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.