Posts tagged explore
{To wander} Edinburgh Festival Time 2014

Well everyone, today marks the final day of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. It has been incredible to be here during this time. A lot of locals find it manic, and yes, getting from A to B in town is trickier. :) But with the chaos is a fantastic, almost electric vibe, with street performers every few metres along the Royal Mile, doing an array of weird and wonderful things. From music to tap dancing, star wars characters to jugglers, the festival attracts a huge array of creative folk all vying for your attention. There are numerous hubs where larger shows take place, all with a great selection of some of the best street food I have ever had, and bars aplenty.

I love that eclectic, artsy Edinburgh opens its arms every year in August, to everyone. Nothing is too odd, no act too small. I have seen a mix of shows, some rather average (free comedy should come with a disclaimer) and some absolutely brilliant. My top three were: Camille O'Sullivan with her diva-esuqe, Irish charm, beautiful voice and wonderfully eccentric stage presence, David O'Doherty (loving the Irish) with his honest, genius comedy and trusty partner "Keybs" (his keyboard) and Abandoman - an outstanding team of three whose witty, energetic and engaging show is hip hop rap, comedy genius. 

Adding to the joy was a visit from a dear friend in London and another great friend from South Africa being sent here for work for five weeks over the festival. Fabulous! Without further a do, some photos from this month:

Some tips for maximum enjoyment next year:

- Wear comfortable walking shoes and take an umbrella (standard for Edinburgh exploration, really)

- Keep an open mind, but read reviews to make sure you catch some of the best shows

- Buy tickets at the festival box office , or check out the Half Price Hut next to the National Gallery to save money

- Be prepared to face crowds, and full pubs. If you want to have a relaxed meal, rather opt for the outskirts of New Town or further afield and avoid the Royal Mile come eating time

- Have a game plan for getting home aside from cabs late on a Saturday night

- Just embrace it. Take photos, have a laugh and soak it all up

There has been fireworks above the castle almost every night with the Military Tattoo and I for one will miss the air of celebration.

I loved showing Edinburgh off and it's amazing how much calm you can find from the chaos of the festival just a few steps up onto Calton Hill:

Megs and I did a bus tour of Edinburgh and it was so great to hear more about the history and visit the outside of the castle for the first time.

If you get the chance to visit Edinburgh during the Fringe Festival, I can highly recommend it. Yes it's crowded, but it's worth it for the culture-feast! Keep exploring, dear readers.

{To wander} Edinburgh, Part 4

To truly escape a while, I recommend a wander down The Water of Leith, from The Gallery of Modern Art to the pretty and historical Dean Village.

The free bird leaps

on the back of the wind

and floats downstream

till the current ends

and dips his wings

in the orange sun rays

and dares to claim the sky.

Maya Angelou

With bridges and statues, the calming running water and canopy of trees, it's easy to forget that you are in a city.

"The power provided by the rapid flow of the river was harnessed to drive waterwheels in mills at over 70 sites along the river, establishing a string of villages. The mills produced a variety of goods for Edinburgh and further afield including, paper, flour, woollen and linen cloths, spices and snuff." - Source

Home to many of the workers employed by the mills along the river in the 1800s, Dean Village really is a delightful step back in time.

Up the river from Dean Village is the gorgeous Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art. There are two buildings, Modern One and Modern Two. The water feature in front of Modern One is incredible. Landscaped in 2002 with a design by Charles Jencks, the curves and variations in height make for a unique experience so I suggest walking around it and taking some photos.

Inside you will see a giant, robotic like sculpture beautifully dominating the room, by Eduardo Paolozzi.

The façade of Modern One houses Martin’s Creed’s work No. 975, "Everything’s Going to be Alright." The neon lighting contrast so perfectly with the classic building.

One of Scotland’s modern masters, Eduardo Paolozzi, is honoured in numerous ways in the gallery. Below is a recreation of his studio with actual pieces from the artist himself, to show his process and technique.

He had an enthusiastic and encyclopaedic variety of interests in the world and refelected this by frequently changing the media and styles in which he worked. The studio is divided into areas for different types of activity: desks for reading and working with paper, shelves of reference books, a large central table for modelling, and working with plaster casts, and a bunk for resting. - Source

Glasgow born, Nathan Coley, created the piece in front of Modern Two, "There will be no miracles here".

Below is a small taste of Stockbridge, a popular area amongst locals in the Burgh. I will head back soon to capture its quirky, classy charm in more detail. Over and out from a sunny Scotland. :)

Edinburgh Stockbridge_June2014_44
{To wander} My first visit to Edinburgh

The second I walked off the train, onto the platform at Waverley Station, I was in awe of this city. On my left stood the gloriously historical, hodge-podge skyline of Old Town, while the Georgian elegance of  New Town's Princes Street sat neatly in contrast to my right.

The architecture in Edinburgh is so varied and so wonderful. Even Waverley Station inspires! Here are some shots I took during my wanders around Old Town. The famous Victoria Street's double layer,  curve and colours house a mixture of shops from books and nick-nacks to coffee and I spent a thoughtful couple of hours walking through Greyfriar's Churchyard.

The closes are tiny and one can get blissfully lost wandering off the Royal Mile and find gems like The Devil's Advocate Pub, or the Writer's Museum...

