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.
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’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.
Sign outside Old Gala House
What I liked about Old Gala House was the eclectic mix. The permanent exhibitions focus on local history.
Collage of local history between 1930 – 2005
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.
Angel on painted ceiling at Old Gala House
The painted ceiling at Old Gala House dates from 1635
There’s also a Painted Wall Room which has some activities for kids.
Painted Wall Room at Old Gala House
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.
Sculpture of Thomas Clapperton in Old Gala House
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.
“Island Life” by Grace Jones, 1986
“Bringing It All Back Home” by Bob Dylan, 1965
“More Songs About Buildings and Food” by Talking Heads, 1978
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.
I hope that you enjoy your visit to Old Gala House as much as I did.
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.
East Tower of the Royal Observatory Edinburgh
The views over Edinburgh from the rooftop of the Visitor Centre are wonderful.
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.
Fire engine from Fraserburgh in the Museum of Fire
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.
Â Exterior of the Edinburgh College of Art
The 1960s Boardroom at the Edinburgh College of Art
Cupola at the Edinburgh College of Art
Exhibition at the Edinburgh College of Art
B+B Edinburgh is a boutique Bed & Breakfast hotel in the fomer home of John Richtie Findlay, owner of the Scotsman newspaper.
Stained glass window at B+B Edinburgh
View towards Dean Village from B+B Edinburgh
Cloud lampshade in the foyer of B+B Edinburgh
Embellished ceiling at B+B 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.
We caught the sunset over Loch Tummel from Queen’s View in Perthshire on our drive to the Macdonald Loch Rannoch Hotel in Kinloch Rannoch. This was a favourite spot of both Queen Isabella, wife of Robert the Bruce, and Queen Victoria.
Me at Queen’s View
Sunset over Loch Tummel
Â Cone sculpture on railing at Queen’s View Loch Tummel
Â Caterpillar sculpture on railing at Queen’s View Loch Tummel
As I was driving to Edinburgh through the Lammermuir Hills, I could see a large plume of smoke ahead. The heather burning had started in earnest on the 1st of October, the first day of the burning season. I decided to park the car and take some photos. It was a pretty windy day, so I didn’t want to go too close to the flames and end up as the burning woman.
You get some spectacular views when driving through Glen Coe in the Scottish Highlands.
The majestic peaks of Glen Coe
The cloud at the top of this mountain made it look like a smoking volcano
We wanted to stop for a walk and a coffee from our flask. We knew that we were near the Glen Coe Visitor Centre, but saw a sign for Signal Rock and the An Torr paths and thought we’d try that. It was a good decision, as it’s described as one of the few low-level walks in Glen Coe; I’d never make it up a mountain. There’s plenty of free parking and a map of the various trails.
Information board map at the car park
Looking toward Bidean nam Bian
The first section of the walk to the footbridge over the River Coe is tarmaced.
Footbridge over the River Coe
We took the path to An Torr. It was a gradual ascent on a reasonable path.
An Toor sign with cairn on top
We saw a deer grazing from the path to An Torr. It appeared to be aware of our presence was not deterred from munching.
Deer seen from path to An Torr
As there was some drizzle, a.k.a Scotch Mist, we put down our tartan rug on the rocks at An Torr for a dry seat to drink our coffee.
Me at An Torr Â Â
There’s also a path up to Signal Rock, which is said to be the spot from which the signal to embark on the Glen Coe Massacre was given to the Campbells.
This morning was the first time that I’d seen swans waddling on a beach. We observed the Eyemouth swan family, two parents and seven cygnets, paddling close to the shoreline. They landed and made their way up the beach. I wasn’t sure that we’d reach them in time to take some photos, but a family already on the beach started feeding some biscuits to the swans.
Kids feeding the swans
The cygnets have certainly grown in the four months since we first spotted them in mid June.
Our first sighting of the seven cygnets on the banks of the River Eye in June 2013
Bridge of Oich, designed by James Dredge, opened in 1854. There’s a small car park signposted off the A82 four miles south of Fort Augustus. It’s a short walk down the pavement by the main road to reach the suspension bridge.
Â Bridge of Oich from the bridge on the A82
Â Bridge of Oich information board
Bridge of Oich
Looking across Bridge of Oich toward the granite pylon arch
The double cantilever chain construction of Bridge of Oich
If you walk down the Caledonian Canal for around one mile after Bridge of Oich, you’ll come to Cullochy Lock.