On Monday I met up with fellow blogger and friend, Alan, for a cup of tea and a blether in Edinburgh.
This is us with his friend Fay last summer.
He’s soon to be off on his travels to Nepal again, but thinks he may not write a blog this time, as perhaps the trip isn’t going to be quite the adventure previous visits have been …….and there’s nothing like a trek in the Himalayas for adventure - in my opinion!
I’ve told you before about Namuna Mahila Vidyalaya, NMV, the school for women in Kathmandu, which is at the moment struggling somewhat with funds and equipment basically. Well, this trip, Alan will be working with staff there to try and sort things out and set things off on to a positive route forward. Amongst other things, his IT skills will be useful in setting up programs for accounts and general organisation within the school, and his experience in teaching English as a foreign language will also come in handy. It is to be hoped he finds things going reasonably well when he gets there.
I am sure it won’t be all work and no play! There will be a wee adventure just waiting for him, I have no doubt. I have to say I would love to go to Nepal, but for once it may not be the sort of country to visit alone. We’ll see what the future brings! I am already planning a long haul trip for next year, but more of that anon!
As I was meeting Alan in the afternoon in Edeinburgh, I took the opportunity to go up in the morning to Register House to do a bit more research on the ancestors. It was an early start but I arrived just after 9.00a.m. and was allocated my little spot in one of the research rooms with computer all ready for me to look up all the records I wanted to or had time to look at. The morning was spent quite profitably, and then Alan phoned to say he had arrived and was in the building. After our cuppa and a good blether about all sorts of things including his forthcoming trip, he left to go back to Glasgow and I to add a few more search results to my Netbook.
Register House was designed by Robert Adam in 1771 as a “proper repository for the Scottish Records”. Construction did not begin till a few years after and although the basic shell of the building was up by 1778, it was almost an “Edinburgh’s 21st century trams” situation when funds were unavailable to complete it. Someone styled it “the most magnificent pigeon house in Europe”, and I am sure they were not wrong. It took six more years of lying empty and derelict before further funds were secured to continue with the job. Although another three years passed before it could actually be occupied, it wasn’t until 1822 that the building was completely finished - “the earliest purpose-built record repository in Britain” (Information from Julian Small). The present research rooms surrounding the central rotunda are not nearly as ornate as the galleried rotunda itself with its large dome and beautiful plasterwork. Having recently undergone a large refurbishment the rotunda again looks magnificent. I probably could have taken photos but I didn’t think about it! Next time!
Over the years these records and many others have been computerised and now there is no running back and forward between the drawers of microfiche and the readers, which superceded looking at the actual record books. Today everything up there and more, is on computer and available at a mouse click, and the two buildings have been incorporated into one big search unit called “The Scotland’s People Centre”.
All around are more beautiful buildings of the New Town – new in the 1770s, but still referred to as the New Town today. This is the view from the front doors of Register House, looking up North Bridge , with the old North British (Station) Hotel, now the Balmoral, on the right, and the Scotsman newspaper offices, now a hotel, beyond, while on the left is the old General Post Office, now general business offices. Oh, and the guy on the horse in front? He’s the Iron Duke, the Duke of Wellington, under whom the war against Napoleon was won.
Behind me is the mile long Princes Street, sadly not as beautiful a street as it was when I was growing up in the city, but still pretty impressive with its mixter-maxter of buildings on one side and the Princes Street Gardens on the other, across which are wonderful views of the Old Town and in particular the Castle. On the right behind the tree in the Gardens, is the monument to Sir Walter Scott, novelist and “inventor” of the Scottish tourist trade! The clock tower belongs to the Balmoral Hotel and in the distance is the Calton Hill observatory.
The Edinburgh Art Galleries sit at the foot of the Mound, one of three routes which connects the New Town to the Old,– it’s a steep hill to climb! Up at the top of the Old Town is the Castle looking down on everywhere including the New Town.
So that was Monday. It was good to see Alan again, and also to have found a few more details about the ancestors. My family tree is growing all the time!
Talk again soon.