Thursday, July 30, 2009


I was in town today and thought you might like to see some pictures of Edinburgh. Just to let you imagine the layout if you don't know it: there's an ancient castle on a rock, and at its foot on the north side are gardens and then the main street, Princes Street - with shops on one side and those gardens on the other. The street in the photo above is North Bridge, which is literally a bridge over streets below it; North Bridge is at right angles to the east end of Princes Street. The big building in the centre of this picture is the Balmoral Hotel, which when I was young (and for years before that) was called the North British Hotel - a relic of the time when Scotland was sometimes known as North Britain*. The Balmoral is at the luxury end of the Edinburgh's hotel accommodation.

* Note from Mr Life:
You've missed out a step re the naming of the hotel. This is where you needed to consult a railway historian. The hotel is named after the North British Railway company who originally built it to serve their passengers. The railway was named because it operated in what the Victorians called "North Britain" - or at least the south eastern corner thereof. The hotel continued to be called the NB whilst "railway" owned and became "The Balmoral" when it became de-nationalised like the railways. Thought that you would want to know this!

(I did kind of know this. We'll get him doing his own blog at this rate. What could he call it? Between the Tracks? Along the Lines?)

This is taken peering over the Bridge to the east. The smudgy thing in the foreground isn't a river but just the top of the wall; I'm only 5'3" or possibly less and couldn't reach high enough to avoid it. The photo shows one of Edinburgh's seven hills, Calton Hill.

The Balmoral again. Note that it wasn't raining. Yet.

The Bridge wall wasn't so high at this point. There's the Castle in the distance, on the far right.

That smudgy wall again as we look west over to Princes Street with the Scott Monument (for Sir Walter Scott) in the middle, a bit like the Eiffel Tower but much smaller, and some horrible 60s architecture to the right.

And looking east from the Bridge - this is a terrible photo, looking into the sun, but I wanted to show you our main city hill, Arthur's Seat. It's really quite near, though it doesn't look it here.

Now I've walked down into Princes Street. Here's the Castle on the skyline, the art galleries looking like Greek temples below it to the right, the Assembly Hall (belonging to the Church of Scotland) with that towerish thing to the left.

The Bank of Scotland on the left. We used to be proud of it but... hmm... . I should have taken a picture of the hotel that Daughter 2 has been working on - but I didn't. Silly me. It's just to the left of the Bank.

Now things deteriorate. Edinburgh City Council have decided to install tramlines and the city is a mass of holes. Here's our principal shopping street, elegantly presented for the tourists. (The trams are scheduled for 2012. "I'll never see them," says my mum. I bet she will.) Castle in background.

More updiggings as I wander along.

So scenic. At least there's no traffic.

A hole. Not a lot happening.

Still I wander along Princes Street. Still nothing much happens to the holes.

There's an art gallery (like temple). The street going up the the Assembly Hall is called the Mound, because it was made from a mound of earth accumulated from digging out the swampy bit to make the gardens. Or so they say. Look, a chap in a safety vest, walking.

Another chap, walking in the opposite direction. It's still not raining.

A chap contemplating.

Several men standing around, one leaning on a spade. 2012, did you say? 2020, maybe?

The Castle looks lovely but the traffic cones really don't.

I turned my back on Princes Street and the Castle and walked uphill to the parallel street, George Street. Standing there, looking down towards Queen Street and beyond, you're aware of how near we are to the sea. You can see the coast of Fife on the other side of the Forth estuary.

Then I went to have my eyes tested (they seem to be ok; no need for specs yet apart from my £7 supermarket ones for small print) and got the bus home. It had rained a bit but the sun had come out by the time I got into the front garden. These roses smell wonderful.

And raindrops on roses always improve them. Well, they do until they turn them into a soggy mess. But the sun's out again now. And I'm off to have coffee with a friend.


  1. No photos of o'erflowing rubbish bins? :)

    Lovely pics... Edinburgh is so beautiful.

