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August 2013

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Another picture of a historical feature for this month, but more from the other end of the country. Although it is fair to point out, in light of the Order of the Bed having visited the most northerly British railway station at Thurso and its southerly equivalent at Penzance, that whatever ideas most people might have that Bristol is the South-west and Edinburgh is the North those people who live beyond these proud cities may beg to differ.

This month we have Edinburgh Castle. The fact that Bristol was seen in glorious sunshine whereas Edinburgh is evidently seen in the pouring rain should not be taken as a criticism of Edinburgh. Life in 2012 was not good enough to allow everywhere to be visited in glorious sunshine. By mid-July 2013 the weather seemed to be busy trying to prove that glorious sunshine is overrated anyway.

Princes Street Gardens, Edinburgh, sit alongside Princes Street in a logical sort of way. They provide a bout of solace from the general interminable disruption on Princes Street brought on by Edinburgh not having the foggiest idea how to build a tram system. Unfortunately neither has Central Government, either in Westminster or Edinburgh, which somewhat inhibits any attempt to get more tram schemes built anywhere in Britain due to fear that the same huge overruns, budget inflation and general decade of urban chaos might manage to happen elsewhere - as it naturally does every time Sheffield or Manchester or Nottingham or Blackpool or Croydon or Birmingham dig a hole in a road to lay rails along it.

Once upon a time this was a delightful, if marshy, valley alongside a rocky outcrop. Someone then built Edinburgh on the rocky outcrop and used the valley as a sewage works. When New Town was built on the fields opposite the rocky outcrop it was necessary to tidy the valley a bit and the resultant gardens are an excellent demonstration that you can indeed polish waste products.

A railway was then plonked through the middle of the sylvan scene, completely destroying its natural beauty for all those who didn't feel it was already rather spoilt by being in the middle of Edinburgh. The railway makes its presence felt more from the squeals of wheel flanges on tight pointwork than through it actually being visible - the fences are carefully hidden by hedges and the railway itself is in a deep cutting.

The castle overlooks proceedings with a certain grandeur, offering splendid views of gardens, railways and New Town along with interesting exhibitions about this and that and a chance to see the Scottish Crown Jewels - or "Honours of Scotland" as the Scots prefer to call them. They are liable to be regarded as secondary to the general UK Jewels, having had to be taken to pieces on several occasions for ease of hiding and eventually spent 100 years bricked up in a cupboard for constitutional reasons. They are also the older of the two sets.

Sieges and royal residence have all culminated in the castle being used as the backdrop to the Edinburgh Tattoo each summer, resulting in various pictures and figures of relevance to the performance being projected onto the front wall. While the Tattoo goes on at the castle the rest of the city collapses under the weight of posters and leaflets associated with the Festival and its Fringe.

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Last modified 24/07/2013

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