June 30, 2006


The 'sun-screens' along the top of the entrance area to the parliament building provide a rather unusual shadow effect on the ground. They're supposed to be sun-screens, but are basically just another bizarre feature of the parliament building. You do get used to them though and after a while, you do grow to think it's all pretty cool, if a little bit eccentric!

June 29, 2006


One of the rather odd design features of the Scottish Parliament is these rather odd designs around the window. The arhcitect, Enric Miralles never said what they were before he died in 2000, but his widow, Nicola Benedetta-Tagliabue says that they are meant to resemble curtains. Others have suggested triggers for scalextric cars, while many women seem to think they look more like hair-dryers. Whatever you reckon, they are an interesting feature of a very original building.

June 28, 2006

Holyrood Palace

This is the Palace of Holyroodhouse, the Queen's official residence when she stays in Edinburgh. She used to have a brewery across the road from her, but her new neighbours as of 2004 have been the MSPs and staff of the Scottish Parliament. Democracy and monarchy eye each other up at Holyrood. Personally, I'm sure the Queen would have preferred the brewery! The flag flying above the Palace is the Lion Rampant, the rotal flag of Scotland.

June 27, 2006

Cow in the Airport

When I was at the airport the other night picking up our friends coming up from London, I was amused by another cow parade participant standing by the luggage carousel in domestic arrivals. A group of about 20 Japanese tourists arrived from Heathrow off the same plane and looked somewhat unsure of what it was doing there!

June 26, 2006

Andy Murray

With the start of Wimbledon today, I thought I'd show you this poster of our great tennis hope, Andy Murray in this poster campaign for milk. Andy is not only Scotland's number 1 tennis player, but has risen the rankings to be the British number 1 ahead of Tim Henman and Greg Rusedski. He is a passionate and popular player, at least with the Scottish press and crowds, and the very fact that a tennis player is being used in an advertising campaign in Scotland is something really quite unusual. We've never had a decent player to cheer for before. Let's hope Andy can bring some cheer to Scottish sport in what has been a pretty good year.

June 25, 2006

Easter Road

The sun is back out again today and I've been out playing the tourist with my friends who are up from London. Anyway, I'd always thought of Easter Road as rather a dull and mundane street, but I'd never seen its full length before as I'm usually in the car when I come over Abbeyhill. From here it actually looks quite nice and as it's such a clear day, you can see right out to the Firth of Forth. Think of me tonight everybody as at 11.30pm, I'll be boarding a coach with 3 other teachers and 40 twelve year-olds to go on a school trip to Paris. At a conservatibe estimate, it'll take about 17 hours to get there! While I'm away, Toyozo will be pushing the publish button for me.

June 24, 2006

Big Foot!

More public art from Edinburgh. Here is the giant foot situated outside St Mary's Cathedral. Nearby there is also a giant hand with a giant bug in it. Not quite sure what they're all about and neither does anyone else I know!

June 23, 2006


This was Midsummer's day in Princes Street Gardens! After the glorious weather we've had in recent weeks, the longest day of the year turned into a bit of disappointment with gale force winds, heavy rain and grey skies. A real 'dreich' day as we say in Scotland. As you can see from the picture, there was no-one relaxing in the gardens to enjoy these weather conditions!

June 22, 2006


This is not your typical tourist shot of Edinburgh, even though we do have Salisbury Crags in the background. What I'm trying to show is the council housing of Dumbiedykes which have some of the finest views in the city. This part of Edinburgh was a forgotten backwater for many years. The Queen was a near neighbour, but she wasn't often home and there wasn't much else in this part of the city centre apart from Moray House teacher training college. Then it was decided that the site for the Scottish Parliament would be just down the road and since then, money and business has poured into the area. These old rundown council flats now look very out of place among the posh hotels, trendy cafés and bars and the modern office buildings. Some unkind people wanted these blocks pulled down, but it's up to the council to ensure that these blocks are not forgotten when the cash for urban regeneration gets dished out.

June 21, 2006

Holyrood and Arthur's Seat

Looking at this picture, you'd be forgiven for thinking that I'd transported you to some rural castle in the Highlands of Scotland. But this is the top of Holyrood Palace, the Queen's official residence when she's in Edinburgh and the extinct volcano of Arthur's Seat in the background...all in central Edinburgh! It's lovely to be able to escape the city without even leaving the city!

June 20, 2006

Queen Victoria

This statue of Queen Victoria stands proudly at the foot of Leith Walk in the working class heart of Edinburgh. I can't imagine old Vic is too happy about being stuck on a plinth oustide a Woolworths and a betting shop, but that's where she is. I find it a rather odd place for her given that most other former monarchs have statues of themselves in the New Town or somewhere like that. Does anyone know if there is some strong bond between Queen Victoria and Leith?

