Category Archives: Scotland

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

royal observatory east tower dome

The Royal Observatory Edinburgh

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 Royal Observatory Edinburgh

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.

The Royal Observatory Edinburgh

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.

The Royal Observatory Edinburgh

Copper dome of the East Tower at the Royal Observatory Edinburgh

There’s a large telescope in the East Tower.

The Royal Observatory Edinburgh

Telescope in the East Tower

The Royal Observatory Edinburgh

Telescope in the East Tower

The Royal Observatory Edinburgh

Information board in the East Tower

The views from the rooftop of the Visitor Centre over the city and the Forth Estuary were amazing.

The Royal Observatory Edinburgh

View of Salisbury Crags from the rooftop of the Visitor Centre

The Royal Observatory Edinburgh

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.

The Royal Observatory Edinburgh

Light pollution map of Europe in the Deep Space Gallery

The Royal Observatory Edinburgh

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 £4 per adult, £3 for concessions and children, payable on entry by cash or cheque.

 

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