No plucking today

Mirinda had guitar today and, coincidentally, there was a guitarist playing at Farnham Maltings at lunchtime. I suggested we meet there for an hour of expert plucking. And so that was the plan. But, like some great plans, things didn’t exactly work out that way.

First thing, having handed her sleepy self a cup of tea, I headed, trolley in hand, up to the shops for a few last minutes bits and pieces. I then wheeled them back home.

I finished the violets from yesterday given the weather was entirely beautiful before getting ready to head back into Farnham. I arrived at the Maltings, spotted Max in the car park and went into the cafe where Mirinda was waiting for me.

So far, all was to plan.

Just before 1pm we headed for the box office to buy tickets only to discover that, for the first time ever, the guitarist for this particular slot had had to be cancelled. He had written the date in his calendar incorrectly. It was not the venues fault at all even though, in a typically English way, the ticket person was apologising all over the place.

And so, we retrieved Max and went home instead. A shame. I was really looking forward to it. Still, there’s always next time.


At the same time, something like a million people took to the streets in London demanding a People’s Vote while Parliament sat on a Saturday for the first time in 37 years (or something like that) to debate the new crappy deal brokered by Boris Johnson.

As it turned out, the deal was never voted on because of the Letwin Amendment which required the PM to write a letter to the EU asking for an extension beyond October 31 if the deal hasn’t passed through Parliament beforehand.

He did write a letter but, like a petulant and ridiculous child, he didn’t sign it. He then sent a second letter saying he thought it was a shit idea. I guess that’s all you can expect from an unelected Prime Minister of a self destructing country.

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Shouldn’t have gone to Specsavers

Today I was on the terrace, planting a couple of trays of sad looking violets. I’d finished putting some in two of the raised beds then under the water feature. I started to move a couple of pots at the side of my office in preparation for planting the remainders when I felt a spot of rain.

The morning had been bright and sunny with no hint of wet – unusual given the recent deluges we’ve been subjected to. I remarked to mum as I sat in the office looking out at the blue, that the rain appeared to have gone somewhere else.

After an hour chatting and having heard about the new centre bus three times and being told to give Nicktor her love a further four, I went inside to put some washing on. Mirinda was at the optician picking up her new glasses…or not picking up her new glasses because, apart from the sunglasses, she had nothing to pick up. This was annoying. She’ll have to wait till we return from Italy now.

Anyway, she was back for lunch and we had the always variable Chez Gaz Salad before she told me about the violets.

As I said above, I felt a few drops and decided to go inside and put a load of washing on and give the clouds a chance to roll away. I opened the sliding door and stepped inside. As my back foot gained the shelter of the extension the rain suddenly exploded out of the sky and the garden was deluged. It was a perfect bit of timing.

The rain remained for the rest of the afternoon and well into the night. I spent the rest of the day working on the war dead.

The morning was gorgeous
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Talking mayhem

I had a letter published in the Herald today.

Coincidentally I was presenting the Farnham edition of the Talking Newspaper. I chose not to read my own letter as I thought that would be a bit much. Instead I read a rather annoying letter from a climate change denying civil engineer.

In the letter the chap misquoted the expression ‘rubbish in, rubbish out’. At the end of the his letter I informed the listeners that this was in fact incorrect and that the actual expression was always ‘garbage in, garbage out’ and having been in IT for many years I would receive countless reports with GIGO scrawled across the bottom. The irony was, I said, that this letter seemed to have GIGO written beneath it.

I had a very mad team this morning which only magnified the insanity in the studio. Penny, Peter, Rosemary and Roy all contributed to the madness which, of course, just made me worse. I think today’s session was easily one of the maddest.

While it was a lot of fun, I did make quite a few mistakes – reading words wrong kind of mistakes – which is very unusual. When I told Mirinda she reckoned it was probably because I am tired. Which led to me saying that she’s more tired and there’s no real reason for me to be tired except for the night we spent with the window open in Edinburgh.

In Mirinda news this afternoon, I received an email saying the hard bound copy of her thesis was ready for collection at the university print unit. Hopefully this is good news and my work is done as far as her doctoral degree is concerned.

