October 31, 2006

Early Sunsets

Now that clocks have gone back an hour, we're beginning to get used to the early sunsets. For the moment at least, it is light when I arrive at work but that won't be for much longer, and it's dark by the time I get home.

No doubt our doorbell will start ringing soon for kids out for Hallowe'en. It's a shame that the more traditional Scottish Hallowe'en has been usurped somewhat by the American version. Kids talk about trick or treating instead of guising; they use pumpkins instead of the more traditional turnips and many kids expect to get sweets or money for nothing...in Scotland they are expected to come into the house and do a little performance, sing a song or tell a joke before they get their rewards. Find out more about the roots of Hallowe'en or Samhuin here.

October 30, 2006


Tours at the Scottish Parliament are conducted in English, but there is plenty of information about the parliament and its workings available in the main tourist languages such as french, german, Spanish and Italian and the main community languages like Mandarin, Cantonese, Urdu and Punjabi.

October 29, 2006

Crown Room

This is the building in the Castle where you'll find the Honours of Scotland and the Stone of Destiny. They form the centrepiece of a permanent exhibition about the Kings and Queens of Scots and about the role of the honours and the stone in coronation ceremonies. Both the Honours (hidden from the puritan Cromwellian armies and then forgotten for a century) and the Stone of Destiny (stolen by King Edward of England in 1296 and kept by the English for 700 years) have had interesting and chequered histories.

October 28, 2006

Scottish Crown Jewels

The Honours of Scotland, or our Crown Jewels are on display at Edinburgh Castle. The honours consist of the Crown, the Sword and the Sceptre. The crown was made in 1540 from gold melted down from the previous one. The sword was a gift from Pope Julius II to King James IV in 1507. The sceptre, made in 1494, was gifted to King James IV by Pope Alexander VI.

October 27, 2006

Balmoral Hotel

The building you see in the centre of the photo is the Balmoral Hotel on Princes Street, one of Edinburgh's top hotels. It occupies a perfect city centre location on the junction with North Bridge and has very friendly doormen standing by the entrance. Given the hotel's location, so close to Waverley Station, the clock on the clocktower runs about 2-3 minutes fast so that people hurry to catch their trains, and hopefully, the trains can leave on time. I did say hopefully!

October 26, 2006

Old Town and Railway

The railway line into Waverley station effectively marks the border between the Old Town and the New Town. Hree you can see a part of Princes Street Gardens, the railway lines which are pretty well hidden from view until you're very close, and some of the buildings from Market Street and the Mound in the background.

October 25, 2006

St David's Street

Coming back into the city centre, we have a view down St David's Street and onto St Andrew's Square. Naturally, the patron saint of Scotland should get his own square while the Welsh saint just gets a wee side street! In the background you can see the buidlings of the New Town and right down to the Firth of Forth and across to Fife.

October 24, 2006

Museum of Scotland

The Museum of Scotland is another example of modern architecture sitting among the more traditional parts of Edinburgh, and it's another building you either like or loathe. Prince Charles apparently resigned from the trustees committee overseeing the design of the new museum when this building was chosen. And at the official opening, which was on a Wednesday, when asked what he thought about the new museum, he apparently said, "I never talk about architecture on Wednesdays." The circular tower part of the museum houses a fantastic restaurant with superb views to the castle.

October 23, 2006

Royal Museum

Hey folks, I'm back. Had a lovely time in Greece, despite the nasty storm which hit the Greek islands on Tuesday and Wednesday of last week. I'll post photos to flickr sometime this week when I get a minute to myself. Got home at 11.30 last night, then back to work this morning in the dark. It didn't begin to get light until about 7.30am...winter is coming!
Anyway, back to Edinburgh...this is the Royal Museum, a very grand, traditional building on Chambers Street, next to the Old College and just across from the Sheriff Courts. Tomorrow, I'll show you what they built next door...caused a royal storm!

October 13, 2006

Old College

Old College houses the Faculty of Law of the University of Edinburgh. It also plays host to the Europa Institute where I did part of my degree towards the end of the last century, a splendid library called the Playfair which is a very off-putting place to sit exams as you spend half your time looking at the beautiful ceilings, busts and bookcases. There is also the small Talbot Rice Art Gallery nestled in the back of the building. It is a handsome building and is certainly one of the city's educational landmarks.

It's half term now at school and I'm off to Greece for 8 days. I haven't got round to organising my posts when I'm away so there will be a brief hiatus in service. I will be back posting on Monday 23rd October.

October 12, 2006

The Big Gap

In December 2002, fire gutted one of the buildings which stood on the Cowgate and South Bridge and we are still left with the gaping hole that was left behind. The fire began in a nightclub and there are doubts as to whether it was an accident. It's a real shame that somebody's greed or desperation for insurance money saw the condemnation and demolition of an entire group of tightly packed buildings and closes in the Old Town. You can see pictures from the fire here. Hopefully re-building will begin on the site soon.

