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Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Scotland - Day 5: There's Something In The Air

I mentioned fairly early on that there is a certain smell to this place.  Since that initial olfactory observation, I've been able to fine-tune things a bit.  Specifically:
  • There is a distinct Edinburgh smell.
  • I also got a whiff of it in a smaller town we visited (see below).
  • It reminds me of when I used to live in York, PA, and was downwind of a paper plant.
  • Said smell goes away when you leave the city; in fact, the countryside here smells wonderful.
I'm reasonably sure I'm smelling some Scottish version of sewer gases.  Now that this mystery is solved, it's time to move on to bigger and better things.

How about a few random facts?

Sheep outnumber humans in Scotland by over a million.  Reference HERE.  That's easy to see, literally.  Some of today's sheep...

(Those white things towards the left horizon?  Sheep.)

There's a lot of smoking here.  Interestingly enough though, according to Scottish government statistics, it's the tourists, not the locals.  In fact, the smoking rate in Scotland as a whole is 11% as of 2021.  Reference HERE.  In Pennsylvania, the most current rate I could find was 17.9% (reference HERE).  Why bring this up?  Well, today's trip was the Hadrian's Wall, which I'll get into in a moment.  The tie to smoking is that Ms. Rivers and I sat at the back of our tour bus today, behind a group of folks speaking Italian (Ms. Rivers seems to think they said they were from Switzerland, but I'm not so sure...).  These folks were lighting up constantly every time they left the bus, leaving us to deal with the smell when they returned.  I know, first-world problems, for sure, but it does remind me of how much things have changed for the better in this area since I was a kid.  For the record, if you smoke, please try to's simply a horrible thing to do to your body, and you deserve better.

What we haven't smelled much of is marijuana.  That could be because it's illegal in Scotland (reference HERE).  I'm not complaining.

On to the business end of today.  As noted above, we visited Hadrian's Wall*, and it was wonderful.  Well worth a day in Scotland.  Prior to arriving at the wall, we stopped at a town named Jedburgh, where there can be found the ruins of a large abbey.  It was actually really interesting.  

This is also a place where Mary, Queen of Scotts stayed at one point.  From here, we visited 4 different sites related to Hadrian's Wall.  Here are some of the better pictures:

None of this, by the way, does the wall...and its related ruins...justice.  This is just something you need to experience.  It felt kind of unique to sit on a section of the wall, knowing that over 1900 years ago soldiers from the Roman Empire were doing the exact same thing.  It's also rather marvelous to experience something so old yet created by humans, particularly in an age where it seems like everything is disposable.

I'll post more pictures on the Facebooks.

Finally, I saw this stone at the border between Scotland and England (Hadrian's Wall is in England).  It tells its own story.

I (obviously) have skin in the Scottish Independence game, but it seems to me that this is a culturally distinct place.  

(*) You can learn more about Hadrian's Wall by linking to:

More to come.

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