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text 2018-09-16 23:16
The Sunday Post ... Lighthouses and Soup

Happy Sunday!


I've needed today to just relax and do some over-due household chores...so there was not a lot of excitement today. But, I was also recovering from a very, very windswept day out with friends yesterday.

Just as we had the city's Doors Open Day last week, yesterday and today the Shire held a similar event. 


So, a couple of friends and I jumped at the chance of a wee road trip on a gorgeous day to see Tod Head Lighthouse.


The lighthouse is one of the later Stevenson ones. It was designed by David Alan Stevenson of the famous family of lighthouse engineers, a cousin of Robert Louis Stevenson (the author), and grandson of Robert Stevenson who pioneered lighthouse engineering around these parts.

Tod Head was built in 1897, much later than the famous lighthouses built by Robert Stevenson (such as the famous Bell Rock built between 1807 and 1810), but it follows the same sort of design as the earlier buildings - and you can pretty much spot a Stevenson lighthouse based on the outline shape. 


Tod Head was decommissioned in 2007 and has been private property since. This is why it was such a special event to be able to have look at the lighthouse from up close - it is not one that is open to the public on any other day of the year. 



We arrived at the lighthouse a few minutes early and spent a few minutes braving the strong wind and communing with the resident rescue chickens, while the owners took the opportunity to grab some late lunch. Apparently they had visitors since 10 am and had been rushed off their feet all day. I believe it. It is a fabulous spot and even tho they had organised a booking system (all free of charge but there is limited parking), people just dropped by in a constant stream. 

Anyway, we had some fun with the chickens. They had a lot character and liked shoe laces. When we got back to the front of the building, one chicken had followed us and managed to completely freak out one of the visitors just by freely roaming in the garden. I don't know, but I felt sorry for the chicken more than I was for the lady who apparently was not expecting animals to roam the property...even tho you had to pass by several farms complete with cows and sheep to get to the lighthouse. It was weird. It was also kinda funny. 


This is the chicken that caused so much terror.


The funniest thing that happened, however, was that just when people started to leave the lighthouse, a couple of sheep decided to go for a leisurely wander on the single road track that led back to the road. And the lady who had earlier been terrorised by a member of the poultry gang was the second car stuck behind the sheep. Luckily, the first car were a couple of young guys, one of whom got out and tried to drive the sheep along without stressing them out too much. 


Now, I don't know about you, but from what I know about sheep, I have a feeling the two were doing this all day long - messing with visitors, popping on the road for a walk down to the other field whenever there was a car in sight. 


Anyway, the lighthouse was lovely, but the animals made our day yesterday. 


Sunday Soup:


As I mentioned, I mainly did some home maintenance today, which also included some cooking. I was in the mood for something light, so tried a variation of this Egg Drop Soup.


The variation was that I used vegetable bouillon and, just because I seem to simply be incapable of following recipes, I added some sweetcorn and peas and half a fresh red chili pepper.


No chickens were harmed in making this soup.


It was tasty, but not exactly filling. It did go well with with a sandwich on the side, tho.

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text 2018-09-09 23:15
The Sunday Post ... Doors Open Day

Happy Sunday All!


I am taking this break from spamming your feeds with reading updates to summarise my Sunday (today): I have been knackered and have, for the most part, not done very much at all apart from a little cooking, reading, and napping. 

I did intend to go for a walk at some point but I got as far as finding a new pair of socks, then went for a nap. It has been this kind of a day. 


Now you may ask: Why are you so tired out, BT? Is it from staying up late so many times last week to finish off a few more chapters in your Halloween Bingo reads? 


Well, ... perhaps, but my reason is much better: Every year the city holds a "Doors Open Day" when a lot of buildings that are either closed on the weekends or just usually closed to the general public opens their doors for visitors. This year, we had over 50 venues to choose from including the fire station, the town house, various churches and museums, the marine laboratory, the old advocates library, etc. Anyway, all of that happened yesterday.


There was a lot to do. Even if I decided to take it easy and focus on Old Aberdeen, which is in walking distance to me but it is just so damn beautiful.


The day started with a leisurely walk down to the old High Street. The Confucius Institute opened its doors at 10am and it fun to poke my nose in for some tea and a wander about to find out what they do.



