Falkland (and St Andrews)

Sunday 15 July, Edinburgh

Today was our one-day tour of the area near Edinburgh. We would like to have seen more of Scotland, but we just didn't have the time.

But, Mac the tour guide made this one day worth it. He took us first to Falkland, the town where he grew up and started his life of crime selling beer to his underage friends. We wandered Falkland for a while, and I found a ring for £3 (which I'm still wearing as I type this, six months later) and a model Elizabethan stage.

Mac then took us past his brother's restaurant to his dad's coffee shop - anyone who's anyone in Falkland is related to Mac. It was only a small town, but Mac had a story to tell about almost every street - from the garden where he had his first kiss (aged 4) to the house his parents sold to some crazy millionaires who offered to pay about twice what it was actually worth (they didn't argue)...

Then on to the (supposed) main destination, St Andrews. If you're a golfer, you're in heaven. If you're not, you're still in a nice part of the world, with some lovely woollen jumpers in the shops (which I resisted) and a book of Celtic fairy tales (which I couldn't resist). The ruins of the cathedral was pretty, and the restaurant where we had pasta for lunch (did I mention I like pasta?) was nice. However my strongest memory of St Andrews was at the public loos between the golf course and the beach - they charged me 10p to pee! I've never had to pay to piddle before, anywhere, ever!

The last stop was a fishing village called Anstruther. We tried to keep out of the way of the fishermen but still in the way of the sunshine and the donuts. And then the drive home, during which we got a try with Mac's bagpipes and produced all kinds of awful noises, before Mac took them back and played them so much better than we could.

When we got back to Edinburgh we found Jimbo the driver and the tour group that we'd be joining in the morning, and went with them on the ghost tour of Edinburgh, run by an Aussie called Steve who'd moved there about twenty years before. It was fascinating.

We heard about a mild-mannered doctor who occasionally killed people, the professional resurrectionists (aka body-snatchers) and the ghostly goings-on in tunnels under the city. He told us about the family of four who moved to the south-west of Scotland, and after about 25 years of incest and cannibalism, had swelled to a tribe of 30 or 40 people who killed passers-by for food. We also heard about the particularly nasty ways they killed anyone they thought might have anything to do with witchcraft - slow, bloody, and very, very painful. We learned about the schoolboys who shot dead a policeman and were let off scott free, while other children were being jailed for years for stealing an apple. In short, we heard a lot of very, very interesting stuff.

If ever you're in Edinburgh (and you have a strong stomach), look up Steve's Ghost Tours at the Castle Rock Hostel. You won't regret it.