Friday, October 11, 2013

Day 24 - Return from Edinburgh - Internet Disaster

I'm not sure how it happened, but on our return from Edinburgh I tried to connect to my blogs using the East Coast Train Internet Option and it totally messed up my browser.  I'm trying to restore the tabs I had, though I'm sure there's one or two I missed.  Not a happy camper right now.

Needless to say, I was not able to do any Internet work on the train, so I read and when we returned to our flat I collapsed and slept for a few hours.  I'll go back to bed at about 5 AM, or when I just can't see to type anymore.  In the meantime, I wanted to share a story about our trip.  We purchased tickets back in September for both our Bath and Edinburgh trips, however the gentleman who issued our tickets had an issue with his ticket printer, so he reprocessed the tickets and ran our charge through again, assuring us we wouldn't get double-billed.

Not that I didn't believe him, but when we got back to the flat I immediately checked the purchases on my credit card, and sure enough we'd been charged twice for our tickets.  The credit card company was able to remove one of the charges, so we thought that was that, then, yesterday (Thursday) hubby just happened to look at our return ticket to London and noticed the date of our return was listed as the 10th instead of the 11th.  He suggested we just ignore it and see what happened, but I wasn't comfortable with that, so we trudged back to the railroad station.

The gentleman in the Information booth told us to talk to a ticketing agent in Edinburgh, but warned us we may have to pay for our return tickets again.  Though that was a dismaying thought, I really didn't want to stand for the return journey or simply ignore the issue.  Luckily, hubby still had the receipt that showed our correct itinerary, so the Ticketing Agent went to discuss the issue with her Supervisor.  They gave us a slip of paper that permitted us to ride the train even though our tickets were for the previous day, since it was their mistake, however, they could not guarantee us a seat.

In the UK, unless you are able to purchase a reservation, you are purchasing a ticket for a journey, but not necessarily a seat.  This was a five-hour train ride, and the thought of standing through it did not please me at all.  Especially, given the fact we weren't able to stand longer than a half-hour through Macbeth.

So, to insure our best chances for a seat, we got to the station in plenty of time and boarded as soon as we could.  Everyone managed to find a seat, as far as I could tell, though hubby and I ended up sitting apart since I wanted to work at a table with my computer.  Sigh.  As it turns out, I might as well have sat with him given my Internet experience.

Anyway, we're back at the flat now, and I went to bed without supper.  Not because I was a bad girl, but because I was so tired I was shaking.

Now that I'm a little more refreshed, I'll continue my story about Gladstone's Land, which I visited on Thursday.

Gladstone's Land is a surviving 17th century high-tenement house situated in the Old Town of the city of Edinburgh. A National Trust for Scotland site, It has been restored and furnished in a manner consistent with the time.

Gladstone's Land
The "Land" (pictured as the center building above sited at 477 Lawnmarket) was originally built in 1550, but was bought and redeveloped in 1617 by a prosperous Edinburgh merchant and burgess Thomas Gledstanes. The work on the building was completed in 1620. Its prominent setting (on the Royal Mile between Edinburgh Castle and the Palace of Holyrood) and the extent of its accommodation mark out the affluence of its mercantile owner. However, not only did Gledstanes reside there, he let out parts of the building to an assortment of tenants of different social classes (another merchant, a minister, a knight, and a guild officer). Given the cramped conditions of the Old Town, and the physical size of the lot, the house could only be extended in depth (underground) or in height. As a result, the house is six stories tall.

Considered to be a tenement building (meaning a building comprised of apartments for rent), most of the flats were single rooms (a studio flat today) where a family of five or six would live in an 8 by 14' room preparing food in the fireplace and using a chamber pot, which would get emptied onto the street no more than twice a day with the call, "Gardy Loo," which was a poor English translation of the phrase "Guardez l'eau," which means "Watch for the water."  Except it wasn't really water being tossed into the streets, and the warning caught more than one passer-by unawares.  Let's hope they weren't looking up at the time.  In any case, this practice caused the streets to be little more than running sewers.

By the late-18th century, Edinburgh's Old Town was no longer a fashionable address. Increasing pressures from population growth encouraged the flight of the affluent from cramped conditions to the developing New Town.  As a result, in 1934, the building was condemned.  If the National Trust for Scotland hadn't intervened with a rescue, the building would have been demolished. However, once it aquired the building, the Trust fully restored the first two floors, uncovering original renaissance painted ceilings in the process. Today the restored premises offer a glimpse of 17th century life, with open fires, lack of running water, and period decoration and furniture. Since the shop operated out of a window at ground level, there is a French-style arcade frontage and reconstructed shop booth, complete with replicas of 17th century wares. This would originally have provided shelter for the merchant's customers. On the left of the building, a curved stone forestair with iron railings leads from the street to a door at 1st floor level.

The sign above the entrance to the building displays the date 1617 and a gilt-copper hawk with outstretched wings. Although not an original feature, the significance of this is that the name "Gledstanes" is derived from the Scots word "gled" meaning a hawk. Today, visitors to the city can contrast Gladstone's Land to the Trust's restored example of a New Town residence, The Georgian House, at No. 7 Charlotte Square.  I wanted to visit the Georgian House, but was unable to make it on this trip.

I will have more pictures to share later, since we took several of our own, but once again I'm going to need to call it a night and add more tomorrow.  We had a slight problem with the bed tonight, so hubby is currently sleeping with the mattress on the bedroom floor.  Another adventure in store, which I will try to share as it progresses.

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