The Holyrood…

If you do believe that you have to go to Westminster when you visit London, then for the same reason you should believe that you have to go to Holyrood when you visit Edinburgh. I am not comparing London and Edinburgh, although I did mention that originally I thought Edinburgh is just the Northern version of London.

Of course it is not, for example… as mentioned in the previous post, people in Edinburgh are kinder, and friendlier.

But if you think Westminster is important, it is not fair if you don’t see the same kind importance of Holyrood. Of course, I am talking about the two houses of Parliament. Uhm… is that how you said it? What is the plural form of “House of Parliament“? Is it “Houses of Parliament” or “House of Parliaments“?

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This is the Parliament House looks like if you approach it through Royal Mile
Anyway…

I think I made it too obvious before that I kind of interested in politics a bit. So, I made it my mission — weeks before my visit to Edinburgh, that I had to visit the Scottish Parliament Building. Since on BBC it’s been called Holyrood so many times, I made the assumption that it is located in Holyrood road. I mean… deduction process, hello?

BUT, to be honest, it is easier to find it if you get there through Royal Mile.

BUT, BUT, I think, if you decide to visit the Parliament House, you should still do it through Holyrood road. And this is why…

The Dynamic Earth

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I am not really sure why it is called so, but I think it is one hell of a modern architecture. It is an amphiteathre, and I kind of think it is meant to be used to host big events. When I was there, it was a little bit too early in the morning, so I don’t think it was open for public yet. The bright side: an obsturcted view, perfect for panoramic mode photoshoot.

Dynamic Earth is located in the end of Holyrood Road. It might seem like a dead end, but if you go further, you could see a little passage that would take you closer to the Parliament House, which would be just on your left hand side.

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And this is what you’ve got if you approach through Holyrood Road. Massive difference. You’re welcome…
But this is why I said you should approach the Parliament House through Holyrood Road, because, if you didn’t go straight to the left, you would see a kind of ampitheatric-ish garden where you can sit and nom your snack. Please do enjoy some view there, especially when the sun is shining, and you realise that you are protected by the massive range of mountains around you.

Walk straight ahead.

“But… But the Parliament House is on the left…,” I heard you say. Yes, Dear… a little detour won’t hurt. Afterall, like I said, there are good reasons why you took Holyrood road earlier, didn’t I?

Yes, you are heading to The Palace of Holyroodhouse.

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To be fair, I am taking photos from a locked gate… I can’t make it better even if I tried… Sorry…
Or Holyrood Palace, in short. And if the name hasn’t given up the clue for you yet… It is a palace. Like Buckingham, or Kensington, or Sandringham… but this is in Holyrood, and it is open for public. Not for free, and for some extra you can even get an access to The Queen’s Gallery.

 

Me? I had a mission, remember? So I just took some photos, and get back on track.

I was lucky, though. I didn’t look up the opening times for the Parliamen House. Heck, I didn’t know that it was open for public. Yes for general plebs like you and I. Even for some lost aliens like me. I came a bit early, but apparently I came when it did open early. Like I said, I was lucky.

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From the Parliament House, looking out. There you go… the Queen’s Gallery…
It is pretty understandable that the security process was tight. I am not surprised that it is going to be even tighter after the explosion in Manchester last week. There is a guided tour there if you want, but since I was alone, I thought it would be a bit silly to ask for a guided tour. You can see the exhibition in the hall, but not all sections of the building are open for public — obviously.

I was kind of hoping that I would see, or even take a selfie with MSP Ruth Davidson, but apparently I wasn’t that lucky. Maybe next time…

 

The Good People Of Edinburgh

I did mention earlier that some part of the city did let me down, but I have to say that IF I ever decides to move to this city, it must be because of the people. Yessur… not the tourists I am talking about, but the people of Edinburgh.

At first, I thought Edinburgh is just the northern version of London. I mean, you see the building constructions, the crowd, the traffic, the noise, the late night entertainment… even the parliament. I thought the only differences were the accent and the sense of fashion, but after staying for only few days in Edinburgh, I was proven wrong.

People in Edinburgh were very friendly, and kind to me, and were incrediblty thoughtful.

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Nossur, not the tourists…
When I was in the visa application centre, I had to make another photocopy of my passport because the copy I brought was not the correct standart photocopy they wanted. Fair enough. They have got a photocopy machine in the reception area which everyone can use for 20p per sheet — I suspect it happens a lot when people forgot to make a copy, or something like that. And I walked to the photocopy machine, with my passport on my hand.

Okay, I have operated photocopy machine before, but one photocopy machine is not the same with the other. I don’t know this one, and I don’t like how it looked… these guys were a bit shifty. So I went to the reception and asked the lady there how to get going with these machines.

After knowing that I was only going to make one copy, she decided to make one copy with her own machine. For free. I mean… what?

On the way back home, I took the bus which costs £1.60 for a single trip. Which is totally fine. I had the money, and I was prepared to pay. No biggie.