At 11am I joined a tour by one of the university historians which included several sights along the High Street and the old King's College and chapel, which, as I learned, is the oldest collegiate chapel in Britain and the oldest pre-reformation chapel in Scotland. Impressive,  eh? 

The structure of the interior and ceiling is still largely original, from what I gather, and the tomb at the from of the picture is that of Bishop Elphinstone (1431 - 1514), the founder of the university, who seemed to have been an interesting character. (I am adding a link to Elphinstone's bio on Wiki here...but the article contains some errors, such as the description of the picture of the memorial to Elphinstone as his "tomb". It is not.)


Sadly, the rest of King's College has been modernised over time to look like the more famous colleges in Oxford and Cambridge. Still, I like the place. It's accessible all year round and I do spend a fair  amount of time around there - a couple of friends live close by and a favourite independent coffee haunt is there, too. 



After that, I grabbed a sandwich and went for a picnic in the Botanical Gardens. Again, these are open to the public on most days, but hey, I needed a quite place to have sit down and enjoy what is probably the last of the summer. 


The gardens were nice. I should probably come back in spring to see the some of the other plants in bloom. 



Just along from the gardens was my next stop: St. Machar's Cathedral. 

Again, this was not a new stop for me but it is a site that I really like. It is both an impressive building and so far, whenever I have been there, I have met some really nice people. 



St. Machar's was serving tea to visitors and had organised music recitals every hour. 


Let me tell you: I have been to musical performances in here before (I heard Jacqui Dankworth perform a tribute to Duke Ellington in here during the Jazz Fest and am a regular at the Christmas concerts), this is one fabulous place for music. The acoustics are just perfect!


On top of all that, I met up with a friend that I hadn't seen since 2003. He's just moved back to the city and we had a lot to catch up on, so after my visit to the cathedral we went to the pub to rehydrate from all of the walking around town.   


And that, people, is why I have been uselessly tired today. 

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text 2018-08-26 22:28
The Sunday Post: The Last of the Fringe and Soup!



After the rained out weekend at the Edinburgh Festival last week, I needed to go back to it yesterday because there was a show I just could not miss: Simon Callow starring in De Profundis, a performance of Oscar Wilde's letter to "Bosie" (Lord Alfred Douglas) which he wrote while infamously imprisoned in Reading Gaol. 



I've seen Callow perform before, so I knew this was going to be pretty good. However, this was my first experience of this particular piece and my introduction to De Profundis (which I re-read in full on the train back home), followed by a little research into the letter.


All I'm saying is that Bosie was a little shit.


Back to the performance...I loved it. It was very moving and while there were the typical Wilde puns, the title of the letter truly reflects the tone of it: Wilde's insights into his past relationship with Bosie as well as his reflections on his own character. A Simon Callow very much managed to release that distressed, angry, and yet loving and forgiving soul that Wilde confined to his own words.    


Afterwards I saw one other show and went for a stroll, but I was just too occupied by Wilde's letter to really pay much attention to any of the other performances. And with that, this year's Festival is over for me. It was fun to see that the crowds turned out well for the last Festival weekend, tho. 


Seriously, check the number of people in the pictures. This is what I mean by the town being "busy" during the festival period:



Anyway, today brought a day full of rain and cold weather so I spent most of the day wrapped in a warm jumper and enjoying books and tea...I came across a lovely little collection of Wilde's shorter stories while wandering around the Book Festival yesterday. (It contains The Canterville Ghost which I have now earmarked for the Ghost square on my Halloween Bingo Card!)


Oh, yes, and because it has turned quite chilly today, I made some soup. :D Nothing fancy, just some very simple vegetable and pasta and veggie pieces (which would obviously work just as well with chicken).



Happy Sunday!

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text 2018-08-24 22:47
The Adventure of the Soaked Enthusiast

I'm a bit late with posting this but I did not want to let any more days pass by without providing that little commentary on my adventures in Edinburgh last weekend. 


As mentioned in a previous post, I started the weekend with gin tasting / cabaret event, which was ok but nothing really to shout about other than that the singers were really good. The gin...well, it was ok, and it was something new to try. 


