Friday, 1 April 2016

A Walking Tour of Edinburgh Part Two: Bruntsfield, the Meadows, and the Dovecot Studio. . .

Continuing my walking tours of Edinburgh, inspired by the ones set out in Wool Tribe,  I left EYF on the Saturday afternoon after my workshop as the sun was shining, I'd already bought tons of yarn, and I just wanted to get out and walk.  Having one more afternoon left in the city, I decided to combine bits of the Old Town tour and the Tollcross & Bruntsfield one.

I got the bus from the Corn Exchange and alighted in front of Akva on FountainbridgeThis was the Swedish restaurant where the Thursday night Knit and Natter event had been held,  and I really enjoyed the space and also the food.  It has a very interesting menu from Swedish meatballs to peanut and cauliflower curry, and has probably the largest sweet potato wedges that I've ever eaten.  Across the road is Loudon's cafe which is definitely on my list to visit next time as even a cursory glance showed me an inviting space with huge windows and comfy couches; it looks a great place to grab a coffee and some knitting time.

But time was ticking.  I went to the end of Fountainbridge and turned right, heading up Lothian Road (which I think at this point turns into Earl Grey St).  A few blocks down I turned left into Lochrin Place and popped into the Gallery Beadshop. 

They'd had a stand at the EYF marketplace and I'd bought some lovely vintage buttons.  This is a very nicely stocked bead shop full of treasures and lots of jewellery fixings.  I always seem to have more charms and pendants hanging around than chains to wear them on, but they sell many simple and cheap necklaces to remedy this, and so I bought a few. 

Carrying on up the main street, I then turned into Gilmore Place and found My Bearpaw.   This is a really delightful fabric shop.  They sell a little bit of commercial yarn, but it was the table of enticing fat quarters of gorgeous fabric that kept me lingering.  I could hear a quilting class going on in the back room with lots of laughter and chatter and I so wanted to join in. 

As with most of the city, there's some lovely architecture on the streets in this neighbourhood too. I'm sure the interiors of these flats are fantastic. I'm picturing high ceilings, inviting window seats in those bay windows,  and sun-drenched wooden floorboards.

I was tempted to continue along Bruntsfield as the high street is supposed to be filled with interesting cafes and shops, but once I got to the park, I couldn't resist walking through it instead.

It was just such a gorgeous day.  When you walk right into the Meadows proper, you get a lovely view of Arthur's Seat.   And I love a park that is well used by its city dwellers.  There were tons of people soaking in the sunshine, reading, playing with children, and walking their dogs.  I even saw a bunch of teenagers stringing thick ropes between the trees and practicing tightrope walking.

At this point I really wanted to go and visit Be Inspired Fibres which is on Marchmount Road just on the other side of the Meadows.  They had a really great booth at EYF - they sell the fascinating Habu yarns,  Latvian mitten kits, (I had such fun knitting these two years ago), Fyberspates and Icelandic Lettlopi among other brands.  It will be top of my list next year.  But I only had a limited time and I really, really wanted to get to the Dovecot Studios  before they closed.

This is a space devoted to weaving and tapestry. It consists of a small gallery, cafe and shop on the ground floor.  But during certain times of the week (Saturdays included), you can ascend to the third floor and watch the weavers in action.  Alas, all was quiet when I visited, but you can get a sense of the huge space and the size of the projects.  Some of these take years to complete. Along the gallery walls were hung several of the beautiful and intriguing rugs that had been created in this studio space.

I can vouch that the cafe is very good as well - I had a lovely restorative latte and slice of cake.

And in the shop, I found the perfect gift to bring back for the Liverpud.  I remember seeing a profile of artist Alison Counsell on a tv program some months ago.  A keen walker, she creates these beautiful 3D contour maps out of stainless steel. You buy them flat and then pop out the contours so that you have a mini-map of the area.  I love the way the metal catches the light.  The one I bought is of the area known as the Three Sisters near Glencoe in Scotland.  It's where the Liverpud and I first met on a hiking holiday and we both did the Three Sisters walk, so it was the perfect choice.  She's done maps for parts of the Peak District, Lake District, Yorkshire Dales, Wales and Scotland.  You can see and purchase them here.   I think I'll have to get the Yorkshire Three Peaks map, as I loved doing the Three Peaks challenge.

Oh, Edinburgh, it was so hard to leave you. There's just so much more to see and do.  My friends and I have decided that we really need to come for an entire week next year.  I want to wander through more of the art galleries and museums, go to the Royal Botanical Gardens,  walk the Water of Leith path to Leith in one direction and then towards the Pentland Hills in the other,  and hike the trails in the Pentland Hills Regional Parkland, and just spend more time in cafes knitting and watching the world go by.  Basically, I think I need to move here.

To keep a little Scottish culture going south of the border,  my knitting companions and I have decided to start a very casual bookclub.  While waiting for the next EYF, we've all got a year to  read Walter Scott's novel Waverley which we will discuss on the train ride up next March.  And then we'll all climb the 287 steps of the Scott Monument which I'm sure has a great view of the city. 

I've also just started reading Kevin MacNeil's The Brilliant & Forever, published by Polygon Books. How can you resist a comic novel, by an author from the Outer Hebrides, that is about a literary festival held on a small island where a story-telling competition is taking place?  Did I mention that one of the participants is an alpaca called Archie?

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