Sunday, December 29, 2013


It is my considered opinion that you should go to The Elephant House on Chamber Street in Edinburgh for 4 reasons.
1.  The decor.  There are Elephants!  All over. Who doesn't like elephants?  Little ones, big ones, posters, chairs, wooden and ceramic elephants.

2. The food's good. I recommend the tea and the stromboli.  Maybe not together, you understand...but still.
3. If you read or heard about this book series called Harry Potter than you might be interested in seeing the place.  Since it's 'the birthplace of Harry Potter.'  It says so on the window.  They even sell postcards of J.K. Rowling working in the back.
4. Because the graffiti in the bathrooms is about as unique as it is possible to be. My apologies for the fuzzy shot.  I figure you can get the gist of it.  That's only one small part of one stall in the ladies room.


Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Field trips,

First of all, apologies.  I haven't been very diligent about blogging.  Again there's no real excuse.  I just forget or get sucked into e-mail.
I'll try to be better.
So, we've gone a few class field trips.  One was to the National Gallery Scotland storage facility and then to their conservation labs.  I have to say that was fun.  I like storage for museums.  After all I was the one who organized the Nooks and Crannies tour of the Furniture Storage Center at Yale.  Ah, original Stickley and art deco.
The highlight for me in the conservation tour was seeing the curator studio for the paintings.  The curator was cleaning a Cezanne.  In fact she was cleaning this Cezanne.

It's going on loan to the Prado, so it needs to be taken care of before shipping.
It was just sitting there on the easel.  I could have touched it!  I had never been that close to a masterpiece.  I breathed on it.  It was one of those spine tingling moments.

And I recognized it right off.  Oh I screwed up my identification of the artist at first.  I do that.  I get Cezanne and Gauguin confused for some reason.  But it took me back to art history 101.  As soon as I saw the mountain, I knew.  Apparently some lessons from Dr. Dixon sunk in.  It was seriously cool.

But the best part was the Monet.  It wasn't even on an easel!  It was on a table.  Ah Claude.  Just sitting there! It was scheduled for some cleaning.  I just love Monet.  I couldn't believe I was so close to one of his masterpieces in a non-gallery setting.
It's really hard to describe how thrilling it was.  Just amazing.  It was like being in a sacred presence. I wish I had a photo of the lab.

We also went to the Black Watch Castle and Museum.  As well as the Ferguson Gallery and the Perth Museum and Art Gallery.
I liked the Black Watch.  I have a fondness for the regiment.  It's not just the tartan.  Although I like that too.  They used it liberally throughout the museum...

My great aunt once told me that an uncle of hers served.  I just wish I remembered his name.  I saw a bunch of Milnes in the honor roll of the regiment and a few family names like George, Alexander and David.  Plus the Black Watch was pretty local in this part of Scotland.  The men from Fife, Angus and Perth signed up.  But there were a few from Forfar, where one side of the family came from.  The odds were good one of them was in the book.  This was the book from after WWI. 

They had newer stuff too.  Found this in the post war galleries.  Hmm, where have I heard about these cards?

After we left the Black Watch we went to Perth.  The museum there has a combination of stuff.  Natural history, social history, decorative arts, and paintings.
In an interesting coincidence I found someone I knew.  Sort of.
It's my dad!  Well, his name anyway. And as soon as I saw it I heard his voice.  I knew exactly what he'd say if he was there.  "Hey that's me!  There I am!"  Made me smile.  But it's hard too. I know he'd love to visit and be so proud that I was at this university so near where his parents came from.  I miss him. 
But we saw the stores in Perth too.  Lots of fun.  I had another encounter with home, as the museum has a dinosaur footprint from CT.  Actually it has one of the Connecticut state fossil footprints.  I recognized the footprint and the dino name before I saw the Connecticut tag on the label.
This was one of my favorite moments.  The museum is closing for a few months so some items are being sent on temporary exhibit around Perth.
I'm assuming they will pack them first.  There were other oddities.  Such as these.  I can't help but feel that was a terribly uncomfortable bike to ride.  And that dog/fox/whatever has a very sappy look on its face.  It's hard to tell with the horn, but there was no good angle for a photo.  Amazing what you find in storage.