And, in comparative news, Dawn actually graduated today. She shook the hand of Alan Titchmarsh and walked away a doctor. Mirinda has a couple of months to go and she won’t get to shake Alan’s hand but at least it is back on track to happen.

Something else that was put on track was this year’s Christmas cake.

While we were in Edinburgh, it suddenly occurred to me that I was a month late in making the actual cake – September is the usual start month – and realised that I only had this week to get it done given we’re going away again. So, last night I put my fruit on to soak and this afternoon I filled the house with the most delicious smell of Christmas.

For four hours the house was made fragrantly delectable and Mirinda couldn’t wait for me to finish so the temptation would go away.

And, finally, Neighbour Dave told me this morning that poor Gail has broken her wrist in two places. I immediately asked if it was a colles’ fracture. Surprised he said yes. Poor Gail, I know your pain! I told him to tell her to tell everyone she did it snowboarding rather than as a result of her bad knee causing her to reach out and save herself.

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Maximum inconvenience

I know I go on about how inconsiderate a lot of drivers are when it comes to pedestrians and I don’t think I’m about to stop going on about them however, today really took the biscuit. It’s not often you come across someone who is so important that everyone else in thew world has to risk life and limb for them.

It was while I was walking home along the very narrow footpath that lines one side of the stupidly busy Park Lane. I was not best pleased with the traffic as it was but, up ahead, I noticed the postman having to struggle with his postal carrier out onto the road for the length of a truck then struggle it back up onto the footpath beyond the truck.

Then, from out of the park, came a woman with a stroller. She started heading up the road when she was suddenly pulled up short and had to back track a bit and, like the postie before her, she had to divert out onto the street before eventually returning to the safety of the footpath.

The problem was this removals truck.

You can see the postman’s carrier just beyond the truck and, crossing the path at an impossible height to step over, is a metal ramp. The truck has side doors for making egress simple and provides a ramp to aid the poor delivery guys.

I can see where such a thing would be handy if you had all the room in the world and there wasn’t a blind bend and a narrow footpath for normal folk to contend with. I understand the need for deliveries but why on earth should everyone else be put out because White & Company decide their client trumps everyone else? The truck HAS back doors!

Actually, while I found this really annoying and inconsiderate, I was surprised that they hadn’t bothered to park on the footpath itself like most truck drivers. Perhaps that would have made the ramp too difficult to put in place. I’m sure it wasn’t because the driver was thinking of anyone else in the world.

Away from my hobby of Arsehole Spotting, the day was pretty good after a bit of light rain to begin with. We went up to the park and the girls had a jolly good run around. Obviously, I’d been to the gym and was more than sufficiently exercised out.

Turning a bit Autumnal
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It all started a bit grime

Last night, as I lay on our lounge, watching a bit of foreign TV, I was rather glad. My German isn’t good enough to manage Dark without subtitles so I was reading the screen, as usual, which proved to be the only way I could actually follow the story.

It wasn’t the usual lack of understanding springing from a seriously convoluted story line and multiple people across multiple time lines that had me confused. No, the rain was torrential and very, very noisy on the roof lantern.

By the time I went to bed, the rain had not eased and I was beginning to wonder whether I’d be swimming to the gym in the morning. But, when I woke, the rain had stopped though the day was still looking a bit grime (thank you, Jollie) and dismal.

On the way to the gym

But that was it for today as far as precipitation was concerned. The day was full of improvements until, just after lunch, the sky was completely blue and the sun was beating down with the same intensity as last night’s rain. Clearly this was very welcome for the girls. And the old woman I met outside our house as I returned from the shops.

That sounds like I’ve never met her before but I have. She and her daughter have two small dogs that they walk regularly in the park. One of them I’m sure I’ve written about before. It is a Dachshund that has to be carried to the grass because it can’t walk on hard surfaces. It sits back on a proffered arm like the King of Everything.

Anyway, this old lady stopped me to chat about the state of parking in our street. She pointed out the workmen parked in front of various houses where they were doing work. This, she felt, was a bit rude. They (she meant her daughter who was carrying the King) had to park right down at the beginning of the street.

