My parents still had their rental car, so we drove out to the countryside and visited Doune Castle, Stirling Castle, and the William Wallace Monument. Doune Castle struck a chord with me because it was the setting for the filming of the French Guard in Monty Python & The Holy Grail. I, of course, picked up a set of coconuts in the gift shop and road my steed around the castle grounds. My Mom took pictures of me as I perched atop the highest tower and taunted her, as only the French can.
Your father was a hamster and your mother smelt of elder berries
The next stop we made was at Stirling Castle, which sits upon volcanic rock. This country is covered in extinct volcanoes! The castle was huge, with so many places to explore. There was actually a film crew and actors hanging around the castle. They were filming scenes for a movie re-make inspired by the book 39 Steps which took place during WWI. We saw them shoot a scene where a man and a woman rush out to their motorcar and Scottish soldiers are muffling about in their kilts. Yes, I have a few pictures of the actors and extras. I tried to get in the background of a shot, but that would have been far too anachronistic and thrown off the whole aesthetic of the film. It's set to air on BBC on Boxing Day 2009, the day after Christmas.
Our final stop was at the William Wallace Monument. To put it in the words of Mr. Mark Longbottom (and for those of you who don't know him, say it with a South African Accent)... "Oh my greatness," this was a difficult task. First we had to climb a large hill just to get to the base of the monument. This monument was like the obelisk to the apes. It was just a sliver of a steep circular stairwell that kept spiraling up and up and up, 220 feet high! As I was attempting to walk up the steps, people were trying to pass me on their way down. This was a recipe for disaster and I would press flat against the stairwell and cling to the wall for dear life and let others pass by me. I could just feel the walls closing in on me as I climbed up and I had to keep reminding myself to breath. I kept my eyes downward to make sure I didn't lose my footing and slip, but after a while I would get dizzy so I'd look out the slits to try and calm my nerves, but then I wasn't watching my footing... it was a vicious cycle. I also have this strange sensation when I'm up really high, that I want to jump. I have obviously restrained myself thus far in life, but I've always been curious and find the thought of jumping from high places both exhilarating and freeing. So basically this Monument made me sick: it was like an 'effed up acrophobia with a side of claustrophobic vertigo.
Me at the top of the Wallace Monument
I eventually made it to the very top and the views were breathtaking. I had a nice lady snap my photo at the top to prove that I did it! Back down in the gift shop (when I started breathing again) I bought a medal that says "I have climbed the 246 steps." You might have won eight gold medals this past olympics, but I have a silver medal in the William Wallace Tower of Death... so suck it, Phelps!!
View of the River Tweed from the top of the Wallace Monument