Saturday, 29 December 2018

An Illuminated Christmas. Part Two. Union Canal Basin. The Meadows. Edinburgh at Night.

                                               ALL PHOTOS CLICK FULL SCREEN.
Getting off the bus in Edinburgh while it was still daylight  my intention was to head down through Princes Street gardens and make for the Union Canal Basin, reaching it, hopefully, just as dusk fell.
Whereas the Christmas illuminations look good against a black sky, already having a burst of dazzling colours everywhere in abundance, I thought that the other areas I intended to visit would look better with a lighter sky and clear details in the surroundings. This is the newly created zone of offices and apartments that surround the union canal basin, once a hive of heavy industry, various factories,, warehouses, a large brewery, etc etc... but now rebuilt into what I'm calling round tower land....
for obvious reasons. Five or six similar structures cluster together in this area surrounding the city end of the Union Canal. Once, materials flowed in and out of the capital via this watery trench and liquid highway with barges lined up to transport the goods. A narrow slot here between the buildings leads through to the canal terminus.
Now it's just the occasional kayaker, an annual raft race day, or a few floating barges/ restaurants moored here and in summer canal tours along the network that take place.
As it says in the posters it is well hidden, completely surrounded by high buildings, like a secret desert oasis with protective steep canyon walls and I'm sure many people even living in Edinburgh have never visited this spot or know about it.
When I was last here they were still constructing new apartments so an added curiousity was to see how they turned out.
and this is some of them here. The slogan- 'perfection is a matter of time' may reflect the fact that it looks fairly austere and open- few softening features, grass, or gardens in sight.
and a wider, distant, view of the same complex. But they do have a Christmas tree. I think these are probably student flats as Vita have them in Glasgow.
I then raced across to The Meadows while it was still light to capture the lighter backdrop. Any later and the outline of spires and buildings here would be almost invisible. It might look easy but getting good  photographs can involve loads of effort. And jogging down five separate streets between districts to get into position in time.
I didn't have to worry about feeling cold in near freezing temperatures after that. Plenty warm.
This isn't Edinburgh Castle by the way, just buildings around The Meadows... a large expanse of open parkland deep within the city.... mainly short grass slopes crisscrossed by various paths running to different city districts.
Unlit at night, apart from the illuminated walkways. I really enjoyed being here as it got fully dark. A great feeling to be in a new area in complete blackness yet surrounded by a spiral tapestry of twinkling lights. A human made milky way and every bit as impressive in its own complex design.
Looking towards Arthur's Seat from the Meadows. A very different vibe from Glasgow Green at night. More friendly feeling, less threatening, although I still had to watch out for large boisterous dogs dancing and growling out the void towards me. But far less growling humans here.

That's the  main difference I find between Glasgow and Edinburgh after dark.

No longer the murder capital of Europe Glasgow still retains a harder edge than Edinburgh that's obvious even to tourists walking around after nightfall. Both cities have rough areas of course... Glasgow just has more and you only need to walk a few streets to find them. In Edinburgh you have to work at it.
Edinburgh Castle, where I'd danced down from myself two hours beforehand. It may not be mountains but I was packing the miles in nevertheless on my whistle-stop tour of the city.
I was also having a ball. I've never been that keen on nightclubs, parties or functions with large groups of people but give me a dark tunnel...
a shady deserted lane....
A voyeur's view of city life from above....
or creeping around unseen in the shadows....
And I'm in my element.               I love the dark when it's like this.
Especially when this is what large parts of Scotland have looked like during December. It may have been an unusual variation on a White Christmas theme but this kind of weather does not inspire me much after the initial novelty and first couple of days. Particularly with freezing ice on the roads.
I 'd much rather swap grey miserable weekends for evening splendour instead.
The Mound. Edinburgh. Can you spot the extra sparkle. Just a suggestion...
Entertainment complex.
Central Plaza. Quartermile.
The Gothic confection of George Heriot's School, an independent fee paying establishment where the children of the great and the good get sent.
Another view.
Christmas tree. Quartermile plaza. Note the rising transparent lifts in the red section.
Somewhere around the Tollcross District.
Heading Back. The Dome.
By the way, I found out that Potterrow here refers to a medieval area flattened by the University of Edinburgh in times past and not Harry Potter at all but could it be that simple? The origin of the Harry Potter name perhaps?.. or just mere coincidence? A similar coincidence to the name Dumbledore being very close to the adjacent Edinburgh district of Dumbiedykes under Arthur's Seat. ... or then again maybe not...a pure wild guess on my part.

