Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Scotland Souvenirs: Edinburgh . . . .

On this trip I really didn't buy as many souvenirs as I'm used to buying. Maybe it is because I am on a minimalist trip and have been working on downsizing my possessions. But that's another story.

The few items that I did purchase are mainly things that I just had to have like my Scottish sheep and highland cow. That's just for the kid in me. Other things were associated with places I visited and/or things I did. And so with no further ado, here are a few more items that I picked up during my stay in Edinburgh.

Although I'm not a great writer I do admire great writing and great writers and so I decided to visit Edinburgh's Writer's Museum which is located in the Lady Stair's House. This beautiful building is situated in the close (i.e. alley) of the same name just off the Royal mile.

The building was built in the 17th century by Sir William Gray of Pittendrum, a prominent merchant burgess of Edinburgh. The building was later bought by Lady Stair in 1719 and now bears her name. The exterior was much modified in the 19th century with a balconied tower and stonework. It's quite impressive.

The likely date of construction, 1622, is noted in a carved lintel above the doorway, which also bears the motto "Feare the Lord & Depart from Evill" and the monogram and initials of Sir William Gran and his wife.

Just above the entrance there hangs the sign of a man with a quill pen seated at a desk.

The Writers’ Museum in Lady Stair’s House is uniquely surrounded by a courtyard dedicated to writer's, ‘Makars’ Court’.

The Scots word Makar stresses the role of the poet or author as a skilled and versatile worker in the craft of writing. This court is considered a Scottish national writers' monument as more 'makars' and their craft as poet or author are represented here on specially cast concrete slabs.

Since 1932, the Writers' Museum has displayed items with a literary connection to three of Scotland's most famous writers - Robert Burns (who stayed in a house opposite during his first visit to Edinburgh in 1786), Sir Walter Scott and Robert Louis Stevenson. It is full of pictures, etchings, antique wooden writing desks, furniture, handwritten manuscripts and other memorabilia of the three writers. It was very interesting.

Looking at all of the items in the collection made me wonder how a museum collection of today's great writers would look like years in the future. Maybe a laptop, an I-pod recorder or an Internet website ... I, myself, can't remember when I last wrote something extensive using a pen! Since I couldn't take any photos, I purchased this nice souvenir booklet.

And speaking of writers, here is a photo I took of the Elephant House Restaurant famously known as "The Birthplace of Harry Potter", because this is where the author J.K. Rowling often "mulled over a coffee writing her first Harry Potter novel." So this is where it all began . . .

Remember my post about my visit to St. Margaret's Chapel in the Edinburgh Castle . . .

From a book I purchased as a souvenir in the chapel, here is photo of the simple yet elegant interior. There was something very special about this chapel and it is a feeling that will stay with me for years to come. I consider my experience visiting the chapel to be one of my most treasured souvenirs from Edinburgh.

And remember the very cool play I was lucky enough to watch while in Edinburgh. Since photos weren't allowed of the interior, here are photos I took from a souvenir booklet I purchased. I thought the actors were so talented . . .

And how could I resist . . .


  1. Kathy, what a great post! I thorougly enjoyed reading this and seeing more of your photos and learning more about your trip. I think you got some wonderful souvenirs (and that chapel looks VERY special). I'd love the visit the writer's museum too.

    My nephews are going to go wild when I tell them you went to the birthplace of Harry Potter! I'd read that JK wrote the first novel in a coffee shop but had no idea where it was or the name. Very cool! The boys are SO into Harry Potter now (and it's fine with me because I love him too). When Davis came to sleepover last weekend, we watched three of the movies. :)

    Hope you're having a great week!

  2. Forgot to say, good for you on the mimimalist/downsizing thing. I took a car full of stuff to Goodwill on New Year's Eve and it felt great. I need to clear out some more soon. I think it's very therapeutic. :)

  3. Hi Annie, thanks so much for liking my post. I loved that chapel so much. It gave me the same feelings I got when visiting the churches in Venice...very charming.

    I almost didn't visit the museum but it was free and after reading this book in my apartment about it, I went back the next day to visit it and I'm so glad that I did. I think you would really love it too.

    That is so cool that your nephews are such fans of Harry Potter. I remember you mentioning it so I just had to post this photo. I kind of wish that I had gone inside too. It was pointed out during the sightseeing bus tour I took. It was pretty cool seeing it and everyone snapped away when we passed by.

    After all that work doing my garage sale, I think I've learned my lesson. On Saturday I took about 4 big bags of clothes to Goodwill, but I still have much more to bring over there. It does feel very therapeutic! I'm trying to train myself to live with less.

