An Edinburgh View…

It was the annual Doors Open Day at the weekend and as I usually do I went out exploring. Walked from the lower east end of the New Town back up through the Old Town and to Tollcross before going for a break, several hours of walking, exploring and of course taking photos as I went. I shot a gig of pics, still culling out the duff ones, but one set I processed quickly and uploaded to my Flickr, a set shot from a vantage point I didn’t even know existed. One of the places taking part in Doors Open was the old India Buildings, which used to be offices, including the civic registry office (so there was often a lot of confetti outside the doors). At the moment it is mostly empty, plans in hand to redevelop it into something cultural hopefully, so there wasn’t a huge amount to see inside (apart from a lovely central atrium). However once through a suite of empty, dilapidated rooms on the topmost floor there was a narrow spiral staircase in a corner, only wide enough (just) for one person), which lead up to a small attic room. And as I was thinking, is that it?

I noticed outside the open window a very, very small stone balcony, invisible from the streets way below, so narrow it was only wide enough for one person, so I clambered out the window and along it, and oh, what a hidden and wonderful surprise… Views across half the Old Town of Edinburgh… Including this view of Edinburgh Castle:

An Edinburgh View 01And down into the old Grassmarket area, which contains inns that were old even when Robert Burns came to stay in them, and beyond to the large bulk of the Edinburgh College of Art An Edinburgh View 04

And historic Greyfrairs church and kirkyard, witness to some pivotal moments in Scottish and British history

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Nearby across the roofs was the lantern top of the enormous Central Library – I’ve been to several literary events in that space (multiple level library room with all those windows so high up flooding it with natural light), but I’ve never seen it from this perspective before

An Edinburgh View 07Herriot’s School, looking very much like what you would expect to see if Hogwart’s had an Edinburgh branch An Edinburgh View 012

North over curving Victoria Street to the Royal Mile and the distinctively coloured historic structure of Riddles Court, which I’ve visited on previous Doors Open (amazing interiors)

An Edinburgh View 015And a view down into Victoria Street, which curves downwards from George IV Bridge down into the Grassmarket, and which is a splendid spot for observing the multiple levels Edinburgh’s Old Town architecture exists on as it straddles the steep slopes of the great volcanic ridge which runs down from Castle Rock to the palace. Normally I am looking up at this scene of multiple levels curving around and above me, but this time I got to look down into it all – quite wonderful experience to see it all from the perspective of the eagle’s eyrie An Edinburgh View 016

An Edinburgh View 018Ah, Edinburgh, you can still surprise me after all these years living here and give me such lovely presents to point my camera at (coincidentally I noticed I just passed the 12,000 images mark on my Flickr photo stream over the weekend). There’s history and geology and literature and more embedded into this hilly, volcanic terrain and towering, ancient structures which rise from the rocks (and often cut deeps into them too, to a world below…), such a remarkable city, no wonder I love living here. Edinburgh Old Town panorama vid

Doors Open

Been a rough week since losing Cassie. Got through next day, more or less, but coming home from work for the first time that next day was awful – I knew I was coming home for the first time in oh so many years to an empty flat. And it felt bloody awful, so lifeless, empty, no mieowing demands for dinner, for attention, for tummy tickles and cuddles and attention, just me and a quiet flat without a heart. Spent days trying to remind myself no, when I go into the kitchen I don’t need to top up the kitty’s milk bowl, still find myself thinking I need to do it… Several cartons of the special kitty milk in the fridge (although they love milk cats shouldn’t drink it, but you can get a special lactose reduced one suitable for them, Pandora enjoyed it but Cassie loved it, would follow me into kitchen, look at her bowl, then at the fridge then me as if to say, go on, use those opposable thumbs to get me some more milk, dad!). What to do with it? Thought, give it my upstairs neighbour who has a cat, take it up, knock, tell her what happened to Cassie and would she like these for her kitty? Discover her old puss had to be put down just a couple of weeks prior at age 19… Sad, felt like I tried to do something nice from this and just put my foot in it, but she thought it was a nice gesture.


