Not more than 400m from our apartment and en route to the local shops and Haymarket station, there is a beautiful alley on a slight hill with some very interesting houses on either side.
Built from local stone they are formed in terraces with a very narrow pathway between each. Each path leads to a small garden and on one side of each terrace, there is a staircase leading from the garden to the upper floor of the building.
A little digging reveals that these are Colony Homes.
The model for Colony homes was developed in the 1850s to provide moderately priced, modern housing for working people. They are double flats – in that there is a dwelling upstairs and a separate one downstairs but the stairway provided each family with access to their own garden and open space – as one had the “front” garden and the other the rear. Traditionally each of the flats had 4 rooms and a separate outside toilet.
The homes in Dalry were built to house employees of the Caledonian Railway and the convenience of being just yards from the station is obvious. With some modifications (such as the dormer windows) they look much as they always did. Today they are “B” listed buildings and offer a little glimpse of the City’s social history. http://portal.historicenvironment.scot/designation/LB26746
The local community had also placed a Christmas tree in the street for everyone to enjoy showing the community spirit is still alive even though the houses have changed hands many times.
This shortcut which I use most days is a little gem. There are other similar Colony Home areas in the city and I plan to go in search of others.
On my way to the hairdressers, and having arrived a little earlier than anticipated, my eye was drawn to a bold black plaque on the wall.
I suppose I hadn’t given much thought to the Scottish standard and subsequently googled it to discover it is the red lion on a gold ground, which also appears as part of the Queen’s standard.
The rough shaped stone itself sits above the plaque set into the wall.
Proof if needed that there are little signs of history in Edinburgh in so many places if you keep your eyes open.
The number 26 bus dropped us close to the waterfront in Portobello on a cool breezy Sunday morning but we were not alone. Walking the front you can expect to be outnumbered about 6 to 1 leg-wise as it is a favourite place to bring your dog or dogs to chase balls, dig holes in the beach or just go nose to nose with doggy friends.
For anyone wanting to measure distance or time (there were cyclists, roller-skaters and joggers too) there are markers at regular intervals along the mile long promenade. At about the 1200m point there is a charming community garden with 3 curious columns (see image above)
The accompanying sign tells you that these formed columns used a technique invented by Eleanor Coade in the 18th Century – a pioneering businesswoman and manufacturer.
No good seaside walk is complete without stopping for refreshments and the Beach Cafe is an ideal spot. With a chef creating super dishes from mainly local and organic ingredients and with a mouthwatering selection of home-made cakes, sitting watching the passing dogs, children and locals passed a pleasant hour.
Mid December should be freezing, dark and bleak in Edinburgh (or so my friends told me) but sometimes the lower light of a northern winter day can be even better than the height of summer. A climb up onto the rock via the Grass Market is a great way to approach the castle.
Membership of Scotland Heritage means we can visit as often as we like so today it was all about the views rather than history. Whilst the world was Christmas shopping we loved the views in all directions from the top.
and afte descending to the crowds on Princes Street, a glance back to the setting sun at 3.45 offered a beautiful silhouette of Edinburgh’s iconic castle on a rock.
I make no apology for starting my travels by talking about the Christmas scenery around the centre of Edinburgh.
Between moving into my new flat and my first Scottish Christmas, there is barely a fortnight so on a brief respite from unpacking boxes, I took a night off to go and visit the Street of Light and its environs.
On George Street, just a street or two behind Princes Street an impressive 3D structure has been constructed which you can walk around or through. At each end there is a Scottish Christmas Market and twice each evening, there is a 15 minute light show choreographed to music which illuminates the structure. With music from a variety of different performers to choose from, you can enjoy carols, toe-tapping fiddle music or traditional Scottish songs.
Continuing down George Street to St. Andrew’s Square there are some spectacularly lit buildings including The Dome
…and The Principal
A few hundred metres along, alongside the seasonal the ice rink, a different tone is struck with a very simple rough carved nativity scene. What struck me most was the beautifully natural way that Mary is holding the infant Jesus – a way that so many mothers would relate to.
So on a slightly damp winter night, a first glimpse into the Christmas decorations on just one street in Edinburgh and a first insight into both the glamour and earthiness of this city.
In December 2016 I moved to Edinburgh, a city I have only ever visited briefly as a tourist. Now that I am making it my new home, I intend to dig a little deeper to unearth its beauty, history, culture and quirkiness.
I plan to do my exploring mainly on foot so sensible shoes are a must, but with a fantastic public transport system, I will also use my CitySmart card to hop on and off buses and trams.
I welcome your questions, comments and suggestions for places to go. I plan to update my stories about twice a week. If it inspires you to visit and look into different corners of this capital city, I will be delighted.