Festival days ii


Seagulls soar over the City of Edinburgh whilst on terra firma my soul soars.

My time living in Edinburgh to date has been marked by encounters – with art and architecture; with culinary delights – haggis, chateaubriand, tarte aux poires, and affogato; with a delightfully modest though renowned dancing teacher; with the very air filled with history, with literature, with lovely people, one of whom introduced me to the wonders of the animator Ray Harryhausen; with sparkling intelligence, pride and passion; with sand and sea, sunshine, blue skies and sullen grey, with heights and haar, ice and wind and snow; with cartography, Cramond, Colinton, the Firth of Forth, the bridges, the Highlands, ambling in Bruntsfield Links, the Grassmarket, Morningside, the Meadows, Newington, the Royal Mile, and Tollcross, astonishing hospitality beside a glorious loch in Perthshire, and the library at Innerpeffray; with Alexander McCall Smith and 44 Scotland Street; with Sir Walter Scott and Abbotsford and Waverley; with Toppings Booksellers; with one of the world’s finest universities and the restored McEwan Hall; with The Meadows and Quartermile, the Waters of Leith and the old lamp shop close to Ginger and Pickles and Golden Hare Books in Stockbridge; with some of history’s most eminent architects, lawyers, medics, neuroscientists, novelists, poets, sculptors, and divines; with Nicola Benedetti’s numinous presence in the city (ah, Spiegel im Spiegel – YouTube); with Amarone, The Beach House, Blonde, Café Andaluz, Chez Jules, Civerino’s, Côte Brasserie, La Barantine, Mamma Roma, Thomas J Wall’s Coffee, and The Witchery; with an astonishing exhibition of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert’s Our Lives in Watercolour at the Palace of Holyroodhouse; with many a glorious sunrise and sunset down at Portobello; with one of the loveliest little apartments – in the tower of the former James Clark School beneath Arthur’s Seat – that anyone could wish for; with breathtaking and startling surprises almost everywhere I go.

When my lovely neighbour welcomed me here she spoke with an infectious enthusiasm about a city that was magical and mystical, and about how if we could get past the standing almost knee deep in snow, windblown tears streaming down our faces, the coming of Spring and the warm coconut scent of gorse on Salisbury Crags would make for the arrival of a season like none other. And of the city’s being quirky – in just exactly the right ways. And then serendipity led me to Dundee trained illustrator Alice Newman’s perfect expressions of that quirkiness and – yes – of Edinburgh’s being a celebration of life … of encounters for which, for the rest of my days, I shall be profoundly thankful.

more at gardenstudiogram

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