Monthly Archives: March 2011

The Pounds of Paper Dilemma

Brochures, guidebooks, tourist maps — the paperwork that I collect on each trip adds up to several extra pounds in my luggage after each trip away. Always promising myself to do online-research-only, I succumb far too easily to the siren song of brightly coloured tourism material.

Strange confession here — I still have boxes full of tourism ‘stuff’ that I collected decades ago when I still believed that they might end up in a scrapbook or some such organisational tool. Ha!

Deborah reading tourism brochure in a museum cafe. Photo by Mark Harmes.

Ah well — off to London in the morning with a lightly packed suitcase — all the better for bringing back several pounds of brochures. (sigh!)

You’ll hear from me again in about a week unless I can get a stable internet connection in our budget hotel.


Vikings and Romans and Scotsmen, Oh My!

Alive with the echoes of thundering hooves, the ringing sound of sword against sword, and the cries of economically deprived or displaced people, Scotland as a nation has survived much turmoil throughout the centuries. And that turbulent history is well-examined in the comprehensive displays at the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh.

National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh

Roman panel in terracotta


Warrior's Gravestone



Juxtapositions abound since the same nation that crafted weaponry such as swords like the Claidheamh Mor that stood the height of a man were also creating beautiful objects such as jewelry and sculpture. This overlap of warlike behaviour with deep levels of spirituality or religious faith may seem contradictory when viewed from our less perilous times.

The pictures in this article are a tiny sample of the distant time periods which are represented. The upper floors of the museum cover more recent decades and are full of items such as advertising artwork and period clothing or furniture.

Long sword known as a Claidheamh Mor or Claymore

The museum is completely free of admission charges, has a stunning range of exhibits spread out over 6 floors, and is housed in a building of architectural interest. I would highly recommend this as a ‘must see’ for anyone who visits Edinburgh and who has a sense of curiosity about the Scots and their background history.

Heavy silver links


Angels carved on timber panel

©Deborah Harmes and ©A Wanderful Life
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Walking Amongst The Departed

Dappled light danced amongst the stones and sought out every opening in the mature trees overhead. Gravel crunched softly beneath our feet and birdsong filled the air in that quiet place.

Large Monument at Dean Cemetery in Edinburgh, Scotland

Our original destination had been the Dean Gallery to view more modern art on display in a historic setting. But alongside the former orphanage from the 1800s, we discovered a wonderful surprise that made us delay our entry to the gallery for awhile.

Dean Cemetery is entered through a small gate in the stone wall that separates the Dean Gallery grounds from the graveyard. Many of the resting places are marked by relatively plain stones with an urn or engraving on the side. But some of the statuary was quite poignant and reflects the Victorian sentiment of the survivors of the occupants of those graves.

Grave statue detail in Edinburgh, Scotland

Grave statue in Dean Cemetery, Edinburgh, Scotland

It wasn’t a long side trip — an hour at most. But the serenity left a lingering impression and I could understand why families still wish to add their deceased loved ones to this tranquil village of the departed.

Praying grave statue in Dean Cemetery, Edinburgh, Scotland

©Deborah Harmes and ©A Wanderful Life
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When The Sun Comes Out In Edinburgh…

When the sun comes out in Edinburgh, Scotland — a rush is on for any available seat outside to soak up the rays as you eat your cafe lunch. At least that’s what we witnessed yesterday at the National Gallery of Modern Art. And as we drove through the park-side areas along Queen Street on the way to and from the museum’s two massive buildings, we could see that the paths were filled with women pushing strollers, children were playing on the grass, and people were sitting atop benches and low stone walls everywhere as they ate their lunch in warmth for a nice change.

Gallery of Modern Art in Edinburgh, Scotland


Architectural details: exterior steps of Dean Gallery

Afternoon light in the museum cafe - Photo by Mark Harmes

Each of the museums, one formerly an elegant boarding school and one a former orphanage housed in a rather impressive building, had vast rooms with high ceilings that were perfect for displaying the art in the collections. I was unable to take photos inside due to the rules of each museum, but I quite enjoyed the massive metal sculpture by Eduardo Paolozzi as you entered the gates of the Dean Gallery.

