Category Archives: Scotland

What to do in Scotland; attractions in Scotland and the best places to visit in Scotland.

smailholm tower cows

Smailholm Tower in the Scottish Borders

After finally visiting Greenholm Tower in the Scottish Borders, we decided to do a slight detour on our drive to Galashiels to stop at Smailholm Tower. It was badly signposted, with signs at junctions rather than a bit in advance to give you time to signal and turn. The Tower car park was up a pretty nasty looking dirt track. We decided to park on concrete by a derelict building at the farm which lies at the start of the track to the Tower.

Smailholm Tower in the Scottish Borders

Smailholm Tower reflected in the Millpond

The four storey Smailholm Tower was built upon a crag of Lady Hill in the 15th century. The Scottish novelist Walter Scott referred to the Smailholm Tower as “standing stark and upright like a warden”. You certainly get a commanding view of the surrounding countryside from the Tower.

Smailholm Tower in the Scottish Borders

Smailholm Tower perched on a crag

I’d assumed that it’d be free to enter Smailholm Tower, as there was no entrance fee at the nearby Greenknowe Tower. However, as it cost £4.50 per adult, we decided not to stump up and just have a walk around the periphery. We’re already members of the National Trust for Scotland; I can’t understand why Historic Scotland and the National Trust for Scotland don’t merge, so that you can buy one membership to visit Scottish historic buildings.

I was also surprised that Smailholm Tower is open all year round: albeit only at weekends from October to March. We were there during high season in August and only saw a group of four visitors. I reckon that some potential visitors miss the signs and others don’t want to drive their cars or walk up that dirt track. I’d advise stout shoes even for the walk from the car park to the Tower.

Smailholm Tower in the Scottish Borders

Welcome sign at Smailholm Tower

Smailholm Tower in the Scottish Borders

Cows close to Smailholm Tower

Smailholm Tower in the Scottish Borders

Map of walking route to Smailholm Tower

Smailholm Tower in the Scottish Borders

Red arch above entrance to Smailholm Tower

glen prosen scott wilson memorial sculpture

The Scott Wilson Memorial Sculpture in Glen Prosen

The Scott Wilson Memorial Sculpture in Glen Prosen was unveiled in 2012 to mark the 100th anniversary of the Terra Nova expedition to the South Pole led by Captain Rober Falcon Scott. Dr Edward Adrian Wilson was the expedition’s chief scientist and surgeon, as well as being an artist.

 The Scott Wilson Memorial Sculpture in Glen Prosen

Dr Wilson on the right, Capt Scott on the left

It’s believed that Scott and Wilson met up several times at Burnside Lodge in Glen Prosen to plan their forthcoming trip. The original memorial fountain, known as ‘Scott’s View’, was knocked down in a car crash in 1979.

The Scott Wilson Memorial Sculpture in Glen Prosen

Scott Memorial Fountain by Dave

Thie fountain was replaced by a cairn.

The Scott Wilson Memorial Sculpture in Glen Prosen

Scott Memorial Cairn by  Dave

Local artist Bruce Walker, based in Kirriemuir, created the new memorial.

The Scott Wilson Memorial Sculpture in Glen Prosen

Dr Wilson in profile

The Scott Wilson Memorial Sculpture in Glen Prosen

Close up of Doctor Wilson

The Scott Wilson Memorial Sculpture in Glen Prosen

Close up of Capt Scott

The Scott Wilson Memorial Sculpture in Glen Prosen

Dog on the Scott Wilson Memorial Sculpture

The Scott Wilson Memorial Sculpture in Glen Prosen

Autumn colours by the Scott Wilison Memorial Sculpture

The Scott Wilson Memorial Sculpture in Glen Prosen

Horse on the Scott Wiilson Memorial Sculpture

The Scott Wilson Memorial Sculpture in Glen Prosen

Penguin on Scott Wilsom Memorial Sculpture

You can find out about Captain Scott’s first expedition to the South Pole at Discovery Point in Dundee.

museum of fire tullis russell

Photo Tour of the Museum of Fire in Edinburgh

We visited the Museum of Fire in Edinburgh during the Doors Open Days in September 2013. I’ve walked past the building in Lauriston Place on many occasions, assuming that it was still an operational fire station.

Photo Tour of the Museum of Fire in Edinburgh

Me at the Museum of Fire

Edinburgh was the first city in Europe to form a fire brigade, the Edinburgh Fire Establishment in 1824.

Photo Tour of the Museum of Fire in Edinburgh

1824 Edinburgh fire engine at the Museum of Fire

Photo Tour of the Museum of Fire in Edinburgh

Me in the former control room at the Museum of Fire

The Museum of Fire is home to fire engines from all the UK.

