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On the 12th of July I left the stones bound for Scotland, I was going to stay over night In Leicester to see a friend. On the way up I got talking to a lovely lady, she was a nurse she was very intellectual and I learnt so much from her. She insisted on getting my sandwiches and tea so I gave her a 10 pound note, and so she didn’t get my money and her money mixed up she made a special journey for me. We arrived at Leicester said our goodbyes and I got of the train I met my friend, then went to the hotel and to my bed.
In the morning a taxi came to the hotel for me there was a foreign guy driving I got in the taxi and said to him “are you a Muslim”. “Yes” he said then he put both hands in the air and said “but I’m not a bomber”. I said “I hope not”. Its such a shame that Muslim people go around bombing places and killing people it doesn’t help all the others Muslims and Christians that are trying to get on with there lives, “yes” he said there isn’t anything like that written in the Koran, it is only the extremists that do that. I told him that once I had religious mania I told him how I lost my marbles I said do you understand, yes you were brain washed, I said that’s what’s happening to the extremists there being brainwashed into doing this, I told him that the only people able to sort this out are the Muslims he said “I think your right”. Well I got out the taxi and offered him my hand, and he shook it, now I told him that now I have 2 Muslim brothers.
I got to Birmingham New street station and went to the terminal lounge where I had 1 hour to wait I was approached by a young man who tried to speak to me, but he couldn’t, I wasn’t afraid of being robbed as new street station is the most watched station in Britain with CCTV cameras everywhere, 20 minutes later he came back and asked me to give him a £1, I said what do you want this £1 for, to get home he said, he showed me a handful of change and said this and a £1 will get me home, I said l will give him a £1 but first you have to put your hand on your heart and tell me your not going to buy drugs with it, he did , I said I hope your not lying to me. I gave him a £1 and said I wish you luck I shook his hand and said I hope everything in life goes your way take care.
The train arrived and I boarded found my seat and settled back for my trip, its an 11 hour journey from Cornwall and I’m not even half way, I met another pleasant lady on the train she lived in Bristol, she loved gardening and we talked all about it, then she told me that she had cancer, I have put her on my healing list and I think of her every day and I pray for her at night.
Soon the train reached Edinburgh but I stayed seated as I was going on to Inverkeiting. The next person I met was a young 16 year old girl, I asked her if she could tell me when we were arriving at Inverkeiting as I needed to get off the train, and she said that it was the next stop, the train rumbled on and I started to get nervous that I would not be ready to get off the train when it arrived. I remembered the train slowing down and crossing a bridge I couldn’t see a lot as I was standing in the corridor, but I thought to my self that this was a long bridge.
It suddenly dawned on me this was the forth bridge. It has always been an ambition of mine to cross the forth bridge, I knew a little bit about the bridge, it was constructed in 1890 by Sir William Arrol and it took 7 years to build, it is a mile and a half long and it cost £3,200,000 which would be about £235,000,000 in today’s money. Also 57 men lost there lives in building the bridge.
Well the train carried on to Inverkeiting where I was going to meet a friend of mine. Before we go any further I must tell you about my friend. We have a stretch of coastline where I live called Trevose Head and it is to me the most beautiful mystical place on the earth and I had the pleasure of working there for many years, it is one of those places that once you have been there it will stay in your thoughts forever, and this young woman, my friend reminds me of Trevose Head, so I’m going to call her Trevose or Vosey. The train pulled in at the station as I got off, I looked up and down the platform but couldn’t see anyone I started to get worried that we had missed each other, but then I heard someone calling “ED, ED over here”, I and I knew it was her and that she hadn’t let me down, I felt safe now even though I was a long way from home. She carried my case and put it in the car and drove back to her home.
When I use to do bed and breakfast at the stones (that’s a long time ago now) Trevose stayed with me many times and that’s how we met, I remember once we all went to a club and she asked me to dance, I said I didn’t think it was right someone as old as me dancing with a young girl like you, 30 years my younger but she insisted, and we danced and I always remember that she was so kind, we have been friends for a long time, we have always got on well together we seem to flow when we talk, there is never a dull moment.
We arrived at Vosey’s house, she live on a council estate, I felt at home there, it reminded me of my days living on a council estate, back at number 8, Trevithick estate in St Merryn. I walked through the door and I was greeted by a beautiful cat called Dyson, after the Hoover (he picked everything on the floor) he had huge great paws that looked like powder puffs so soft and fluffy.
Vosey’s house was immaculate she must stay up all night cleaning, and from the back window you look out over a copse, and a field barley, it made me feel at home. We sat for most of the night talking until I was too tired to talk any more and then went to bed. As I walk up the stairs my hand went through the stair posts, who do you think was waiting for me, DYSON he pounced on my hand and I let out a yelp Vosey said what’s happened, I told her and she said that he shouldn’t have done that, but I said not to worry as I was use to cats. I slept all night.
