Scotland will always hold a place close to my heart, returning after years away was a lovely experience- especially as I was able to show it off as I was taking the Italian with me for his first visit! Apologies… There will be no bagpipes or kilts in this post!!
We flew to the capital and my home town, Edinburgh, to spend a couple days exploring and absorbing the delights of the International Edinburgh Fringe Festival, that takes over the city every August for the whole month. A plight to many residents, it was fun to come and enjoy it as a tourist! The city becomes jam packed with hundreds of acts – street performers, comedy shows, cabaret, musicians and much much more! It also has a literary book festival, as well as an Art festival so there is so much to see and do that the most difficult part is working out where to start!
Image one is the ‘Udderbelly’ stage at the Edinburgh Festival, Image two is a street performer on the Royal Mile
The atmosphere is lovely, especially along the Royal Mile, which becomes especially busy (too much at times!) so we spent a lot of time just soaking it all up and enjoying the street performers. We were quite lucky with the weather, as there was only a bit of light rain so we managed to stay dry, the majority of the time!
Some of the delicacies sampled… haggis pie and mash followed by a haggis and pulled pork bap
After our fair share of Haggis (haggis roll for breakfast, haggis pie and mash for dinner) we headed on the final day to “Oink” for a pulled pork, filled bap which was literally AMAZING (I had mine topped up with more haggis! Of course!!). Based on the very pretty (and central) Victoria street, it’s definitely worth a visit if you’re a meat lover!
My favourite street in town! -Victoria Street, home to Oink! and The Red Door Gallery (pictured second)
Victoria street is also home to one of my favourite independent Art Galleries – The Red Door Gallery, which houses a collection of local artists paintings, prints, cards, jewellery and more. It may be small but it’s jam packed with great local contemporary art and is another place worth stopping by… and you’re supporting a local business and artists.. win, win.
Image one; National Gallery, Image two; The Scotsman Steps by Artist Martin Creed
As for larger scale galleries; there’s the National Gallery on the Mound, which generally showcases high end travelling exhibitions and is where you’ll find exhibitions on the masters (think the Monet, Manet and Picasso’s), The Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art beside the beautiful Dean Village- here you will find contemporary high end pieces with a heavily weighted proportion of sculpture (think Lichtenstein, Martin Creed and Eduardo Paolozzi). Then there’s my favorite; The Fruitmarket Gallery. Centrally located, I try and visit whenever I’m in town!
Fruitmarket Exhibition by Jac Leirner
The current exhibition by Brazilian Artist Jac Leirner; Add It Up is on until the 22nd October. It is very conceptually based which, although not everyones cup of tea, fitted in seamlessly at the Fruitmarket, with the stripped back, white washed interior. I really enjoyed it. Very minimal, the sculptures were conveying a narrative about obsession and (drug) addiction in a really calming visual which was a lovely juxtaposition when you think of the turmoil and chaos usually associated with this topic. It was a unique, stripped back take on a subject that penetrates a huge percentage of the population, in one way or another.
Photography exhibition in Stills Gallery by artist Kate Davis followed by a nice street art/roadworks juxtaposition outside Edinburgh Printmakers
Whilst in town I popped into a couple more smaller scale galleries, Stills on Cockburn Street- which deal primarily with photography and film. Its also a great place to know about if you plan on staying around for a longer period of time as they also run a variety of courses. Finally, a gallery run wouldn’t be complete without a visit to Edinburgh Printmakers on Union street, where I used to work many moons ago! A lovely small gallery space with a viewing window to look down on the studio space below, where you can see artists at work before visiting the shop and buying their work. Its a great insight into the process and again, much like Red Door, supports local artists! Nice nostalgic memories.
The morning view over Loch Lomond
After our fill of the festival we headed West, out of the city, towards the Trossachs, where we spent the night on the edge of Loch Lomond. There are some truly beautiful places in the world but waking up on the edge of a Scottish loch with a cup of tea, really is up there as one of my favourite feelings/places to be.
True Scottish weather!
In true Scottish form, the weather deteriorated and we were left with low cloud, rain, mist and midges! The weather, although perhaps not ideal for some, was certainly very atmospheric and very Scottish.. I managed to get some great “gloomy” shots and it certainly didn’t put us off! We completed a loop up past Fort William, to Dalwhinnie (where they make one of my favourite whiskies!), skirting the bottom of the Cairngorm mountains, before descending back down towards Perth and back towards Edinburgh.
*midges are only found in scotland, around damp areas, especially lochs and rivers. They are tiny black flies that leave you with small itchy bites- they are a menace!
Misty Highlands and Serene Lochs
Just a short, whistle stop tour this time, I look forward to returning and heading further north, visiting old haunts in Aberdeen (where there is a thriving Art scene!) and finally making it up to the Isle of Skye and the northern loop, that takes you all the way to John o’Groats!