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When it looks like this from inside it’s time to get one’s skates on and get outside! It’s still decidedly nippy here, but there are sights and sounds that chase the chill …

Here is Queen’s Drive in Holyrood Park – 2 or 3 minutes walk from home in St Leonard’s Crag Tower in the trees on the left; Calton Hill with its fabulous views of the Firth of Forth straight on (the ‘new’ Scottish Parliament buildings just around the corner in this photo); Salisbury Crags and the famous Arthur’s Seat – an extinct volcano that erupted 340 million years ago – on the right

Edinburgh Geological Society’s website is a must. It says of Salisbury Crags: ‘The Crags are a single sheet of tough dolerite rock, which is about 325 million years old. This dolerite formed long after the eruption of the Arthur’s Seat volcano, by the process of magma intrusion deep underground – this was not a volcano.’

Heading down towards Duddingston Loch – this area has been a haven for good social distancing during the Covid-19 related lockdown of 2020 / 2021 as there are acres of space in which to exercise and thrive in sea-blown fresh air

Duddingston Loch – the ice rink of the famous Duddingston Curling Society (see below)

A tiny village with jaw-dropping recorded history – JMW Turner admired the Minister’s paintings when he visited, and Sir Walter Scott was a Church Elder here

‘In this house on 19th September 1745 Prince Charles Edward Stuart held his Council of War before the battle of Prestonpans’

I wonder how often conversation at the dining table here might have included ‘when Bonnie Prince Charlie …’ ?

‘Under the (Arthur’s) Seat beside the (Loch) Water makes a Home for A’ Jock Tamson’s Bairns’ – The Reverend John Thomson, Minister here between 1805-1840 referred to his parishioners as ‘ma bairns’ – hence the Scottish expression ‘we’re Jock Tamson’s bairns’

A village centre record of Bronze Age Settlements circa 800 BC

Jacobite Headquarters, 1745

Beautiful old Edinburgh signage

Duddingston Kirk

A reflective space

‘Fire made the seat beside the water’ – Arthur’s Seat, the volcano that erupted 340 million years ago!

‘Time like an ever flowing stream’ …

Kirkyard snowdrops

Similar to memorials found in Greyfriars Kirkyard – open and graphic acknowledgement of human mortality

Insignia Cornutorum – I haven’t found a record of what this means – and can proffer only a guess that a rough translation may suggest something along the lines of ‘cornucopia’ or ‘horn of plenty.’ I’d be glad to have any feedback from informed sources

Duddingston Loch from the Kirkyard

‘Here are deposited the mortal remains of The Rev. Macintosh Mackay. LLD (Doctor of Laws) – Minister successively of Laggan and Dunoon, at Melbourne and Sydney and at Target in Harris and Moderator in 1840 of the Free Church of Scotland. Born at Dilardbec, Edrachillis, Sutherlandshire, he died at Portobello 17th May 1873 in the 80th year of his age and the 48th of his Ministry. A man distinguished for extensive erudition; a humble Christian, an able Pastor, profound in his views of Devine Truth, rich in Christian experience, abundant and unwearied in labours, the first Gaelic Scholar of the day, he completed in 1828 the Highland Society’s Gaelic Dictionary. His life of self denial and devotion to his countrymen rendered his influence paramount among Highlanders and embalmed his memory in their hearts’

James Browne LLD Advocate, Author of “History of the Highlands” who died in April 1841 aged 48 – and his wife, parents, sons – one of whom drowned at age 16 in the Forth, sister (?), and daughter – the widow of James Grant, author of “Romance of War”

‘Sacred to the Memory of John Gerard of Rochsoles in the County of Lanark …

… Lieutenant-Colonel in the Service of The Honourable East India Company. Late Adjutant-General to the Bengal Army during all Lord Lake’s Campaigns: whose valour and ability drew forth the praise of Government and his Country at the Storming of Seringapatam in 1799. The Battles of Delhi, Agra and Laswaree in 1808 and the Siege of Bhurtpore in 1804, and who subsequently lived respected and honoured in his native Country of Scotland, and died at Edinburgh on the 17th April 1824 aged 59 years. This monument is erected by his eldest surviving son Archibald Gerard, February 1840′

Heathers about the entrance …

and the direction of sea and sky …

evening sunlight draws the colour in stone …

… and at the Kirkyard gate – the ‘jougs’ – a punishment collar (which probably encouraged some pretty good behaviour)

… a lantern unto Royal pathways …

… and a loch now designated as a bird sanctuary, one of the most tranquil imaginable …

… where some of the (huge) swans appear to enjoy noisy water skiing …

… and the buds of Spring conjure thoughts of future picnics and time to reflect ever more deeply on the enormity of the history of this place: did JMW Turner sketch a quick likeness of this scene, do you think?

