A Beautiful City
The Edinburgh Public Library has an exhibit called ‘The Write Stuff’. It is a photoessay of some of the most famous, current writers in Britain; current meaning within the last twenty years, since some of them are deceased now. The writers of note were photographed by Gordon Wright, who is an award winning photographer himself. He started out as a hobby, photographing authors and then it turned into a profession. The exhibit was a photograph of at least forty authors with a bio of each one. It was fascinating to see how many of them were poets as well as novelists. A sample of the names included Ian Rankin, William McIlvanney, J.K. Rowling, and Liz Lochhead, plus dozens others. Disappointingly, none of the authors were specifically children’s writers except Rowling, who of course wrote the Harry Potter books. In reading the bios of each of these authors, one is continually confronted with the information that some write in English and Scots, while others write in English, Scots and Gaelic. I was not certain whether this was referring to Scottish Gaelic or Irish Gaelic and if it was indeed Scottish Gaelic, then what is Scots? Never being one to hold back on my questions, I asked the staff librarian in charge of the exhibit. The Gaelic is definitely Scotch Gaelic, but that is a language unto its own. Scots however, is also a language and some argue it is a dialect of English, but it is accepted as a separate language. The grammatical rules are the same as English, but the vocabulary can be quite different. She apologized that she could not explain it further and was embarrassed that she could not. She said she herself only knows small phrases of either Scots or Scotch Gaelic. She did offer while I continued to browse the museum to find sites on the Internet where I may have my questions about the Scots language answered. Since some of you are or maybe from a Scottish heritage, I thought some of you may be interested also, so I am including them here.
Scots Language Society www.lallans.co.uk
Online Scottish Dictionary www.scots-online.org
The other part of the library that I was hoping to see was the library itself. The exhibit was in a building across the street from the library. To enter the library, you need to present an identification showing that you are a resident of Great Britain or purchase a library card. The main reason that I wanted to tour it was to visit the Children’s Library. My new found friend the staff member at the exhibit explained that there is no Children’s Library as such. What they have is a section for children only. With that information, I did not find the need to buy a card. If they had a specific Children’s Library and librarians in the area, I would have wanted to discuss some of the current titles that are on the market for children. One of my hobbies when we travel is to purchase a children’s book in the native language of the country. I will be looking for a children’s book in Scots or Scotch Gaelic, before we leave.
One of the best bargains in Edinburgh is the Museum of Scotland. This museum opened in December of 1998 and its modern architecture is in juxtaposition to Victorian-era Royal Museum to which it is joined. Both museums are free entry with the exception of any special exhibits at the Royal Museum. The Museum of Scotland presents Scotland to the world with over 10,000 of the country’s most precious artifacts. Starting at Level Zero, which is the basement, you see the land that was before the country and the geological aspects. Working up to Level One, you see the country forming with clans and kingdoms starting with the Pict Kings and moving forward to Elizabeth II. Each floor upward, progresses in time from a sociological, technical, and historical perspective. We chose to take the free tour with the Docent Angus Mackay, who led us through Scottish history within an hour and a half, but only making us jealous that we did not have hours and the energy to devote to this captivating museum. Ron and I did take an extra hour after the tour to first visit the roof terrace, which has an incredible view of the city, but then to venture our separate ways for further explorations based on our own interests. They have multiple selections of restaurants from which to choose for tea or for a hearty large portioned meal at a reasonable cost.
The Royal Museum in reverse presents the world to Scotland. It was opened by Queen Victoria and has facts and artifacts that date back to the beginning of humankind to show the diversity of life and the ingenuity of humankind. Much of it is like other museums of Natural History, but this one presents the displays from the Scottish viewpoint. At one end of the entry way is a large sculpture that was created for the millennium by a group of four artists and a clockmaker. It is the millennium clock, which creates music every hour on the hour. The clock has something positive and negative incorporated into it to show the history of the last millennium. The website is www.sharmanka.co.uk . I have not tried the website yet, but it is my understanding that the clock is fully explained there. Assuming this is so, I definitely recommend that you spend a few minutes looking at this sight. The clock is a tremendous piece of art, but beside that piece of it, the thought about what should be included is beyond admirable.
Just to get out of the streets we have toured on tour buses and walked over and over again, we decided to get on a bus and ride it to the end of the route. Regardless of what bus we take, we can ride it back, but we will see another bit of the city. We hopped on a bus with our day pass ticket and rode the number 32 to the end. It took us through a number of residential neighborhoods starting at very middle class and progressing through lower middle class and then poverty level. It was an interesting experience and worth the time to see more of the city rather than the glamorous tourist sights.
Returning back to the point where we started at the train station, we asked information about a rail trip where we could go to see some of the countryside. He recommended a town called Stonehaven. It had the only castle in Scotland that is on a cliff. We will do that tomorrow. After finding the bus we needed to get back to our home area and we ordered Chinese for our late night supper.
As I am typing, Ron is busy working on our scrapbook. We bring magnetic pages with us and he puts in all of the entry tickets, stamps, bits of brochures, etc. to show where we have been. The usual pattern is that when we get home and the film is developed, these pages become the dividers between photo pages. Now, we don’t know when that will happen, but at least our daily adventures are chronicled in a colorful format to remind us of where we have been. I did have another roll of film developed onto a CD-Rom, but I am very disappointed with the quality. I am not certain whether I will spend the money to upload it to the web album or not.
One update on Mr. Map’s activities, he is now getting railroad maps to add to his collections. He has a couple of route maps and asked for one of the whole rail system of Great Britain, but they were only able to provide Scotland. Sometimes, I have to remove the map from his hand just so he doesn’t miss something that is happening at the moment. It keeps him busy and he could have worse interests, so c’est la vie.