I wanted to point out that she was hardly in a position to complain when she was taking up a parking spot herself but she’s not one of those people you can actually have a conversation with unless it’s just her talking.

She went on to suggest that the main car park near the Castle should be restricted to dog walkers and other’s enjoying the park facilities instead of always being full of golfers (it is the car park for the golf club, I wanted to tell her).

The Ranger should issue permits for parking!” She declared.

She then, as her daughter caught up to us, asked if I lived in the street. I was standing in our driveway, leaning up against our wall at the time and Emma was carrying on behind the front door. I indicated the house and said I lived there. Her daughter then asked where the little brown dog was that always said hello to everyone from the front bay window. I pointed at the door and said that was her waiting for me.

An odd conversation, I thought. I really want to know why she feels that her parking need is greater than anyone else in the world. I’ll never know because the next time I run into her, she’ll just tell me the same thing all over again.

But enough about her…obviously with the day having improved out of sight, we went to the park in order to chase a ball. Even Freya joined in a few times.

Resting between runs

There were a lot of dogs in the park with us. I think this might be because the weather has been truly awful here while we’ve been away and today was, perhaps, the first one nice enough to have an enjoyable walk.

And the rain managed to stay away for the whole day. I was expecting it to start at 4pm but then realised I wasn’t in Edinburgh any more.

Avenue of Trees
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Going home

This morning we said goodbye to our wonderful little studio apartment and headed along Prince Street to the station.

We sat and waited for our platform to be announced then joined the general melee of families and wheelie bags trying to reach the single escalator. We then all changed tactic as we were confronted with stairs. Mirinda claimed there was a lift but I have learned from years of walking with a stick that elevators are actually meant for the lazy rather than the disabled. Obviously I took the stairs.

When we reached our first class carriage, there was a family there looking rather predatory. Apparently their carriage had been locked out of use and they were forced to fend for themselves. My first thought was that they had wandered down from the economy end of the train but, no, the carriage put out of commission was the second first class carriage, the one after ours.

All was fine and we took our window seats and settled down for the almost five hour journey by sea and fields and industrial heartland. At one point, the train announcer said that all reservations were cancelled and it was everyone for themselves in first class. The half of the family sitting next to us suddenly leapt up and headed off to join the other half.

When we reached Newcastle, there was a general noise of dissent and disbelief as more first class passengers boarded the train. They were told they could sit anywhere they could find a seat. Most were not happy. Things were even worse by the time we reached Darrington with people decided it was better to wait for the next train.

At York prospective passengers were actually told to wait for the next train which ‘shouldn’t be too long,’ a fairly non-decisive and possibly frightening amount of time given the state of trains in this country.

But, as I said, our seats were all fine and good and we eventually found ourselves decanting at Kings Cross (only 16 minutes late) where I lugged both wheelie bags into a taxi for the trip to Waterloo.

The double wheelie bag idea had been Mirinda’s given she was going to work then to the flat and we figured it would be easier for me to take them home. And it was. There were a few uneven bits of pavement and those nobbly Lego like blind people tiles but otherwise, I didn’t really have a problem.

The only ‘problem’ I sort of had was when I arrived at Farnham. I figured I’d get a taxi, something I detest given our appalling taxi drivers. However, this plan was doomed to failure. I didn’t have any cash and when I asked the three taxi drivers waiting at the station if they took cards they all shook their heads with the kind of non-caring attitude of someone who makes too much money. I checked the bus times and decided the eight minute wait was worth it.

Man handling the bags onto the bus was a bit of a pain but I managed and the rest of the trip home was uneventful. It all faded into obscurity when the girls met me at the door.

Sue had dropped them round before she left for Crete this morning. To say they were overjoyed would be an understatement.

As Mirinda said later (after reading my posts) her trip to Edinburgh was a lot different to mine. I have to say I did enjoy it and will miss, in particular, Rose Street.

It was an excellent spot, brilliant accommodation and some fabulous pubs. I’ll be back.

Posted in Edinburgh 2019, Gary's Posts | 1 Comment

A little bit of dudgeon

I loathe Tesco Express. It’s everything there is to hate about supermarket shopping. It’s all about the smallest space for customers. It’s then all about getting in everyone’s way. It’s not pleasant at all.

