Last week’s choir practice in Edinburgh proved not too bad. The ending of one song was a big worry to Jackie and she said she had been dreading us doing it. However, everyone knew their part and we managed to put it together not badly at all! I’m still struggling with the words though. Anyway, after a jolly session in the pub afterwards, Jennifer and I caught the bus down to the New Town, where she lives in a basement apartment, in rather a prestigious street, not far from Princes Street. I was to go shopping for a kilt skirt next morning – choir uniform - so had cadged a bed for the night, so I wouldn’t have to drive home to Peebles – late – and return the next morning - early!
These beautiful Georgian New Town buildings started life as family homes for the more well off of Edinburgh citizens in the 18th century. The basements, below street level were the servants’ quarters, with their own front door reached by a stairway going down from the street, as you can see on the left.
The family living upstairs had a much more elaborate entrance, with steps flying over the “area” which was the yard outside the servants’ entrance, to a large front door possibly with fanlight above, and maybe a lamp or two outside . These would be lit by a servant to guide the family members home after an evening outing (dancing at the Assembly Rooms on George Street perhaps). Flaming torches would have been used to illuminate the homecomer’s way, and these were extinguished in the cone shaped “snuffer” fixed at the foot of one of the lamps – which you can see at the base of the right hand lamp post above.
The New Town houses today are pretty much all subdivided now, and many are used as offices of business companies, solicitors and organisations of one sort or another, but there are still a great many flats or apartments that are residential, including Jennifer’s former servants’ rooms. The rows of houses are beautiful, classical in style,
Columned porticos, bow windows, ornamental balustrades, all sit next to each other with grace and ease.
Shops may have been original feature of some of the street level buildings. Today there are trendy shops, distinguished art galleries, flam-boyant restaurants with fancy names, and fabulous teashops serving delightful and expensive cakes with tea or coffee.
the beautiful art galleries of the Royal Scottish Academy and National Gallery, to walk up the Playfair steps to the top of the Mound, and into the Old Town, which is situated on a ridge sloping down from
the Castle to the Palace of Holyrood (the Royal Mile). There are several Scottish souvenir shops near the top of the Mile, but I couldn’t find the kilt skirt I wanted, and it wasn’t until the afternoon when I met Linda and went down to Leith, once the main port of Edinburgh, that I found what I was looking for – a Black Watch tartan kilted skirt, that was not too expensive but not rubbishy either! I was mighty pleased. At last I have my choir uniform, so now I can sing in the Mods at Mull and Caithness, provided I know my words!!!
Talk again soon.