Sunday, April 01, 2007


Beer means buildings

There is some lovely architecture on the University site at Potterow. I don't know how conducive it is to learning but it certainly looks good.

According to, Teviot Row House on Bristo square is one of the Edinburgh University student union buildings, containing several pubs (from 2 to 5, depending on how you count them) which include a quiet local-style pub on the 3rd floor and a Sportsman's Bar with arcades and oodles of pool tables in the basement. Lucky bastards.

On the other hand, McEwan Hall (completed 1897) serves as the venue for graduation ceremonies and other academic events. There is a strong beer connection as the building was financed from Sir William McEwan's bottomless pockets (founder of what is now the Scottish & Newcastle brewing group.

And to think I went to Swansea University which had one bar on campus and that was run by the University (shut on Sundays). What a fool I was.

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And people complain about MODERN buildings...

Who in their right mind would commission a building as ugly as this? The brickwork is just an affront to the human eye. If their intention was to build something different then they succeeded but so would painting it orange with green glass windows. I'm glad I didn't go to Edinburgh University and have to walk past (or, even worse, into) this carbuncle every day.



King Fahad Mosque

I borrowed the following content from the Gazetteer for Scotland, an encyclopaedia that is well worth a browse.

"Located on Potterow in Edinburgh is the King Fahd Mosque and Islamic Centre. The Mosque, which provides prayer facilities for some 1200 people, was opened on 31st July, 1998 and named in honour of the late King Fahd of Saudi Arabia, who had provided much of the £3.5 million funding. The building took 20 years and three architects to reach completion and it lay half-finished for several years in the early 1990s when funding had dried up. Dr Basil Al-Bayati's design apparently combines Islamic calligraphy with a chequered motif subtly derived from tartan."


Friday, March 30, 2007


City Centre Attractions of Edinburgh

From the bus (after our bout of tourism) we spotted this tea-time troupe of characters who are, according to the road sign, City Centre Attractions. The large pink creature is actually someone in an inflatable sumo wrestler outfit.



Edinburgh Dungeon

Being tourists we decided to walk around and find fun stuff to do. The Edinburgh Dungeons would appear to be the central trap for such people and we fell in, much to our cost.

Spoiler alert for anyone who is planning to visit the Dungeons.

The website declares:
"Transport yourself back to the darkest moments in the Scotland's history within the deep depths of the Edinburgh Dungeon. Live actors, shows, a spooky ride and interactive special effects ensure that you face your fears head on in this unique experience. Everything that you see is based on real historical events from the gruesome tale of Burke & Hare, to Edinburgh's Great Fire, torture and the plague. With a chilling boat ride into the lair of cannibal Sawney Bean the Edinburgh Dungeon provides a thrilling and fun experience that will leave you screaming for more! A day out for the family based on pain, fear, torture and death...are you brave enough?"

The best part of the "experience" is the live acting. A bunch of people take on the roles of various characters from Edinburgh's less publicised past and interact with the audience (you move round the dungeon in a group). They are fun people and everybody has a great time despite the chance of being forced to "take part".

The very first actor you meet plays a judge in his courtroom. He brings you in and then goes through a door to climb up to his pulpit (or whatever). I'm a sucker for the gag where you can hear him stepping up far more steps than there could physically be to get to where he's going. Gets me every time.

I was "lucky" enough to be commanded from the audience to the Dock. After I climbed the short steps, I automatically took a confident posture - leaning forwards with both hands on the rail - which caused the Judge to state that I was obviously no stranger to the dock {roars of laughter from those in the audience NOT selected, which continued louder when the false accusations of cross-dressing were read out}.

Next room is the graveyard. As we stood around by the gates waiting to left in, I could see a cloaked figure approaching but a couple of women with their backs to the gates couldn't. The squeals as he crept up and scared them were music to your ears. The actor then goes on to relate stories about the plague before handing us over to the lady who will entertain is with Burke & Hare tales.

The surgery is comical and her acting entertaining - I can imagine young children would be really amused. Again, the quality of acting is essential as the rooms are pretty drab and plain with little to look at or read.

The vampire hunter in the next room was a laugh - and there were actually some props around to look at while he went through his script. Unfortunately he leads you onto the "chilling boat ride" which I admit is a bit scarey as it is very dark. It is not scarey from any of the flashing lights and noise they use - I am still confused as to what the whole point was.

Off the boat we get to Sawney Bean (a character played by an earlier actor) which is Ok but the props seem to be showing wear and tear. I'm starting to tire of the grubby greyness of the place.

Lastly we are McDonalds trapped in a cottage beset by Campbells at Glencoe. It isn't very often you will see a group of adults all pretending to be sheep so that the Campbells move onto the next cottage.

And then it is on to the shop, which is very extensive. I can see that they bring in a lot of income per square foot from this place compared to the whole Dungeon labyrinth. If you do wish to take in this attraction, I suggest picking up any discount vouchers you can find and making sure you move through the gift shop ASAP.


Friday, July 28, 2006


X marks the spot

I was surprised to find that headstones in the graveyard by St Cuthbert's gave directions to the real location of the remains of the buried. Why would anyone put a marker so far away from the body? Of course, it became obvious when I realised that the base was much newer than the headstone itself - they had moved the headstone and made sure that everyone who wanted to could find the actual grave. Not having a compass, I didn't try and pace out treasure-map style the location... 



Will the real St. Cuthbert please step forward...

It's always surprising when you come across life imitating art. Take Dungeons and Dragons, for example - you just don't expect people to take the game creations seriously but sometimes they do. Saint Cuthbert of the Cudgel is the combative deity of Wisdom, Dedication, and Zeal in the Greyhawk pantheon. We need to tell these guys that St Cuthbert is just a game creation of  Gart Gygax.



National Gallery of ... Cows?

Hmmm, there appear to be a number of cows hanging from greco-roman columns - I must be in Edinburgh.

Sadly the Edinburgh Cow Parade 2006 ended on the 23rd and only a few elevated cows managed to escape the herdsman.

This particular beast was created by Roseburn Primary School who bought a cow in the Parade as part of their links with VetAid, who support farming in Africa. Her name is 'Kwameburn' after the links between Kwamebikrom and Roseburn. The cow was designed with tartan on one side and kente cloth on the other. The tartan (the hidden side in my photo) was pink and brown just like the school colours; purple and green for the Scottish thistle and finally blue and white for the flag of St Andrew. The brightly coloured kente (traditional Ghanaian cloth) side is the one you can see. The black blob, which I initially thought was damage, is an outline of Ghana.


Thursday, July 27, 2006


George who?

When I first saw this statue in - of all places - George Street, I thought "bloody tourist". All the king did was pop up to Scotland for a visit in 1822 and he gets a statue erected and a street named after him. It's not as if he actually did anything while he was up there. And the first visit of a monarch across the border since Charles II in 1650 - that's just plain lazy as it's not far. My flight up took an hour and that was economy - imagine how fast you could travel if you were royalty.



Monuments are go...

Is it just me or do you think, like I do, that the Scott monument in Edinburgh's Princes Street sure looks like Thunderbird 3 in disguise?

Thunderbird 3Scott Monument


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