And while I’m having a moan…how quaint are the buses in Edinburgh? So quaint you need to carry cash around with you in exact amounts in order to use them. There are different companies so that’s quaint as well. In a world increasingly going cashless it’s quaint to find somewhere that wants the exact change. Particularly when you no longer carry any.

It’s not like the cost of a ticket on a Lothian bus is any different. £1.70 one way ticket to anywhere on the network. Why people can’t just touch on I do not know. It’s pretty de rigueur south of the country. Still, it’s just a quibble.

Today we were going to catch a bus but, as it turned out, it was all too difficult what with bus stops moving and buses not being where they were supposed to be and then, naturally, the rain at 4pm. Ignoring the lack of four sets of exactly £1.70.

What we did do was walk the whole length of Rose Street and visited the National Portrait Gallery at the beginning of Queen Street.

The NPG has a rather impressive Great Hall. There is an amazing frieze which stretches all the way around the top. It begins during the Stone Age, representing Scots both known and unknown. There is a few too many old white males but, beyond the privilege, it all looks superb.

For the very eagle eyed, Flora MacDonald is almost in the centre of the group of men straight ahead

While the Great Hall is pretty amazing, my favourite bit was the library. As well as a delightful little staircase which spirals round to the second level (prohibited to members of the public) where books line wall after wall of old shelves.

On the ground level there are a few displays of heads – it is the Portrait Gallery after all – including a rather odd painting that may be Mary Queen of Scots that if you view in one direction she looks like a queen in all her regalia and in the other she is just a skull. Now that’s just a bit cleverly cool.

There’s also a whole load of death masks. Included within the death masks are the ones of the infamous Burke and Hare. I find it deliciously ironic that two supply and demand murderers should have their lives extinguished and their faces recorded for all time.

A couple of evil bastards

In the gallery there were two special exhibitions. One was of Modern Portraits (which I found quite dull) and the other was called Self Evidence, Photographs by Woodman, Arbus and Mapplethorpe. It is a photographic exhibition of three dead American photographers. Arbus and Mapplethorpe I know of old but I’d never heard of the tragic Francesca Woodman.

Woodman started taking photographs, usually with herself as the model, from the age of 13. She only lived to the age of 22 when she committed suicide by jumping out of a window in New York. Though no-one really knows why it sounds to me like she was very depressed. She was in therapy but fought against a world she felt didn’t recognise her artistry. Her images are quite simple yet intriguing. I liked her work very much.

Mirinda preferred Diane Arbus’s work, I think because it gives a glimpse into another culture which is rarely seen with such intensity. Again, she died by her own hand. In her case it was definitely due to severe depression.

Mapplethorpe, for the record, died of HIV/AIDS.

Replete with portraiture and following a refreshing hot beverage in the cafe, we once more ventured out and watched a wedding photographer going about his work atop Waverley Station. Well, I watched them. Mirinda was trying to work out the buses.

There were kilts aplenty for the tourists

We then, as I said above, didn’t find or catch a bus anywhere. Apart from the change thing, I was also a bit ache-y. There’s a lot of cobbles and not a lot of grass in Edinburgh. Well, that’s my excuse for being grumpy. That and a general lack of sleep. Though I shouldn’t complain because Mirinda has it a lot worse than I do at the moment. In fact, this was brought to the fore later on when she suddenly asked for chocolate.

Now, when Mirinda asks for chocolate because the documents she’s working on are putting her in a state of great unease, never mind that it’s 8pm on a wet Sunday night in Edinburgh, never mind that Sunday trading laws forbid the sale of chocolate from any shop that has more than 250 employees. No, it’s best to don something warm and head out onto the wet and nasty streets.

Fortunately, on Princes Street, in Edinburgh, there’s an extraordinary temple to sugar called The Kingdom of Sweets. And for reasons known only to Scots, it is open after 8pm on a Sunday night especially for the sale of emergency chocolate. And I take my hat off to them because they saved my life. A big round box of Bailey’s chocs (the woman behind the counter swore by them…literally) later and I retraced my soggy steps. She was pleased.

