7.18.2007

Edinburgh; I Swoon

**best read with The Proclaimers "Sunshine on Leith" playing in the background**
Still feeling Potty........
JK Rowling lives in Edinburgh and I must say that it really is a most Potterish city. Most of it looks fairly normal at street level, but if you look up at the top of most buildings, there are the most bizarre gargoyles and fair maidens sprouting out of every gutter and corbel. It reminds me of the Muggle world with the magical world just around the corner, just barely disguising itself; breaking out in unlikely places. And the older, Castle side of town is fairly stuffed with bizarre curly-cue streets. Diagon Alley (and Knockturn Alley) all seem to be just out of sight, maybe through that courtyard over there.........
I think Edinburgh is in my top 5 favourite cities world-wide.
I list them in no particular order:
Edinburgh, London, San Francisco, Budapest, Rome.
Cities that did not make the cut include: Milan (Italian Detroit), Florence (City of Humanism & Hubris), Bradford (sorry, Krista!), and Exeter (what a sad place, bombed to bits in WW2, rebuilt absolutely horribly.) I of course leave out the obvious, namely Las Vegas, San Jose and Fresno.
The Stench of Hops & Barley
But Edinburgh: I was so completely transported today while I was out for a run. The weather was singularly uncharacteristic for late July, foggy, soppy, sprinkling and even slightly humid. "Hmmm," I mused," This is feeling Scottish." As I rounded a bend, inexplicably, the smell came to me-the distinctly Edinburgh smell of hops and barley and yeast. Like good beer and bread at a pub in Lothian Road. I tell you, it almost made me weep.
B and I have a great memory of seeing George MacDonald's The Princess and the Goblin performed as a pantomime a couple of days before Christmas at the Royal Lyceum Theatre right off Castle Terrace in the West End. We walked in the fabulous Princes Street Gardens and it began to snow. It was so unbelievably romantic, we forgot for a time the gangs, the Neds (non-educated-delinquents), the alcoholism & the sense of hopelessness that at times seemed to pervade the culture. Edinburgh will always have a warm spot in my heart, though, for this was the first city in Europe I ever visited-as part of a high school theatre company; performing at the Fringe Festival. If anyone's interested, it was Woody Allen's God:A Play. I stage-managed.
And by the by, a nod to Julian Pye, who took the most excellent photo of the gargoyle jutting off the Sir Walter Scott Memorial (that's the dragony looking one on the right.)
And finally a blog recommendation: reddotbluedot. Done by the most creative Jessica, an architecture student in Edinburgh. I want to hear what she thinks of Exeter's post-war architecture.............

6 comments:

Mum said...

Funny, I don't remember Exeter as being all that bad. Maybe because it's the site of my precious memory of the two, freshly showered little boys at hostel enquiring as to if I had had a "looovlie sleep".
I think my list of 'didn't quite make the cut' would include Aberdeen (could be because I was sick with that crummy cold) Just didn't like the "Granite City" so much. Just didn't grab me. Hmmm. One woman's Exeter is another woman's Aberdeen-
XO-Mum

Camille said...

ooooh, I think I need to book a flight.

jessica said...

wow, i want to live in edinburgh after that! oh, oh i do! though there has been little sunshine on leith in the past few days i hear (leith is apparently twinned with rio de janeiro now). i never thought about it in potter terms, but you've hit on something...there is a definite break in the city, the old and slightly mysterious and magical old town and then the rows of privet drives that surround the city. though if there wasn't a planning department at the council it probably wouldn't have whatever charm it has now.

exeter conjures images of stair climbing, car parks and ice cream!

what about glasgow? somewhere in the middle?

Franny said...

I have never been to Edinburgh, but for some reason I know I want to live there. Maybe I should go check it out first... I'd like to think there will be some museum or library desperately in need of a recent library school grad (um, in a few years) from the US to fully appreciate the Scottishness of their collection. Also, I think I'm ready for it because, when they put subtitles over Scottish people on television, I never read them.

I am going to Budapest in November, can you blog about that next ? I want to know what you have to say about it.

Rosa said...

Well, Fran, I must say that after a year in Scotland, I was very pleased to discover that I could sit through an entire sermon in church and understand 97% of it! My first Sunday at our church in Largs I thought that the man reading the announcements was choking! (Honestly, I kept waiting for someone to bring him a glass of water.) By the end of the year, no problem! His name is Dave. He is very droll. Anyway, this is a valuable first step. You're on your way!
I'll try to cook something up on Budapest soon. You do know, don't you, that the Hungarian language is descended from Troll?

jessica said...

i know you're away now, but whilst i was away i heard that a whole bunch of stuff has been demolished at exeter. just to continue the conversation, three months later. the princesshay has been redeveloped, i don't know if this is the part you were talking about, never having been.

Read Your Way Through the Garden: Choice Tomes From Garden Literature

  • A Book of Salvias by Betsy Clebsch
  • Botany for Gardeners by Brian Capon
  • Making Bentwood Trellises by Jim Long
  • RHS Encyclopedia of Plants & Flowers
  • Rose Primer: An Organic Approach to Rose Selection & Care by Orin Martin
  • Start With the Soil by Grace Gershuny
  • Sunset Western Garden Book
  • Sunset Western Landscaping Book
  • The Book of Garden Secrets by Patent & Bilderback
  • The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Botany
  • the Gardener's Table: A Guide to Natural Vegetable Growing and Cooking by Richard Merrill & Joe Ortiz
  • The Gardener's Year by Karel Capek
  • The Hutchinson Dictionary of Plant Names: Common & Botanical
  • We Made A Garden by Margaret Fish

lotsa latin: rosa's botanical & etymological ruminations

  • vespertinus: flowers in the evening
  • vernalis:spring
  • veni vidi nates calcalvi: we came, we saw, we kicked butt. This was printed on a T shirt I bought at Abbot's Thrift many years ago. It encircled the NEA symbol. I wish I knew why.
  • superciliaris: shaped like an eyebrow ex: sturnella superciliaris, the White-browed Blackbird
  • rosa-sinensis: species of Hibiscus: Hibiscus rosa-sinensis. Lit. Rosa of China, so named by British plant hunters.
  • placentiformis: shaped like a cake ex: discocactus placentiformis
  • nudiflorus: flowers before leaves show ex: flowering quince, magnolia
  • nivalis: growing in or near snow ex: galanthus nivalis (common snowdrop)
  • muralis: growing on walls
  • mirabilis: marvellous, wonderful
  • formosa: beautiful ex: dicentra formosa, a.k.a.western bleeding heart/dutchman's breeches/lady in a bath
  • carpe vitam: get a life
  • Carolus Linnaeus: Latinized name of Carl von Linne (1707-1778), Swedish naturalist considered the father of plant taxonomy. Whatta guy.