I think I mentioned in my last post that we were going to drive to Edinburgh via some of the border towns, but it wasn’t to be due to the traffic. Instead we drove into Edinburgh to do a quick reconnaissance before we caught up with our lovely hosts for the next couple of days, Judith, of @sewover50 fame, and her husband Robert.
You’re not in Scotland unless the street artists are in kilts and playing bagpipes!
We walked the length of Princes Street and Mark, who has never been to Edinburgh before, was clearly overwhelmed by the beauty of some of the buildings, judging by the awestruck exclamations I was hearing. This is the Sir Walter Scott statue on the edge of the Old Town.
I love the way the buildings are all perched on top of crags and dominate the landscape.
The Old Town is a jumble of medieval buildings all crammed in together, and I guess they are aimed at the tourists as they are mostly selling touristy things. I took a load of photos but it was hard to capture entire buildings because of the size and the fact that I wasn’t prepared to stand in the middle of the road!
Of course Edinburgh Castle is on the must see list, and it didn’t disappoint. Beautiful views were had from the ramparts.
and I was fascinated to see the dog cemetery in a little garden. I still have memories of this view from when I visited as a child.
Edinburgh Castle played a pivotal role in Scottish history as Kings and Queens made their home there, and obviously as a fortress. Queen Mary’s jewels are on display, together with the Stone of Scone, which I’m told is pronounced “Scoon”. Speaking of pronunciation, we’ve been mispronouncing place names everywhere we go. Some of the names I seem to have embedded in my memory, but others are a mystery to me. We weren’t allowed to take photos in the Crown Jewel section, so you’ll have to trust me that they are rather lovely.
Everywhere we went in the Castle we were reminded that it was primarily a fortress housing a garrison of soldiers. The canon, Mons Meg, is an example of this. The canon is the largest gun ever fired in anger on British soil and was obviously rolled into battle, drawn by many horses.
The oldest building is the tiny chapel used by Queen Margaret. It must have been just her and her minister as there is very little room in this building, although it looks bigger from the outside.
We visited the room where James VI and I, the first king to rule Scotland, England, and Ireland was born and it is miniscule. It is wood panelled and does have some very nice decorative features.
We visited Calton Hill and Nelson’s Monument. Some monument! We’d spent the whole walk up to it speculating as to what it could be. Not in my wildest dreams would I have guessed.
I couldn’t decide which photo I liked better, so you got both!
Judith had suggested that we visit the Dovecot Studio which is housed in an old bathhouse, which had been neglected and then restored. The swimming pool is now an area for tapestry weaving, with a viewing area above. You can see its origins in this photograph
It was fascinating to watch these talented artists create quite different works of art. They worked in pairs
and alone, and there seemed to be different versions of tapestry going on.
Here is a panel depicting some of their beautiful work.
We made our way to the Palace of Holyroodhouse, which is a pretty special building.
With other magnificent buildings nearby.
We admired the new Scottish Parliament building, and whilst it is a striking building, we were a little surprised at the lack of attempt to integrate it into the Old Town architecture.
We visited the Scottish National Portrait Gallery with Judith and Robert, and I was entranced with the library,
as well as the gallery around the staircase.
Mark found the home of Robert Louis Stevenson and couldn’t resist attempting a visit.
New Town is in stark contrast with Old Town, being set out in a neat neoclassical grid, with beautiful Georgian terraces.
Judith and Robert introduced us to this area, and the lovely Royal Botanic Garden contained within which we were thrilled to find a tapestry exhibition and whilst I was pleased to see some Tunisian Crochet gobelin stitched pieces, Mark found a piece which he felt summed up his life! Don’t feel sorry for him – the kitchen is one of his happy places apparently.
So many inspiring pieces and I’m definitely getting my loom out when I get home. This piece is made from scrap fabric.
This was an interesting piece with lengths of wire attached to the wall with petals strung along the wires.
Judith and I admiring this breathtaking piece. The cream warp pieces are just joined with gold wefts in places creating this beautiful pattern. It shimmers.
The gardens themselves are a delight, with the usual themed sections. This photograph shows two of my loves – rhododendrons and a waterfall.
I had never met Judith before (except on Instagram) and was quite surprised when she invited us to stay, but rather thrilled, as I felt we would become firm friends in real life, and so it was. She and her husband, Robert, are interesting, fun and really relaxed. We posed for funny photos
Had drinks down by the wharf in Leith.
And then I found this grafitti which had to have been modelled on Judith!
We had the most wonderful two days staying with Judith and Robert and I really can’t express our gratitude for their generosity and kindness. Our trip to Edinburgh would not have been nearly as rich without their help.
Whilst we were staying with them I realised that I had misplaced some jewellery. When it couldn’t be found I came to the slow (and horrible) realisation that I had left it in Leeds eight days prior. Both Mark and I could visualise the flat black box sitting on a black table. I had fortuitously made note of the housekeeper’s number so rang her, and she immediately said that it was locked in the lost property cupboard. It needs to be said at this point that the jewellery was not especially valuable, but it was rather precious to me. I confess to being rather surprised when Mark told me that we were driving from Edinburgh back to Leeds to collect it. Here I am looking happy after collection from the apartments we stayed in.
We then looked for accommodation whilst we drove and I was quite amused to find that we were getting closer and closer to Edinburgh, finally settling on a B&B in an old granary in Huntlywood – a round trip of some 9 hours! On the way we enjoyed fabulous scenery and I was thrilled that we were able to visit Jedburgh which we had missed on the way to Edinburgh the first time. It has the most beautiful and peaceful Abbey and although it’s a ruin, it’s the centrepiece of the town.
The Abbey is really beautiful and surrounded by some lovely buildings. The Abbey was founded by King David I of Scotland in the 12th century. It suffered many attacks by the English and was destroyed several times. As with several other Abbeys, it survived the Reformation of 1560 by becoming a Parish Church.
We found Mary Queen of Scots House tucked down a side street and what a hidden delight this is! It dates from the 16th century and is a simple, but beautiful, stone building, containing a bastel-house, which, according to my dictionary, is a fortified house especially on the English and Scottish border usually having its lowest floor vaulted.
The gardens are also magnificent. The thing that interested me is that this has free admission, which is most unusual.
We went straight from our accommodation to drive the Fife Coast to St Andrews, which is my next post as this one is quite long enough.