Earlier we’d popped into an Italian place (where Mirinda had had lunch earlier in the week without me) and had a delicious sharing plate. This was, I suggested, to prepare us for Puglia next week. The bottle of Rose was very nice as well…even though it was Sicilian.

Mirinda’s ballet hand is there for scale

I mean ‘even though it was Sicilian’ as opposed to Puglian. I have nothing against Sicilian wine in fact, I remember going to a rather delightful Sicilian restaurant in Milan last year where we were treated to some fantastic Sicilian wines.

Posted in Edinburgh 2019, Gary's Posts | 1 Comment

The power to which a number must be raised in order to get some other number

It didn’t rain in Edinburgh today. Not one drop. Nada. The expected 4pm downpour didn’t happen and Mirinda managed to remain dry for a change. On a day of bits and pieces it was nice to have the weather behaving rationally at least.

It was an odd kind of day actually. Mirinda finished working on a couple of documents which I then cast an eye over in my capacity as her overpaid editor. We then went for a walk so she could put the documents to bed, so to speak. Also Sarah wanted to work undisturbed for a number of hours so that was a good excuse too.

Rather than walking up Rose Street for the umpteenth time, we decided to try the mirror version, Young Street, instead. While it’s the same it is also totally different.

Possibly the biggest difference between the two streets is the pubs. Where Rose Street has a lot, Young Street appears to have two: The Cambridge and the Oxford bars. We stopped off in the Cambridge for a beer/wine where I explained the intricacies of Rugby to an unimpressed Mirinda. When we discovered the existence of the Oxford Bar just a few hundred metres down the street it did make me wonder whether they had a cobble stone boat race once a year. I also discovered that Inspector Rebus frequents the Oxford.

Having had our drink, while unsuccessfully avoiding the giant TV screen, we continued on our way down Young Street until we reached Castle Street when Mirinda announced that we should head up to George Street and find the tapas restaurant we walked by last night on our way to the Japanese place.

And find it we did. We also managed to get a table in what was a very popular place. We were a bit disappointed by the berenjenas though their version was still quite nice but not a patch on the con miel we’re rather partial to. Still, it all went very well with a glass of rioja and we easily ate our fill.

We also had to be out before the people who had reserved the table turned up. It was really popular. And that was just for lunch.

Mmmm tapas!

Don’t be fooled by the entrance, the restaurant goes back a very long way.

We then made our slow old way back to the apartment where Mirinda had a sleep and I went for a looksie at the church across the road (sort of) from us.

It’s St John’s and while it looks very sombre, Gothic and foreboding on the outside, it’s actually very light and warm and friendly once you get through the doors. There are a lot of beautiful stained glass panels throughout the church which casts a warm glow over everything.

St John’s is a Scottish Episcopal church completed in 1818. It was designed by young architect William Burn who, at 25 years of age, was doing some fine work. Most of the stained glass was by James Ballantine and Son. It was really a lovely church.

Not so, St Cuthbert’s next door. That’s correct, there’s another church next door. Well, across the graveyard, anyway. I thought perhaps it was just an over sized mausoleum but no, it is St Cuthberts.

I was going to go in and have a bit of a sticky but the steps leading to the doors were littered all round with the local drunks, junkies and alcoholics which made it a little less than appealing. I gave it a big miss.

Monument to a dead vicar outside St Cuthberts

It did mean I missed out on seeing the memorial to John Napier the inventor of logarithms. Given I found them particularly annoying in high school I would have liked to have poked my tongue out at him. Still, one can’t have everything. I walked out of the churchyard and into the park that was once a putrid loch before crossing Princes Street and walking into a very crowded Starbucks.

Eventually I returned to the apartment where a now wide awake Mirinda declared we should go for a walk to Dean Village.

Dean means valley and the village certainly is in a valley. It’s a very steep and cobbly stagger down to reach the bottom where the Water of Leith gurgles and races towards the sea. The valley is spanned by the massive Dean Bridge, designed by Thomas Telford (1757-1834) who was often called the Colossus of Roads. It was built in 1831.

The village was once home to 11 mills of various types but now it’s a picturesque village without any shops. Or a pub. That we could find anyway. There is a GP. There are also some impressive buildings.