June 19, 2006

Bus Station

Edinburgh's Bus Station used to be an utter disgrace and a true embarrassment to the city. Thankfully it was renovated over the turn of the century into a modern, airy transport hub fit for the nations's capital with part of the site also being turned over for retail. Next to the bus station, we now have a Harvey Nichols department store as well as a number of designer label shops. The location is also very convenient, only 2 minutes slow walk from Princes Street and under 5 minutes walk from the railway station.

June 18, 2006

Scott Monument from above

Doing the tea survey yesterday did provide me with the chance to see the centre of Edinburgh from a different perspective. I've shown the Scott Monument from before, but this photo lets you see the dimensions of it a little better and the way it really stands out in its surroundings. Thank you teawoman for inviting me up to the 7th floor of the Ramada Hotel!

June 17, 2006

Tea Survey

A rather unusual photo today to show the rather unsual market research survey I was talked into. I don't usually stop, but I had time on my hands while I was up town and the woman seemed friendly enough so I gave her 10 minutes of my time to answer questions on my tea drinking habits. Not content with asking me questions on the street, I was taken up to the 7th floor of the Ramada Hotel on Princes Street. As well as questions, I actually had to make six cups of tea using different teabags while she timed how long I left the teabags in and noted how much milk I added. Then I had to taste two cups of tea and answer questions on them, all the while trying to pretend that I care whether or not she wrote down that it was 'somewhat too strong' or 'much too strong'. Anyway, I got a free bar of chocolate and as I was seven floors up on Princes Street, I took the opportunity to go out to the balcony and take some photos! Any strange market research experiences out there?

June 16, 2006

Royal Bank of Scotland

This rather grand looking building is the paper headquarters of the Royal Bank of Scotland, one of the ten largest banking corporations in the world. Most of the HQ work is actually done in less grand looking office buildings, but this address on St Andrew's Square gives a better impression than some faceless business park on the edge of town. There is still a branch inside and if you're looking for somewhere to change money, whether from euros, dollars or even from English notes to Scottish notes, then the sumptious banking hall inside is worth a visit. The RBS is also a major sponsor in the world of sport, investing heavily in Europe's premier rugby tournament, the annual six nations championship involving Scotland, Wales, Ireland, France, Italy and England.

June 15, 2006

Religious Protest

We've just got rid of a pair of Mormons from the door...imagine disturbing someone when the World Cup is on!? I mean, they must expect to get even shorter thrift than usual! Anyway it reminded me of this nutcase standing outside one of the central cinemas protesting about the Da Vinci Code. I respect his right to stand there and protest, but it's very difficult to get any kid of coherent, sensible argument from this kind of guy. There was a similar guy who walked around the university area carrying a sandwich board with all sorts of 'you'll burn in hell' type slogans. I wonder if he's still there?! Anyone watch Father Ted? Does this guy not make you think of Ted and Dougal standing outside the Craggy Island cinema going "down with this sort of thing!"?

June 14, 2006

St Paul's and St George's

This church, St Paul's and St George's Episcopalian Church on the junction of Queen Street and Broughton Street, has a rather unusual roof design. Most people who walk past this church day in day out probably never look up to enjoy the architectural delights that the church has to offer...and to be honest, until I started doing this blog, I was probably one of them!

June 13, 2006

Leith Walk

This is Leith Walk, one of Edinburgh's main arteries and a street full of character with all sorts of little shops ranging from the ubiquitous Chinese and Indian takeaways to charity shops, mortgage advisors, traditional toyshops, hardware stores, shops selling saris and most recently Polish delis and restaurants. You can also see the very traditional Scottish town architecture of the tenement flats. These buildings would have been built in the late 19th century and most tenements will have two, three or four flats on each floor, depending on the size of the flats. The central stairwell is communal property and in theory should be looked after by everyone in the stair. Sadly, in many tenements, no-one takes responsibility for ensuring the stairs are kept clean. In days gone by, and even when I was a student, there was a bit of wood that got passed from flat to flat. When you got the bit of wood, it was your turn to clean the stairwell and if it wasn't up to the standard of the tenement matriarch, you soon knew about it!

June 12, 2006

Fringe tickets on sale today

Today was the opening day for tickets sales for the Edinburgh fringe festival - the largest arts festival in the world. This photo is an archive photo from last year's Fringe Sunday advertising a South African play. There are more than 2000 shows every day during the festival, the population of the city doubles and its is truly a fantastic atmosphere. Hint from a local - get here early in the festival so you can go to the preview shows for £5 a ticket or get the 2 for 1 deals! The only trouble now is that as the festival kicks off, it's time to go back to school as the new term starts mid-August!

