Tag Archives: Edinburgh

Athens of the North

The Parthenon 1

I am sure this structure is familiar to many of you. You probably recognise it as one of those old ruins in Greece, even if, like me, you might not know what it’s called. (I never know my Acropolis from my Parthenon!)

What you may not realise is that this particular old ruin is, in fact, in Edinburgh, Scotland. It is modelled on the Parthenon.

What might give it away are the grass being a little too green and the sky not quite blue enough, though it was blue for Scotland.

Did you know that Edinburgh is known as the Athens of the North? Hence my title.

The Parthenon 2

This structure is actually the National Monument of Scotland and was constructed between 1826 and 1829 as a memorial to the Scottish soldiers and sailors who died fighting in the Napoleonic wars. It was never completed, which you can read about it in the link above. For this reason it is also referred to as Edinburgh’s Disgrace.

I spent a lovely summer’s afternoon pottering around Calton Hill. I just found it annoying that there were so many people. Tourists were scrambling all over the place and even climbing up on to the structure itself. I couldn’t get a clean shot without many of them insisting on being in the picture and photo-bombing.

Of course, it never occurs to you at the time that you yourself are also a tourist. But at least I refrained from climbing everything!



Dogs Around the World: One Man and his Dog

Scott Memorial 1

One man and his dog, Spot, a bottle of lemonade and ginger pop; went to mow a meadow!

I couldn’t resist quoting the song One man went to mow that we sang as kids on school coach outings. The addition of “a bottle of lemonade and ginger pop” was a local variation.

This is the Scott Monument in Princes Street Gardens, Edinburgh, Scotland. It commemorates Scottish author Sir Walter Scott. Completed in 1844 after the author’s death in 1832, it is in Victorian Gothic style and is the largest monument to a writer in the world.

Scott was a dog lover and you will often see dogs in his portraits. His favourite dog, Maida, depicted gazing lovingly up at his master in the statue, was a Deerhound cross. Actually, many people do not spot the dog at all, maybe because it looks like a lamb!

I sat on a bench right by this edifice while I ate a sandwich, accompanied by that seagull (You’ll never eat alone.)

As it is one of the tourist attractions, it’s difficult to get a picture of the memorial from a distance without lots of people in the shot, so the photo below isn’t too bad.

Scott Memorial 2

Residents of Edinburgh might be surprised to learn that there are more dog statues or memorials than just Greyfriars Bobby and this one. Apparently there are at least five more:

Greyfriars Bobby, Maida, Toby, Bum  (the American 3 legged one), Cuillin, Dobbler and Beauty.


You can read about them all here: Other dog statues or memorials in Edinburgh, Scotland.


Shimmering Reflections

Reflections 1

I have always been fascinated by reflections in water. I can stare for ages transfixed by the rippling images, as one would do a flickering campfire flame.

Reflections 2

Here you see buildings mirrored in the glossy Water of Leith, the main river running through Edinburgh, Scotland, for 35 km, till it flows into the Firth of Forth at Leith and thence into the sea.

Reflections 3

It was a little windier on our return trip walking back up the river, as can be seen by the cloudy appearance of the water closest to us; the surface whipped up by the strong Scottish wind.


Dogs Around the World: Greyfriars Bobby

Bobby 1

Meet Greyfriars Bobby; a little Skye Terrier, famous for guarding his master’s grave in the Greyfriars Churchyard for 14 years. He is immortalised here in a bronze statue mounted on a granite plinth, which was originally a drinking fountain for both people and dogs.

I had always intended to visit the little statue of Greyfriars Bobby, when I was in Scotland, but hadn’t managed it and my holiday was nearly over. Quite by chance, I found myself very close to his statue one morning, when I had been wandering round Edinburgh Old Town with my daughter Pix and her husband.

So we finished our croissants at the outside cafe on a narrow cobbled street and wandered over to the statue.

Bobby 2

There were many people congregated around the little dog, posing for their photos to be taken alongside. It is supposed to be good luck to touch his little nose; which explains why it is golden and not black like the rest of his old bronze statue.

Bobby 3

We didn’t have to wait long for a gap in the crowd and duly took our photos with Bobby too.


A funny incident happened while we were waiting for our turn. A man came marching towards the crowd, with a large black Rottweiler. He stormed straight through the middle of everyone, shouting loudly and aggressively, “Excuse Me!” as he barged his way through, barely giving anyone time to get out of his way.

My daughter explained that many Scots people hate the Edinburgh Festival in August, as the streets are thronged with happy tourists. Well I understand that, but really, all the angry man had to do was walk on the other side of the street to Bobby’s statue. That side was empty!

Bobby 4

Of course there are going to be crowds round every tourist spot during the Edinburgh Festival!

It is similar here in Cape Town during the long summer school holidays in December and January. We are over-run by tourists from other parts of South Africa, such as Jo’burg, and also from overseas. So we locals avoid the tourist spots during these months, or we go very early in the morning, before the tourists have finished their breakfasts!

Sorted! No need to get all grouchy and barge through the poor visitors!


Setting Forth

Kevin 1

There are Three Bridges that span the Firth of Forth in Scotland, connecting Edinburgh to Fife. These are The Forth Bridge, (a railway bridge built between 1883 and 1890), The Forth Road Bridge (for traffic and built between 1958 and 1964) and the newly built, Queensferry Crossing.

Kevin 2

The bridge in my photos is the Queensferry Crossing, which was officially opened a few days ago by the Queen. It is the longest three-tower cable-stayed bridge in the world.

And while its proper name might be the Queensferry Crossing, locally it has been nicknamed Kevin, which I much prefer!


Though I did not travel on that particular bridge, I got a good view of it as I crossed the Firth at sunset.

Kevin 3

My amazing photos were taken through the dirty train window and from the other side of the carriage! I had to edit out the men sitting at the table opposite; one who was working on his laptop; the other who was working his way through a six-pack of beer!

Firth of Forth

My train travelled across the Forth Bridge, which is a cantilever bridge. The only photos I managed to snap of this bridge were the view over the Firth of Forth and some of the overhead girders as our train sped along the track beneath.




Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle 1

I couldn’t visit Edinburgh and not post a few photos of the Castle, seen here in sunlight.

I found that my little old point and click Canon camera often battled to capture good images, due to the dim lighting on cloudy or rainy days in the UK.

Edinburgh Castle 2

Fortunately, the sun came out to bathe the Castle in bright light, which my trusty Canon could then happily snap!

I took shots from different angles as we walked along through Princes Street gardens.

Edinburgh Castle 3

The castle is built on Castle Rock, the remains of the inner pipe of an extinct volcano from about 350 million years ago. There is evidence that humans have been living on the rock since at least the 2nd century AD.

Edinburgh Castle 4

From the 12th century there’s been a royal castle on the rock, which became used as a military barracks by the 17th century.

Today Edinburgh Castle is an historic fortress, clearly visible as a main feature of the Edinburgh city skyline.

Flower Clock

And here is a magnificent clock made of flowers that we came across in Princes Street Gardens. I’ve always enjoyed working flower clocks.