So this weekend is the annual Doors Open day for Edinburgh, which I normally always go to. Really had little enthusiasm for it this year after this week, but went through to help dad around the house yesterday so I could go around Doors Open, figured it was good to get out of the empty flat which is depressing, also managed to persuade my friend who just lost his lovely old dog recently to come as he needed to get out for a while as much as I did. Beautiful, golden autumn afternoon (we often seem to be lucky with weather for Doors Open), perfect for walking around. We visited several places by mid afternoon, one of which was right by one of our favourite long-time watering holes, the Pear Tree, with the huge beer garden. And since it was warm, with that lovely light quality of an autumn day we thought stop and have a quick drink there while we can still enjoy sitting outside, before the winter moves in, wee chat, then on to another couple of venues.


After we’d visited the last place for the day we started walking back to our own end of town, streets busy between tourists, folks who had been out for Doors Open and the remains of a pro independence parade that had taken place earlier, loads of folks sitting out in Princes Street Gardens enjoying the burst of lovely weather, trees still mostly green but with the first yellows and golds starting to creep in. Stopped en route home for another drink and chat in pub we both like but hadn’t been into for months, then continue walk home, decide to take the scenic route, final stop for a drink not too far from home, near Water of Leith, hunger gets the better of us so we order some food (huge servings arrive, way more than I expected), with some beer, then finish final short walk home, feeling much better for being out and doing something, chatting with pal, enjoy a drink, some food too and still home in time for Doctor Who. Flat still feels awfully empty and I miss my furry girls enormously, but today helped a lot.

Doors Open Day – Dovecot Studio

Doors Open Day 2011 - Dovecote Studios 04

Recently it was the annual Doors Open Day in Edinburgh, when many buildings and institutions open their doors to the public, from the small to the very large, and I usually try to get along to several and of course where I go, so goes my camera. This was inside the Dovecot Studios, home to a working shared studio and gallery for artists working in textiles; remarkably it is in what was once a small, old swimming pool right round the corner from my work in the Old Town.

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Weaver at work

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If you want to spin a good yarn, here’s a good supply!

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I loved these designs – I think they were based on designs from a competition with schoolkids – so lovely and simple and bright and effective.

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Close up of the weaver at work.

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I loved this spiral, netted fabric twisting down from the top of the stairs.

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As I looked over from one corner in the main hall I saw the autumn light coming in through skylights creating this pattern of splashes of light and shadow, just as these two ladies paused in one sunbeam, so I zoomed in, switched to black and white and this was the result.

Dem bones, dem bones, dem dry bones…

I was out at Edinburgh’s annual Doors Open Day on Saturday, interesting as ever getting into various buildings for a look around, let down only a bit by the usual incompetence of Edinburgh bloody council who were turning people away from the City Chambers despite it being in the programme that was arranged months in advance – many other locations opened their doors, with people on hand to explain the history and more, all volunteers, but Edinburgh council with its vast army of staff still made an arse of it. What a surprise… Shame on you, Edinburgh council – when I did Glasgow’s Doors Open the City Chambers there was most welcoming and I took many pics in that astonishing building. Shame I couldn’t do it in the one that I pay (through the nose) tax to sustain due to your incompetence – truly no task simple enough that Edinburgh council can’t make a mess of it… Sigh… Anyway, I took pics of the other places I caught in this year’s Doors Open but haven’t had time to sort out my photos yet, will post later on here, but meantime here is one taken in Edinburgh University’s old anatomy theatre, where some wag had placed this medical skeleton in one of the chairs of the old lecture hall. I took one shot and it was a bit dark, so I used the flash and accidentally got this rather pleasing effect as the skeleton flared white and the background went black (as usual click the pic to see the bigger version on the Woolamaloo Flickr):

dem bones dem bones dem dry bones


It was the annual Doors Open Day in Edinburgh last weekend, where you get the chance to explore buildings you normally don’t get a chance to. Of course the new camera came along with me – I’m still sorting pics from it, but here are the first few, all from the mid 19th century New Register House at the start of Princes Street, where all the centralised records of births, marriages, deaths and various other records (such as the National Archives and the Lord Lyons Office in Scotland are). This domed rotunda from the 1860s has metalled shelves to reduce fire risk – its curving shelves on the floors apparently run to miles of storage, rising up 90 feet to the dome above. There was an interesting talk during which the chap showed some of the records held there, such as Arthur Conan Doyle’s birth record and Rob Roy’s will. Between the various buildings there are three lovely domed rotunda buildings lined with bookshelves. I do like domes – both aesthetically and from a practical engineering point of view they are wonderful creations.

