Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach
Edinburgh is not only enough to confuse your average humanoid. It drives the GPS crazy. Why?
Because the city exists on two levels, one of which is about fifty feet (fifteen metres) above the other. It’s bizarre. We’d be driving along the street, following the directions from Google Earth on my iPhone, and it would tell us to turn right on some street. We’d look around … no such street visible. Then we come to a bridge, look over the edge, and there’s the street we’re supposed to turn left on, but it’s way, way down below us. How can that be, we’re on the ground level up here, and there’s a whole ‘nother world of shops and people far down underneath. Bizarre.
We started off our trip by visiting the Botanical Gardens, which were wonderful. Of course, the first sight that greeted us was a windmill, a Darrieus rotor. In this case, it could more accurately have been called a Darrieus stator, because despite rather high winds, it didn’t move during our whole time there. Shocking, I know.
The Botanical Gardens are quite lovely, a serene corner of a bustling city. In one section, I was surprised to see that there was a full-on meteorological station, which was not all that badly situated:
The placard in front said that it had been in operation since 1794 … note to self, check the records, should be interesting. Unfortunately, the plaque also said:
Previously located in the Demonstration Garden, in spring 2011 the weather station was removed to this more prominent location as the Met Office automated many of their recording devices to provide real-time readouts.
Since I doubt greatly whether they continued the old station to give an overlap so the two records could be combined, that means that the record effectively ends in 2011.
The Botanical Gardens has an exquisite old greenhouse, a lovely work of art…
And a butt-ugly new greenhouse.
Refreshed by the greenery, we parked downtown and started to walk. First we went on a most bizarre but quite lovely walkway over a street:
Note the rain on the roof … liquid sunshine. Then up past the St. Giles Cathedral and on to the National Museum of Scotland. Why? Well, it’s a museum of science … and it’s free. However, it’s also very, very strange. The selection and the location of the objects inside is quite bizarre. They will have say a space suit next to a suit of armor, and that’s just for starters. My daughter’s final conclusion as to the reason behind the strange exhibits and combinations was “Because Scotland” … which as it turned out seems to apply to lots of things in Edinburgh.
They did have a fantastic early steam engine, and the main exhibit hall was a light, airy work of joy:
To my eye, one of the loveliest works of Scottish engineering in the Museum, curiously, wasn’t an exhibit at all. It was the radiators that you can see at the lower left above which heated the building. Here’s a closeup:
Now that’s a pretty awesome way to heat a building.
In the evening, we had the great pleasure of meeting up with Lord Christopher Moncton, living proof that the species Homo eccentricus britannis is not threatened with extinction. We met in a pub that looks like this:
Gotta say … not many pubs look like that where I live … from there we went out to a restaurant. And there I learned that when the flow of the River Christopher is in full spate, all one can do is stand on the bank and marvel at the unending rush of ideas, humor, obscure references, side-splitting stories, explanations of history, and most interesting science, all delivered in his most impish manner which is totally irresistible. My great thanks to him for a most enjoyable evening.
We stayed quite near the St. Giles Cathedral, and the next day I was awakened to a very strange chorus. It went “BONG … ribbit … BONG … ribbit … BONG …” During the night the rain had come on in full force, and a most determined frog, who sounded like he was about six inches from my ear, had obviously set his mind that he was not going to be outcroaked by some giant bell.
We had lunch with another most interesting gentleman, Andrew Montford, the “Bishop” of the climate blog “Bishop Hill“. Like the other well-known climate bloggers that it’s been my pleasure to meet, he is self-employed, and a great conversationalist. We covered the gamut of topics over a fine meal, and sadly bid him goodbye. He also has my appreciation and thanks.
On the walk back to our flat, we passed the memorial to Sir Walter Scott. It is an arabesque fantasy in stone, looking like the fairy-tale castles in my childhood books where princesses awaited their knight in shining armor.
It has all the required accessories and accoutrements, flying buttresses, towers, statues hundreds of feet up in the air, even a gargoyle on each of the four corners. What’s not to like?
We saw the Edinburgh Castle, and Mary Queens close (which was not sealed up on account of the plague as I’d heard, but was built over to provide government offices). And then, sadly and far too soon, it was time to leave. Every place I’ve gone on this trip I end up saying, “But, but, do we have to leave already?” However, we did have to leave, so we rolled out down the A1, enjoying the lovely scenery and dodging windmills … but that’s a story for another day.
Regards to all,