But I had it in a big banknote, and I guess the bus driver didn’t have change for that. So, instead of sending me off walking back to the city (or make me buy some sweets from poundshop), he asked me how much I had in change. I showed him all the pennies I had in my pouch, and he said…

“That’ll do…”

And off I went.

Wasn’t it wonderful, the kindness and thoughtfulness. They obviously know that I was alone, and that I wasn’t from the neighbourhood. I mean… I did look a bit like a lost puppy sometimes. But really… That would never ever happen to me in London…

BUT… the most memorable character in Edinburgh is definitely the woman who I call “The Singing Punk Spinner of St. Giles Cathedral”. Why I called her that? Why not?

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This is the cathedral, you’d find her there…
Okay… If you ever had the chance to go to Edinburgh, walk the Royal Mile to St. Giles Cathedral. I saw her there twice, and I assume that it was her spot. It is not easy to miss such a character like her there — a skinny lady with punk hair spiking straight up. She wore a tartan corset, and a pair of leather boots. She sat on he wooden stool, spinning on her wooden spinning wheel. Like I said, she’s hard to miss… but just in case you don’t see her, try to listen…

She sang a kind of folk song about spinning wool… sometimes in English and sometimes in Scottish. I wish I could understand what the song was about.

I didn’t take her photo, nor record a video of her, because she refused to be photographed or videotaped. I think it is only proper to respect her wish not to take her photo or video without her consent. If you’re there and you want to take photo or video, make sure you ask her first. Okay? Remember… without consent… it is B A D.

 

More Museums…

Edinburgh made me realised that there is a museum for everyone. I believe that there is a strong correlation between the kind of museums you enjoy, and your personal background. The British Museum and the Scottish National Museum for example, are great museums, and I know a lot of people who enjoy them. But if you ask me, I pick York’s Jorvik Museum or Leeds’s Thackray Museum every time. So, my opinion about the museums I am going to mention next is not necessarily reflect the quality of the museum, okay? It’s just how I enjoy one better than the others…

Right… Disclaimer’s done, now the museums…

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The third museum I went to was Edinburgh Museum. I saw this museum when I was on my way back from the Scottish Parliament building, it’s not far from there. Although it is small, you would spot it quite easily as the colour is bright — contrast to the other surrounding buildings.

Don’t let the size and the facade of the building fool you though. It is free, so come and have a look, you might be surprised. They have a lot… and by a lot, I mean a lot of artefacts related to the city of Edinburgh. Silverware, glassware, and ceramics… Some artefacts from war time as well. Even if you don’t like looking at stuff, you can enjoy the building too.

Ooh… I enjoyed walking around the house, among the creaking floor and wonky doors.

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The next museum was also like that. The People’s Story is only few metres away from Edinburgh Museum. It is a bit more obscure, as the facade of the building blends really well with other buildings surrounding it.

I think among the three museums, I like this one the most.

Instead of offering stuff to look at, The People’s Story offers me… well.. story. There are a lot of well made mannequin, dressed up to show how life was in the old time in Edinburgh. The best thing is, it is also from the real people who used to live in Edinburgh. I really wish this museum was bigger, so there would be more story to tell…

This museum is also free, but I think donation is very much well appreciated. They have a really funky donation box near the reception.

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The last museum before I went home was The Museum of Childhood. This museum was awarded with some tourism something, but at that time I thought it was slightly overrated. However, now I think my opinion about this museum is pretty skewed because of the situation.

Compared to the last two museums, this museum was in a much better condition. Located in a busy high street, it was crowded with at least three groups of school kids. I was expecting a museum where old people reminiscing their childhood, instead of museum full of small noisy children. So yeah, my opinion is very bias. I could have enjoyed it better when I can stop and actually look at the stuff without all the noise.

Oh by the way… I am not showing you any photo of the stuff inside. You have to come yourself if you want to see 🙂

Have fun!

The Museums…

You bet! I am going to talk a lot about my trip to Edinburgh in this blog, so if you really don’t want to hear about it, you can come back next week. You know.. like when you go decide to avoid going to any shopping centre until Christmas is over because you can’t stand listening to Jingle Bells in the background. Yea… more or less the same.

Anyway, Edinburgh… Like I said in my previous post, Edinburgh has plenty of museums. It is with my deepest regret — and I do blame the timing, that I cannot visit them all. I tried to visit those which is located near where I stayed, the ones that I though is interesting, and was open when I visited, and also… without entrance fee. Yes… interesting enough for me to take the walk, and accessible (close, open, and free of charge). Sadly.. it means I didn’t go to the Surgeon’s Hall Museum, and Edinburgh Castle, because they’re not free. I’ll save it later when I go there with Grump, or my siblings.

I visited there five Museums. I only have three days there, and also an appointment in the visa application centre as the priority in my itinerary. So, five museums, I think it is good enough.

