Why six days in Edinburgh? Because I’m doing an intensive Gaelic language course! I told you before about the Gaelic class I was going to at Newbattle Abbey, once a week. Well, this is the same course but with 4 units a day, rather than one a week! By the end of the second day, Thursday, we had covered what the Newbattle class covered in the last seven weeks!
I got the chance to do this through the choir, so decided to take the opportunity, and although it’s hard work, the time goes quickly, teaching interspersed with silly games to help us remember, and tea breaks and lunch break into the bargain. The tutors are mainly trainees, under the supervision of David, who devised the Ulpan Gaelic scheme. He actually attended the Welsh Wlpan course to see how the scheme worked and not only did he learn to speak Welsh fluently, but he was so confident of its achievements that he set to, and created a scheme for Gaelic learners. There are well over 100 units – maybe 140 plus - to be learned, and by the time we have finished our 6th day we will have done 24 of them! David himself has given us three classes so far, and is he enthusiastic! He’s absolutely tremendous, such energy and dedication! The others are doing their best; some are better than others, and of course there are so many variations in dialect that we are learning bits of each from each tutor! Our speech is going to be a hybrid affair, gu dearbh – indeed/truly!
Anyway, starting class at 9.00 a.m. means that I have to set my alarm for 6.30, and be ready to catch a bus to Dun Eideann - Edinburgh - at 7.25 – it’s still dark! By the time I get off the Peebles bus an hour later to catch another along Princes Street it is just light, and on a beautiful morning the sun will just be coming up! On Thursday morning I took a few photos. This one (above) from Princes Street has just a spot of light in the background, way beyond the castle.
Getting off the second bus at the West End, I could see St John’s church tower bathed in light, as was the dome of St. George’s West church on Charlotte Square, now a repository for the Records Offices ,
The sun was just above the horizon between St John’s Church and the Caley hotel - right. It was only a short walk from there to the community church centre where our course is held, and. inspired by looking out on the Princes Street buildings from the bus, I took time to look up at the buildings above shop level on Shandwick Place. This is all part of the 18th/19th century New Town, with architecture of varying styles and from different years. One thing is for sure. That was a wonderful time for the city. The buildings are so beautiful, built to be enduring as well as decorative. This probably being a later New Town development there are other buildings like this one, dating from the Art Nouveau period, I should think.
On the right, not only two styles but two different types of stonework, local whinstone to the left and the softer red sandstone to the right. This and the next pictures were taken through a very dirty window in our meeting room but I loved the reflection of the church clock above us in that top right window of the left hand building! Pity we weren’t that bit higher to get more of the clock face in!
So. having worked hard all day, by the time we finish at 4.30 in the afternoon it is already dark again. Along at the other end of Princes Street the Big Wheel is being set up for the festive season and already the lights are switched on, and playing their sequences of colours and patterns. I took the next photo without much hope of it being too good – and as expected, it wasn’t ! I should remember to carry a small tripod around with me.
However, playing with filters on my computer software, I made it look like a painting - The Scott Monument, and the big wheel against a dark but cloudy sky; the flood lit castle in the distance on its volcanic rock, dominating the city; the traffic in the foreground embarking on the evening rush hour….
We have another three days of our six to go, so maybe I’ll get some more pictures before we finish. There is certainly more than one building in Princes Street I would love to photograph.
Talk again soon.