The other events I went to last weekend, tho, were much better:


Wired was a play put on at a venue hosted by the Army and focused on a young soldier being traumatised by witnessing the explosion of an IED. The play was superbly performed by three actresses who kept the small audience enraptured all the way through the MC's experience of PTSD. It was thought-provoking and moving, and not something I would have expected (especially given the venue). I didn't find the ending believable, but it did make one think. Again, it was one of the performances that I probably wouldn't have picked if I had read the description properly...but that proved to be a rather good find.


That is kinda what happens at The Festival...you sort of stumble into things because there are thousands of performances through out the month of August and it is almost impossible to remember or list everything that looks interesting in the programme.


The highlight of my trip, however, was a Sherlock Holmes Walking Tour.


Now, you may ask what our favourite consulting detective has to do with Edinburgh? Well, the tour wasn't so much about Sherlock Holmes as it was about his creator, Arthur Conan Doyle, and he was born in Edinburgh (just around the corner from where I made my HQ for the weekend). There was, until very recently, even a statue of Holmes to mark the spot - as the original house had been torn down to make way for a roundabout. This year, the statue was missing, too, a victim to further roadworks. I hope they put it back soon! It belongs in Picardy Place.

Sherlock Holmes statue (as and where I found it last year)

(This is the picture I took last year in Picardy Place.)


Let me say this, too: The tour started at 10:30 and lasted for near enough 2 hours ... in the pouring rain. And I mean, rain heavy enough to keep many festival-goers off the street. Except, of course, for a small group of 11 "enthusiasts" (i.e. nutters) who got happily soaked following this guy through town:



He was a great guide!


We started at the Royal Mile with a history of Edinburgh, then went to Edinburgh Uni - the medical school of it - and spent some time at the med quad, the inner quadrant that leads to the School of Anatomy. Here he told about ACD's childhood, his family, his school days, and his father's drinking problem, Burke and Hare and general body-snatching, ... as well as a bit of history of the university. 
(The Anatomy School is straight ahead.)
Then we went to George Sq. where ACD and his mother lived when his father was institutionalised, and just when ACD went on an unheard-of sabbatical from uni to earn money on a whaler in the Arctic. Much of what the guide told here was new to me - about ACD nearly drowning on a few occasions and earning the nickname "the great northern diver".
The last leg was a walk over to the Old Infirmary, where ACD worked with Dr. Joseph Bell. This was pretty cool, too. And this also is where the topic of Sherlock Holmes comes in because Dr. Bell, a pioneer of forensic pathology, was ACD's inspiration for the detective. He also was the model for almost every depiction of Holmes we have:
The guide threw in a bit of interactivity there were he demonstrated Bell's method of observation. I didn't know about Bell's involvement in the Ripper case and that his report (indicating the identity of the Ripper) was received by the Met but then mysteriously disappeared?
There were also mentions of our guide about ACD potentially having accompanied Bell on the investigation. 
This is a part I want to investigate further. It sounded a bit too fantastic to be true. Not that I doubt the guide - all of the other things he told were in line with what I had read - but it sounded too weird to not be known more widely.
So, this is a new likely rabbit hole that beckons. 
The tour overran, which meant I didn't have time to make it to Simon Callow's performance of Wilde in De Profundis. :(
But ... I am resolved to make another trip (just for the day) down tomorrow to catch Callow and a show by Katherine Parkinson, which I am excited about, too (but only found out about on Sunday).

Rain, rain, rain, rain, rain...but that didn't really stop anyone.

(Mercat Cross & St. Giles)

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text 2018-08-19 01:11
Out Adventuring...

I'll be away for the next couple of days. 


(View from the Elephant House Cafe, known to the world largely because some of the story of a certain wizard was written here. It's a lovely cafe even without that connection.)


It's time again for the Edinburgh Festival and I'll be in the in the throng of the mayhem. Well, not quite...I'll be the person going to the performances at the fringes of The Fringe and nowhere near the Royal Mile or High Street because the crowds in that area are just way.too.much. 


So, I'll be galavanting around the quieter(ish) parts.


I've already started off on a high note with a gin tasting that was also combined with a musical performance. It was pretty good, but I would not call it "cabaret" (as the event's description claimed). But that is the Edinburgh Festival for you - lots to try out, most will not be anything like the description in the programme, but you just need to roll with it. Also, did I mention that the even included a gin tasting? It's all good.


I have a couple of other things planned for tomorrow but other than that, I'll just see where the fates of the festival will take me. 


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