Sunday, November 3, 2013

Rainbows and ice cream

I had to go into Edinburgh for a meeting at the National Museum Scotland(NMS) for my project placement meeting recently.
Part of the program I'm in, requires you to choose an internship and work for the year.  I chose the Scottish Life Archives, that's part of the National Museum.

I checked out the Mary, Queen of Scots exhibition.  It was really interesting.  I recommend going to it, if you can(hurry it closes soon!)  I think my favorite object were the pendants.  One was a poodle and the other was an elephant. There were nice, sort of everyday kinds of jewelry.

Since the day was amazing, I followed a classmate's advice and went up to the roof terrace after my meeting, and boy was I glad I did.
There were rainbows all over Edinburgh.  There weren't brief, washed out rainbows.  This was vivid and with a perfect arch disappearing into the cloud bank and re-emerging.  After seeing it I understood why people believe it leads somewhere.  I don't remember seeing a rainbow that vivid. You saw all the colors and the progression. 

I won't say I followed the rainbow, but after I left the museum I wandered toward Edinburgh Castle and ended up on the Greenmarket, which is behind the Castle.  I was thrilled actually, because another classmate had told me about this gelato place, called Mary's Milk Bar.  I will say the gelato is amazing.

I had the rose and dark chocolate with another scoop of Peruvian 64% dark chocolate.  This woman knows what she's doing with gelato.  There are no words for how good this stuff is.  All I can say is if you are around Edinburgh, go.  Hell, I'd make a special trip.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

I knew this place was strange

you know with the accents and all.  But what is this?  Has the International Statute of Secrecy been lifted?
Can it be that you can now play Quidditch openly?

You can in certain universities that have a team.  Apparently St. Andrews does.  AND they play in the World Cup.

My sound group was heading over to view more parts of the instrument collections when we saw this....I do not know who won or if it's practice.  But it was fun to see.

Monday, October 14, 2013

News and views

I know it's been a while.  I don't have any real excuse, like I was studying or working on an essay(although some of that is true.)
I did work on an essay. 2500 words max.  I chose the topic Research and Scholarship as an important function in museums.  I know it was shocking.  I hope it was good, but I'm not the most important opinion in this equation.  I got 2300 words out of it, and could have written way more on the programmic or archival part.  Again shocking.  Apparently, I was not that out of practice.

And I have been studying.  Mostly for the essay. 

Well, for Scotland news it's pretty cool, still.  I haven't been really homesick.  I do miss certain parts of home.  Modern Pizza, my bed, my paycheck...yeah that one I really miss.  Also fish with friends and going apple picking. 

Even though I haven't left St. Andrews to go touring I have explored a lot of it.  I think I have found all the second hand shops in this city.  There are a lot of them.  I had fish and chips and Indian food.  Not the same day though. I baked for class, and that was well received.  My chocolate hazelnut biscotti. 

I went to the 'golf' side of town.  The Old Course, the golf museum, and I saw West Sands.  I also went to the aquarium.  It's small, and the displays are dated, but they do a good job overall.  They have a small shark tank and seals and penguins.  The Amazon area is well done, except for the models of the animals.  They are oddly positioned.  But the highlight were the meerkats.  They are impossibly cute.  I don't know why the aquarium has desert animals, but I didn't care.

Last week I walked to the Botanic Garden.  That was nice.  I really liked that.  Lots of paths.  Their herb garden was cool, and they even had apple and pear trees there.

I walked the Fife Coastal Path on Sunday.  Went pretty far down. Great views out to sea. 

Tomorrow for school we go to the National Museums Scotland in Edinburgh.  I'm really looking forward to it.  I love Edinburgh and haven't been to the National museum yet.

So these are a few views.  The first one is my view on Sunday finishing my paper.  I was doing citations, so celebrating a bit early, but I deserved it.  The second one is a shot from the apple orchard at the Botanic Garden.  I walked on the pier this week and the sea was acting up.  Lots of fun to see.  Cold when you got wet!  And the final two are views on the Fife Coastal Path. 

