Friday 31 January 2020

Newhaven. Platinum Point. Western Breakwater. A Light at the end of the World.

After our visit to Leith then the mural wall our next stop was Ocean Terminal Shopping Centre.
Ocean Point Building. Always something of interest in this vicinity here as well... and not just shopping. A short sea front walk around the harbour, shipping and the Royal Yacht Britannia, the Queen's old ship which is now retired and permanently berthed here.
When you are on board this ship the royal quarters do not seem that large, small modest rooms and very dated looking now, 60 years later (the glass partition area mainly.) The rest of the ship is taken up with crew quarters, food and supplies, living and laundry rooms. ( On tour in warm countries the Royal Family had to change clothes five or six times a day. Not good if on official visits you are seen to be soaking with sweat which is a natural reaction in hot humid climates.) Although a supposed privilege to serve on the Royal Yacht crew quarters seemed tiny to me as well and I'd imagine you would have to be on your best behaviour at all times. But apparently the Royal Family, and especially the Queen, loved their holidays aboard, often touring remote Scottish islands, where they could relax, apart from maybe Princess Diana, a new recruit to the firm then, (and I think on her honeymoon) who had to be on her best behaviour. Mind you, not many teenagers/twenty somethings full of high spirits, would appreciate a sedate cruise, with or without the in-laws.
A large ship when you realise it's the equivalent of the family car. You can't really see the outside properly when exploring it so this is a view from the Western Harbour. The small craft in front is presumably to enter places, shallow harbours, islands, etc where the Britannia could not go. Of course, if you can't afford this lifestyle you can have as much fun and adventure sightseeing with a £40 tent and backpack. Probably more fun and adventure.
The inside of Ocean Terminal Shopping Centre. Handy for the toilets in this vicinity.
The outside of O.T.S.C. and a rainbow bus.
Ocean View Flats. These remind me of the old 1980s Darnley estate close to where I grew up. A deck access playground of open corridors, stairwells, and connecting hi level pedestrian walkways between the various buildings . Lessons have been learned since then however and this is not so open of access, unless you live in them and have a reason for being there.
The other side of the estate.
This area has been redeveloped with new housing stock in a range of different styles. Each individual complex within its own environment is a mini high rise separate city state in its own right. A land of mini kingdoms if you will instead of the vast uniform council estates of old in Scotland where long straight rows of identical tenements prevailed.
Instead this is a smorgasbord of architecture.  I really like look at anyway.... Anne less so. But it was all new to her so she did enjoy it.
"You're right." She commented. " They do love round towers in Edinburgh."
"Yup." says I. "and in a wide range of different styles."
The crowning glory of this area though for me is the West Breakwater and Platinum Point. The kingdom by the sea.
" It's like the Emerald City in Oz." I explained.  "A high rise confection rising from a flat plain, isolated and special. Completely unique."
"You've got this modern development dropped down on the very edge of the coast with the Port of Leith's West Breakwater made of large 100 year old blocks that will probably last centuries." I elaborated further.  "Stuck next to Egypt's pyramids they'd probably last thousands of years in a desert environment if the sea didn't hit them here. Stone immortality." I said this as we walked along said breakwater, hoping to transfer some of the magic I felt  the first time I came here almost 20 years ago.

"What a place." "It's unusual." She admitted. "Where's the Munchkins then?"

"Ah, you saw them earlier, Dorothy, my guest of honour. Don't you remember?"
" I do remember that. But that's cheating."
" Anything for a story." Says I. "Do you think that's a radio operator for a ship?"
"Could be,"

" It's the nearest I'll get to an Emerald City."
"Not visiting Dublin then?"
On cue our sunset arrived.
Forth Road and Rail Bridges. " Come on- that's pretty special."
" Not too bad." She conceded.
"You are a very hard lady to please."
We then walked to the far end of the breakwater where an abandoned and lonely feeling lighthouse sits. Imagine two arms hugging and sheltering a large basin (The Port of Leith- still the largest enclosed deep water port in Scotland) then imagine us walking out to the fingertips.
"This is a remote spot." she admitted when we arrived, taking my favourite circular tour under the stilts supporting this structure where the sea, at high tide, laps the pillars.
" Yep. It does have a very desolate atmosphere about it." Anne declared.  "A sort of post apocalyptic shabby chic." she joked. "I would not like to be here myself. It doesn't feel like Edinburgh somehow."
"It might be a portal between two worlds." This from me, adding to the atmosphere... no-one else in sight on either long breakwater arm, with a watery entrance channel preventing the fingertips from touching each other . " Not many folk make it out to here. Least visited location in the city, maybe." I guessed.
" Not my idea of a des res unfortunately." she offered, weaving between the pillars and avoiding the slippy seaweed. Right! We're done. Tides coming in. "
Look, The sea has bubble fingers. Five digits. Shake it's mighty hand. It's pleased to see you."
"No thanks.  It's going to be dark soon wicked witch and I want to go there next. " She pointed away.
In the distance we could see Calton Hill with its monuments. " I've never been up there at night but I've seen Sunshine on Leith recently and it looks good. Let's go."
So we did, jumping on a local bus and arriving 15 minutes later under Calton Hill.
Arthur's Seat and Edinburgh from Calton Hill.
" Now this is much better than a lighthouse at the end of the world." Anne declared. "Let the party begin!"
Fine words... but when we did eventually get the bus back to Glasgow she ended up sleeping all the way, city to city, while I read a book in contented silence in the darkness of the journey, with my little personal star above the only awake and vigilant companion, shining down on the pages.
The end.


