Sunday, 14 January 2018

Leith. Leith Docks. Restalrig. Edinburgh. Last Act.

                                                ALL PHOTOS CLICK FULL SCREEN.
A daytime photo of the place I took Anne and Belinda into for an evening meal. It's a large family friendly pub/restaurant situated at the bottom end of Leith Walk- and the bus from Edinburgh city centre dropped us off at the door. It's also far enough away from the tourist honeypots of the Royal Mile to be almost a third of the price of city centre restaurants catering for visitors. By this time we were all hungry so no grumbles about cheap and cheerful pub grub as they would have happily scraped food off the pavement when we finally arrived here. (there's method in my madness- sometimes) Fortunately, they serve meals late and stay open until 11:00pm here so no need for that. It's a large open plan space inside, being a former local cinema then bingo hall with a range of unusual interior architecture and fittings. Surprisingly impressive compared to the small outside entrance but modernized to suit today's tastes. Steak pie, chips and peas: burger, chips and peas  and a curry were soon swallowed and pronounced excellent followed by a drink of choice. Excellent in my case as I could afford it as a treat.
A look inside. Only right as I gave The Witchery the same link in the last post.
Even without the difference in price for menus Leith is more my style of place anyway. Like Anne and Belinda I'm from a working class background in the Glasgow council estates so we naturally feel more at home in ordinary areas rather than upmarket ones as we understand the environment completely without even thinking about it. Although I've enjoyed exploring both worlds from time to time this one will always feel more natural to me and I instinctively know where I belong within it. Also a relief to find wide quiet roads and pavements here after the crush of the tourist numbers where stopping to take a photograph often requires planning- like always having a lamppost or other handy solid metal device at your back to stop folk slamming straight into you if you halt forward pavement progress in any way. Another plus was not having the worry of getting separated every time I stopped, however briefly, as the crowds immediately swallowed them up like a disappearing act and you had to keep constantly alert in busy areas to find each other again.
It was also a nice change to get away from the tartan, haggis and heather stereotypes, packed shops, and gridlocked traffic jams of central Edinburgh during the festive period. This area, Restalrig, was where we were staying for the night. Anne's friend, W, had offered us a free bed for the night as long as we turned on the heating, checked the place over security wise, and made sure the frost protection was still working ok. The house owner was elsewhere for a few days as their job often involved driving in central Edinburgh and the last place they wanted to be was around the capital during Christmas and New Year. Edinburgh is a very busy city these days and seems to have something going on most weeks so I can understand that and as it was minus 5 overnight for a few days they wanted the house heated, boiler started, and the taps used just to give the place some action to prevent freezing. This is not it by the way just a period street of different housing types near an old church.
Both Leith and nearby Restalrig have a long history dating back to medieval times as this local pub sign shows. Both supplied goods to the city but were thriving places in their own right- one a busy sea port and the other a large rural estate and trading area offering a wide range of produce. Like selling bunches of roses in season no doubt.
Slightly different now of course in modern times but both still have a wide range of interesting buildings and architectural styles.
The girls bagged the bedrooms and I got the living room carpet but as that was the warmest room in the house I was quite happy. Being a veteran bothy and climbing hut sleeper it was actually a big step up in class for me after some of the other places I've put my head down in - and a free bed for the night- yippeee! hence the evening meal thank you. We arrived in the dark but in the morning we had a proper look around the district before heading for the docks. The house was put back in order to the way we found it and the girls left a Christmas gift and cards behind as a thank you.
The great thing about Leith docks is that it's still a busy working sea port so you never know what you might see down there whenever you visit. Oil platforms here.
Ships come and go nearly every day so there's always something new to see... the surprise factor.
It's certainly busier than Glasgow's River Clyde which was fine in the days of sailing ships and trade with America but too far inland and on the wrong side of the country to compete with modern east coast trade routes and long standing European connections.
A gable end mural in Leith depicting the long history of the area and the various trades in what was to all intents and purposes a separate town in its own right. This mural is a bit faded now unfortunately.
I like this mural. It's different.
Leith has a wide range of buildings but one I really wanted to see was the 'Banana Flats' as its one of the last examples of 1960s Brutalist architecture left in Scotland. It also featured in the Trainspotting book and that's probably why it's now a category A listed structure. Ironically, most of the Trainspotting film was shot in Glasgow's slums as the capital city father's were worried it would damage Edinburgh's reputation abroad and they wanted to keep the tourist money pouring into the city. Compared to Glasgow, Edinburgh does seem to generate more income, just looking around the place at visitor numbers alone, but whether that's an accurate assessment I'm not sure.
This is it here. Ten floors high and curved like a banana .Architects always have great bold ideas but most of them do not grow up in poorer areas of cities so they usually have an unrealistic vision of how designs like this will turn out in practice with ordinary folk with families living in them. Estates like this one have been built and pulled down ten to twenty years later in very poor condition all over the UK yet cottage type council estates built in the 1930s, each house with back and front small gardens, are still looked after and thriving today- although most of them are now bought so they are off the market for renting out. A UK wide problem for today's young folk looking for a place to live that started in the 1980s with the right to buy scheme- for former council estates. Less affordable housing around now for newer generations. These days CCTV everywhere and modern security upgrades have improved living conditions in the flats which used to be problematic in the past and they do have fantastic views from the upper levels.
What I like about Leith is its sheer variety of buildings a short distance from each other- ancient, old and brand new- often in the same street.
and of course its waterfront area- turning it into a mini Venice.
Merchant Navy Memorial. Little dock workers unloading. One of my favourite sculptures.
Another view of it.
More Leith Waterfront.
A quiet gentleman enjoying the dusk.
Deep Arctic lit up like a Christmas Tree. Leith docklands.
A ship coming into the harbour from the Firth of Forth.
As the bus stop homewards was near this shopping centre and it had started raining by this time Belinda and Anne insisted on a quick visit - 'the perfect umbrella.' I was not overly keen but as I'd dragged them all over Leith for photographs I couldn't very well refuse.
Heading down to get a bus back to Princes Street and the intercity bus home to Glasgow.
A few photos of our home town again. Glasgow's very own architecture. City Centre view.
Cowcaddens area near the bus station.
Glasgow's Eagle Building at night.
Thank you both for an unforgettable trip and a great city to city adventure. The End.


