Monday, 30 June 2008

Ducks ducks ducks

Yesterday I took my camera along to the the twentieth Stockbridge Duck Race on the Water of Leith. Exactly 2008 numbered ducks were sold in aid of local charities, and at 3pm they were thrown off a bridge where they all raced for the finishing line, a few hundred metres along the river. More photos of the event, and the 'Duck Wardens' whose task it was to shepherd the ducks along, are here.

Sunday, 29 June 2008

The Great Scottish Summer

In Scotland we often get four seasons in one day, so when you want to get the best out of the Scottish summer, you sometimes have to persevere a little...

Saturday, 28 June 2008

Shells & the Queen Mother

Before you accuse me of having too much time on my hands, consider for a second what an ENTIRE room of this would look like - and then imagine a ceiling of pine cones in the shape of a Scottish flag, put the two of them together and you will reach some approximation of the small-scale monstrosity they call the Queen Mother's Memorial pavilion in the Royal Botanic Garden. Honestly...

Friday, 27 June 2008

Informatics Forum

Today I went on a tour of the new Informatics building on what used to be the Crichton Street car park site. There's no other way to put this - everything about it is stunning!!! This is one of the floating staircases in the central atrium. I love the light and the bright colours everywhere.

Thursday, 26 June 2008

Sunset on Royal Yacht

This is the Royal Yacht Britannia by sunset, in front of Ocean Terminal. This ship was used for business and pleasure by the Queen from 1953 until it was decommissioned in 1997. It is now permanently moored in Leith and you can visit it - not cheap but highly recommended!

Wednesday, 25 June 2008

Graduation Day

All of this week the University of Edinburgh's summer graduations are taking place, and today it was the School of Arts, Culture and Environment handing out the degrees. This graduate is on her way up the stairs of Minto House to the History of Art reception. I quite like the slightly solarised effect - no photoshop!

Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Tenement windows

Windows in a tenement building on Merchant Street, near the Grassmarket. You can see the 'close' or shared stairwell through the windows on the left. You see this type of sash and case window a lot in Edinburgh, although many of them have now been replaced by modern plastic (double-glazed!) ones.

Monday, 23 June 2008

Majestic Tour

The first week of summer also heralds the beginning of the proper tourist season in Edinburgh. Although the city is a popular city break destination throughout the year, during summer - and particularly during the August Festivals - the place goes truly mad. With the Film Festival now underway, it won't be long before the crowds descend onto the city centre and many of them will go on "hop-on hop-off" bus tours such as this one, which has as its main destination the Royal Yacht Britannia, permanently moored at Ocean Terminal in Leith. However, at 9 in the morning this bus is still rather empty!

Sunday, 22 June 2008

Wind on the water

I took this photo a few days ago inNewhaven harbour, on the same night I took the lighthouse picture. Although the light and the clouds were beautiful, still almost, in this picture I tried to capture the cold wind you often get at sunset, coming in over the water of the Firth of Forth.

Saturday, 21 June 2008

Ale, glorious ale

Yesterday we were at the Scottish Real Ale Festival in the Assembly Rooms. You pay £4 for a glass and then go round all the different exhibiting breweries to sample the various brews. Mmmm....

We also met a couple of the judges from SIBA, who had had rather a lot of the good stuff:

Friday, 20 June 2008

Light and the lighthouse

This idyllic picture of the Newhaven lighthouse belies the fact that I was nearly blown off the pier trying to take some pictures, not to mention my hands almost freezing off!

Thursday, 19 June 2008

Pillar & Arms

This is the upper part of a memorial pillar on Bristo Square, with a beautiful cast-iron lantern on top. The bottom part represents the City of Edinburgh coat of arms (you'll see it better when you click on the image to get a larger picture).

The coat of arms consists of a shield with a three-towered castle on a rock, with two 'supporters': a maiden and a doe. The maiden was probably adopted as a supporter because Edinburgh Castle was once known as ‘Castrum Puellarum’ (Castle of the Maidens). This Latin name was probably given after a Gaelic or Brythonic name sounding like ‘maiden’ but meaning something else. The doe or hind represents St Giles, the city’s patron saint.

Finally, the crest above the shield takes the shape of an anchor and rope probably because the Lord Provost of the city also held the office of Admiral of the Forth.

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

Old Town contrast

I'm back! Though I adore the buzz of London it's so nice to be back in Edinburgh, where the pace of life is so very different, the air so much cleaner and the commute so much easier!

This is a view from Chambers Street looking up towards the 'back' of the Royal Mile. I love the contrast between the white render and the old stone. The white building of flats is actually about ten stories high (this is only the top of it) and has its entrance on the Cowgate. Because of its steep hills, Edinburgh is very much a three-dimensional city, where buildings often have an entrance at different street levels - which can be very confusing when you're trying to read a map!

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

Pretty straggly flowers

This is the last photograph in my 'ode to green spaces' series. I have no idea what these flowers are called (suggestions please?) and should probably point out that I can take no credit whatsoever for the state of the garden; our wild and wonderful bit of green space is the work - and sometimes that means laissez faire - of our neighbour Frank.

I'll be back from London tomorrow and look forward to catching up on all your posts over the last four days.

Monday, 16 June 2008

Lily? No Iris actually!

Here is the latest in the series of flowers from my garden, which is inhabited by a substantial number of foxgloves, buttercups, a large clematis and general weeds. But I was amazed to find this beauty in amongst the rest - and even more amazed that I actually managed to capture its delicacy rather succesfully (I'm normally not so good at these things). One more tomorrow, then I will hopefully have emerged from the city where there are very few flowers and very many people!

