Sunday, 4 November 2018

The Hanging Gardens of Haddington. Edinburgh's Growth Rate.

                                                 ALL PHOTOS CLICK FULL SCREEN.
After the Gullane day out we headed for the Garleton Hills and Haddington where Gail had a few geocaches to find and collect  The Garleton Hills are of modest height and size but very scenic, topped by the Hopetoun Monument, seen here.
I've been up this to the top on previous visits and also the other prominent landmark tower on Mount Hill in Fife. It's not often anyone gets two large monuments dedicated to them so far apart so John Hope, 4th Earl of Hopetoun must have been very grand indeed in his day. Step forward that man from history. Born in the mid 1700s in West Lothian, a Scottish MP and a General in the British Army he fought in numerous battles around the world and gained various titles until his death in 1823 in Paris. I have to confess I didn't know much about him at all apart from visiting these two monuments so it was only when walking past this cul de sac area numerous times on the way to Edinburgh's main bus station and reading the name and info under this statue I made the connection. His horse and image stands here as he was also an early governor of this banking group.
Dundas House. This is it here and I only took the photo because the strong evening sunlight had turned this St Andrew Square RBS branch office from humble bricks into gold bars. Highly symbolic in a way. Set back from the road in the heart of New Town Edinburgh this is no ordinary Royal Bank of Scotland branch office but a grand town house fit for a Baronet, Sir Lawrence Dundas in fact. A man who is not well known today but made his fortune supplying the British Army with goods, also poured money into the building of the Forth and Clyde Canal which ran through his lands near Falkirk and developed the East Coast town of Grangemouth, turning it into a major port. He had estates in Scotland and England so this is no ordinary building inside but elaborately decorated in the finest materials and patterns that money could buy.
 Edinburgh, reading local reports in various city newspapers, has sailed through the 2008 recession and ten years of austerity cuts with flying colours and barely a blip, as Britain's third largest financial centre and one of the fastest growing cities in the UK over the last decade. This confirmed my own suspicions, just looking around the place, that Edinburgh will at some point become the largest city in Scotland, overtaking Glasgow, which is still shrinking in size unless a dramatic upturn and reversal of fortunes takes place. It just feels more vibrant, far more upmarket and always thriving on my frequent bus trips here so it's nice to have my own general feelings confirmed as hard facts.
 With global fingers in many pies RBS was one of the banks deemed too big to fail so they were taken over/owned by the UK government/ British Taxpayer for a while as vast sums of money was poured in to keep the ship afloat but they are now in profit once more so slipped back into private ownership. A licence to produce gold bars again instead of rapidly sinking bricks and back to business as usual it appears. There are downsides to growing too fast however-in banks and in cities--- over-tourism, city centre streets clogged with traffic and pedestrians, stretched public services, and a lack of affordable housing for those not working in high pay professions. Even Edinburgh is not immune from the two tier society effect with a large increase in crisis grants and emergency aid ( up 33 percent) due to welfare cuts and 'restructuring' (ie shrinking/ dismantling) of the benefits system.
Anyway, onwards to the inland market town of Haddington around ten km south from coastal Gullane. Gail had other geocaches here along the river walk through town and although I had visited Haddington many times on day trips I'd never had a chance to look around properly.
The surrounding countryside, like most of the East Coast, is very fertile- full of farms and sunshine drenched fields so Haddington as a central base is fairly prosperous with many fine buildings for a small rural town in the country.
With twice the sunshine hours of the soggy west 50 miles away they can grow wheat, barley, oats and abundant veg crops here - much more productive than the west. I remember growing up on the outskirts of Glasgow, in the 1960s, and at that time they did have a modest hay harvest there as well but it was probably a leftover from the Second World War approach where every spare available field was used to grow crops and this soon died out as it was less profitable than over here on this side. Especially with entry to the Common Market and the various surplus mountains of food and supplies that joining caused in the early years. Remember the handout tins of free green meat anyone?
The river walk in Haddington along the River Tyne is fairly pleasant but not something you would travel 50 miles to see. Fortunately Haddington has other delights in store and we had timed it perfectly for a spurge of late autumn colours. Some of the best I've seen anywhere, hence the 'Hanging Gardens' title.
Beautiful borders are dotted around the town.
All the colours of the rainbow.
Daisies, lilies, sunflowers and name it it's here.
Kniphofia- red hot pokers normally but yellow variety here.
Rudbeckia. Also called Black Eyed Susan with a darker centre ball than this type shown.
St Mary's Parish Church. Haddington.
Neilson Park is also a gem of a place in the centre of town.