Carol said...

The Calmac ferries went to dry-dock in Leith - not sure if they still do but they did in the days of my favourite, The Claymore (the 1970s one). The crew said they always used to have a great 3 weeks or so 'down at Leith'.

Anabel Marsh said...

And a grand adventure it was!

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Carol,
I suppose many working the Calmac ferries may well have been from smaller communities on the west coast routes so a lively big place like Leith with its pubs, clubs and shops would seem a desirable alternative, with Edinburgh itself a ten minute bus ride away.

blueskyscotland said...

Cheers Anabel,
It certainly was that. I enjoyed it anyway but not sure if A and B would be keen to walk that amount again as we certainly covered a lot of miles in two days.

Neil said...

What a fascinating series of posts! Really enjoyed them. You certainly know your way around!

Carol said...

The crew were a mix. There was 'Big George' (6 foot 10 and biiiig with it) - a lovely chap who came from Kyle. Then there was Craig from the mainland who went to be an officer on the Mull ferry so I expect he's still on that run. Then there were the islanders from the Uists like Lachie, Michael and Ronnie. Most of the officers were from the mainland too but I only really knew the second mate - he owns that little island with a lighthouse on as you leave Oban - a really nice chap.

Rosemary said...

The Foot of the Walk is handy to know about next time I am in Edinburgh.

blueskyscotland said...

Thanks Neil.

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Carol,
If that was the Oban to Outer Hebrides run( Lewis and Harris)that would make sense going to Leith for maintenance... unless Greenock didn't have a large enough dry dock.

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Rosemary,
Having seen your online skills regarding meals I'm sure you could make better yourself. One of the reasons I rarely eat in restaurants is that I'm not bad in the kitchen and always enjoy my own cooking. The food we had was hot and tasty but it's the luck of the draw going by the reviews online and it may not always be like that. The interior is interesting but I wouldn't want you to be disappointed- food wise.
If I have a meal outside (apart from chip shops) I prefer good basic stuff like cold carved meats and salad, roast potatoes, sprouts, steak pie, chips, beans, peas etc...Sunday lunch material in most pubs nowadays.

Linda W. said...

I really enjoy all your tours of the cities in your country.

Anonymous said...

Thoroughly enjoyable tour, so much information and insight packed into these posts as well as some great photos. Great stuff!

blueskyscotland said...

Cheers Andy... and there's even more than you know in them :) (I added an extra comment to the last Edinburgh post.) I probably lost most folk with the penultimate Edinburgh post (the Arthur's Seat one) by adding underground tunnels as 'a labyrinth' as that was a nod to time portals( which have become very fashionable again in certain books- plus semi secret but still highly relevant organizations like the 'Skull and Bones', 'The Bilderbergs', and 'The Freemasons.'
Conspiracy theory being huge in this modern era.
" Puppets who still have hope- carry on."

blueskyscotland said...

Thank you Linda.
Another new Scottish city coming up after a mountain post for a change.