This was an ABCA Conference in March 2006

Edinburgh Scotland (here is the National Anthum-click pause when required)


Edinburgh Scotland.,  Here we are staying at the SAS Raddison in the center of town. Once we settled into our room (all of 5 seconds) we departed to visit what we could of the city. Edinburgh has been around since 1,000 BC and the castle which we visited later was built in 11th Century. Edinburgh is the home to approx 400,000 people. We were directed to an Italian restaurant for a good meal and preceded there. On arrival at the restaurant we realized that this was the place to eat. We were quickly identified as foreigners and asked our nationality. It seems there was another Canadian in the building and he was a waiter. When he came over and introduced himself as Georges we quickly realized he was from Montreal and lived not far from Sharon. I gave Georges a Canadian and Quebec pin, which pleased him very much. Two seconds later he brought us a bottle of wine on the house and treated us to a traditional Italian digestive.

Coming all this way, we meet a waiter from Montreal North, where Sharon grew up.  Needless to say, the wine and digestifs were plentiful.

On 26th Mar Sharon and I left for St Andrews golf course ( It was a train ride and taxi to the Royal and Ancient golf course. On arrival we were actually in awe at the sight of the course and the ocean flanking its side. We decided to only stay a few hours since we had an agenda item with the conference members that could not be changed nor did we want to change it. We were due at the Edinburgh Castle that night.

The train station

If Sharon does not look happy, it is because she has seen the bill from the Club House souviner shop.

The fenced off area in green is the first tee for the pros.

This is a famous pose as I stand on the Swilcan Bridge

Wow Sharon. Did you buy a lot of "stuff" in St Andrew's?

Leaving St Andrews and at Edinburgh on 26th Mar.  We paraded up from our hotel to the reception at the castle. This night we had cocktails and a conference meet and great at the Edinburgh Castle ( . It is such an old establishment. We had the Governor of the Castle address the whole conference and us was wined-and-dined for the evening. The Scots even put on a show with dancing over swords, drums, bagpipes etc. The tie I am wearing is from St Andrews Golf Shop!!! I know, you are green with envy...

Left to right, I do not know, Annita, Lucas Hellemans, John Dickhute and Sharon

The Scottish Sword Dance

The phone call home

Sharon spent the afternoon at Mary Kings Close. A close is a society, which lived under ground. This particular one is eight stories high. The more wealthy the person/family the closer they got to live to the surface. Until the 18th Century most residents of Edinburgh lived along and beneath the Royal Mile ( (where our hotel was located).  The “Closes” as they were known were old abandoned cellars and basements which lacked any proper water supply, daylight or ventilation. Mary’s Close is actually below the City Chambers whose inhabitants were all killed by the plague in 1645. Unfortunately, no pictures were allowed to be taken at this event.

As I worked during the day Sharon had a day of programmed visits. She went to see the Royal Yacht Britannia ( , which was launched in 1953. It was in service for 44 years until Jan 1997 until it was decommissioned in Dec.  The reason it is in Edinburgh is because the city won the bid the house the Royal Yacht.  It is berthed at Leith’s ocean terminal, which is an historic port that has traded for centuries with Scandinavia, the Baltic and Holland. She says the Yacht was very big, clean and well run. The tour was well organized.

28 Mar

A pub we frequented while in Edinburgh

Sharon went to Roslyn Chapel (  –made famous by the De Vinci Code ( . Sir William St Claire founded it in 1446. It took over 40 years to build 1406 to 1513. To build the chapel, Roslyn created a town to house all the workers. He also made sure that his master mason was paid the most of all the workers. Before the Da Vinci code, this chapel had only approx 6000 visitors a year. After the Code, the church received over 150,000 visitors in one year.


29 March

This is the statue of the Grey Frier's Dog

Conference supper at the Scottish Museum. This is a big museum with a lot of culture and history. We had a stand-up supper with complementary wine and beer. Very well received! The museum web site is

After the supper a group of us decided to go out for a traditional dessert Sticky Toffee Pudding ( . We first went to the pub that we frequented the night before “Last Drop” (  but they stopped serving the dessert at 8:30pm so we were directed up the street. We found the dessert at the Zone Bleue. Very good dessert!!

Sharon and I went shopping. I left my conference early and hit the stores for some final shopping and visiting. Lucas and Anita Hellemans joined us. We first went to The Georgian House ( . The people who owned the houses in Charlotte Square were wealthy. John Lamont was the first owner of The Georgian House. In the late 18th Century the average family size was six people. Wealthy men worked and the wives entertained at home. These families had servants as young as 10 or 11 who would slave 15-18 hours a day. Families had up to 5 or 6 servants. We visited No 7 Charlotte Square. After the visit we went for tea and dessert at No 28 Charlotte Square. After our visit we promenaded along Princess Street heading back to our Hotel We had to get ready for the Theatre that night.

At 6PM Sharon and I left for the Edinburgh Theatre Playhouse ( for MAMA MIA. We had supper at the Theatre Royal ( where we met a couple whose husband worked at Edinburgh Castle as the Scot’s Royal Guard ‘adjutant’ who looks after retired members of the regiment. Small world! Though we have seen this performance before (in Toronto) we enjoyed it even more (if possible). Sharon and I really, really enjoyed it (again).

31 March 06

We use to go here to eat and have some Toffee Pudding. Read the last entry, a Miracle  occurs

This is the day we went to the Tappit Hen and purchased our rings. We both decided that for our 30th wedding anniversary we would have a “his and hers” wedding rings. The Celtic design is something that struck both of us as being appropriate as this trip is also a celebration of our 30 years together. The rings are from the Eilean Donan Castle ( and inscribed in Galic is the saying “My Love Is On You”. The Scottish and Celtic jewellery of Ola Gorie is a vision of inspired design and timeless appeal made to treasure in the Orkney Islands of Scotland.  Ola Gorie Scottish and Celtic jewellery is made in the heart of Kirkwall by a dedicated team of craftspeople. We offer the finest examples from the Ola Gorie range from traditional classics to inspirational contemporary designs.

Once there a two hour wait was the last time we would really wait for anything. After being in the airplane for two and a half hours to London we ran between terminals at the airport to catch our next flight to Ottawa. At 7PM we arrived. Passing through customs we declared our purchases where the customs officer was told by Sharon that we were coming back from a celebration of our 30th Wedding anniversary and had purchased these rings (showing them to the officer). Customs acknowledged and said carry on where Sharon shrugged-she wanted a stamp on her passport! Hahaha We collected our bags, looked around to see if anyone was there to meet us…just in case a reception party was in the making hahahah. Collected our car in the parking lot where Pauline (my sister) was so kind to have left it. At 9:30 PM we arrived home. It was nice to be home….