    Btw, I wasn't going to mention it, but I have an appt. with another adoption foster parent of a cat I found on Petfinder. She is beautiful and looks exactly like Lulu. Her name is Elizabeth and she is described as a sweet soul. I'm trying not to get my hopes up to high but I am hopeful that her foster parents will like me and let me have her. She is not a kitten but a little older which is probably better for me. Apparently, she followed her owners home and that's how she came to be with them. They are hearbroken to give her up but apparently they have 4 other cats and a dog and she has been very unhappy lately with them and they think she would be happier in a home with less siblings. I get to meet her on Saturday.:)

    Anyway, I've been very busy working on my house just in case she comes to live with me.

    Btw, they were very impressed that I already read Dummies for Cats, so thanks again for recommending it to me.

    Well, back to my house reorganizing... :) Have a great day today Annie!

  4. Oh my gosh! An orange cat named Elizabeth! That is so awesome (and I'm so glad you mentioned it). I can understand not wanting to get your hopes up too high but I bet you are so excited about meeting her.

    Honestly, I'm glad you are considering an older cat. At the sanctuary, our kittens get adopted all the time but it's harder for an older cat to find a home, and it always makes me so happy when they do.

    Did you know that female orange cats are very rare? 75 to 80% of orange cats are males. I didn't know that until after I got LuLu and the vet was surprised to see that she was a girl. So that will be very cool if we both end up with female orange tabbies!

    If you get a chance, please email me a link to her page on Petfinder; I'd love to see her. And I will have my fingers crossed that the visit goes well!

  5. Hi Annie, 75 to 85% is really rare. I spoke to the owner last night and she said that a female Tabby is really rare as well. Then she went on to say that Elizabeth is just really beautiful. I will email you the link but in case it doesn't get there, here it is:

    I compared your recent blog photo of Lulu to Elizabeth and I am pretty amazed how much they look alike. Pretty cool!

    I'm excited about Saturday day too. Thanks for keeping your fingers crossed....

  6. Hi Kathy: Great post - loved reading about your adventures and the photos helped to capture your trip and memories. Thanks! AI tonight.

  7. Thanks, I got your email. She is just so beautiful! I love all cats but I'm really partial to the orange ones. I think in Great Britain, they call them Ginger Cats but I've always called LuLu orange.

    So is it possible that she might come home with you this weekend or is there a waiting period?

  8. Hi M, thanks so much for your comments. I'm glad you liked looking at some of my photos from my trip. Helps to keep my memories alive. And yes, AI tonight! Whoo hoo! Can't wait to watch it...

    Hi Annie, how interesting that they are called Ginger in Great Britain, I kind of like Orange better since it is more descriptive. Her owner said that they have to keep her for at least two more weeks because her Vet suggested that they wean her off of her medication which they had to give to her because she was having such a hard time lately before she is adopted. So she told me that if things go well at the meet and greet on Saturday, that I could take her the following Saturday. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that things go well on Saturday and that I can bring her home the following Saturday. Thanks for the encouragements Annie.

    Have a great evening M and Annie!

  9. They must have been giving her some anti-anxiety medicine, maybe. Poor baby. We have several cats at the sanctuary who are very stressed about being around so many other cats, and it sounds like Elizabeth is like them, just overwhelmed about being in a full household. Some cats like people better than other cats!

    Oh Kathy, I really hope it all works out!

  10. Hi Annie, yes, I do think anti anxiety medication is what her Vet prescribed to her. And that is exactly what I think poor Elizabeth is going through. They apparently got two additional kittens recently and apparently things have been going down hill for poor Elizabeth since then which is why they have put her up for adoption. She isn't happy right now in her current situation. Interesting too that there are cats in the sanctuary with the same anxiety. It is very understandable. Poor Elizabeth has become overwhelmed with the other kittens/cats in the household. Poor thing.

    Thanks so much Annie, I hope it works out too!

  11. Kathy,

    I love your Scotland Souvenirs! I also like buying books when I can't take pictures in museums; the writer's museum sounds like a great place, I too wonder how a modern writer museum would like.

    Happy Tuesday!

  12. Hi Kathy, I love this post! Your photos from the Writer's Museum are lovely, what a cool place. When I visit Edinburgh, this will definitely be at the top of my must-see list. It's such a lovely little building.

    And, as a huge fan of Harry Potter, it's fascinating to see the cafe when JKR wrote the first novel in the series. I don't know why, I always had a mental picture of a Starbucks kind nof place (how inappropriate) This looks much more appropriate!

    The St. Margaret's Chapel reminds me of the Sistine Chapel, in that the exterior resembles a fortress! But beautiful, at that.

    I see in response to Annie that you might be adopting soon. Elizabeth is a fabulous name for a cat, and if she looks like the beautiful LuLu, her name and her face will match. I'll keep my paws crossed for you that it all works out.