June 11, 2006


As it was such a lovely day today, we went for a wee day-trip to the beach so I'm bringing you today's photo from the lovely harbour village of Elie in the east neuk of Fife, just across the Firth of Forth from Edinburgh. We had a lovely picnic barbecue with venison and cranberry sausages and Aberdeen Angus steak burgers among other things and then went for a paddle along one of the beaches. Lots of people were brave enough to go swimming, including this guy braving the cold and conserving his dignity as he goes to join his mate in the water. Even a few seconds with my feet in the water was enough for me...after all, it's the North Sea! that said, I did do it when i was a kid!

June 10, 2006

Hope she said yes

I don't know if this is for real or not, but if it is real, I sincerely hope Emma said yes, otherwise Adrian must feel a bit of an idiot every time he passes this building just off St Andrew's Square. I've never heard of or seen this kind of proposal before anywhere so he would certainly get points for originality. If it's not real, I don't really get what it could be advertising. Any ideas?

June 09, 2006

Scotland at the World Cup

Given that the World Cup starts today, I thought that this would be a timely post. As the Scottish national team will not be gracing Germany with our presence this time around, many Scottish fans are lending their support to Trinidad & Tobago! Even our prime Minister Jack McConell has gone on record as saying he will not be supporting England, but instead will be backing teams with players playing in Scotland, such as T&T. T&T have five Scottish based players in their squad, including Collin Samuel from my team Dundee United, and the guy on this poster, Jason Scotland who plays for my hometown team of St Johnstone! What are the chances of Scotland scoring the winner when T&T plays England! There is even an unofficial Scotland World Cup song and you cannot find a T&T shirt with Scotland written on the back for love nor money in Scotland. Supply has not been able to keep up with demand.

June 08, 2006


Hey folks, no photo today or yesterday as I've had real trouble uploading to blogger recently. Yesterday the server was down for maintenance when I tried to post and today I was unable to upload and am now unable to access blogger using mozilla firefox. I'm writing this using safari, which won't let me upload photos either! Hopefully normal service will resume tomorrow for the start of the World Cup!

June 06, 2006


Lots of people took advantage of the gorgeous weather today to spend time relaxing in Princes Street Gardens. With such a fantastic backdrop, it really is a wonderful place to lie back with a book and enjoy the sunshine and warmth. Many Scots however are so enthusiastic to see the sun that they strip off and don't take the same kind of precautions that they would on holiday. They seem to forget that it IS the same sun they get when they go to Spain and they still need to put on sun cream!

June 05, 2006

Portable Beer Kegs

At the rugby last week, the queues at the beer stalls were lessened considerably by the arrival of these wonderful guys and girls with beer kegs on their backs and plastic pint tumblers stored where the sun doesn't shine, at least, that's how it looked. It was the first time I'd seen these portable kegs and what a great idea they are too. Notice the guy in the background modelling the casual kilt look!

June 04, 2006


This rather unusual curved footbridge links the St James' Shopping centre with an underground car park on the other side of the road. The design is somewhat controversial and it is probably equally loved and loathed by Edinburgh residents. It does stand out, but although it is close to some beautiful historic buildings, it is in a fairly modern business part of town and personally, I rather like it.

June 03, 2006

Scottish Wedding Guests

At any wedding in Scotland, the vast majority of the male guests will wear the traditional Scottish attire of the kilt with everything that goes with it. Wearing the kilt has definitely become much more popular over the last 20 years or so, and indeed it is often worn informally as well when attending international football or rugby matches too. I ordered a kilt not so long ago and it's in the process of being made. the whole outfit is going to cost me a little under £1000, but it will last pretty much my whole life and it will certainly get used. Most visitors to Scotland like seeing men walking around in kilts, and there is always the temptation to know if the wearer is a true Scotsman or not!

June 02, 2006


Sales of Mars bars in Scotland have undergone a massive slump since they re-branded themselves as 'Believe' bars. Their campaign was to believe that England can win the World Cup, however their rather silly anglo-centric marketing department rather forgot that not all of the UK will be backing the English team when the World Cup starts next week. So with egg on their faces, they put these adverts up in Scotland. The Scottish public is still not impressed and people are boycotting 'believe' bars in their droves.

June 01, 2006

Scotland 66 Barbarians 19

It was a glorious evening as we settled into our seats at Murrayfield, Scotland's national rugby stadium in western Edinburgh, to watch this test match between Scotland and the Barbarians, an invitational select touring side. Around 25,000 went to watch the game which meant the stadium was less than half-full, but it was fine atmosphere and the Scotland boys really put on a show. Nine tries, some great flowing rugby and 66 points on the board, 31 of them scored by this man, Chris Paterson. The photo shows him converting one of his tries. You can see more photos from the match and around the stadium at my flickr. Murrayfield is also one of the host venues for the 2007 Rugby World Cup to be held in France. We will play New Zealand here and backed by a partisan Scottish crowd, we might just beat them for the first time ever.