Monday, 7 July 2008

Eight things I liked about Linlithgow

I grew up in Linlithgow, and I probably don't think enough about what it was like growing up in that part of Scotland. So today, I offer my eight thoughts that come first into my head while thinking about what to me will always be the Royal Burgh of Linlithgow.

1) Linlithgow Palace

Birthplace of Mary, Queen of Scots no less, and dating back to the 12th Century. When the Black Death was in Edinburgh, the Royal Family decamped to Linlithgow and lived there for a couple of years. Ruined by Oliver Cromwell's New Model Army, I used to play in the ruins and spent much of my youth in Linlithgow Peel, the park that surrounds the Palace. In addition, my father was the Royal Park Constable for many years (the Peelie in local slang) so there is a family connection as well.

2) St Michael's Church

To get to the Palace, you go up a narrow hilled street, and climbing that hill you see St Michael's Church on the right. The spire is unique, and well known across the country, but in itself it is a fine example of the type of church that was built in Scotland in the 15th and 16th centuries. It's not that Church I went to as a kid, however - in fact, legend has it I single-handedly stopped my family going there, but that's another story.

3) St Ninian Craigmailen Church

That would be this one. I was in the Boys Brigade company here. I sang (before my voice didn't so much break as scatter into a million tiny pieces) in the choir. I my have some disagreements with the doctrines of the Presbyterian Church of Scotland, but your first church always sticks with you.

4) Cockleroi

The highest point in West Lothian is Cockeroi, an extinct volcano about three miles north of Linlithgow. As a kid I sometimes took a day to walk up to the top, have a picnic lunch and look over my home town like this picture.

5) The Grand Union Canal

Another childhood haunt was to walk along this canal, which when I was a kid was disused and falling into disrepair. Now it's a burgeoning tourist attraction. If you're ever there, pay it a visit.

6) Merker Terrace

The street I grew up in, and across the road was my school, Linlithgow Academy. Whatever talent I posses was nurtured there, so if you're looking for someone or something to blame, there's your target. There are many things about my childhood I would never want to revisit ti, but it;s the street I grew up in and for that I am always grateful.

7) Linlithgow Rose

Also near where I lived was Linlithgow Rose's home ground - the team that beat the big boys in last year's Scottish FA cup. I'm not the world's greatest footie fan, but I used to sit on my veranda at home watching them over the stadium wall.

8) The Riding of The Marches

The first Tuesday after the Second Thursday of June is Marches day, an annual holiday when the town boundaries are marked by a procession, where much quaffing of ale and other liquid consumables is undertaken. I loved it as a kid, and wish I could go once more.

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