Photo Tour of the Museum of Fire in Edinburgh

Fire engine from Huntingdon in the Museum of Fire

Photo Tour of the Museum of Fire in Edinburgh

Row of firefighter’s helmets at the Museum of Fire

Photo Tour of the Museum of Fire in Edinburgh

1901 fire engine from Tullis Russel paper mill in Fife at the Museum of Fire

Photo Tour of the Museum of Fire in Edinburgh

Long ladder stretches up the stairwell at the Museum of Fire

Photo Tour of the Museum of Fire in Edinburgh

Models of fire fighting appliances at the Museum of Fire

Photo Tour of the Museum of Fire in Edinburgh

South Eastern Fire Brigade engine

Photo Tour of the Museum of Fire in Edinburgh

Fire engine from Dunbar at the Museum of Fire

The Museum of Fire is staffed by volunteers and is usually open 10.00 -15.00 weekdays, but it’s better to phone in advance to check opening hours on 0131 228 2401.

forth rail bridge abseiling event2

Abseiling Down the Forth Rail Bridge

On Sunday I stopped in South Queensferry to watch abseiling down the Forth Rail Bridge. It was a charity event with a real fun atmosphere. Friends and relatives of the abseilers were cheering them on and waiting with champagne to celebrate their feat.

Abseiling Down the Forth Rail Bridge

Although it was forecast to be a wet day, the sun was shining. However, there was fair old breeze and I was a bit concerned that the abseilers might be blown against the bridge support.

Abseiling Down the Forth Rail Bridge

Abseiling Down the Forth Rail Bridge 

Abseiling Down the Forth Rail Bridge

Wellmeadow in Blairgowrie: Today’s Walk 27 October 2013

As I woke up pretty early this morning and the clocks had gone back for one hour, I decided to go for a walk around Blairgowrie before breakfast at the Royal Hotel. Wellmeadow, the garden square in the town centre, was looking magnificent with the contrast of the morning sunlight against the backdrop of the threatening clouds. The photo below is unedited; that’s exactly how it looked.

Wellmeadow in Blairgowrie: Todays Walk 27 October 2013

summers restaurant cake stand

Review of Summers Restaurant in Perth, Scotland

We had High Tea at Summers Restaurant in Perth in mid July 2013. It cost £10.95 per person for a main course, a selection of toast, scones and cakes plus unlimited tea or coffee.

Review of Summers Restaurant in Perth, Scotland

Exterior of Summer’s Restaurant in Perth

We decided to sit inside as their was a fair breeze blowing down St John’s Street. Alec, the owner, told me that they’d only started serving High Teas three months before and that they were proving very popular.

Review of Summers Restaurant in Perth, Scotland

Interior of Summers Restaurant in Perth

We both had the Steak Pie, which was delicious. The meat was tender and the accompanying vegetables were very colourful and tasty. I had a sip of my husband’s coffee and it was very good.

Review of Summers Restaurant in Perth, Scotland

Steak Pie at Summer’s Restaurant in Perth

The cake stand was made from a dinner plate, side plate, saucer with a cup on top. We both thought that the meringues were excellent; crunchy on the outside and goey inside. I thought that the scones were slightly dry and the base of the Millionaire’s Shortbread wasn’t great.

Review of Summers Restaurant in Perth, Scotland

High Tea selection at Summer’s Restaurant in Perth

Suffice to say that next time I’m in Perth in the early evening, I’ll be heading straight to Summers Restaurant for High Tea.

Review of Summers Restaurant in Perth, ScotlandKeep It Real Travel Review – No Fluff

st andrews harbour pier

St Andrews on a Wild Autumn Day

We’ve visited St Andrews in Fife on many occasions. Our most recent visit in October 2013 was a cold washout. What was planned to be a pleasant wander around St Andrews turned into a mad dash back to the car, as heavy showers were swept in by the chilly north easterly wind.

St Andrews on a Wild Autumn Day

St Andrews Castle

St Andrews on a Wild Autumn Day

West gable of St Andrews Cathedral

St Andrews on a Wild Autumn Day

Waves coming towards St Andrews Harbour Pier

old gala house painted ceiling beams

Old Gala House in Galashiels in the Scottish Borders

Old Gala House is a museum and gallery in Galashiels in the Scottish Borders. It was first constructed in the late 15th century as a tower house, becoming a museum in 1988.

Old Gala House in Galashiels in the Scottish Borders

Old Gala House’s beautiful garden

It’s free to get in plus there’s free parking at the front of museum with disabled parking access at the rear. There’s also a cafe and shop in the museum.

Old Gala House in Galashiels in the Scottish Borders

Sign outside Old Gala House

What I liked about Old Gala House was the eclectic mix. The permanent exhibitions focus on local history.

Old Gala House in Galashiels in the Scottish Borders

Collage of local history between 1930 – 2005

Old Gala House in Galashiels in the Scottish Borders

Two foxes and a plum tree; Galashiels’ Coat of Arms on the ceiling of Old Gala House

The Painted Ceiling Room is beautiful. Only around thirty of these Scottish style Renaissance celings remain intact, as they were often destroyed when the fashion changed to decorative plasterwork.