Doors Open Day 2010 - Register House 01

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Doors Open Day 2010 - Register House 07

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Dad in the City Art Centre

Out and about for Glasgow’s Doors Open Day at the weekend with dad, who decided to sit down and have a breather while I wandered up the stairs in the City Art Centre on Sauchiehall Street, which has a lovely ‘inside-outside’ feel to its courtyard, with the external walls of old buildings making the atrium which is covered but flooded with natural light, even on overcast days. I went up the open stairs to take a few pics and leaning over the rail to look down spotted dad, who looked up towards me just as I was taking a pic; quite pleased with this one.

Dad in City Art Centre

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View from Mercat Cross vid

View from Mercat Cross vid
Originally uploaded by byronv2

Taking advantage of Doors Open Day to go inside the Mercat Cross and to the top – not terribly high up, but it does give a different perspective on the Royal Mile from what I normally see and besides, I walk past it all the time but had never been inside it, which was reason enough.


Last weekend was the annual Doors Open Day, when buildings not normally open to the public let people into visit. I’m still sorting a stack of photographs I shot as we tramped all round town, from designer make-overs by local architectural practises in old mews buildings to places like the observatory on Calton Hill and the Royal College of Physicians in the New Town. I’ll post a few more when I get time to sort them out, but I thought I’d kick off with these few shots taken in their two libraries; these are rare 17th century medical volumes, which the College Fellow on duty in the library was kind enough to let me photograph as long as I obviously refrained from using the flash (in stark contrast to the folks at Scottish Heritage who didn’t allow any photography even of the Georgian rooms, which seems extremely backward to me if you are inviting in visitors, especially if you are a public body – bad marks to SH, big thumbs up to the RCP who really made an effort to make visitors welcome and encouraged photo-taking).

(click the pics to see the larger versions on the Woolamaloo Flickr stream)

Apologies for the reflections here, but as the books were under glass there wasn’t really anyway round them – it was either reflections of the lights or stand right over it and get my camera in the reflections, but the quality of the draughtmanship here was far too good not to try taking a pic. These books pre-date the Act of Union between Scotland and England.

Just look at the detail in this anatomical study of the human skeleton and musculature; the cross hatching and shading is amazing. More so when you consider this is around three centuries old and an artist created this by hand and another artist would then have laboriously created a negative inscribed into a copper plate for printing. Books like this, being disseminated all over Europe by groups like the Royal College, are physical artefacts of the birth of the modern era, the move from superstition to reason and science, exploring the natural world and our own physiques to find new wonder even the greatest minds of Classical Antiquity could never have dreamed of. They are also gorgeous works of craftsmanship and art. A modern Gray’s Anatomy (a standard text for most doing medical degrees) may be more informative and accurate, but it lacks the elegance and beauty of this work.

Doors Open Day

Tomorrow (Saturday 29th) is the annual Doors Open Day for Edinburgh, when people can get into buildings and areas of buildings that aren’t normally open to the public. It’s pretty interesting and also free so accessible to anyone – certainly every place we tried last year proved to be pretty busy with folks making the most of the opportunity. The Cockburn Association has all the details and there is also a Flickr stream for last year’s Door’s Open, which, I’m rather chuffed to say, also has one of the photos I took on it after the organisers asked if they could use it to help promote the event – hopefully I can get some more pics tomorrow with the new camera this time. I’m looking forward to wandering round with some friends poking into parts of my city that I don’t often get to see.

Doors Open

And as another Festival fades away (although the city is still busy with tourists – that ebbs and flows according to season but never actually stops) there are still more things to look forward to, including this year’s Doors Open Day on September 29th. That’s when many buildings, a lot of which the public normally don’t get into (or if they do there are parts they never normally see) allow people in free to explore their city and appreciate its culture, architecture and history – its really a great day, getting to see things in buildings you pass regularly but had never seen within. And I was quite pleased when I was asked if a couple of interior shots I took at last year’s Doors Open could be borrowed to be used for illustrating this year’s. You can get details from the Doors Open page on the Cockburn Association site here.