Category Archives: Scotland

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

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.

queens view sunset

Sunset at Queen’s View at Loch Tummel, Perthshire

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.

Sunset at Queens View at Loch Tummel, Perthshire

Me at Queen’s View

Sunset at Queens View at Loch Tummel, Perthshire

Sunset over Loch Tummel

Sunset at Queens View at Loch Tummel, Perthshire

 Cone sculpture on railing at Queen’s View Loch Tummel

Sunset at Queens View at Loch Tummel, Perthshire

 Caterpillar sculpture on railing at Queen’s View Loch Tummel

burning heather flames

Heather Burning in the Lammermuir Hills in Southern Scotland

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.

Heather Burning in the Lammermuir Hills in Southern Scotland

Smoke spirals up from the burning heather

Heather Burning in the Lammermuir Hills in Southern Scotland

Thick smoke partially eclipses the sun

Heather Burning in the Lammermuir Hills in Southern Scotland

That’s as close as I was going to the flames

 

 

 

glen coe view from bridge

A Ramble in Glen Coe in the Scottish Highlands

You get some spectacular views when driving through Glen Coe in the Scottish Highlands.

A Ramble in Glen Coe in the Scottish Highlands

The majestic peaks of Glen Coe

A Ramble in Glen Coe in the Scottish Highlands

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.

A Ramble in Glen Coe in the Scottish Highlands

Information board map at the car park

A Ramble in Glen Coe in the Scottish Highlands

Looking toward Bidean nam Bian

The first section of the walk to the footbridge over the River Coe is tarmaced.

A Ramble in Glen Coe in the Scottish Highlands

Footbridge over the River Coe

We took the path to An Torr. It was a gradual ascent on a reasonable path.

A Ramble in Glen Coe in the Scottish Highlands

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.

A Ramble in Glen Coe in the Scottish Highlands

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.

A Ramble in Glen Coe in the Scottish Highlands

Me at An Torr   

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.

swan eyemouth beach with cliffs in background

Swan Family on Eyemouth Beach: Today’s Walk 5 October 2013

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.

Swan Family on Eyemouth Beach: Todays Walk 5 October 2013

Kids feeding the swans

The cygnets have certainly grown in the four months since we first spotted them in mid June.

Swan Family on Eyemouth Beach: Todays Walk 5 October 2013

Our first sighting of the seven cygnets on the banks of the River Eye in June 2013

Swan Family on Eyemouth Beach: Todays Walk 5 October 2013

The nine strong swan family on Eyemouth Beach

Swan Family on Eyemouth Beach: Todays Walk 5 October 2013

Time to get back to the water

bridge of oich

Bridge of Oich in the Scottish Highlands

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.

Bridge of Oich in the Scottish Highlands

 Bridge of Oich from the bridge on the A82

Bridge of Oich in the Scottish Highlands

 Bridge of Oich information board

Bridge of Oich in the Scottish Highlands

Bridge of Oich

Bridge of Oich in the Scottish Highlands

Looking across Bridge of Oich toward the granite pylon arch

Bridge of Oich in the Scottish Highlands

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.