but here's another one that may fit better... or also mere coincidence I hasten to add.
Andre Norton. Witch World. published 1970. A very successful children's/young adult author back then with hundreds of published works of imagination to her name and and entire galaxy of self created worlds dreamed up to charm readers. I still have a collection of her books. A man running from his past uses a standing stone ( actually an ancient stone seat set in a gateway, the Siege Perilous of round table fame.)  to enter another past world where his skills may come in handy and he finds true love there with a female of the opposite sex, who happens to be a witch. It's a great read and is set in medieval castles, moors, battlefields, clifftop strongholds and swamps in a land where magic happens. He is referred to frequently as an Outlander in the book. The first time I heard that term although it may well be common in writing before then.
This developed into a popular series of interlinking novels in the 1970s about a land ruled by witches who go to a school for witchcraft as children.
She has been largely forgotten now sadly in the UK but the Witch World series of six books up to Year of the Unicorn is still a great read, developed by a highly skilled and gifted storyteller. Very different from the currently in vogue modern worlds of Game of Thrones, D,G or JKR in overall layout but just as complex and perhaps an early inspiration? Just a fleeting thought. It would also be  wrong and just idle speculation to see certain comparisons/similarities between the 1858 edition of Phantastes and the later Lilith, 1895 both by George Macdonald and truly wonderful for the time and JRR Tolkien's 1950s masterpiece Lord of The Rings. But maybe a foundation stone to build on? Or Roger Dean's floating island paintings on Yes albums in my record collection....coupled with writer Philip Jose Farmer's The Stone God Awakens novel about a giant tree with god like properties and the race of half human creatures who live and depend on it, also.. 1960s/ 1970s concepts.... with the modern film Avatar. That's probably just me guessing out loud as well.
Having said that they are all good- all genuinely different... after adding and blending the colours together so its all academic where they came from.
But  A. N.?  Her best books deserve to be remembered and cherished again. They are still terrific today. As is Phantases and Lilith. A double edition in one volume. The shoulders of giants perhaps sitting on my dusty bookshelf?

And another person that should be better known is J.A. as he has a huge back catalogue of great songs and has been one of the outstanding alternative songwriters for well over a decade now. Numerous awards and critically acclaimed albums should put him up there with Bowie, Elton John, Rod Stewart etc as a songwriter but it's much harder these days to become a household name as an independent creative artist.  This is one of his album tracks but suitably appropriate lyrics for this time of year with 16 hour long nights and a run of short, murky, dull days where car headlights have been on non stop, day or night due to the foggy conditions. Not sure that speed painting artwork between songs was ever going to be a winner though but top marks for trying :)



Anabel Marsh said...

Well, they do say there are only seven different plots in the world so not surprising to find some overlap! Great pictures again.

Rosemary said...

I asked my granddaughter about the Potter connection to Edinburgh University and she didn't have a clue what I was talking about!!!
However, I have discovered that many of JK Rowling's names used in Harry Potter actually come from Gloucestershire where she was born and went to school. Her family moved twice while JK Rowling was growing up and at one home in Winterbourne, Gloucestershire, she had friends next door whose last name was Potter. Harry's adoptive parents Petunia and Vernon Dursley are named after the town of Dursley which is in the same locality to where she lived in Gloucestershire.
Another lovely set of illuminated photos of Edinburgh.

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Anabel,
There must be more than seven plots- that's less than my I.Q ! Surely not...

blueskyscotland said...

Cheers Rosemary,
Another great leap of intuitive insight ruined by hard facts.... but maybe if I keep saying it often enough it will become --- "the truth." It is a brave new world out there in 2018 after all and facts can easily be 'adjusted' to order. :o)

Linda W. said...

Thanks for the nighttime tour. Those foggy photos are great!

Carol said...

I've never been a fan of urban areas and I'm sure I never will be having been brought up and always lived in the country. But those shots with the misty trees - that's the kind of conditions I like to go out in at night. Around the misty countryside at night on a warm, damp night is my absolute ideal! The mistier the better! :-)

I think Glasgow's really calmed down over the years - when I was stuck there once at 17 for a couple of nights with nowhere to stay, it was pretty dangerous and scary. Now I think it's nothing like as bad. But then there were also lovely little towns and villages in the Lakes (e.g. Millom) which always had terrible reputations but have since calmed completely down. Wonder if it's because yoofs don't go outdoors any more but just stay on their phones and 'communicate' that way instead of socialising normally?

Andy said...

Great night images to remind me of dark winter as. Sit in the fading evening sunshine on Gran Canaria. All the best for 2019 😀

blueskyscotland said...

Cheers Linda,
we have certainly had a lot of foggy days this month.

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Carol,
as you know I grew up on the edge of a city with great countryside five minutes walk from my door so I'm very happy in both. In fact I would not miss mountains at all as long as I had rural landscapes- farms, fields,woods, small hills, castles, cattle etc to wander in- always my deepest passion from early childhood.
There are still areas of Glasgow I'd think twice about wandering around at night but it does seem much quieter now. For a start it's almost halved in size population wise and all the former big council estates have shrunk, like our chocolate bars to mini size portions.
not so many big families now so less children and teenagers hanging about in the estates- much more entertainment- and less playing outdoors so not as many gangs forming over territory to guard against outsiders- mainly drugs or stealing for profit related crime now. Post industrial cities with a reputation for gangs and violence have lost a lot of residents whereas London, with growing crime, has increased by millions of people since the 1980s where all the new jobs and work became concentrated around finance and service providers rather than manufacturing spread out UK wide. Also a lot of teenagers have some kind of purpose in life now- either further education, selling drugs, computer games or the gig economy, even if only part time so not as much general boredom as before.
Once sex dolls are up and running (literally) that may well solve the over population problem at present so there is an up side to technology :o)

blueskyscotland said...

Cheers Andy,
Happy New Year. One secret to contentment I think is to make the most of your situation and any opportunities that present themselves in your life. I may wish to visit Gran Canaria and escape to the sun for winter but as that is a non starter for me at present I'm happy to settle for what adventures I can manage and make the most of the hand of cards I'm holding. For me that meant Ayr beach in the sunshine over Christmas- and I really enjoyed it :o)