rhythmaning: (sunset)
The first random walk of 2014 took me north west to West Pilton, an area I don't think I have been to before. (This was of course the reason for starting the project.) It felt rather intrusive, me looking around the neighbourhood, and I didn't find anything there that I wanted to photograph: these pictures are taken on the way to and the return from Pilton.

Incidentally, Pilton is very near where the young boy Mikaeel went missing; these photographs were taken two weeks ago, long before the incident, and don't feature his neighbourhood.

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Doors Open.

Nov. 4th, 2013 07:14 pm
rhythmaning: (sunset)
Ian Rankin's book "Doors Open" starts in an auction room, and that was where I started my exploration of buildings in Edinburgh's Doors Open weekend: Lyon & Turnbull. Their auction- and showroom is housed in an imposing Georgian former church not far from me: it is at the end of a short street, the building's columns drawing one down the road.

It was quite interesting inside, though adaptations for its current use means that its previous functions is somewhat obscured. I didn't take any photographs inside, for instance - though I did see some chairs that I went back and bid for the following week.

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I also went to the very similar, still-functioning church opposite my flat. Though they weren't in the Open Doors official list, they had decided to open their doors anyway. It was a very similar design to the now-auction house, and interesting to see it in use. The congregation was once measured in thousands - the church was built by statute to accommodate the families of the expanding New Town: for every so many new dwellings, the council required that there were so many churches, too. Now, it is probably measured in tens (although there are always lots of cars parked in the street on Sunday mornings - though that may be due to the evangelical chapel down the road, too).

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I then headed west, via the James Clerk Maxwell Institute - in a rather fine four storey New Town house, where JCM was born (and without whom much of the modern world might not be possible - unless someone else had come along to make his discoveries in his place) - to two fascinating buildings in the west end. First was the Drumsheugh Baths, a Victorian swimming pool designed in a Turkish style with all sorts of strange poolside equipment - swings and trapezes instead of diving boards (and, since it is a functioning swimming pool in use, they ban photography). The second was Lynedoch House, home to the Edinburgh Society of Musicians, a building I have been in before - indeed, I played there several years ago. It is a bit of a warren, with a large room overlooking Dean Village and the Water of Leith. They had someone playing short piano pieces; I sat staring out of the window at the amazing view, listening to some lovely piano playing. It felt rather special.

I walked back along the Water of Leith, and popped into St Bernard's Well. I have been past many times, but never inside the well itself. It is a beautiful building, tiled in mosaic. The pump still works, but the council won't let you drink the water - 'elf and safety...

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The following day I went to more temples: curiosuly for the centre of the Enlightenment, Edinburgh has a large variety of faiths and places for them to worship. I first went to the (former) Glasite Meeting House. I had never heard of Glasites before. They have a history that could have been written by Iain Banks. The last Glasite elder died in 1999. It was a plain building, now used for meetings and events. It had a remarkable glass ceiling boss, the only source of natural light into the meeting room itself. Presumably to stop the congregation being overly distracted - the guide explained that their pews were especially spacious because worship in one form or another went on for hours.

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Around the corner from the Glasite meeting house is the Edinburgh Baha'i centre. In a beautiful Georgian townhouse, a small congregation meet. It was a beautifully restored building, and a fitting end to Open Doors.
rhythmaning: (Saxophone)
The first weekend of the Edinburgh Jazz Festival, back in July, featured two outdoor events. First was the Mardi Gras, in the Grassmarket, followed the next day by the Carnival in Princes Street. These were both unexpected fun - unexpected because they didn't really feature my kind of music. But fun they were, helped by exceptionally good weather.

The Mardi Gras had another advantage - beer, the pubs and restaurants that crowd along the Grassmarket doing great business. It was a lovely afternoon, wandering around in the crowd - the atmosphere was great.

There were a mixture of bands spread across four stages: blues musicians, New Orleans marching brass bands, tags bands - and (I think) a Taiwanese jazz band, played on traditional instruments - worth it just to hear the sound produced!

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The Carnival the next day was on a different scale: along the length of Princess Street, and throughout Princes St Gardens as well, a wealth of marching bands, street dancers and performers from all sorts of styles and traditions gathered and performed. The choice was startling - so much to see! And everyone looked like they were having the time of their lives.

In part this was only possible because Princes St was closed down because of the on-going tram works. There is something joyous about being able to walk unmolested through streets that are otherwise busy: a feeling of reclaiming the street from the traffic. I doubt this will be possible next year - the work is complete, and I can't imagine the council being willing to close the street down to enable it.

Which would be a real shame! Everyone seemed to have a great time. The mood was excellent, the dancers impressive, and the best infectious - and this is music I didn't expect to enjoy!

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