I spent my first visit to Edinburgh without a smartphone, which in hindsight was a blessing in disguise. I allowed myself to get lost, but if I needed to, I turned to paper maps and actually used my noggin for a change. I really love the city's abundance of coffee shops, galleries,  print shops, and bookshops. Creativity is everywhere and the temperamental weather, going from cloudy to warm and sunny in minutes, coupled with the lush greenery, cobbled streets and confused alleyways and striking architecture all together make me want to write, paint and photograph until the day is done. No wonder so many literary greats were based in this city. Look up. This is so important whilst travelling. With heads down focused on phones or arbitrary conversation, we miss so much. Above you can see what I mean about the glorious hodge-podge. of buildings.

Flowers hang from most pubs and many windows and as you can see, summer really does show off in the UK. Here you can see a good view of Scott's Monument, and little Greyfriars Bobby. The inscription on this memorial says:

“A tribute to the affectionate fidelity of Greyfriars Bobby. In 1858 this faithful dog followed the remains of his master to Greyfriars Churchyard and lingered near the spot until his death in 1872, with permission erected by Baroness Burdett-Coutts.”

Filament Coffee on Victoria St makes a damn good flat white. The reading material is equally great. Hip, so very hip.  Delightfully reminiscent of Cape Town in many ways. It is said that the over 350 year old George Heriot's School inspired J.K.Rowling's Hogwarts. I saw this quote whilst walking, during my first night in Edinburgh. Rather fitting I must say. Too true Tolkien. Who cares if I was lost at the time?


There's something so delicious of being in a completely new place. Check in soon for more from my first visit to Scotland's capital. Over and out.

{To wander} More of London

Once I had figured out the public transport system (and by figured out I mean downloaded an app called City Mapper.. a lifesaver), it was far easier to navigate London. I went to the British Museum with it's stunning ceiling, I met friends for dinner near Paddington Station and even had a taste of Trafalgar Square and coffee in Convent Garden. I will definitely go back there but for now these photos show some of the highlights.

The typography and design in London is so interesting. From the iconic clean logo for Underground to the classic, composed road signs, to gorgeous detailed signage, such as the example below: Below we have a large, blue cockerel in Trafalgar Square, apparently symbolising regeneration and strength. Titled Hahn/Cock, the nearly 5m high piece is by German artist Katharina Fritsch and will be on display for 18 months. On the right: one of many street artists seemingly floating in thin air.

Here is the Hotel Russel, pretty architecture indeed, and the ceiling of the British Museum.

On buildings just outside the museum, there are beautiful, subtle touches of what can be found inside. The botanical art collection is worth a visit in my opinion.

My first Saturday morning in London was lovely to say the least. A friend took me to The Breakfast Club in Clapham Junction and I had the HUEVOS AL BENNY- Poached eggs, chorizo, roast peppers, avocado, fresh chillies, spicy hollandaise on a toasted English Muffin. YUM. And a flat white of course.

London, you are lovely. Soon to come, my first visit to Edinburgh.

{To wander} Greetings, London

Last Tuesday I arrived in drizzly, grey, fantastic London. Filled with anticipation and lugging heavy bags, I was excited by the mere sight of a pub or white daisies which seem to be everywhere. Later that day I felt overwhelmed by the prospect of actually going outside to explore... but I was mighty glad I did. I met a friend for lunch at a lovely little spot called Birdhouse, in Clapham Junction. Perfect flat whites and amazing sandwiches. Hello happy place.


A couple of days later, I met a good friend for lunch in St.James park. What a gorgeous place! If you stand on the bridge and look out across the water, you can see the London Eye on one end of the river, and Buckingham Palace on the other.  Sipping our Starbucks coffees, we had a great chat about moving countries, and the challenges and excitement that go with it. He reminded me that while it's not easy to leave what you know, it's so important to keep looking up and appreciating your new surroundings, to constantly remind yourself why you chose to do it, and be positive. I'm so grateful for this opportunity and think that challenges are so important for growth and to open our minds. I am also so lucky to have such wonderful, supportive friends and family helping me through this journey. Thanks guys :)

I love the stark contrasts in London; between the grungy, old textures, worn down by rain, and the clean, bright aspects against the grey sky.

Another highlight of my first week in London was a visit to Chelsea and the V&A Museum, described as being "the world's largest museum of art and design".

Roses seem to be commonplace in London. Beautifully British.

As you can imagine, I could spend days there. Their collection of fashion through the ages alone is incredible.

Even the cafe is exquisite (see below right):

I love that museums are a place for the old and young to connect in common interests and awe.

Next up, a visit to a wonderful breakfast spot, a touch of Covent Garden and the British Museum. Have a great weekend all. Get out and explore your surroundings!

Hike Up Lions Head

It's almost Soccer 2010 time people! The vibe is infectious! Another wonderful advantage of living in Cape Town is the surrounding hills and mountains. One of our favourite hiking spots is Lions Head. You walk around the mountain so as you get higher the view changes and gets more spectacular around each bend. You can see all across Cape Town, over Camps Bay and Greenpoint, across to the majestic Table Mountain. In this photo below you can see how it got its name...

Recently we went for a hike during full moon-- up Lions Head as the sun sets then down by the light of the moon. It was a bit nerve wracking as the clouds rolled in and visibility decreased. Poor Lauren had injured her foot so the climb was painful and the climb down even more so. Nick carried her for a lot of the way (Mountain Man) but we all a fright when he tripped over a rock on the way down with her on his back! We wanted to send her back to the UK with a fond memory but alas, we failed. Sorry Lauren! :( But Ros got some great shots of our little adventure.. :) (NB. Click on images to see them larger)

This shot was before the pain...

How blessed am I to live in this city!!

“It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves.” -Edmund Hillary