This is as wide as it gets and is only a stone's throw in length yet it packs a lot into a small area.
including a fantastic wildflower meadow.
The best I've seen yet.
Packs a punch well above its modest size Haddington does.
The display that made me think of hanging gardens. I only had half an hour to capture it all but it's still more than I've had before on previous trips when we were only stopping off for food or a pint on the way to and from surrounding East Coast hills.
Like this one here. Traprain Law, 221 metres,725 feet high and one of many volcanic plugs dotted around this area and the ancient hilltop fort/seat of a powerful local iron age Celtic tribe, The Votadini. Traprain Law was also the reputed seat of King Lot or Loth who coincidentally has the same name as his former territory- Lothian... and has direct connections to King Arthur, St Mungo,  Sir Gawain and even Uther Pendragon the King of ancient Britain at that time, again according to legends and poems, in an age before accurate records and fixed dates existed on these shores. Although both King Lot and Arthur are mythical shadowy figures from the past, if they ever existed at all, this area has as strong a claim as anywhere else as a late power base for Arthur, Lot and Merlin fighting rearguard battles against the invading Romans and Saxons. Place names to these three central figures are all over this east coast area, even today, and several films have highlighted this in recent times, placing Arthur and Merlin fighting battles north of Hadrian's Wall instead of the usual Wales or Cornwall setting.... i.e based in Southern Scotland. Historically, many Celtic tribes who refused to submit were pushed out into the more mountainous regions of the UK by these powerful new invaders and some grains of truth can usually be found hidden within most legends, however distorted with new re-tellings of the story. The popular Game of Thrones is also a clever re-imagining of ancient Britain, its various kingdoms, and 'The Wall' only with dragons and more ice and snow thrown into the mix. Even in Victorian times, which was not that long ago, the culture and traditions of the Highland Clans had a dramatic makeover and many of the iconic things we now associate with Scottish highland life today, promoted and known around the world as intrinsically 'Scottish' is a relatively modern invention that didn't exist pre Victoria and Albert getting involved. Dreamed up by a German Prince and a German/English Queen which turned a mostly hand to mouth existence of grim savagery into a romantic, highly fashionable and perfectly safe Disneyland which people flocked to visit and embellish further. It was a successful rebranding and put that image of Scotland on the world map which has lasted to this day but also shows, in a fairly short time period, how reality can be erased/become fiction and visa versa.   
and his round table connections here. Brother in Law to King Arthur, Father To Sir Gawain, Grandfather to St Mungo. An outstanding pedigree for one single guy.

I'll end with one of Ireland's greatest folk singers for the last 40 years singing one of Ireland's best story songs. The subject matter is one that's not often mentioned in verse so eloquently as here but affects grown men, women and children in every corner of the planet. You have to wait until the last line to know what that subject is. When the artist stops singing that's the end even though this footage still continues for a few minutes more. A fantastic classic song I first heard decades ago. Still as vivid, raw, and powerful today. Excellent quality on this recording.
Christy Moore. Spancil Hill.


Linda W. said...

Your flower and sunset photos are beautiful!

Kay G. said...

Wow, I love all these photos. The flowers are just so beautiful! I have never seen a yellow "red hot poker".
Have you ever seen the movie from the 1980's with a young Helen Mirren? It was called "Excalibur", I think. Can't remember where they were supposed to be.
Will come back later to listen to the video, can't hear anything just now except my loud washer and dryer-might be time to get new appliances! LOL.

Anabel Marsh said...

I think I have only been to Haddington once, it looks very pretty. I don’t remember green meat! Wine lakes and butter mountains, yes, but not that.

Rosemary said...

I must admit that I have not watched a single episode of Game of Thrones, but I know that many people are completely hooked on it especially across the pond.
The flowers are still wonderful, especially those that you have shown, even though it is now nearing the end of autumn.
I don't remember handouts of green meat either - whatever was it?

blueskyscotland said...

Thank You Linda.

blueskyscotland said...

Spot on Kay,
That was Camelot with Uther Pendragon, Helen Mirren as Morgana and Lot was there as well in a minor role so most sources have him firmly tied in with King Arthur in some way- strange if they lived so far apart with one based in Lothian, in Scotland, and the other based near Avalon (Glastonbury)in Southern England There is a Camelon near Falkirk not far away from Arthur's Seat but maybe that's just weird coincidence.

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Anabel,
It was tins of meat given out free to pensioners but we ended up with a few tins around the early 1980s at a guess as the folk living upstairs didn't fancy them. They tasted fine once heated up but when you poured them out at first there was a green tinge to the gravy which disappeared when cooked. Thinking now that might have been some kind of olive oil mixed in as the EU had surplus stocks of that as well. It only happened a couple of times a few years apart but can't remember the exact years.

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Rosemary,
see above comment for green meat explanation. G.O.T has a big following here as well but is probably too graphic and violent for most blog folk here. Great epic story though which borrows a great deal from actual historic events. Filmed in Northern Ireland and has really boosted the economy there. We got Outlander as a consolation prize- filmed in Cumbernauld and the Central Belt.

Andy said...

Never ceases to amaze me where references to Arthurian legend crop up right across the UK. When I used to visit Edinburgh when my mate lived there I always wanted to pick off those dramatic volcanic plug summits but as we were still hill fit them we had our eyes on loftier prizes :)

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Andy,
Yes, for an age when travel distance was measured on foot, on horseback, or boat it seems strange that all these admittedly mythical characters get around so much right from the start with Arthur cropping up in Cornwall, Wales, Glastonbury,(Avalon) Cumbria and even Scotland if he was in an alliance with King Lot of Lothian and his sister was married to him. You would think the ancient stories and chronicles would have them all living in one tight area close together but even the early accounts have them scattered apart in the case of Lot. I suppose there would be large scale disruption and mass movement of tribes then however to avoid successive waves of Roman and Saxon forces marching across Britain.

Carol said...

Hello... testing, testing...

I think more or less all I kept typing was that I loved the photo near the end of the bird on the passing place sign in the sunset. I did say something else as well but no idea what now!

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Carol,
That should be it fixed. Yes, a lucky crow shot zoomed straight into the sunset behind it.

Carol said...

it was posing - they're very posey birds! ;-)