My planned trip to Canada is getting longer and longer. I had planned first of all to go to Vancouver Island, BC, then wondered if it would be possible to visit cousins near Ottawa as well. Next idea was to include a rail trip through the Rocky Mountains for a couple of days. On investigating the possibilities I found a tour of a few extra days that takes in some of the highlights of the Rockies, like Lake Louise and a couple of helicopter trips, and last night I had tea with Scottish Canadian friends who live in Toronto, so I am planning on a few days with them too! I had better get on with the booking soon as things like the Rockies tour may get booked up pretty quickly.
The other day, before heading down into Edinburgh's New Town - it's only a couple of hundred years old, but is still referred to as the New Town - I spent some time at the National Library reading JG's journal again. JG is one of my great great great grandfathers who lived in North Leith in the 1800s. I'll have mentioned him before! Anyway, I hadn't been in the library reading room very long when the fire alarm went off - and how! Not just a bell, but a ruddy great klaxon that would just about waken the dead, and I was sitting right in front of it! The supervisor ushered us all out, back through the other reading room, down the great flight of stairs, milling with the other readers and staff on our way to the front door. Everyone congregated outside on the pavement and before long the fire brigade's siren was heard, and a fire engine - do they call them appliances now? - raced down the road towards us and screeched to a halt outside. The guys didn't seem to be in too much of a hurry as they entered the building, so everyone just took it to be a routine fire drill, which maybe it was, but the firemen were there for about half an hour, so maybe they were actually doing a search of the place for a possible fire. Eventually though, they came out again, climbed into the fire engine, and drove off! Thankfully we weren't going to lose any of Scotland's historical documents that day! At last we all trooped back inside and back to our respective reading rooms!
I had started to look at a Bible that had belonged to JG - there are two in the library's archives, one of which I have seen and gained some genealogical information from, but this one I don't ever recall looking at before! It was quite an unusual object! For a start it was bound in an animal skin, which I discovered later had been a gift from one of JG's friends! Deer? Goat? Who knows? Anyway, leafing through the bible I realised that the different sections, had different printing dates. The main testaments were printed in 1795 but the Psalms that followed were printed three years earlier. Were Bibles perhaps put together in different pre-printed sections and bound as required? JG's Bible was also interesting in that at the back, also bound in, were various "Presented to...." pages that he had printed for bibles he gave as gifts to family and friends. I was hoping there would be a copy of the Presented to... page for Don's ancestor, but unfortunately it wasn't among the collection.
That was how Don and I actually connected, by the way. He has the family bible passed down several generations that was gifted by JG to his youngest sister-in-law on her marriage, and was keen to find out about the "affectionate brother" JG described himself as. To that end he had done some research and posted a message on a family message board - which I then found! I replied and that started us on a trail that we still continue today, hence the visit to the house where the Gall family lived, and my re-reading of the journals! So back to the furry bound Bible! In it I also found some handwritten pages on the "genealogy of the Galls" - and there I found a link back to another earlier generation! This just might be the link to other Gall families from the same small area where JG's family came from - if only I could find the paper I have these other Gall trees written on! I'll find it! It has to be here somewhere!
I finished up at the library in the late afternoon and came out to meet fellow-blogger Bondbloke, aka Alf. We had arranged to meet up for a cup of tea and a chat, which is just what we did, having a cup of tea in a rather nice cafe/bistro just off the Royal Mile. We chatted about what got us into blogging in the first place, looked at each other's cameras and discussed how we used our respective photos. I heard a bit about how he came from Cornwall, via York and Leeds to make his home with Jo in Edinburgh, and about his paintings - "pretty pictures for tourists" when in Cornwall and York - and how he wants to do more than that with his work now.
We parted company after an hour or so, as I had to collect my laptop and stuff from the library before I headed for the New Town and tea with Jean and Jim , and agreed we'd meet up again another time.
First is the view of the Scott Monument (Memorial to Sir Walter Scott) through Advocates Close off the High Street. It stands in the New Town, in Princes Street Gardens, and can be climbed. On a good day the views are amazing! On a cloudy day, I wouldn't bother!
St Giles, the High Kirk of, is right beside the High Street and if the photo in the cafe had been better you'd have seen it through the window.
Round the corner, on George IV Bridge, is the newest of Edinburgh's city centre hotels. It only opens this month - today in fact. It has a sister hotel in Kuwait and by 2012 there will also be one in Oman! Hmmm!
Just across the road from the National Library is the Central Lending Library so I guess these two youngsters are receiving the gift of knowlege from some deity or other.
So, off to Stockbridge next, to find the flat Jean and Jim are renting. It is situated in a beautiful 19th century stone building with a wide stair up to the front door.
Once inside, there was a climb up 80 steps to the top flat. Didn't do the arthritic hips much good, but I made it, stopping on the half landings to rest and to take photos like this one.
Eventually I reached the top floor and what a beautiful flat it was! Spacious, light and airy with large rooms and high ceilings off a large lobby with a curious cupola, and beautifully decorated, with original features still in place, like the wooden shutters inside the windows, ready to be unfolded across the single-glazed panes on a cold dark winter night. No double glazing in those days! In fact, talking of glass, some of these panes could well be the original ones! When you enlarge the picture here, look at the pane on the right, in the middle. There's a definite distortion that you might have got a couple of centuries ago, but certainly not today!
.....and the views?! Well check out these beautiful buildings! I love the half moon window just below the chimney pots in the right hand building. I think the fireplaces must be on inside walls with the chimneys themselves turning towards the front of the building, if you get my drift. All the streets down this way are still made with the stone setts that were the norm in an older Edinburgh. Fine (if not a bit bumpy) for horses and carriages, but hell for cars!
We had a wonderful evening, a gorgeous meal and plenty of chatter, but as they say, all good things must come to an end, and before I knew it, it was time to get on my way again. I took a taxi to the bus station - I still think of a taxi ride being an indulgence - and caught the bus for Peebles. I really am making use of this bus pass! So much so that I had forgotten to re-tax my car at the end of May, and the next morning got a couple of calls from friends who had seen the police checking out my out of date disc, and talking on their radios! I got right onto the internet to do the renewal, but couldn't get the car registration document number to be recognised, no matter how many times I retyped it! I know all the other requirements are in order but as I couldn't find one of them - the certificate of roadworthiness, I was stuck. I couldn't renew online and going in person to the Post Office requires all the documents!!! I thought I would have no option but to register the car off the road for a while, - but I couldn't even do that without the reg. doc. number! Oh more RATS!!!!!
Meanwhile I went down to the car and put it into the carpark which should be considered "off the road".
A sudden thought late in the day found me searching in the car glove compartment. Had I left the MoT certificate in there perhaps? Nope! I thought I had found it but it was an out of date one! RATS again! Well, the registration document number wasn't recognised, so my only other alternative was to find the reminder document sent out a few weeks ago, but where on earth was that? I didn't even remember receiving it, so through all my recent important mail I went, till EUREKA! Found it! By then it was 2.00 in the morning, but I got right back onto the internet and ordered up my tax disc right there and then! Next day, back to the car to fix a note to the windscreen to say I had applied for the disc and was awaiting its arrival! I guess the police would check that anyway if they came back to the car.
Anyway, hopefully that will be the end of the saga!
Talk again soon.