Aye, it’s Saturday morning again and I am in the nice position of being able to write this live. It is a bit gloomy and grey outside my window as I start this about 7.20am. I’m off to Edinburgh later and the weather says it is to be sunny in the capital. It was pleasantly sunny and autumnal there yesterday. I was off yesterday too and just had the notion to go somewhere. For the last two weeks, due to domestic stuff and working full-time and that, I hadn’t been out of the west of Scotland, Linwood the furthest I had been. This needed a swift remedy and as I walked along to the station, I decided on Edinburgh since a trip there requires no great thought to put together. The sunshine stayed with me all the way to Edinburgh and on the train I thought about either the Botanics or Prestongrange for a wander. The 13 minute wait for a 26 from York Place made the Botanics the winner by default. I proceeded down Broughton Street to the sound of bagpipes, an unusual soundtrack in the New Town. It turned out that there was a wedding on in the Mansfield Traquair Centre, a building I have meant to visit for years due to the beautiful design by Phoebe Anna Traquair. During a wedding might not have been the best moment, though, so I walked on. There was a wedding on at the Botanics too, with a car driving past me on the path as I headed in the East Gate. Their soundtrack was classical, which was probably some lovely concerto but I recognised as the music they play when on hold to my doctors surgery. I repaired to sit under my trees, the grove of Sequoias dedicated to John Muir just up the way, and ate lunch. Thus fuelled, I had a good wander around the Botanics, enjoying the sunshine and its effect on the leaves, trees and the Edinburgh skyline. I always maintain that Edinburgh Castle only ever looks threatening from the Botanics. There weren’t many fallen leaves to scuff my way through, unfortunately, with my inner 5 year old a bit troubled by that.
I walked uptown and ended up in the Portrait Gallery. I’ve been going there for years just to sit in its beautiful mezzanine level, revelling in the light and the overwrought Victorian renderings of Scottish historical scenes. Usually I have it to myself but that day every other seat was taken, including by a lady who was scribbling into a notebook, a couple having a conversation and another woman who was doing as I was, just looking around. I wasn’t really in an exhibition mood but I decided to take a turn around what was there, beginning with the Victoria Crowe portraits exhibition, which I just loved. The portraits were varied, with a few of the same person, but what really struck me was how she combined a likeness of the sitter with other objects, words or symbols to represent their life’s work, like guidebooks for the Duke of Wemyss and March and a supernova for astrophysicist Jocelyn Bell Burrell. The transportation photography display was also rather fine, including a famous one of a plane flying over Edinburgh city centre in the 1940s and another of Glencoe albeit with the road edited out. I’m going to try and get back to both of them soon. To save anyone asking, the Victoria Crowe exhibition is on until 18th November and Planes, Trains and Automobiles finishes on 13th January next year. See the National Galleries website for more details.
There’s a bit more blue sky out my window now. The SeaWindowCraster photo this morning has a bit of sunshine though with a few darker blue clouds atop the shot. Even when I’m off, I rarely sleep after 7am and that’s okay. I often just lie in bed and read or listen to a podcast. This morning’s soundtrack is the Scotland Outdoors podcast, incidentally.
Talking of listening, of interest to some readers here will be a programme on Radio 4 this coming Monday (8th October) at 4pm entitled ‘The Art of Now, Women Who Walk’, which is about women who have incorporated walking into their art, including a bit of psychogeography. It sounds very interesting and I will be making sure I catch up with it since I will be working when it’s on.
I’m not sure what my travelling book will be today. I have a few options, despite a recent drastic reduction. One contender is a book I’ve got from the library, the autobiography of tennis player Maria Sharapova, Unstoppable, which is an unusual choice for me though given recent controversies attached to her, it could be an interesting read. I also have a magazine I bought recently in Edinburgh. It’s more of a journal than a magazine, a football magazine called Glory, including a whole bunch of articles about football in one particular locale. I came across it in a shop in Edinburgh called 6 Yard Box, which sits in one of the arches on Market Street. I had intended picking up a physical copy of the Scottish football periodical Nutmeg but Glory tempted me more, with this issue about football in Ireland and beautifully illustrated. Even though I’ve written more about Glory, the Maria Sharapova book might end up coming with me.
Most of my reading in the last week has been digital, mostly Harry Potter. I’ve reached book number 6, Half-Blood Prince, and Harry’s just been allowed to study Potions because Snape doesn’t teach it anymore. I also managed to finish re-reading The Road to Little Dribbling, a travelogue by Bill Bryson around Britain, which wasn’t half bad at all. Next Saturday’s post will delve into books but I am also hoping to re-read the Lewis trilogy of crime novels by Peter May soon, prompted by a Scotland Outdoors podcast featuring presenter Mark Stephen and Peter May himself going around some locations which appear in the books.
Anyway, good people, that’s all I’ve got this particular Saturday. Tomorrow’s post here will be the last (for now) instalment of Loose Ends, which finishes up on Calton Hill in Edinburgh. Have a nice weekend, thanks for reading.