We walked a little way along the Water of Leith Walk but were turned back by a path closed sign which rankled with Mirinda until she spotted a group of youths who were happy to ignore the sign and hang around on the ‘dangerous’ footpath. Not that we kept going. Instead we retraced our steps and headed back to Rose Street.

We wound up at the Shoggly Peg (which means thin ice as in ‘you’re skating on…’) where Mirinda had a couple of G&Ts and I enjoyed a mango IPA and a wee dram of Crabbies whisky – the Malt of the Month. As usual, it was a delightful pub and we happily sat for a good hour chatting and drinking and watching the customers come and go to the loos, which were either side of us.

Eventually, and because the streets were starting to fill with Saturday night revels, we decided to get a takeaway pizza and take it back to the apartment where we watched an episode of Mar de plástico before heading for bed.

For not doing much we appear to have done a lot.

Me and my Crabbies
Posted in Edinburgh 2019, Gary's Posts | 1 Comment

A Million Miles from Toowoomba

What a glorious day of sunshine and blue skies. Well, until 4pm when the black clouds returned and the rain started falling. Mind you, I was back in the apartment by the time the rain returned. Poor Mirinda wasn’t and she’d forgotten to take the umbrella she bought yesterday when it happened then as well.

My day started at the National Gallery (after a brief latte at Starbucks) somewhere I haven’t been for years. There are presently some renovations going on which will mean they will be able to display a lot more of their works. A Schumanian assured a gentleman that by mid 2020 the works will be complete.

Actually I had an odd day full of various nationalities. Almost everyone who served me today was not Scottish. Well, except for the three most important ones: two bartenders and a very knowledgeable fellow in a whisky shop.

As I said, I started at the National Gallery where I was reacquainted with the beautiful Campbell sisters who I haven’t seen since bumping into them at the V&A back in 2015.

That’s them on the left

I had a lovely wander around the ground floor before heading upstairs. Mind you, I almost didn’t venture upstairs given the only sign indicating there WAS an upstairs proclaimed it for the Impressionists. As it turned out, there was some Impressionist stuff but there was also more interesting styles as well.

Possibly my favourite painting in the whole gallery was upstairs. It is a depiction of the argument between Titania and Oberon in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. It is huge and is full of a multitude of fairies of all manner and size. In fact, Lewis Carroll stood and counted the fairies in the painting and came to a total of 165.

The Quarrel of Oberon and Titania 1849-50 by Sir Joseph Noel Paton (1821-1901)

As I walked around the gallery I noticed that some of the labels had a small black dog on them. Some also had a camera with a line through it but that was more obvious. It wasn’t until I’d almost left that I discovered the significance of the dog.

In 1919 an engineer named James Cowan Smith bequeathed the equivalent of £2,000,000 to fund the purchase of artworks for the Gallery. There was, however, a proviso. The money would be theirs as long as the Gallery promised to permanently display a painting of his dog, Callum.

I’m amazed they had to discuss the offer but they did. Eventually they came down on the side of sense and accepted the deal. The painting of Callum has hung in the Gallery ever since and, hopefully, will hang there ever more.

Wee Callum

After a suitable sigh of delight, I ventured forth to the building in front of the National Gallery which is the Royal Academy. The art here couldn’t be more different.

There are currently two exhibitions on. They are both concerned with the world as it is today. It’s clear that most artists create works that reflect their own time and these pieces really do.

One exhibition is by young African artist, Ade Adesina. His large printed works depict a world of man-made horror where the planet is being laid waste. They are very powerful and challenging.

Two works by Ade Adesina. I particularly like the hourglass.

The other exhibition featured works from various students. They were under the heading of ‘NeoNeanderthal’ and were very interesting. One was a video which I watched. It was quite intriguing. I’m still trying to process it. I’m not sure I’ll ever really understand what the artist was trying to say. Not that that matters. It made me feel great sadness at times and joy at others. That’s what art should do.

I’m sure a lot of people I know wouldn’t think any of it should be considered art but I liked it all and feel it shows that young artists are thinking and seeing the world through many different eyes and minds.

