On our drive from Perth to St Andrews we had a stop in the Scottish town of Newburgh, which lies on the southern bank of the Firth of Tay. As we walked toward the Sailing Club, we spotted a bear and tree trunk etched out on a hill. The Newburgh Bear first appeared in 1980 during a community project/art festival. Many figures which I’ve seen on English hillsides have been outlined with chalk, but the Newburgh Bear’s perimeter is a shallow trench which is kept free of growth by regular burning.
I loved the salmon sculputres by the estuary. Each fish had a different expression.
The Perth Chocolate Festival was held from 22-24 November 2013. I headed to Perth, in central Scotland, on Sunday 24 to attend the interactive talks and workshops and have a browse at the Chocolate Market.
Chocolate Fountain at the Perth Chocolate Festival
Lush Spa chocolate facial at Perth Chocolate Festival
A selection from Iain Burnett, the Highland Chocolatier, at Perth Chocolate Festival
This morning we decided to make the most of the continuing autumnal colours and mild weather and have a day out in the Scottish Borders. On the return leg of the journey we stopped at the Leaderfoot Viewpoint, where three bridges span the River Tweed. As we walked across Drygrange Bridge, I thought that the Leaderfoot Viaduct was looking almost the same colour as trees behind it.
I finally visited the Royal Observatory Edinburgh during the Doors Open Days in September 2013. I reckoned that the Observatory would be one of the most popular venues, so we set out from Berwick upon Tweed early with the intention of getting to the Observatory by 10.30 at the latest. We arrived soon after 10am; it was easy to find a parking space and to get tickets for first show at the Starlab Planetarium.
The exterior of the Royal Observatory Edinburgh
In the few minutes before the Starlab Planetarium I posed for an infrared photo in the Library. The hottest parts are displayed in red, so I suppose that the red area around my forehead relates to brain activity, while my nose, eyebrows and cheeks were a cooler white colour.
Infrared photo of me
The Starlab Planetarium was in a domed indoor blow-up tent. The presenter Ally gave an excellent overview of the different seasonal constellations. It was so funny when a young child asked Ally how long it’d take to travel to Mallorca by rocket.
Copper dome of the East Tower at the Royal Observatory Edinburgh
There’s a large telescope in the East Tower.
Telescope in the East Tower
Telescope in the East Tower
Information board in the East Tower
The views from the rooftop of the Visitor Centre over the city and the Forth Estuary were amazing.
View of Salisbury Crags from the rooftop of the Visitor Centre
View of Edinburgh Castle from the rooftop of the Visitor Centre
The Deep Space Gallery was accessed from the rooftop of the Visitor Centre. There were rocket making workshops and meteorite handling sessions taking place in the Gallery.
Light pollution map of Europe in the Deep Space Gallery
Information about the seasonal constellations in the Deep Space Gallery
Normally individuals can only visit the Royal Observatory Edinburgh during monthly Public Astronomy Evenings. Places need to be booked in advance. The cost is Â£4 per adult, Â£3 for concessions and children, payable on entry by cash or cheque.
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 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 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 Â£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.
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.
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.
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.
Me at the Museum of Fire
Edinburgh was the first city in Europe to form a fire brigade, the Edinburgh Fire Establishment in 1824.
1824 Edinburgh fire engine at the Museum of Fire
Me in the former control room at the Museum of Fire
The Museum of Fire is home to fire engines from all the UK.
Fire engine from Huntingdon in the Museum of Fire
Row of firefighter’s helmets at the Museum of Fire
1901 fire engine from Tullis Russel paper mill in Fife at the Museum of Fire
Long ladder stretches up the stairwell at the Museum of Fire
Models of fire fighting appliances at the Museum of Fire
South Eastern Fire Brigade engine
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.