Linlithgow Palace is my favourite place on earth. And despite what I’m about to blog about here, it will forever be my happy place. As you can see from the following video, it is a breathtaking location. The Palace has a neighbour of St. Michael’s Church, which is beautiful in its own right. The Church is what offers the unique silver crown to Linlithgow’s skyline, visible for many miles as you approach the small town of Linlithgow.
Linlithgow Palace was the birthplace of Mary Queen of Scots, and her father, King James V. Even though the history of the place is inspiring, that is only a small part of why I have come to love it so dearly. I have done a lot of research on Mary Queen of Scots, her son, James VI of Scotland / James I of England, and the Tudor era. My first ever visit to Linlithgow Palace was in 2004, the year I got engaged. Somehow, I had this little niggle in my gut that the place was special. It was to become even more special to me in the next couple of years.
On 5th August, 2006, my husband David and I were married at the Palace in the Undercroft. It couldn’t have been a more perfect day, and as cliche as it sounds, I remember it as vividly as though it was yesterday. It was a truly memorable occasion for us, and not without it’s hilarious moments.
It is hard to believe that day was 10 years ago, considering how every detail is still fresh in my mind. Our 10th wedding anniversary was part of the reason we have taken this trip to Scotland and London this year. So, it went without saying that we would return to Linlithgow Palace for a visit once again. And it hasn’t changed one bit.
Pictures just don’t do this place justice. The day we went, the skies were a sharp blue with bright blue tufts of clouds framing the edges. The grass is so green. That might be an unusual observation to make, but as I said before, I’m finding myself noticing things in a different light. The silhouette the area of the Palace offers is the silver Church crown with a backdrop of sky that meets the horizon, and skirted by the Loch. The sky even overcast and cloudy is painted in various shades of grey and gives a moody feel to the Palace, hiding secrets of the past. In between that, is the beautiful outline of the Palace and the Church. Scotland might have frequent miserable weather, but it doesn’t take away from the beauty of their landmarks.
Linlithgow is such a peaceful place for me. I was excited walking up the cobbled drive to the entrance (which, conversely, also stars in Outlander – Linlithgow Palace was used in scenes of the prison at the end of Season 1). Cobblestones and full moons are two things that I feel a spiritual connection to. Don’t make me explain why. I think some things in this world and in our lives aren’t meant to be explained. Cobblestones can be a nightmare to walk on, but they signify history and a platform that hundreds of people over hundreds of years have walked and lived upon. You see old cobbles, that usually means you’re surrounded by history – something I will never not love.
David and I once again wandered around the Palace, and whilst David scaled up to the top to get some great shots of the area (you can see in our photos we took pics of each other from the top and the bottom), I sat down in the court yard and just breathed in the feeling, content to be back there once again. We took a lot of photos, and had a smile and a laugh being back where we got married. We might live on the other side of the world in Australia permanently now, but that it why we can treasure the visits back to our second home and appreciate the “touristy” stuff. Linlithgow Palace isn’t just a tourist location to us. It’s where we got married, and where we shared a significant day in our lives. And some magical force must have been at work, because we’re still going strong 10 years later!
In the middle of the court yard of the Palace stands a gorgeous fountain that has just been restored to working order again. It is said that in its hay-day, wine once flowed from this fountain like water. It was built by James V in 1538, and designed to reflect the supreme power of the king. It is the oldest surviving fountain in Britain and covered in intricate carvings that are still in beautiful condition, despite being centuries old. On our visit, we tossed a penny into the fountain for luck, leaving a little piece of us there for good.
Unfortunately, despite having a perfect day for the visit, things took a crap turn when we exited the Palace interior for a walk outside down towards the Loch. There were a group of swans nearby the banks floating casually in the Loch. I wanted to get a bit closer to take some photos of them, and snap some more pictures of outside the Palace because of just how scenic it is. We hoped to get some photos framed for our house back home, and you can’t get a better view than this.
I took a couple of steps off the small path to head across the front of the Palace – and I went down hard. My foot fell into a deep hole concealed by the grass. It wasn’t visible. I fell and David said he heard a crack as I fell. I remember saying to him “I think I broke my ankle”, but it’s a bit hazy to me now because the pain was excruciating, unlike any I had ever felt before. I went into a bit of shock, and alas, the rest of the day we had planned of visiting Hopetoun House and Rosslyn Chapel had to be quickly abandoned so we could get back to Haddington.
The foot swelled up like a balloon and I could weight bear a little on, but walking was almost impossible. Some OTC painkillers didn’t even touch the agony. It all climaxed with a trip to the Accident & Emergency Department at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, where an x-ray confirmed that I had, indeed, broken my left distal fibula, the out ankle bone. I was fitted with a moon boot to isolate the foot, and sent on my way. Thankfully, despite the bad luck, I was ultimately lucky to have not broken the main bone and had the ability to weight bear enough to be able to mobilise slowly with crutches. Needless to say, it really impacted on the many plans we had for our Scotland and London trip, however sheer determination and adrenaline at play, I had no plans of giving up and not seeing at least some of the more important things.
A huge shout-out goes to the staff at the hospital, who were kind and helpful. I was lucky to not have had a huge wait, only about two and a half hours, which is great for a busy city hospital. Also incredibly grateful for the reciprocal healthcare agreement between Australia and the UK. I got all my healthcare for free, including the boot and crutches, which I would need to stay mobile for the rest of our trip. It was a bit of a dampener, and for a few days, I was in so much pain, it was hard to think straight, let alone too much. Eventually, positive mind and determination not to let it ruin our holiday meant we still could have a special time and make memories. That was all that mattered.
Next up – my experience meeting my favourite author, Ian Rankin, and having the chance to hear him talk about his writing career! Definitely a bucket-list cross-off, that one.