Yesterday was quite interesting: this is Edinburgh's Open Doors weekend, when various buildings and gardens not usually open to the public are made available to visit. We've never had time to take advantage of this before, but yesterday we had no commitments so we devoted the day to visiting six places. The first place we went wasn't the house in the picture above, but a newly-built house quite near us that we've seen under construction and wondered what it was. This area is very posh (we're in the less posh bit that borders it) and this house was built in part of the large garden of a much older, very big house. The new house too looked puzzlingly large. My mum thought it was going to be a block of flats but I didn't think it looked quite big enough for that. Anyway, it turns out to belong to the Christian Science church, and it's an retirement home / administrative centre / study centre, with six beds (and currently three residents). I didn't quite have the nerve to take photos, but in my (uninformed) view, it's a wonderful example of good modern architecture. It has wonderful views over the Pentland Hills from huge picture windows in the sitting rooms on the first floor. There's a very spacious feeling inside with lots of white walls, internal glass - on the sides of the staircases, for example - and various little nooks for armchairs to give a feeling of privacy even in communal spaces. And views from one part of the house to another. What a wonderful place to end one's days. Though our cats were there, all the glass would have little nose-marks along it...
The second place we went to was extremely different: a conversion of what had originally been a shop into a home, done by a young architect for himself and his wife. He'd put in a mezzanine floor for a little studio and done various other space-creating tricks. Again, I didn't like to take photos. It was very different - small and interesting but without the wonderful light and views.
Then we went to the Dower House in Corstorphine, which is shown in the picture above. I've written about this house before, though never been inside. It was built in the 1570s and is now a heritage centre, with lots of photos of Corstorphine - now a district in Edinburgh - as it was when it was a village in a rural area. Interesting but rather sad to see the fields where now there are houses - though I dare say life was pretty hard in those days.
Next we visited the office of Ove Arup, built in the 1960s and recently modernised and extended. This is the picture with the coloured chairs. It's light and airy and uses the latest environmentally sound techology, such as lots of small light wells with lenses (is that right?) that throw light into the room. It was a sunny day, but according to the young man who showed us round, there's a lot of light even on a dull day.
Next, we visited this lovely house above - alas, we didn't get into the house, just the garden - that turned out to be the home of the Governer of Edinburgh Castle. I suggested to Mr Life that he might like to apply for the job when it became vacant, because I would like to live there if I don't become a Christian Scientist and get a room in that new house - but he pointed out that the current occupant is a Major General in the army. Mr Life felt he might not qualify for such a post. Ah well.
Here's the walled garden. Wouldn't you love that? - shades of "The Secret Garden". Yearn...
It has a river flowing through it, with the wall becoming a bridge.
Then today we visited another house - just someone's home - which backs on to the beach (thus) and has had an extension built to take advantage of the views. One can see why. Again, I didn't like to take photos of the actual house.
I have to say that for a nosy person like me, it's such fun to go and visit people's houses! It's very noble of them to allow people in.
And then we came home to our house, which is considerably less impressive than some of the above but has the advantage of being ours. And I took a photo of some of my pots. It's getting chilly at night now and one of these days, the frost will kill these plants off it I don't bring them inside. Such a pity about winter.