Friday, April 15, 2016

Questions You Should Ask Before Toasting A King!


Yesterday (14th of April) I celebrated my 45th birthday. Seems like only yesterday I was celebrating my 21st. Anway, I was going to write this post yesterday but I didn't have the time, what with opening cards and presents, responding to well-wishers on social media and then getting ready to head up to my favourite city; Edinburgh. The only similarity with turning 21 and 45 is that I spent both birthdays in the capital  (I lived in the city for 8 or 9 years) however, my 45th was a lot quieter and a bit more of a sober affair. I did celebrate this birthday with a few drinks and a meal but I didn't want to ruin my big treat of visiting the Vaults (subterranean city of Edinburgh) through a company called Mercat Tours. I wasn't sure what to expect on this tour and before participating in it I thought I knew a lot about Edinburgh's (dark) history, but boy was I wrong. Starting the tour in 1685 my other half Paul (dressed in blue standing against the wall) and an American friend (Brad) learned the hard way.  You do not toast any monarch during 1685, with a dram or ale, especially the King (Charles II). With jeers and abuse from the crowd, Paul or John (as he had to select a Scottish name of the time) was frogged marched with his friend Brad to a local statue.  Here they were first whipped, salt rubbed into their wounds and then one by one Brad's ears were nailed to the statue,  his spouse was then ordered to pull and tear him away.  Paul (John) suffered a far worse fate; his tongue was placed in a clamp until it started to swell in size and a blood blister formed on the tip (this didn't really happen to him). His wound we were told would then explode showering the crowd in blood. Bleurgh!  If that wasn't enough he was then cut from ear to ear resulting in a grin that would remain with him for the rest of his life. Poor Paul (John) but it does make up for the time I was put on trial as a witch for innocently holding a broom for a woman so she could sort her shoe at the Edinburgh Dungeon.  So back to Mercat Tours, we were then shown the site of public executions; a doorway of the reconstructed Mercat Cross of 1885  that now leads to St Gile's Cathedral. The stairs didn't exist during the time of the executions, which we were told were of a hanging variety (kick the bucket and then custom built gallows).  Saying goes that these stairs are now haunted by a young man who escaped his first hanging when one of the gallows trap doors jammed and the crowd took pity on him and rushed to free his body from his execution.  He was later executed when the crowds were dispersed when met by armed guards from both the castle and church. Now, when I looked at the door during the story telling (19.00) I never saw what I now see in the photo (taken at 21.30); a faint cross in the middle of the door.  How spooky!

This isn't the only spooky experience of the night. During the Vault visit to one of the rooms my left hand started to tingle and tickle and the hairs on my arm stood on end. I don't know why or how this happened, I just remember thinking- Oh! that's odd.  The second room I entered I kept turning around to look at a particular corner of the room because I could smell something sweet. Paul kept asking me what I was doing but I couldn't put my finger on why the corner of the room was drawing me to look. The tour guide overheard me saying I could smell something sweet (no one was standing beside me) they then announced a young woman had been murdered in the same corner. My face at this point drained of colour and I went quite pale.  But, the last room really freaked me out.  I was the last person to enter and I couldn't stop staring at the ground, I felt a tightness in my chest and I then felt a blinding headache come on.  I really didn't like the room at all and wanted to leave.  We were then told this was the 'blood room' where poor women were made to give birth in awful conditions. As soon as I left the room the feelings subsided and I even managed to down a glass of wine whilst listening to ghost stories at the end of the tour. Would I do one of their other tours?  I most certainly would and will be when the summer arrives.

*** I don't know why I experienced the sensations I did, I do believe in ghosts but I never thought I would be as tuned in as much as I was. Was I scared? I wouldn't say so, but thinking about the last room as I'm writing this I feel somewhat panicky and breathless.  Now that is scary. This is a birthday I won't forget in a long time.



  1. Happy belated birthday!! Edinburgh sounds brilliant - creepy, but brilliant!

    1. Thank you Lynne. I have always loved and had an attraction to Edinburgh since I was a little girl. Not sure if this is because I had relatives who hailed from the great city as far back as 1805.


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