October 11, 2006


The Cowgate is one of the low streets in the Old Town. Two main thoroughfares running north to south in Edinburgh, are in fact bridges going over this part of town. You can see George IV Bridge in the background. Many of the buildings on the High Street and Chambers Street actually start at ground level on the Cowgate. It is the home of a lot of student pubs and nightclubs and it gets pretty noisy here on a Friday and saturday night.

October 10, 2006

The Sheriff Courts

The current building for Edinburgh's Sheriff Court was opened in 1995. It sits in the Old Town with the entrance from Chambers Street opposite the Royal and Scottish Musuems. Given the way the Old Town is built on hills and bridges, you actually enter the building on Level 4. The cells are down at the Cowgate level (level 1) and it's quite a walk up the stairs from the cell area, especially to Court 10, where we were, which is on level 5. It was the first time I'd been inside the courts and I'd be interested to go back to watch a real trial some time.

October 09, 2006

In solitary

That's me locked behind the door, and below is a wee taste of the kind of en-suite facilities the prisoners in the solitary cells enjoy.

October 08, 2006

The cells

We were shown down to the cells several floors beneath the court level. I'll never forget those long stairs leading from the dock in the court room down into the cell area below. It was really interesting to see something you would never normally see, and having our head boy locked in a cell, even if only for a minute or two was amusing. As for the cases the pupils enacted, the first was a drugs case (possession with intent to supply) which our team was prosecuting. The verdict ended in 'not proven' (a controversial verdict which is unique to Scots law). In the second case, we were defending a dangerous driving charge and the accused was found not guilty.

October 07, 2006

Inside Court 10

Today I was at the Sheriff Court in Edinburgh. The court is not normally open on a Saturday, but today was a special event organised by the Faculty of Advocates and the Education Department of the City Council, whereby the lawyers, court officers, jury members and witnesses were all high school pupils from 8 different schools across the city particiapting in mock trials. The courtroom was real, the judge was real and the kids were fantastic. I'll describe more about the cases and processes in the coming days. Given that photography and filming is not allowed in Scottish courts, this was a golden opportunity for me to bring you something you wouldn't normally see.

October 06, 2006

Chapel Entrance

The entrance at Rosslyn Chapel does have a few carvings, but only a small amount compared to what you'll find inside. The building has been undergoing structural works for a couple of years now and is covered in scaffolding...the pictures you saw in the film of the chapel in its surroundings were digitally enhanced! Hopefully the works will be successfully completed soon so that people can enjoy the chapel both inside and out.

October 05, 2006

More Rosslyn

In answer to Kris yesterday, no I didn't wander around with the book in my hand...but more and more visitors to Rosslyn Chapel do come armed with a copy of Dan Brown's best-seller. Still, due to the publicity generated by the book and the film, more and more tourists make the effort to come out to this quiet corner of Midlothian.

October 04, 2006

Rosslyn Chapel - more carvings

After another trip out to Rosslyn Chapel, and the first since reading the Da Vinci Code, I could spend hours looking at the amazing carvings which adorn every last inch of space on the walls, columns and ceiling of the Chapel. The chapel is well worth the 40 minute bus-ride from the centre of the city.

October 03, 2006

Edinburgh Rock!

From this photo of a part of the castle, you can see the way the castle was built into the rock. Also, the stone used to build the castle blends into the colour of the rock as well. Interestingly, the castle was built on top of an extinct volcano...Scotland while having a very interesting geological history is practically geologically dead these days! Edinburgh rock is something else though!!

October 02, 2006

Polish Influx

Since Poland joined the EU in 2004, young Poles have come to Edinburgh in their droves to work and save money. Recently, businesses catering to the Polish community have opened up, particularly in the Leith area, where I live. We now have Polish delis, Polish restaurants, Polish bars, Polish club nights and Polish Mass at the Catholic Church. You can also get Polish newspapers and Polish beer in the Pakistani owned corner shops - cross cultural mingling at its finest! It is thought that there are approximately 40,000 Poles living in Edinburgh - almost 10% of the city's population, and certainly on the streets and on the buses it has quickly become the city's second language.

October 01, 2006

DP Theme Day: Taxis

Taxis is the theme for October, and Edinburgh Daily Photo is happy to be among the growing band of DP blogs who come together on the 1st of each month to share a particular theme. I've posted Edinburgh taxis before because they're pretty colourful and fun. Most cabs are painted with adverts for something or other, but they're obviously expensive to paint or re-paint as I still see a cab going around painted out in an advert for EU Jet, an airline that went bust about 18 months ago!

Go and see what cabs are like in other parts of the world.
1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7 - 8 - 9 - 10 - 11 - 12 - 13 - 14 - 15 - 16 - 17 - 18 - 19 - 20 - 21 - 22 - 23 - 24 - 25 - 26 - 27 - 28 - 29 - 30 - 31 - 32 - 33 - 34 - 35 - 36 - 37 - 38 - 39 - 40 - 41 - 43 - 44