I had another reason for going to Scotland. One night when I was back at the stones I had a mystic vision from none other than Merlin the wizard of Arthurian legend he told me about a special mystical stone the stone that he was baptised upon called the alter stone I had heard about this stone and thought it was lost from everyone, but Merlin pointed me in the right direction. Vosey had done a bit of research so we had a rough idea where we were going.
We had to meet a friend of Vosey’s called Arthur he was going to take us in his car to see the alter stone, we had to meet him at a little village and there was a man there that had this gorgeous garden which we looked around it was beautiful, and the flowers were out of this world. Arthur arrived and we got in his car and we were off. One thing that I noticed about this area was it was so quiet and the hills were so big some of them were 1500 – 2000 feet tall, we would have called them mountains but the Scots called them hills, its no wonder that hikers love to go to Scotland the hills and valleys are very challenging. We Brits are funny people we will travel abroad for our holidays not knowing what beautiful places there are in this country. We travelled around up hills and down valleys I didn’t have a clue where we were I thought to myself only Merlin could guide me to a place like this.
We found it, it was a large stone standing by the roadside opposite the entrance to Altarstone Farm from which the stone takes its name. The stone is rectangular in shape and measures approx. 1.00 x 1.20 x 1.80m. The top surface forms a smooth, flat plane giving suggestion that it may have formed the altar used by druids, perhaps in a temple. And it was said that Merlin was baptized with this stone by St Mungo, He is reputed to have been a widely traveled bishop in the 6th century and to have founded many churches, including Stobo. One local tradition tells that St Mungo baptized Merlin Sylvestris on a large boulder known as the “altar stone” a few miles to the east. This Merlin was a pagan, nature-loving bard who lived in exile in the woods of Upper Tweeddale and who was one of the two pseudo-historical figures that were later merged to become Merlin of Arthurian legend. A stained-glass window in the church commemorates this legend.
What I’m going to tell you now is very mystical as I stood there looking at the stone I felt a presence next to me although I couldn’t see anyone, I knew, it was Merlin standing next to me. It was a very special place it brought tears to my eyes and I felt very light headed, some might say drunk but this is the way magical things happen.
Anyone who wants to know how to get to the stone here are the directions from Peebles just 25 miles south of Edinburgh.
From Peebles take the A 72 west towards Glasgow. After 4 miles turn left onto B712 for Moffat and Broughton. Once past Stobo village and before crossing bridge over River Tweed just before Dawyck, turn left up minor road leading to Dreva and Broughton. Altarstone Farm is about 1 mile along this road.
GRID reference NT15703573
GPS reference ALTRST
The church at Stobo that has the stained glass window, depicting the baptism of Merlin by St Mungo and the church is open all year round and has no admission charge
Here is the grid reference
NT 1827 3765
Well we left the church and went on to another parish, the parish of Dremelzier. Here was planted a thorn tree, this tree was planted on the original sight where Merlin was buried. We parked the car in the vicarage, the vicar came out and said that we couldn’t park there I think he was a bit cross, but I told him what we wanted to see and he didn’t seem pleased when I told him it was to do with Merlin. I said that we were Christians and showed him my cross, then his wife came out she seemed nice, maybe to nice, anyway he let us park there, we walked down the road across a river to a place where there was a thorn tree planted. Legend has it that Merlin was impaled on a fishing spike and died and this was where he was buried. Arthur had my white stick and knocked down the brambles and nettles to reveal a plaque.
After we had visited the thorn tree we got back to the car I said to the vicar that we wouldn’t be in Scotland on Sunday and couldn’t make his service so I gave him £5 and told him to put it in his collection.
Well thanks to Arthur we had a great day, then it was time to go home. Arthur took us part of the way and Vosey drove the rest of the way home, at the forth road bridge I chuckled, Vosey asked me what I found funny I said that it reminded me of a giant Zimmer frame, as we crossed it I could see for the 1st time in its entirety the forth rail bridge in the back ground, it looked like a giant dragon with its back arched, soaring across the river.
As we were driving Vosey asked if I would like to visit Andrew Carnegie’s house.
I am a great fan of Andrew Carnegie he was a 19th century steel tycoon who became one of the 20th century's most famous philanthropists. His life story is one of the most famous rags-to-riches accounts in United States history.
