Linlithgow Daytripper

Edinburgh Expeditions

To celebrate my second semester being completed, I left Edinburgh for the first time since I went up to Loch Tay in January.

I didn’t travel too far, only to Linlithgow, a town about 20 minutes outside of Edinburgh by train. The main attraction? Breaking in my shiny new Historic Scotland pass. I’d heard good things about Linlithgow Palace, birthplace of Mary, Queen of Scots.

I didn’t know what to expect. I did no research on the palace, only finding out that it was there and I could get in for free with my pass.

I certainly wasn’t expecting a ruined palace. No roof, and slick stone–thank goodness it was a sunny day!

The View

The view from the tower!


Unicorn in the Courtyard


Edina! Scotia’s Darling Seat!

Edinburgh Expeditions

Edinburgh is a beautiful, vibrant city. There’s such variety in the landscape and architecture. With regards to landscape, we’ve hills and valleys, parks and inactive volcanoes and buildings. For architecture, the modern Informatics building at the University coexists with the older, Georgian buildings, and buildings older than that.

But enough for words. I’ll let Edinburgh speak for itself.

Flowers and Couple

Flowers and Couple, (C) BCW 2012


Greyfriar's (C) BCW 2012

Sunset over the Divinity School

Sunset over the Divinity School (C) BCW 2012

Eight Things I Love About Edinburgh

Edinburgh Expeditions

1. My Degree Programme

Yeah. If I didn’t like my programme, living in this fabulous city would be hell. Why? I pretty much live inside my programme building. But I don’t care. I’m learning so much, working on cool projects, and expanding my knowledge. I’ve got a lot of freedom to do what I like (within the grounds of the brief), and with the upcoming term, that will probably only expand. At the moment, I’m becoming a bit of a jack-of-all-trades. I can model and animate in 3D well enough, code HTML/CSS decently (and a little bit of Java and ActionScript), and so forth.

But on top of this, my coursemates are awesome. We’re a social bunch, getting together outside of class, and chatting when working on projects. We help each other out as best we can, answering questions and generally supporting each other. We’re little cheerleaders for each other. No one gets left behind.

2. Swing Dancing

Swing dancing is my social life outside of my coursework. I dance approximately three nights a week. It’s a great form of exercise and its so much fun. I went to my first ball this weekend, and haven’t enjoyed myself at a dance, well, ever. There was awkward dancing, as I’m not the most skilled (I’ve only been dancing for three months) but regardless, a wonderful time was had by all.

Lindy hop has definitely got me thinking about how I dress as well. I’m conscious of wearing clothing that permits movement, and skirts and dresses I can dance in. Shoes, always my weakness, have become more important. I look for shoes with comfortable padding in the balls and heels, and soles that are smooth yet not too smooth so I don’t wipe out. I’m now the proud owner of a lovely pair of wine t-strap heels, perfect for dancing or just wearing with jeans or a skirt.

3. Wandering through Old Town

Ah, the part of Edinburgh where I spend most of my time! I love exploring this part of the city, when my coursework permits.

I think I was a Romantic in a former life. One of the first places I wandered during some time off was Greyfriars Kirkyard. It was so atmospheric, that blustery, dreaded sunny day in October, so naturally I went to the cemetry (ten points for mildly obscure music reference). I brought my sketch book and camera, sitting down, observing the visitors, watching the clouds, and wandering.

The Grassmarket is another favourite neighborhood. I like to look in the shops, to look up at the Castle, to dash into Avalanche and see what they have for used CDs.

4. Cafe Culture

I love coffee. I love tea. I love sitting in cafes and enjoying these hot beverages. Edinburgh has a plethora of cafes. I have some favourite places to get my caffeine fix in my neighborhood (some of the best coffee I’ve had is at a police box coffee stand in my uni’s main campus). It’s a fabulous way to meet up with friends–getting a coffee. Far superior to Boston, where most of the cafes were, well, Starbucks. Not that we don’t have chains over here, but there are some great options that are smaller.

5. Charity Shops and Vintage Stores

Ah, the charity shop! A place where you can get just about anything, if you’re willing to look. From books to jewellery to dresses and skirts, these are often an affordable option for students in search of new clothes. Which reminds me, I need to go in search of some swing-dance appropriate attire.

6. The Pubs

Ah, the pubs! The places where I can get a good burger and a good beer. Excellent places for a meet up with coursemates and friends. The one problem: there are so many, it’s difficult to plan where you meet up!

7. The Architecture

There’s something very welcoming about Edinburgh’s architecture. It isn’t too tall, the windows are pleasantly sized, and the neighborhoods are downright inviting. I love strolling through the streets. There’s always something interesting around the corner, either an old school that’s been turned into flats or a side street I’ve never noticed before.

8. The Libraries

I love the libraries. My uni library, the central city library, the music library…I spend too much time in the libraries, thinking about which books I want to read.

They’re great places to conduct research, and of course…there are just so many books. So many books, so little time. Now, excuse me, I have a new book I need to read now that term is over!

Looking Ahead: Some Goals for 2010

The Twirl and Swirl of Letters

As 2009 winds down, I turn my thoughts from Christmas dinner (roast beef and English roast potatoes…yum!) and the year ahead. 2009 was a good year and the blank expanse of 2010 is promising (if daunting). I have a few writing goals set for myself.

1. Write one(+) short story a month

Given that my short story production this year was…three…this will be a definite improvement. I hope to write a variety of genres. Fantasy, sci fi, historical, mystery…who knows?

2. Submit work/enter contests

I’ve received some encouragement to submit various short stories to magazines. I’ve wanted to submit my work since high school, but never felt that I was good enough for publication outside of the school literary magazine (and have refrained from my college’s lit mag because my work is so atypical of what they publish). Part of my hesitation is rejection, but I know I’ll have to deal with it. Aim high, fall fast; I have years to improve.

3. Read more

Yes, I need to read more. I always do (I’ve joked about changing the name of the blog to She Reads Too Much). Fortunately, my courses for next semester look like they’ll be chock full of interesting (and informative) reads: I’m taking a course on Dante, Petrarca and Boccaccio along with one on Florentine architecture.

4. Write another novel

I’m going to write the first draft, with hope. Either my pilots or my alt reality WWIIesque Resistance piece. Although this may be pushed aside due to writing my thesis/distinction piece/grad school applications. Though, I do have roughly a month before the semester begins, and two months summer vacation…hmmm…I’ll just have to not let research distract me too much. 😀

Photo (C) Beth