Wednesday 22 January 2020

Port of Leith. Newhaven. Ships. Sea. Edinburgh's Mural Wall.

                                               ALL PHOTOS CLICK FULL SCREEN.
After our walk down the River Almond Walkway and then the Causeway Crossing over to Cramond Island it was still fairly early, due to our dawn departure from Glasgow- around lunchtime- mid day. So we jumped on a bus for a few stops to here. Dean Bridge. The highest point above the Water of Leith Walkway, with great views down into this deep river gorge. It was also near here that I obtained the previous post's photograph's of Fettes College and Stewart's Melville College while Anne had a seat, a rest, and a sandwich.
Refreshed, she was then ready to tackle the next highlight of our trip, which was down into this impressive gorge then along the bottom, following the stream, down to Leith and the docks. You can just make out the walkway here in this photo. It's also impressive at this point, looking up from below, enclosed by the surrounding cliffs, period architecture, and rising woodlands with Dean Bridge an almost impossible lofty span above your head. It makes you really appreciate the skill, vision, and ambition of Edinburgh's stone masons from that previous era of building to create the wonderfully elaborate city around you today.
It's only a few miles from Dean Bridge down into Leith, passing the Botanic Gardens on the way. This is us just reaching the edge of Leith here where the widening stream/river and several canal/dock offshoots create a mini Venice or Amsterdam.
As it was a still, quiet, winter's day fabulous reflections covered the water surface here- so much so that it seemed entirely possible to walk across the river on solid ground as it was a perfect illusion- not a single ripple to break the spell at this point. A mind deceiver as good as any desperate witch could cast from the stake.
Even the house styles here look European- low countries architecture a big inspiration through past trading links.
Mary of Guise,  (see photo detail of canal barge) ruled Scotland for six years, despite being a French Catholic as she was married to King James of Scotland in 1538, Scotland and France having much closer political ties then than today, mainly united to counter the threat of an English power grab. The auld enemy of both countries for centuries past. Mary was the mother of Mary, Queen of Scots who succeeded to the throne as a baby when her father, King James died. Mary of Guise, ruling Scotland as regent, attempted to turn Scotland into a mainly Catholic country, in line with France, but this plan set her daughter on a collision course and eventually sealed her demise at a later date as an adult, when the Protestant religion gained the upper hand.
The waterways of Leith. Always something of interest to see here... and at the adjoining Port of Leith.
Vos Defender. Port of Leith. A standby safety ship.
Twins. F S Bergen and F S Crathes. Both are offshore supply ships.
F.S Pegasus. Another offshore supply ship for the North Sea- presumably connected to the oil industry.
    Fingal. A luxury floating hotel berthed here at the docks. We both liked it down here. Much quieter and far less hectic than central Edinburgh's packed tourist streets yet still plenty to see. Plenty of room to stretch and breathe. Although only a couple of miles away Leith feels far more like the real Edinburgh I used to travel into- a different world- where the locals live.    If I visit a Scottish town or city, I like that regional difference- very obvious in both Dundee and Kirkcaldy, when I travel on the local buses there, often just for the enjoyment itself as much as any exploration purposes and bask in the delights of the local lingo, taking pleasure in noticing small but distinctive cultural changes. That doesn't happen much in central Edinburgh anymore, where Scottish, or even English is not the dominant culture/language in the district within the tourist zone, except in the tartan and bagpipe shops, selling the popular tourist image of Scotland abroad.  Same as if I travelled to France or Italy I would try to find and immerse myself in the authentic local culture there, rather than sit for the entire trip in a British theme bar. If I've had too much local culture to handle or just plain homesick Brit bars are good bolt holes of familiarity to step into but on the whole I prefer to see the real thing when abroad so I can't really blame any tourist for doing the same :o)   Mind you, outside of the tourist zones, on the outskirts, like any city or town, Edinburgh becomes more dangerous. Less safe. Mainly because you are surrounded by locals... who may or may not have a perceived grievance against anyone different from them... or anyone the same. Humanity being humanity.
Not around the Port of Leith itself, which is still an underused tourist attraction with its shipping, waterfront shops and ever changing sea traffic but in the housing estates and nondescript back streets... so that was where we went next :)
A row of tugs/pilot boats at rest. Oxcar and Seal Carr belonging to Forth Ports, Scotland's biggest and busiest waterway complex nowadays and the UK's 3rd largest port authority, apparently. Always something different to see around the Port of Leith.
An older gable end Leith mural. A bit faded now and hard to make out details so I've restored it here to its former glory and colour, depicting all the trades and local industry that took place in Leith in former times.