I left the gallery somewhat uplifted and headed off to the old town (via Waverley Bridge in order to pick up a brochure for a bus/boat trip we might make tomorrow). It was beer o’clock and almost lunch so popped into the Malthouse Shovel for a pint of Punk IPA. Unfortunately the kitchen was not working so there was no food.

Malthouse without food

The chap in the glasses in the photo above was the barman and every time groups of people came in, which they frequently did, he’d ask them if they were there to drink or eat. He didn’t bother waiting for an answer and explained that the kitchen wasn’t serving food so there was only drinking to be had.

I understood him because the pub has a lot of signs proclaiming that food is available in all sorts of languages. Lots of groups must enter and fill themselves with their ‘traditional pub food’ every day of the year. But not today.

Having finished my pint I headed up the Royal Mile to the Jolly Judge where I had a delicious bowl of tomato and basil soup.

The two behind the bar are watching the rugby

Having filled my tummy with their delicious soup I headed across the road to St Giles Cathedral where I discovered the previously unknown (to me) Elsie Maud Inglis (1864-1917) who was a surgeon and philanthropist and did a lot for the soldiers of the First World War. I might write about her in another post.

I’ve visited the cathedral before but it was back in 2009 and I don’t remember it very well. It was just like a new cathedral. I had a lovely wander and a bit of a sit before leaving to head down to the museum of the everyday people of Edinburgh called The People’s Story.

The museum is housed in the old Canongate tollbooth and presents the working class of the city throughout the ages. There’s a massive collection of actual objects which were gathered from many attics in many houses throughout the city.

The story is quite miserable in places. For instance there’s the story of Jessie Thomson, the poor woman who is in the eaves with a babe in her arms and three young children asleep at her feet. Her husband died of cholera in the epidemic of 1848 and her only recourse was to apply for poor relief. There was a problem with her receiving this because her youngest child was illegitimate.

Jessie is malnourished and can’t afford to feed her children. The baby is given a crust of bread moistened with water. Her life was utter shit.

If you’re feeling that your life is difficult and work is hard just think about poor Jessie Thomson because her life was a hell of a lot worse than that of most people alive in the West today. I have no idea how she did it.

After wandering the not always depressing rooms of the People’s Story, I headed to a close by cafe where I was served a lovely latte and very naughty piece of carrot cake by a young chap from Toowoomba. I told him he was a long way from home. He explained that he was one of the rare people to escape the clutches of his home town. He seemed to accept the fact that I didn’t have that problem having come from Sydney.

And that was pretty much my day. I slowly strolled back to the apartment and, as soon as I sat down by the window, the rain started pouring down and I checked to see if Mirinda was in it (she was) before settling down to writing this post.

After she returned and phoned Sarah we headed out for a pre-dinner walk followed by a pre-dinner drink in the wonderful Kenilworth pub.

And dinner was an absolute delight. I found a Japanese restaurant last night and vowed we would return for dinner tonight. Boy was it worth it. Fantastic food, excellent waiting staff, very hot saki. I felt like I was back in Japan…if I ignored the rather poncy accented English girl sitting behind me.

I had a marvellous ramen while Mirinda decided to try the tempura bananas which she said were delicious.

It was a perfect evening which we ended with a slow stroll back to the apartment and an episode of Disenchantment before bed.

Posted in Edinburgh 2019, Gary's Posts | 1 Comment

Not a lotta laughs

I had never been to a comedy club before so when I realised there was one just around the corner from where we’re staying and that there would be four comedians trying out some stand up tonight while Mirinda was off having dinner with some important people, I just had to book myself a ticket. So I did. Last night. And I was really looking forward to it. Though the day held a lot more pleasures before hitting the funny bone.

Victoria Crowe is an artist who has become synonymous with Scottish landscape painting. She is not, however, Scottish. She was born in Kingston on Thames but, aged 23 was asked to teach in Edinburgh. She moved and fell in love with Scotland. And I saw an exhibition of her work this morning.

50 Years of Painting shows Ms Crowe’s work starting from her early days, through to now. The exhibition is neatly divided over three floors at the City Arts Centre, Edinburgh and, for me, shows her development beautifully. Most amazing is how her newer landscapes have changed with her life experiences and travels while retaining the same essence of years ago.

