it helps all of us understand why so many Scottish people and songs mention the exploits at Bannockburn. The site has an impressive statue to Robert the Bruce, but perhaps most impressively- there is a beautiful poem tied to our understanding of the Scottish nation:
“Here lies our land: every airt
Beneath swift clouds, glad glints of sun,
Belonging to none but itself.
We are mere transients, who sing
Its westlin’ winds and fernie braes,
Northern lights and siller tides,
Small folk playing our part.
‘Come all ye’, the country says,
You win me, who take me most to heart.”
We left Bannockburn- with a quick pit stop at the Andrew Carnegie birthplace museum (that’s one for future trips) and we were on our way to Dunfermline Abbey. This medieval Abbey and palace are a collection of ruins and restored churches that now house the amazing burial place of King Robert the Bruce. The church today is an active parish, and we were all delighted in seeing the tomb up close. We left after a quick bite and landed in Edinburgh for some souvenir shopping.
The city was buzzing with energy as thousands of tourists had descended on the city for the official Edinburgh Art festival, thousands more for the Fringe festival and yet thousands more for the military tattoo. It was a sure change from the town of Stirling we’re all the stores closed at 6:00 pm. We had our birthday dinner for Lexi and were happy to finally announce the surprise: the Military Tattoo! The kids were thrilled, although we wished the weather would have cooperated a bit more.
The tattoo featured acts from all over the world. Many of us particularly liked the “haka” performed by the group from New Zealand, or the original performance from the group based in Trinidad. It was an incredible display of marching and musical prowess, but we were all happy that they played “Scotland the Brave” as the pipers were the last to exit. While we were a little soggy, it was a great way to end the trip. Big thanks to Ms. South who convinced me that the Tattoo would be an awesome display nearly a year ago.
That being said- I’ll take a moment to thank Ms. South for her knowledge and leadership on this trip with me. Her patience, guidance, and knowledge of both Scottish and English history made this trip that much more successful.
This trip was great fun for me, and a huge part of that is because of each of you students. As you watched the tattoo, I took a moment to see the smiles on each of your faces. I was happy knowing that you were experiencing something special. I’m so grateful you decided to come on this journey with us.
When Kaira asked why lead a group trip to Scotland, I answered that sharing this beautiful country with you and getting to see your reaction to things I love is a great gift. Each of you brought your own great energy to this trip and our success was premised on this great energy and you! For those of you who I’ll see in a few weeks- I’m excited to start another year with you. Dum dum dum- here comes school!! ! For Miranda and Alex, I’m so thankful to have had this chance to teach you- I know great things are in your future!
All of you know where my office is: and I’ll continue to update for a shared google drive for photos and eventually a travel book. You’ll hear more from me 🙂
But for now, Douglas. Out.