Sunday, 15 June 2008


And here's the second installment of my 'ode to green spaces' - same bee! (I'm still away.)

Saturday, 14 June 2008

Ode to green spaces

I'm going to be away for a few days so I am posting a series of photos of flowers - and the occasional bee - that I took in our garden this morning. Let they be an ode to green spaces - and enjoy them while I'm enjoying London!

Friday, 13 June 2008

Degrees of certainty

Yesterday I attended the opening of the Degree Show at edinburgh college of art. This is a work by Johannes Sailer (MFA Sculpture), who is definitely one to watch.

Thursday, 12 June 2008


It's been a while since I last posted a Newhaven picture, so here's a nice one I took a couple of weeks ago. This seagull seems quite comfortable on the stern of the St Rognvald of Newhaven, named after a 12th century Earl from Orkney who ordered the construction of the St Magnus Cathedral in Kirkwall but was murdered by a Scottish chieftain before its completion.

... and the view from Eildon Street

And as promised, this is the view you get from yesterday's street - over a large playing field and some rather unkempt tennis courts, over Stockbridge and onto the old town and Edinburgh Castle. This has to be one of the prime spots for the New Year and Festival Fireworks!

Wednesday, 11 June 2008

Eildon Street

You can find this street off Inverleith Row, close to the Botanic Garden. These houses are fairly typical examples of the type of terraced housing in the more affluent areas of the north of Edinburgh such as Inverleith and Trinity. Some of these are actually flats whereas others are still complete houses. They're gorgeous!! But what's even more stunning is their view onto the old town ... see tomorrow's post!

Tuesday, 10 June 2008


This is one of several areas of allotments in Edinburgh - they are usually hidden from view but you get a good look at them from the railway line cycle paths. As many people don't have their own gardens, these patches are in huge demand, and some of them have waiting lists of up to seven years!

P.S. This post is dedicated to my mum whose birthday it is today! She's got green fingers and although she doesn't really grow vegetables she has somehow managed to cultivate a fig tree in the front garden.

Monday, 9 June 2008

Private eye

Who are they? What are they talking about? What is she doing with that tennis racket? ... and why am I spying on them having a nice time?!

Sunday, 8 June 2008

George Square Garden

A haven of peace in the middle of the University. I am posting this photograph mainly to be able to show you the contrast in August, when during the Festival this lovely green space is totally transformed into the much loved, colourful and vibrant outside cafe and venue that is the Spiegel Garden.

Saturday, 7 June 2008

Stones - George Square

As promised, another photo of lovely stonework on one of Edinburgh's older buildings. As you can see, the walls were recently repointed. The little stones inbetween the larger ones give the walls a pretty but peculiar effect, and I've never seen this anywhere else. These buildings are on George Square and were originally built as fashionable town houses in the 18th century, the most famous former inhabitant of the square being author and historian Sir Walter Scott. Unfortunately, most of the square was demolished in the sixties to make way for modern university buildings.

In the middle of the square is a lovely park (see tomorrow's post) which is used mainly by students but comes into its own each August, when it is totally transformed to the fabulous Spiegel Garden.

Friday, 6 June 2008

Lift off

On Bristo Square you often find kids on skateboards and bmx bikes doing jumps - thankfully my camera has a decent zoom because it can get quite tricky navigating the square itself! The building in the background is the McEwan Hall, the graduation hall of University of Edinburgh designed by Robert Rowand Anderson in 1874.

Thursday, 5 June 2008

Coffee, p(o)lease!

One of many old police boxes that were converted into little coffee shops. They were originally built as mini police stations, often with a phone on the outside for members of the public to contact the police. In England they're usually blue but in Scotland they're often red.

Wednesday, 4 June 2008

Cycling on the railway

I took this picture this morning on my way to work. It's part of a wall along one of the cycle lanes that run where the old railway lines used to be. They are brilliant green spaces in the middle of the city (see below), used by cyclists and pedestrians alike – and even the odd city fox!

It is hard to believe these days, but back in the 19th century there used to be an extensive network of railway lines in North Edinburgh. The Edinburgh Leith & Newhaven Railway opened in 1842 and connected the city centre with the old chain pier in Trinity, which was used by steamboats. Within a few years the line was extended to Granton Harbour, from where train ferries crossed the Firth of Forth to Burntisland in Fife. However, by 1890 the new Forth Railway Bridge put the Granton train ferries out of action, so from then on trains were only used by local passengers and for goods. In the 1920s, the arrival of trams eventually signalled the end of passenger transport on the trains. By the 1960s only very few goods trains were still running, and in 1986 the last line was closed.

Tuesday, 3 June 2008

Colours & Comics

This little row of shops on Candlemaker Row has clearly seen better days, but the colourful exteriors still manage to turn what is essentially a dreary little street down to the Grassmarket into something that is essentially Edinburgh.

Monday, 2 June 2008

Azaleas at the Botanics

On Saturday, I spent some time in the beautiful Botanic Garden, just north of the New Town. The weather was absolutely glorious as you can see, and the garden was full of families, groups of friends, sun lovers and plant lovers! Opposite the glasshouses there's a large field with azaleas - the flowers are getting to their end now but the range of colours was still amazing! My two-year old niece also enjoyed herself, running back and forth on the grass and posing very prettily in front of a large bush of pink flowers - a post for another day!

Sunday, 1 June 2008

Theme day: My Local Shop

Crolla's of Newhaven sits at the bottom of my street and clearly is closed on a rainy Sunday afternoon - quite right too! It is the epicentre of village activity. No idea if it bears any relation to the famous Valvona & Crolla Italian enterprise elsewhere in Edinburgh?