A view of Leith Flats and Arthur's Seat behind them.
Between Leith and the neighbouring coastal district of Newhaven there exists a no person's land of waste ground, small factory units, and a few chain fences bordering silent, deserted back streets, empty over-spill lots and outlying docks. This is where we found Edinburgh's mural wall. Unlike the one in Glasgow, near Finnieston, where invited artists recently painted elaborate murals on the railway arches with a presumably strict no graffiti remit...... Edinburgh's  main (apparently unofficial) mural wall seems open to all with far less control over content. A long high wall runs parallel to the coast with another smaller wall beside it. Graffiti is the dominant feature but a range of different murals can also be found walking along it.
It's not really a tourist haunt as such. But we both enjoyed it. Anne doing her own version of Kiesza's Hideaway dance routine video by skipping around the puddles, inspired no doubt by this lookalike backdrop. I had to admit she was pretty good for a non- dancer. Energetic anyway. Ten years of watching Saturday night, brain draining,  ' family TV ', which I've successfully managed to avoid for the last 40 years of existence on this good green Earth, has not gone entirely un-wasted on her part. Although a natural 'Bah Humbug!' person by inclination, I can tell fluid artistic endeavour and raw commitment when I see it performed in front of me. Four out of five stars from this lone Strictly judge.
It had enough interest to keep our/my attention. As there's no community or housing nearby and it's basically empty waste ground, similar to the old velodrome at Meadowbank, which is now demolished, it's not hurting anyone, and it gives a blank canvas for aspiring artists... or aspiring dancers in her case.
This particular artist also has an archway design on Glasgow's mural wall. Because most artists use pseudonyms I didn't realise the majority were male until this was pointed out- probably because of where street art originates from. ie quiet back streets, possibly painted at night or early morning, remote areas... but this is changing now with more public art commissioned legally.
 All out nuclear war. Fun and games for all the family.
A different style but still very good. I've always been interested in art which is the main attraction for me in open world games as the landscapes there are so convincing and improve every year, along with story and characters. So much so that they now surpass many big mainstream films for entertainment in certain cases as you can watch and enjoy them as films. What Remains of Edith Finch. Full film..... My Name is Kara: Detroit Become Human (No Commentary)... Firewatch. The Movie..... Bioshock Infinite....The Movie.... The Last of Us. Cinematic Playthrough.... being the proof of that.
This last mentioned game/film predicting a similar situation to the latest China/ W.H.O. fast moving currently perceived threat to humanity to keep us on our toes/ out of our 'comfort zone' / 'avoiding complacency ' scenario,  but based no doubt on similar viruses that seemed to appear from nowhere in the past like Rabies, The Black Death, Aids and the Spanish Flu pandemic. All of which, in hindsight, make very interesting reading on Google as to how they occurred, within the half life of current factual information. (facts change with each new generation of course as we constantly learn new info. Sadly, most of the important 'facts', I learned in school in the 1960s are totally redundant now- as am I. An old head crammed full of largely useless knowledge from a past that no longer exists :o) Sniff, sniff. Wah!!!
But I still try to learn and adapt. All of these modern games are far more interesting and enjoyable than the last four/five years of Dr Who, the recent  TV remakes of War of the Worlds (dull, done far better, more enjoyable with Tom Cruise film) His Dark Materials (listless and miscast, done far better as a film in The Golden Compass, which should have been a continuing trilogy IMHO.) and far, far better and more thought provoking than any number of Transformer or Fast and Furious films, or the lukewarm and overstretched source material of the Hobbit trilogy.
A few political murals. My own take on Brexit is that it will be bad for Scotland, prices will rise accordingly, and it's largely pointless now anyway. We will only be swapping EU controls for a larger USA dominance. With a climate change crisis, spiraling population levels, and mass animal and insect extinctions in the near future it's a bit like Nero playing his violin while Rome burns. A costly and long running distraction from what really matters. Pandemics often come out of nowhere and few folk apart from doctors and scientists expect them to occur. It may well start here with this one though.

Never mind. It's only a simulation after all. We can always reboot the game and start again with a fresh planet. And get it right next time.
And a nice nurse to cure all ills.
Sick tortoise.
I liked this one as it uses the slim edge of the wall to get its message across....
The bottom half... the undeserving masses, living in the perpetual shade of the skyscraper city.
And onward to Newhaven... to be continued.....

By the way... for anyone interested in spectacular and very clever street art from around the world you should check out the link in the right hand side panel. S.A. Utopia. Little People, 3D worlds and full length gable murals inside. Stunning work in a variety of countries.