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.
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.
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.
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.
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.