The Arts Centre was my third stop this morning. My first was in order to buy Mirinda a new brush because, in her usual manner, she didn’t bring one with her. This is surprising given she actually has at least 300 of them at home purchased all over the world after she discovers she has forgotten to pack one.

Speaking of Mirinda, I left her at the beginning of a possibly three hour Skype meeting for work. I snuck off, leaving her to it.

My second stop was for a coffee at Waverley Station because I was a bit early for the opening of the centre.

The exhibition was excellent and very interesting given she’s still alive and painting. I mean interesting for me because most of the exhibitions I visit are retrospectives of dead artists. Probably interesting for her too given she’s not dead.

I was going to grab a coffee in the Arts Centre cafe but it was full to overflowing so I headed up towards the Royal Mile where I debated whether to head straight down to the Museum of Edinburgh or head up towards the Ensign Ewart for the usual pilgrimage. The Ensign won given it was most definitely beer o’clock.

My favourite Edinburgh pub

The woman in the photo above looks like it might be Mirinda but it isn’t. As I have already said, Mirinda was in a meeting back at the apartment. The woman in the photograph just managed to effectively photobomb and resemble my wife at the same time. Curious.

I settled down with a lovely pint of IPA then, convinced by a couple who followed me in, I indulged in an early lunch of charcuterie made up of mostly local ingredients. This made me feel good on a number of levels. Of course I sent Nicktor a message saying how much I was missing him.

Having sustained myself, I headed out and down towards the Museum of Edinburgh.

While I’ve been to many sights and sites in Edinburgh, this particular local museum has managed to escape me. It’s very much a museum of the city and is very similar to the one in Guildford. Not in content, obviously, but in scale and scope.

The collection is displayed higgledy piggley through the many rooms and up and down stairs of Huntly House. It’s a fascinating journey through Edinburgh young and old. It was a bit sad that the New Town section was closed but the rest was still good.

Two chaps enjoying a bevvy

There was a flourishing ceramics industry in Edinburgh so, to celebrate, there’s an awful lot of ceramics on display. And glass. And silver.

Probably my favourite bit was the display of dead bodies discovered after a cemetery was dug up somewhere in Edinburgh. They assumed the bodies would date to when a particular church was originally dedicated along with the churchyard to go with it. However, after carbon dating, it was found that some of the bodies were from an earlier period, predating the church. Most curious.

Eventually I made my slow way back to the apartment with a short stop at Starbucks where for the first time, I had a latte looking at a castle through the window. The view was a bit different to the Lion and Lamb Yard in Farnham.

Princes Street Starbucks

From here it was but a short stroll back to an empty apartment. Mirinda had gone for a walk and for some lunch timed perfectly to coincide with the sudden downpour that the weather bureau failed to predict. She bought an umbrella.

Finally the day held the great treat I was really looking forward to: The comedy club.

After Mirinda left for her dinner I gradually got ready (I changed from shorts to jeans) then headed up and around the corner into Rose Street. I then walked downstairs to the club. I was the first one there so I walked up to the bar and bought a drink. I had the choice of seats so I chose carefully.

I mean one doesn’t want to be in the front row but, equally, being in the back isn’t that good. I chose a seat at a table about halfway in and close to the exit in case it was too dire even for me.

As I sat and sipped, a couple of women were shown in and they sat at a table the other side of the room and slightly closer to the front. We three waited. And we waited. No one else came. Eventually the barman came and told me the show had been cancelled through lack of interest. The woman at the door apologised many, many times as she paid me back for my ticket. It was all a bit of a damp squib.

So I returned to the damp streets and decided to sit in a pub, drink a beer and watch the first half of Russia v Scotland in the Euro playoffs. Russia looked like winning though it was 0-0 at halftime when I left. It was not exciting enough to stay for the second half.

I returned to the apartment and watched some Netflix and waited for Mirinda to come home. So, basically, although I have BEEN to a comedy club I’ve yet to see any comedy in one.

So it started and so it remained

Posted in Art Exhibition, Edinburgh 2019, Gary's Posts | 1 Comment