Old Gala House in Galashiels in the Scottish Borders

Angel on painted ceiling at Old Gala House

Old Gala House in Galashiels in the Scottish Borders

The painted ceiling at Old Gala House dates from 1635

There’s also a Painted Wall Room which has some activities for kids.

Old Gala House in Galashiels in the Scottish Borders

Painted Wall Room at Old Gala House

Old Gala House in Galashiels in the Scottish Borders

Activity corner in the Painted Wall Room at Old Gala House

There’s a room devoted to Thomas Clapperton, a sculptor born in Galashiels. Clapperton’s best known pieces include the Liberty Frieze on the department store in London, a Robert the Bruce statue at the entrance to Edinburgh Castle and several war memorials in the Scottish Borders.

Old Gala House in Galashiels in the Scottish Borders

Sculpture of Thomas Clapperton in Old Gala House

Old Gala House in Galashiels in the Scottish Borders

Sculpture by window in the Thomas Clapperton Room

I liked the Record Sleeves exhibition in the Museum Room. I remembered the “Island Life” sleeve from the 1986 album by Grace Jones. I was fooled by the trick photography as I thought that Grace Jones was agile enough to strike the pose.

Old Gala House in Galashiels in the Scottish Borders

“Island Life” by Grace Jones, 1986

Old Gala House in Galashiels in the Scottish Borders

“Bringing It All Back Home” by Bob Dylan, 1965

Old Gala House in Galashiels in the Scottish Borders

“More Songs About Buildings and Food” by Talking Heads, 1978

Old Gala House in Galashiels in the Scottish Borders

 “Kraftwerk “by Kraftwerk, 1973

There was an exhibition of photos by Robert Mapplethrope in which photography was forbidden. It’s a testament to Grace Jones’ Influence on 1980s culture that a photo of her, with her body painted by graffiti artist Keith Hardling, featured in the Mapplethorpe exhibition.

Old Gala House in Galashiels in the Scottish Borders

I hope that you enjoy your visit to Old Gala House as much as I did.

Old Gala House in Galashiels in the Scottish Borders

 

college of art1

Doors Open Days in Edinburgh

We visited some of the Doors Open Days venues in Edinburgh during the last weekend of September 2013. It was really hard to draw up an intinerary as there were so many interesting venues, predominantly open between 10am – 4pm.

The Royal Observatory Edinburgh

My priority was to see the Royal Observatory Edinburgh, as I’d never been there. We planned to arrive soon after the 10am opening time to find parking outside the Observatory and secure tickets for the Starlab Planetarium.

Doors Open Days in Edinburgh

East Tower of the Royal Observatory Edinburgh

The views over Edinburgh from the rooftop of the Visitor Centre are wonderful.

Doors Open Days in Edinburgh

View of Arthur’s Seat from the Rooftop at the Royal Observatory Edinburgh.

We then headed in the city centre. I reckoned that it was too time-consuming to visit more venues on the periphery of Edinburgh. It was easy to find free parking in the city centre on Sunday. We parked close to the Fire Museum and walked around the rest of the venues.

Museum of Fire Edinburgh

The Museum of Fire  has a collection of fire engines from all over the UK.

Doors Open Days in Edinburgh

Fire engine from Fraserburgh in the Museum of Fire

Doors Open Days in Edinburgh

1901 fire engine from Tullis Russel paper mill in Fife at the Museum of Fire

Edinburgh College of Art

The Edinburgh College of Art has been located in Lauriston Place since 1906. I’ve been in the modern wing during the Degree Show. There were guided tours of the college, but we had a wander around on our own.

Doors Open Days in Edinburgh

 Exterior of the Edinburgh College of Art

Doors Open Days in Edinburgh

The 1960s Boardroom at the Edinburgh College of Art

Doors Open Days in Edinburgh

Cupola at the Edinburgh College of Art

Doors Open Days in Edinburgh

Exhibition at the Edinburgh College of Art

B+B Edinburgh

B+B Edinburgh is a boutique Bed & Breakfast hotel in the fomer home of John Richtie Findlay, owner of the Scotsman newspaper.

Doors Open Days in Edinburgh

Stained glass window at B+B Edinburgh

Doors Open Days in Edinburgh

View towards Dean Village from B+B Edinburgh

Doors Open Days in Edinburgh

Cloud lampshade in the foyer of B+B Edinburgh

Doors Open Days in Edinburgh

Embellished ceiling at B+B Edinburgh

Doors Open Days in Edinburgh

Another unusual lampshade in the Breakfast Room

All in all, we had a really interesting time on the Doors Open Days in Edinburgh. Next year I’m planning to book a hotel room in Edinburgh on the Saturday night, so I can get around more of the venues.

Read more of our articles on what to do in Edinburgh.