Friday, October 4, 2013

Vehicle for photos

So really this is just a vehicle for me sharing photos.  Oh there will be the rare informative moment, such as I am all ready for Red Sox post season baseball.  In my sparkly hat, my navy blue hoodie and my Wakefield t-shirt.
But I also wanted to share views from the North Sea.

There was a storm last night, and this morning.  I don't know if it came in from the North Sea or from land.  But it was wild and wooly.  Cold too.  These are some views from yesterday on my way home via the Fife Coastal Path.  I do love that walk.  The first one is the famous pier.  From my view at the top of the hill and the Church of St. Mary's on the Rock.  The second is toward the Castle, and the third is the edge of the cliffs. And the last one is the East Sands beach at high tide. 

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Field trips and kingdoms

Part of the degree I'm doing requires, yes requires, field trips as part of class.  Today we went to a castle.
Okay we went to the ruins of a castle.  The castle of St Andrews, like the cathedral, fell into disrepair ages ago, (16th century) and was never repaired.  Damn Calvinists.  Speaking of...I learned today that John Knox was once a galley slave.  Sometimes rebellion pays off, sometimes it doesn't. 

The castle center has some interesting displays and it's a great place to walk around in.  Even if it was a bit windy today. But I am coming to realize it's windy here a lot.  I better get used to it. 
A group of us tried to find a place to get out of the wind and ended up in the mine and counter mine.  Underground.  It wasn't as claustrophobic as you might think, but then I wasn't digging the shaft. It was very cool to climb down in and see. 

I have also realized this weekend that I live in an area of Scotland known as the kingdom of Fife.  That's just great.  I love the fact that one small district in Scotland calls itself a kingdom.  The legend states it was part of the Pictish kingdoms and they just never stopped using it.  It's not an official thing you understand, just a signage deal.  Still it's fun. 

Monday, September 30, 2013

New Adventures

I have embarked on a new adventure.  I went back to school.  While that doesn't sound very
adventurous on the face of it, that is only because I haven't told you where I am attending school.  I applied to and was accepted at the University of St. Andrews.  In Scotland.

In fact, I am sitting in their library writing this now.  Mostly because the internet hasn't been connected at my place.  All hail the power of free wifi! I can't WAIT till it gets connected at home. 

So the move was exciting, but very stressful.  I couldn't pack some stuff that I wanted, and had to wait until it was shipped.  There were other things I forgot to pack and needed.  Like my camera cord and a few more DVD's.  I've only really just got used to the place and not missing home all the time.  I do still miss my bed though. 

So a brief intro to what I'm studying and the views I see as I walk to class.  According to the university I'm an M.Litt student (fancy way of saying I'll have a Master of Arts in the fall.) in Museum and Gallery Studies.  It seemed like a good idea with my library and archives training.  It's really interesting, so far.  I've got an essay to write abut research and scholarship as a function of museums.  So I've been doing a lot of reading and note taking.  I like the topic and with my Yale experience it's kind of natural.  As you can see I was hard at work studying...

Today I did some exhibit prep and went to the museum collections unit to look at objects.  Historical science instruments.  I'm on the physics of sound group.  I'll wait while you laugh...I understand.  I did too.  'Cause I went into library science for the science of it. There are some really cool objects though.  My favorite is the wooden xylophone. I'm hoping we get to use that. 

I live about a 20 minute walk from the center of town.  It's not a bad hike, although I have a feeling in the winter it will be very cold.  I'm considering getting a bike.  I get to walk right past the ruins on my way to town, which is nice.  The old castle and cathedral suffered during the Reformation.  I blame the Calvinists. 
But it's hard to fault the views.  It's one of the best commutes I've ever had.
I like walking past the harbor, even if it adds a few minutes to the trip.  I would miss the ocean. 
 See what the Calvinists did?  Honestly...
 These are the Castle Sands(fancy way of saying Beach) right near the Museum of St Andrews(MUSA) where I have class every week. 
 And this is from the top of the hill looking out to the pier and the North Sea.

Now that I have my camera cord I can share photos!