… and onwards and upwards along Queen’s Drive heading back to the Crags and supper …

Edinburgh life. In the Spring of 2021

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Pedestal table

Photo by Joanne Kay on Pexels.com

Odd, and really rather lovely that, here in Edinburgh, I’ve had three separate conversations about Cornwall today – one of which began, ‘didn’t you write a piece about Apple Blossom and Bay Rum?’ I did. The couple are still in my mind’s eye, beloved characters then, as now. So here, as a brief deviation from Edinburgh, let’s head to Cornwall and …

‘Pedestal Table’

A warm sunlit bay-window overlooks the ocean. Between two chintz covered wing armchairs a mahogany pedestal table, sweet smelling, polished daily, is an elegant exhibition stand for a large blue and white striped milk jug, a wedding present filled with bright flowers, daffodils preferred in season, for sixty-seven Springs.

Apple Blossom scent, Bay Rum cologne, Toffee pipe tobacco, baking smells wafting from the Aga in the mornings, casseroles and dumplings in the afternoons. He slept, smiling, thankfully home again, in his beloved chair. She read, quietly, overwhelmed with relief, in hers. Thank God for that lovely young surgeon.


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Sunday afternoon amble

Dynamic Earth Exhibition, (link) – Holyrood, Edinburgh
The Ruins of Holyrood Chapel next to The Palace of Holyroodhouse (link)
The Ruins of Holyrood Chapel
Croft-An-Righ Cottage, Holyrood
New Calton Burial Ground (link) & Holyroodhouse
‘Tombs with a View – !’
The Stevenson Family Tomb – here of the parents of Robert Louis Stevenson
The Tomb of John Drysdale, Builder in Edinburgh (of considerable note), 1829
New Calton Burial Ground Watchtower (see below)
Edinburgh’s last gas lamp – in its original position, 1839
Spring-looking sky and birdsong

I wake up pretty much every morning in Edinburgh wondering just how many more surprises a day in this city will bring. I’ve long ago lost count – every day is full of them – but in a strange way.

Edinburgh makes you feel you’ve always known her, whether you’re standing outside the modern parliament buildings or reading the weathered inscription on a grave dating back to the 1600s. It’s as though you keep bumping into people you know, or knew, anyway, at some point in your life – Robert Louis Stevenson, for example, this warm and sunny Sunday afternoon. And a great Edinburgh builder by the name of John Drysdale, who died in 1829. And you’re trying to remember the name of the lamplighter who carried his ladder each evening to clamber up Edinburgh’s last gas lamp, still in its original position. You knew him – could almost smell his sweet (toffee?) pipe tobacco in your nostrils, and you’ve a vague idea that he had an affectionate name for this lighthouse, I mean … ah, that was it! – he called this lamp ‘Lighthouse’ – but said the name was someone else’s lovely idea, a tribute, perhaps, in an island pool of light for some come to pray, and others come to stay (the Stevenson engineers having keen interest in lighthouses). Where does the memory originate? How do I recall the children (of a family of 10 who lived in the Watchtower) calling this illuminator ‘Uncle Lamp’ ? – while their Papa seemed only interested in folks called ‘Resurrectionist.’

One thing always leads to another here, and another, and another. I’ve made so many photographs during the course of this afternoon’s walk ‘n’ talk with my equally enthusiastic (and extremely knowledgable) companion, that I’ve decided to spread them over the coming days here on windinmywheels. As I keep discovering here, one can only take in so much at once – even though, as I’ve said, everything seems not only staggeringly, eye-wateringly beautiful but also, somehow and wondrously, familiar …

more at gardenstudiogram and at writinginlight