  2. Thanks for all those lovely pictures Isabelle - it makes me want to come back right away. I do think all that construction bothers you natives much more than us tourists -- we're so busy looking at all the beautiful buildings we don't even notice the cones and barricades. Kind of like when you get to know the beauty inside a person, you don't notice the big wart on their nose! ;-)

  3. I love the photos! Very Beautiful!!

  4. Our visit to Edinburgh was almost 40 yearts ago! Loved it then, and thezse photos bought back memories. What a beautiful city.

    Thanks for Mr Life's photos! One day we would love to visit there:-)

  5. Anonymous10:40 pm

    I'd like to visit one day, but now I think I'll wait until after 2012!

  6. Isabelle on tiptoe made me smile! Didn't realize you were such an itty bitty little person! Edinburgh looks like a place I could live and love---as long as I had a good supply of woollies and warm shoes and, of course, hot water bottles!

  7. Thank you for showing us the lovely photos of your city. I had not realised until fairly recently that Edinburgh is on the sea.
    It seems to me a good idea to have a tram system. We rely on buses and trains here. Our topography is difficult, the infrastructure has been neglected, everyone moans, nobody approves of any proposed improvement, so to me it seems an excellent thing to actually create what should be a workable system. (I grew up in Melbourne, which kept its trams, and they seem to me to work very well.)

  8. I must go again.

    Trouble is, I still have nightmare memories of my last visit - my car overheating at around 5pm on Princes Street causing me to have to stop in a bus lane (aaaargh, so much traffic and so many big buses all around my little knackered Metro) and eventually hiccuping round a corner into a side street. As a very baby driver of 20 years, it nearly scarred me for life!!

    I think I could cope now....I think....

    Lesley x

  9. Beautiful! I love seeing where other people live.

  10. Thank you for the photos! So much more interesting than here, where there isn't a castle to be found.

  11. How will Edinburgh cope during the month of August, with its huge influx of visitors for the music festivals, including the Edinburgh Tattoo, with the street in such chaos? Could make things rather difficult for all concerned.

    We have such fond memories of our few days in Edinburgh in 1993, and our visit to the Tattoo.

  12. I was laughing at your pesky smudgy wall! Thanks for the virtual tour.

  13. So lovely to see all these lovely pics of Edinburgh. Way back in about 1972 I went to Edinburgh College of Commerce (I think now Napier College) so I spent 2 years in Edinburgh - living in Sighthill with friends in Corstorphine. My rambling about Banana Splits et al was a tearoom which was about half way along Princes Street where you went upstairs and could order Knickerbocker Glories and Banana Splits. I have it in my head that it was called Fullers but I might be totally way off! It was about half way along Princes Street according to my 35 year old memory! Still on track to catch up in mid October - but will email you. Z xx

  14. I really love Edinburgh but haven't been for years. I should rectify that situation!

  15. Thank you, Isabelle, for this stroll about your beautiful city, complete with construction. I'm sure the castle and other wonderful sights would take all my attention and I'd hardly notice the construction.
    Oh, and raindrops on roses...lovely...but where are the whiskers on kittens?

  16. What a beautiful city--apart fromt he holes. Sydney has lots of hole too.

    "Mr Life's Lines"??

  17. I was going to say Life Lines too!

    Or maybe The Other Side of the Tracks.

    Thank you so much for the (mostly) scenic pictures of Edinburgh. I was there in 1986 and liked it enormously.

    I was thinking of thirdcat wandering the streets of Edinburgh at the same time as you and wondering if you passed each other by without realising.

    I was also surprised to hear you are 5'3" (like me). I always think of you as a tall willowy person.

  18. Ha ha! "Tall and willowy" says Suse. Unfortunately I'm neither of these things. Possibly not even 5 foot 3 either - I was guessing on the optimistic side there.

    Nice to know that I can write in a tall and willowy way, though.

  19. Isabelle! Shame on you! We are both 5' 10" and willowy as all get out and it is naughty of you to suggest otherwise!

    A relative of my husband's (a sheriff who left the bench somewhat suddenly recently) described the Scott Monument as a gothic spaceship, poised to launch into Jenners. I always quite liked that.