He was born in Dunfermline. His house is now a museum I met the lady who takes care of the museum she had a lovely Scottish accent and she told us everything about Andrew Carnegie, as she talked I thought for fun I would look into her eyes it didn’t seem to phase her she just carried on regardless. I didn’t know that every 2 years philanthropists have a sort of prize giving to the person who has given the most money to mankind, I looked at the names on the wall Bill Gates was there I said “I cant see Elton Johns name here” the lady told us that he probably hadn’t been nominated yet. We went upstairs to see the room where he was born I hadn’t changed. They were very poor.
We got back to Vosey’s house, “are we still going out on the town tonight” she said, “yes”, I told her that I was looking forward to it, then we had better have a little nap before we go. She laid down for a little nap as she did so Dyson jumped up on her tummy and guarded her, animals are like that if you treat them well they will look after you. We woke up about 8 ish and got ready to go out for a night on the tiles in Edinburgh, I got dressed and Vosey gave me a look over and tidied me up by putting my collar and tie straight, brushing my clothes down with a clothes brush, it was nice to have someone look after me, it felt good.
We got to the station, Vosey said I could have the window seat so as I could see the bridge. We arrived at Waverley station and walked up the Waverley steps and out onto the streets of Edinburgh, we felt like two actors in a play walking out onto the stage. Vosey said, “The last bus home is at 3 in the morning but there is one about 1 o clock. There were lots of people out and everyone was friendly I didn’t feel threatened in the least. One thing I did notice, there were masses of bicycle taxis like the ones they have abroad, not rickshaws but bikes that you sit in and the guy pedals you where you want to go.
We tried to get into a restaurant called the Blue Moon but it closed at 10, that wouldn’t have happened at my son and daughter’s restaurant in St Merryn she stays open as long as the people keep coming. We ate at a Greek restaurant, I didn’t know what I had but it was nice, I usually stick to English food but I was happy. I left a tip.
Vosey said come on Ed lets go dancing, well whether it was the few vodkas I had but I was raring to go, I wasn’t drunk but extremely merry, Vosey was on the Gin and she was merry as well. We danced and danced I don’t know where I got my energy from; it must have been from Merlin. We came out of the dancing club and there was such a long queue for the taxi that I suggested we take a taxi bike to the station I said that I was going to pay the guy £20 if he let me drive, Vosey said you better not show him your white stick, he wont let you drive, I laughed and said I better not I’ll kill you all, she agreed. Well we walked back to the bus station we didn’t have to wait long for the bus, and we were on our way home. The bus dropped us at the end of the lane and we started to walk, I was busting for a pee, I said I’m going to jump over the hedge and go in the corn field, no she said you cant do that real gentlemen wouldn’t do that and any way we’re almost home, the trouble was I had my hand on the tap ready to go I was at bursting point, I struggled on and got in the house ran up the stairs to the lavatory just in time, thank god Dyson wasn’t waiting for at the top of the stairs.
Well there it was the end of a fantastic day. I slept in til gone ten, Vosey said I thought you had died. This was the last day of my holiday I wasn’t homesick yet because there something else I was going to see, we were going to drive to Dundee, and see Captain Scotts boat, The Discovery. It was another glorious day not a cloud in the sky as we walked along Victoria dock I could see the discovery’s red ensign flying. It was the biggest sailing ship I had ever seen; the vessel was 172 feet long and 34 feet wide, it must have been 3 times larger than the Cutty Sark. We paid our money and went into the exhibition, Vosey read every plaque and inscription to me, then we went outside to the boat where I had my photo taken, then we climbed aboard, I have always been interested about the Antarctic and the explorers that tried to reach the south pole especially Scott and Shackleton, as I walked around the decks, I thought to myself Scott would have stood there and Shackleton would have sat there. As we walked around there was a background noise of the boat creaking and groaning, the crashing as the ice hit the side of the ship this was a good effect and I like it.
We left the discovery and head back, as we were going she showed the bridge that collapsed in a storm as a train was crossing it, all hands were lost. She showed me where St Andrews golf course was. We stopped for lunch at a town called Anstruther there was a fish and chip shop there the queue must have been quarter of a mile long, it reminded me of Rick Steins fish shop in Padstow, he has always got a huge queue outside. We moved on to another restaurant, I had steak pie, I had never tasted the likes of it, it was right up there with mothers cooking. Vosey complained about her meal as it wasn’t up to scratch they knocked 10% of the bill, I left them a tip.
We got back to Vosey’s house and sat and talked it was a wonderful holiday and what made it special was a great host, Vosey was a great host she looked after my every need. I packed my case then had a cup of tea as I was going up the stairs to bed I was in another world I was tired, Dyson wasn’t in another world as my hand went through the bars he had me I let out one hell of a scream there was more scream than pain, I love cats.
In the morning Vosey took me to the station I thanked her for a great holiday and I was on my way back to Cornwall.