Friday, August 26, 2011

A yacht and a late night

Tuesday saw Ed and I venture to Leith, an area in Edinburgh. It's also the name of the river. Apparently there's a nice walk along the river from where I'm staying to the 'waterfront'. We did not manage to find it. Instead we went a strange, long way, not helped by Google maps. We saw such sights as:

The worst knitting graffiti ever

A post-apocolypse scrap yard

Actually quite a nice cafe with the most reasonably priced cups of tea and cake I've seen all week

Leith is like Newtown but much bigger and with more homeless people and dogs. The 'waterfront' is not that great, the part we went to used to be docks and old rail tracks still snake amongst all the cobblestones. In an apparent attempt to make it better, naturally, someone built a mall. You have to go into the mall to get to...

The Royal Yacht Britannia. We hadn't specifically planned to go the yacht but we realised we were close and it seemed like it would make the long walk to Leith worthwhile. I actually had a good time, mostly because the yacht is full of family photos of the Royal family and some of them are quite funny.

The yacht was launched in 1953, replacing a previous Royal yacht. The Queen and Prince Philip oversaw the decoration and went on to view the yacht as a home away from home. Surprisingly, the Queen had a single bed. As Ed pointed out, the bedrooms all looked like rooms from a very nice resthome.

The yacht is giant, it has a massive state dining room where the Queen entertained all sorts of dignitaries. The crew's quarters were less spacious - I definitely wouldn't want to be on the top bunk. My eagle eyes spotted the matching rugs that the Queen and Prince Philip had in their studies.

It seems they may have only visited New Zealand a couple of times, but the Queen and Prince Philip trod on it often.

The Yacht was decommissioned in 1997 and so fond of it was the Queen that she publicly shed a tear when disembarking for the last time. It is now a visitor attraction with the rooms on display all kept as they were when the Royal family used the yacht for overseas visits, holidays, and honeymoons. The honeymoon suite is the only bedroom with a double bed, Prince Charles had it brought on board especially for his honeymoon with Princess Diana. Everything is pretty dated and not at all lavish.

Every single clock on the yacht is stopped at one minute past three, the time when it was decommissioned.

We got the bus back to town and - strange fact of the day - busses in Edinburgh do not give change, so if you don't have the exact coins, too bad. That evening we went to another Australian comedian, Fiona O'Loughlin. Her show described her experience of alcoholism, including passing out on stage in front of hundreds of people, the night before she was due to make her Australian Dancing with the Stars debut. The show's producers wanted her to claim exhaustion, but to her credit she just told the truth. She was very good, a great storyteller, and her ending was very memorable...

Early in the afternoon on Wednesday I went to the second show in the Festival by Hannah Gadsby, although this was more of a comedy lecture about the representation of the Virgin Mary in art throughout time. It was very funny and informative, Hannah Gadsby is great.

I then went to the Scottish National Gallery where the best part was an exhibition called 'The Queen: Art and Image'. It showed photographs, paintings, and sculptures of/inspired by the Queen since her ascension to the throne. It was only a small exhibition, but more than anything it was interesting to see such thorough documentation of someone ageing over 60 years.

After going home and getting changed, I met Ed and the Wellington person we'd seen at the Forest on Sunday night, and the three of us had dinner at a Japanese BYO. I got a taxi because I was running late and it was so fun! I hadn't been in a Black cab before - they're giant; I chatted away to the driver, an older Scottish man who said, 'Aye' a lot. It was very bumpy though, the cobblestone roads must wear out tyres quickly.

We'd decided we'd try to go 'out' after a show we had tickets to see at 10pm. I have to admit I wasn't altogether sober when we got to the show, which actually may have made it better. It was called Table and was described as a 'triptych', each of the three scenes/sequences involving puppetry. I liked the first scene best, the puppet was amazing. He was reminiscent of a Japanese Bunraku puppet in that he was operated by three people in black. He had a cardboard head and a cloth body and he was so expressive. Puppetry is amazing when it's done well. The other two scenes were pretty strange and a bit long.The last was a story told entirely through pictures and the occasional word drawn onto plain white paper and pulled out of a briefcase. There were probably nearly a hundred, maybe even more, pieces of paper and three people pulling the pieces out and moving them around.

After the show we went to a bar and then down into Cowgate, one of the parts of the city under a bridge, to see if we could find somewhere to have a dance. We managed to find a place underground that was selling 2 pound Jaegerbombs and playing very remixed music. The music wasn't ideal but it was good enough and I didn't end up getting home until 3am.

1 comment:

  1. The homeless people and dogs in Leith are surely a nice change to sheep and earthquakes?! No?!