Review of EDINBURGH trip by Anne Hartman
Groggily, we stepped aboard the Angela coach at 6.30 am on Wednesday. Our driver, Jamie, was a cheerful chap who joked with many a merry quip until we reached the Bowes Museum in time for the 2 pm automation of the Silver Swan to be switched on, arch its beautiful metal neck and delicately pick up a fish from the shining ‘water’. We toured the museum eagerly and enjoyed the sight of many a masterpiece.
We drove our perilous way between foolishly parked vehicles and set off for our hotel in Carlisle. Once there, we could wash and unwind before meeting in the special restaurant room set aside for us where we enjoyed a three course meal and chattered happily about our expectations of the days to follow.
Thursday morning we set off again and Jamie told us of his hopes of romance with a delightful woman from Torbay. He told us to look out for ‘summer’ cows and when we questioned him, he said “Well, some are brown and some are black and white” (I will not share any more of his jokes).
On our way to Edinburgh, we went passed hills and valleys before ending up at “The Kelpies” . Amazing, huge sculptures of horses’ heads made of metal that dwarfed the surrounding countryside. A handsome Scotsman in a kilt took a group photo of us and off we went again.
We saw the landscape change as purple and green hills loomed ahead of us and we arrived in Portobello to stay at the Best Western hotel Portobello. Having unpacked in our delightful airy rooms, we caught a bus into Edinburgh to “tourist” in earnest.
I accompanied my PEDAS friend to the Scottish National Gallery where we saw the amazing ‘Monarch of the Glen’ and the ‘Skating Minister’ and other marvels of the art world. Unfortunately, renovations were being made and many artworks were in storage, so we consoled ourselves with scones and salt beef sandwiches. Back at the hotel, we had time for ablutions, rest and calm, before setting out for a delicious three course dinner in the hotel. Again we had time for a chat and discuss the day’s events and the friendly sound of plates rattling and laughter. We all quizzed Jamie about his plans for meeting up with his Welshwoman and wished him well for his weekend meeting.
After a good night’s sleep we congregated in the entrance to journey to our various places of interest. Some took a taxi to the Royal Yacht Britannia, some to catch the coach to ….. We travelled to the Scottish Gallery of Modern Art, where we were dropped off, whilst others ventured on to Jupiter Artland and Rosslyn Chapel.
A green mound stood in front of the museum which had tiers of smooth, velvety grass that led down to a gleaming lake reflecting the cloudless sky. Signs warned us sternly not to roll off the tempting hills – which of course, I wanted to do. Inside the gallery there was a feast of art to delight our eyes. There was a wealth of children’s art in response to a competition which lined some of the walls. A charming elderly lady proudly showed us her granddaughter’s painting of brown legs in wellingtons splashing in a puddle! Next we went across the road to the other building which was exhibiting an historic display of collage. Dainty cut-outs by Victorian ladies, ironic political statements, Matisse patterns in blue, pink and yellow met our astonished eyes. Monty Python album covers were there too, also some nourishing soup and rolls!!
We then caught the shuttle bus to Edinburgh, and continued our sightseeing by visiting the National Museum of Scotland. Once there, we saw science inventions, Natural History, Pottery, masks and almost everything you could imagine – glorious sights. We fortified ourselves with tea and lemon drizzle cake as we gazed up at the glass roof and winding balconies. Alas, we were too late for the Millennium Clock to activate, so we caught our bus home to Portobello and our three course supper.
Our last morning, there was a choice to visit the V and A in Dundee or exploring Edinburgh I opted for the latter and caught the bus into toon. Once there, I headed once more for the museum and was in time for the Millennium Clock to strike eleven! It was most exciting; gradually, it lit up from the bottom, illuminating dismal scenes depicting the mistakes of the twentieth century. Gradually, coloured lights made their way up the clock, characters moved slowly and a rather jolly hurdy gurdy tune played until the whole clock was filled with movement and stained glass eyes and suns stared down, and lights glowed right up to the pinnacle which boasted a Pieta. So, after more cake and tea, I ventured into the delights of the Old Town. Past Greyfriars where faithful Bobby slept on his Master’s grave, into Grassmarket with stalls and food, round the foot of the castle, down tiny alleys and past tall buildings, turrets and stone carvings. On I went, down the Royal Mile and many interesting nooks and crannies. Back to Princes Street where I caught an open top bus and toured like a proper tourist. I passed many places where I had already walked, but saw Holyrood palace and the weird architecture of the New Scottish Parliament building, King Arthur’s Mount and a historic exhibition marking the Moon landing. Thoroughly exhausted by so many sights and sounds, I tried with difficulty to find a bus stop where I could catch the number 44 back to Portobello.
On Saturday our coach took us to Dundee and a chance to visit the MacManus Gallery housed in a churchlike building with a statue of Robbie Burns outside. Then on to the V and A Scotland, designed by Kenga Kuma in the shape of a ship, which is next to The Discovery ‘berthed in dry dock. A fabulous building and everything you would expect to see in the V and A … textiles; furniture etcetera. A restored reconstruction of Charles Rennie Macintosh’s Oak Room, originally designed in 1908 as a tearoom in Glasgow. An amusing animated contraption for ‘Blowing Bubbles’ about five feet high pumping bubbles from a container kept many people entertained … but it was a scientific experiment.
Sunday came all too quickly and we all clambered aboard the coach to Tebay Service Station and later The Potteries Museum Art Gallery at Stoke on Trent. A few Lowrys and an eyeful of lovely ceramics greeted us and sadly at long last, we were on our final stretch. What a wonderful experience! Romance in the air on our coach, and the beauty of a fine, elegant city behind us. Many, many thanks to John and Carole for their impeccable organisation and hard work. We all had a lovely time.