Large sculpture by Eduardo Paolozzi at Dean Gallery in Edinburgh, Scotland

©Deborah Harmes and ©A Wanderful Life
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Sunless Edinburgh Sunday

The semi-permanent gray of the Edinburgh skies merged with the soot-tinged stone buildings that comprise much of the city and formed a subdued winter palette for my photography. Some find the colour tones of this city to be too somber for their taste. I find it soothing. And when there is a bright spot, whether it is provided by nature or the paintbrush, it stands out all the more against the blackened stone.

Leith street scene

The dinosaurs were waiting at the end of Constitution Street. Three hulking cranes, long abandoned and now a residence for pigeons, stood with arms raised high into the slate-gray skies. We had followed the sound of seagulls until we discovered the less prosperous part of the harbour and the detritus of its former glory days.

Abandoned cranes at Leith waterside

On we went, hoping for more inspirational things to view than that particularly derelict harbour area and our patience was rewarded. A mere few blocks on we discovered a canalside area with former industrial buildings turned into apartments, restaurants and pubs, open-air sculpture, and scenes reminiscent of Amsterdam with canal boats pulled up alongside the walkway and bicycles chained out front. Charming!

Canalside in Leith

We had walked for hours and a light, misty rain began to touch our cheeks. Time for a restorative tea break! And after peeking into window after window on our stroll back up Constitution Street toward the house, we chose a cafe named Rock Salt and settled in to rest our legs and warm our bodies.

Rock Salt Cafe interior

Time to end for now and edit some photos for GreenWorks. I’m hoping to have a sneak peek at the promotional artwork that I am designing for them in the next day or so. Bye for now!

Copyright ©Deborah Harmes and ©A Wanderful Life
Please respect the copyright of all text and photos on this website. All rights reserved.

Out and About in Edinburgh

I have to say quite truthfully, I was both laughing and stunned when I saw these people out the front window of the house where we are staying in Edinburgh yesterday afternoon. The temperatures are so icy that I go out each day dressed in layers — long underwear top and bottom, a turtleneck, a pair of jeans, a sweater/jumper over the top, and then a thick wool coat and insulated gloves. Mark was dressed in similar layers yesterday and he still wasn’t completely comfortable (as he told me several times!).

So how were the people in the picture below coping with the wind swishing by their faces and heads? Is this a case of Scottish Madness???? Or are they just a much sturdier set of folks than we who have been living in Australia for so long?

Mad Scotsfolk on Wintery Drive

We had a day off yesterday and we walked around the streets of the city. Most people were bundled up appropriately, but I had to wonder how the kilt clad men managed as the icy winds swirled around us. Or do they even notice the temps after a lifetime of such conditions?

Edinburgh Street Piper

Happily, the wintery conditions mean that there are far fewer tourists here than during the spring, summer, or festival seasons. But Edinburgh seems to be bustling with activity in a way that I didn’t find the norm during my last visit 15 years ago. So trying to stop on the pavement to take a photo without getting jostled is actually a bit of a challenge. Ah well!

Edinburgh contains an abundance of photo subject matter and the architecture is substantial, mainly built of stone, and frequently on the monumental scale. In a five hour period, I took over 300 photos yesterday.

Sphinx Atop National Gallery of Scotland in Edinburgh

I’ll be back in a day or two with another report before we leave Scotland mid-week. Stay tuned for more!

Copyright ©Deborah Harmes and ©A Wanderful Life
Please respect the copyright of all text and photos on this website. All rights reserved.

Eco-Edinburgh — Part Four

Pictures, pictures, pictures!!!

Champagne time at GreenWorks

We celebrated the roof topping out with some champagne last night in the workshop. Now Mark and I are taking a break today to go out and about in Edinburgh with my cameras.

Soooooo — instead of a daily report, here is a click-on link to a slideshow of all of the action as it unfolded over the last week.


Enjoy! And please feel free to leave comments if you are so inclined.

Also, don’t forget to have a look at the website of Greenworks in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Bye for now!