My narrative now picks up Friday morning (June 2, 2017), after a decent night’s sleep with dreams of huge tastenguitarren-playing owls, definitely a new combination for my overly-susceptible subconscious. As AMIS went straight into their full day of research papers at Reid Hall, Jaci and I went off for more playtime. As our Edinburgh dorm overlooking Arthur’s Seat was right around the corner from the Palace of Holyroodhouse, we started our day there.
We had been here 14 years ago but wanted to check if it was on the market yet, as we are starting our retirement property searches. Alas, Queen Elizabeth still uses the place for a week each year.
Photographs are expressively forbidden inside. But unexpectedly someone was apparently texting me and I was trying to see who and oops hit the wrong button!
Not a bad little music room…
…and oops there I go again!
Outside, the ruins of the 1128 abbey.
By good fortune, there was a special exhibit in the adjoining gallery on Maria Merian, one of my many heroes. In her 50’s she spent 2 years in Suriname, South America researching and sketching butterflies, moths, and other insects and reptiles, producing exquisite early works of scientific illustration art for a huge book published in the early 1700s. Just two full sets of plates were hand water-colored by Merian herself, and one original set resides in the National Museum of Scotland. We got to see hundreds of them up close and personal – a hundred times better than reproduced prints I’d seen.
Again, no photography allowed, ergo my furtive glance/stance.
It was now time to meet our friend Daniel Wheeldon for lunch, so following his instructions we hopped on a bus, again sitting on the top for a great view of parts of the city we hadn’t seen.
Daniel treated us at a little French place – Jaci to a special steak, me to scallops, which differed from those in the States by the addition of a strange orange protrusion. Ever the brave one, I gave it go. It wasn’t too terribly different from the normal scallop-y flavor, tho with an odd mousse-like texture and a tad funky. I was less brave about Googling it. Yes – as you guessed, it was indeed “the sexual organs of hermaphroditic scallops.” (And yes, the first person to start a rock band as the Funky Hermaphroditic Scallop Sex Organs will get my business.)
We next got a secret private tour of Edinburgh College of Arts, courtesy of Daniel (pictured), who’s getting his masters through the affiliated Reid U.
Jaci was in her element – first was the display of Costume grad student final projects.
We then visited class/workrooms for dressmaking, silk screening, jewelry making, and silversmithy.
She’s got hundreds of photos if anyone’s interested.
By luck, we ran into the Jewelry Dept. director, who generously spent an hour showing us through all the display rooms being readied fro the public exhibit the following week.
This grad student had the most incredible silver work we’d ever seen:
We then headed back to the AMIS sessions, where I purchased my first pile of books – from one of my favorite blokes, U.K. dealer Tony Bingham.
Bassoon player & researcher Jim Kopp is on Tony’s right.
Dinner on our own was at the atmospheric Library Pub at the 1890’s Teviot Row House student union.
Afterward, we headed to the top floor where the next AMIS party was underway. Ceilidh and dancing!
It wasn’t long before I twisted my ankle in my exuberance and had to sit and watch the younger (and older) folks fly through the traditional dances. I’d be hobbling behind my bad knee-handicapped wife for the rest of the trip.
Said hobbling would begin the next mid-morning after taking a train (the modern quiet kind) to the coast – the charming town of North Berwick (the “w” is silent – don’t ask me why).
Our friend and now-Scotland local Sarah Peters had insisted we go and have lunch at The Lobster Shack.
So we did!
Literally a tiny shack with old bolted-down benches on which to sit and savor the best fresh lobster in the world. So authentic, I think the attached barnacles were still moving. Another first – a seafood version of a Scotch egg, crab and fish replacing sausage.
Facebook meal-posters, eat your heart out!
We meandered through town, and off the main road, we stumbled upon this atmospheric and poignant cemetery – some stones dating to the 1700s and up to WWII vets.
This large weather-beaten stone, artfully adorned in lichen and moss, reads:
“In Memory of five children of John & Marg Craig.
Marg died Aug. 3d, 1777, aged 2 years.
James died Jan 4th, 1778, aged 7 years.
Mary died Sep. 29th, 1784, aged 11 years.
John died Feb 11th, 1785, aged 6 months.
(a 5th)…aged 19 years.”
Over 200 years later, an enduring testament to 5 precious lives. Why would something so remote and random affect Jaci and I so?
We next spent some time in a delightful little museum of local history – from ancient Medieval artifacts to local legend Robert Louis Stevenson.
We were thrilled to have seen so many new sights – because we quickly realized we had been here before! 14 years ago, we had rented a car, and driven in from a different direction to visit the Scottish Seabird Center.
We thus skipped it but wanted to take one last walk to the coast to see if we could spot their Bass Rock rookery. It’s on the horizon just to the right of the dog walker. But what a strange appearance – interesting enough that even locals were there taking photos of it. It was the haar, a cold sea fog that can appear as a distinct wall.
Magical and mysterious.
I’ll leave you with this image, while I head back for the last AMIS paper, and then change for the formal Saturday night banquet.