  13. Hi Candi, I'm glad you like my souvenir. I do find buying books and programs helps me to remember the places easier especially without photos. The writer's museum was a very cool experience. I really took my time and visited all of the rooms. It's too bad I couldn't take photos of the interior of this building because it is pretty interesting too. A future Writer's museum will be very interesting. :) Happy Tuesday to you too!

    Hi Sandra, I'm glad you enjoyed this post. I think the museum and the courtyard was pretty cool. I enjoyed reading the quotes on the slabs from all these other authors and poets and I enjoyed going through all of the memorabilia in the museum. I think you would also love visiting the museum too. The architecture and history is fascinating.

    That's so cool that you are a huge Harry potter fan too. In hindsight I wish I would've gone inside and ate at the cafe. From the outside and from the surrounding cool neigbhorhood I have to agree with you that it is very unlike a starbucks. The tour guide also pointed out this school for boys in the neighborhood which she said JKR used as inspiration to create the school in the Harry Potter book. Pretty interesting.

    How interesting that St. Margaret's Chapel reminds you of the Sistine Chapel with a fortress like exterior. Great observation. You know what's funny is right outside of the chapel is the 6 ton canon.

    Thanks for your comments too about Elizabeth. And she is very beautiful just like Lulu. I also saw some really spunky, beautiful cats and kittens that reminded me a lot of Maria too. One of the kittens was name Cathy. :) Thanks so much for keeping your paws crossed. Have a great evening.

  14. I love you photos of Edinburgh. I found it to be such a special city. We were only there for a couple of day... now I just have to go back!

  15. Great post! Love the photos. I have a question though about the Lady Stair's Close photo. Does this mean the stairs are closed next to the sign?

    Very cool that you went to the birthplace of Harry Potter! Great idea to take a photo from your book of the chapel. It looks like such a serene place.

    I am very excited that you may have a cat soon. I peeked at the website. She is beautiful. I hope it works out for you.

  16. Hi Sandi, thanks so much for your comments. I remember reading something on ST that you were going to visit Edinburgh. I totally agree with you that Edinburgh is a very special city. I hope that someday I will get to return to Edinburgh too. I had such a wonderful time there.

    Hi Girasoli, thanks so much for liking my photos. In the Lady Stairs photo, I'm not sure about the stairs next to it. The close is actually the alley in the photo. I guess it's a term they use in Edinburgh. All along the Royal mile there are these very cool alleys that you can walk through and it sort of leads you to some interesting areas like this Martar courtyard. Another lead me to this place where they start the tour of the underground Edinburgh. I wanted to see it but because it included all these ghost stories I passed. I'm not really a big fan of ghost stories especially when traveling alone. :)

    I'm also glad that I bought the souvenir booklet. It was only 1 pound but it had a lot of interesting things in it about the history of the chapel and of Queen Margaret. It does look serene.

    Thanks, I'm excited also. I'm hoping that everything works out with Elizabeth too. the more I think about her the more I feel like she needs a new home. I'll keep my fingers crossed.

    Thanks so much for your comments Sandi and Girasoli. Have a great day today!

  17. What a fun post, thanks! Those are wonderful souvenirs. I absolutely love that building that houses the museum. The rounded balcony at the top is fabulous, I'd love to have such a balcony on my house! I envision stepping out each morning and throwing my face to the sky in celebration of the day. Like Annie, I say kudos for the minimalist approach. I'm in the early stages of a purge myself. (Although all I've gotten rid of so far is a pashmina I bought in Florence on my solo trip and haven't worn since!)

  18. Hi Anne, thanks so much for liking my post. I think that house is pretty cool too with the balcony and all. I have been really working at the minimalist thing for quite a while now. I have the hardest time getting rid of things especially when they have memories for me. But they are just pocessions and my memories remain, out they go... Glad to hear that you're on the road to minimizing and purging too.

    Have a great weekend!

  19. I really admire what you did on your trip!

  20. Hi Leslie, that's so nice of you to say. Thank you so much.

    Have a great weekend!

  21. What a great blog! I love to travel and these pictures are terrific. I haven't been to Scotland, but have been to Venice 3times & hope to see Prague this year. Best to you--
    Gail White

  22. Hi Gail, thanks so much for your comments and liking my photos and blog. I love traveling too. Lucky you to be going to Prague. I have very fond memories of my trip there. I hope you get to visit Scotland too because it is an amazing place.

    Have a wonderful time in Prague.

  23. Thanks for providing really nice information about the different fascinating areas of Edinburgh. I would like to appreciate writer 's nice effort & suggest him to post this sort of posts in future as well

  24. yes, it is really nice building having nice look as well. It has historic background & also emphasize the civilization & tradition of Edinburgh as well


It's me Trekcapri (aka Kathy). Thanks so much for visiting and leaving a comment.