 

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It doesn’t look like that in reality, but the panorama mode with me standing in one place makes the photo looks slightly bendy…

The first one, is the National Museum of Scotland. It is a massive stone architectural structure — I deliberately said that because “building” doesn’t cover it. It’s so massive, I don’t think you can finish looking at every single item in it in one day. Note if you want to visit this place, come early and bring something to eat if you don’t want to spend money on the cafe (hey, I am telling you how to have a fun travelling with minimum budget!).

It is like the British Museum in London, but with an awesome Scottish twist in it. There is a section dedicated for the history of Scotland and the kingdom of Scotland. So yes, if you went to British Museum before, you can now imagine how big the place is. If you like this kind of museums, I suggest you allocate a whole day in this place with rest in between. I believe they have a cloakroom, so you can have your heavy rucksack stored while you’re taking your time there.

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The next one is The Writers’ Museum. Of course! We have to go there, don’t we? It is a little bit of an effort to get to this one. The location of this little museum is a little bit hidden behind the crowded shop, just off the bustling street of Royal Mile. You could easily miss it if you don’t have your keen eye… or your trusted Google Map with you. Like I said… an effort.

Having this dream of one day being a writer myself, I made it my quest to visit this museum even before I set my foot on Edinburgh soil. I thought, I might learn something, or get myself possessed by a great writer, or something like that… However, I think it is a little bit cheeky to say that this is the Writers’ Museum, isn’t it? Because, to be honest… it is actually The Scottish Writers’ Museum — mainly three biggest writers Scotland has — Robert Burns, Walter Scott, and Robert Louis Stevenson. I wasn’t sure what I was expecting when I went to this place, but definitely more than three writers (which works I haven’t even read).

My goodness I am rambling again. I think I need to save the other museums for next one, as I do really need to rest my finger to some good stuff with food. See you around.

Choo… Choo…

I think one of the best thing I like being in the UK is the trains. It is so easy to travel in this country, compared to where I came from. I think the transport system is very well maintained, and managed, and it is very comfortable too (especially if you are in the “QUIET” carriage).

Of course a lot of people here love to moan about the train. But they do love moaning about everything under the sun — see Grumpy for the best example.

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You see this from your train window, you know you’re close 😀
Anyway, I came back from Edinburgh. It is, I believe, the capital city of Scotland. That was my first time ever visiting the city, and I was extremely excited about the adventure that was about to happen. Although, I must say, that my main mission to go up North is to apply for a Schengen visa.

Why didn’t I apply in London, though? Well, that’s a good story of mismanagement, and disorganisation. Lesson learned — organise better next time.

Now back to Edinburgh… It was… uhm. I wouldn’t go as far as disappointing, because I love museums, and Edinburgh has loads of them — free and paying. Just on the top of my head they have: The National Museum of Scotland, Museum of Edinburgh, The People Story, Museum of Childhood, Surgery Museum… and those don’t include places like The Edinburgh Castle, or the galleries.

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They do know how to impress you with their massive imposing structures…
The buildings were incredible — something that Grump could appreciate better than I did. The gardens were so beautiful. And the view… Oh the view was majestic. Unlike our lovely Norfolk Broads, Lothian has this hill and valley, the terrain that add this extra seconds of breathtaking moments. It just can’t be translated into words. This is where picture does better than my mere explanation…

But… oh what a dirty road. I mean… not just dirty with dirt. There are a lot of dog poos, and they’re everywhere. I don’t know… in Norwich they are very rare, and most of the time you won’t find it in the high street. But you do in Edinburgh… in front of one of the museums, even. So I assume dog owners don’t bother with criminal persecution for not picking up after their dogs. NOT the kind of people I want to be around, obviously.

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The Edinburgh Castle is probably the most crowded of all. This is probably my seventh take of the photo, because there were always too many people in view.
And the city… It is so crowded and so touristy. You bump into people everywhere. It’s almost as packed as London. The city is big, but the street feels claustrophobic, especially with the construction sites everywhere. It doesn’t feel welcoming, although when I was there it was unexpectedly warm — well, warmer then the Southern part of the island anyway.

But in the end, I must say, I enjoyed the whole experience. I haven’t done it for a very long time, and I was most definitely refreshing and inspiring. And as much as I do love coming back home, this little trip to the North has a wonderful reminder why I was a wandering Alien to start with.

Aaaaand, I will write about it another time, because it’s lunchtime, and I love my lunchtime.

Manchester :(

Yesterday, after hearing about what happened in Manchester, Grumpy stopped being grumpy for a while. I think he was a little bit more angry than grumpy, and I know why he felt what he felt. The explosive attack was one of the biggest terrorist attack in the city, and one of the biggest in the country after 7/7. It was also the one with the most fatalities as well…

I don’t blame him to feel angry. I don’t blame anyone to feel angry. To feel more than just sympathy, or sad.

I have never been to Manchester, and to be honest I don’t know what Ariana Grande was until the she was featured in the news. It was her concert anyway. But Manchester… I heard about it since I was very very young. I watched football games on telly with my dad, with him cheering for Liverpool FC, and I fangirling for David Beckham…

It is the hometown of my teenage-dream rockstar Noel Gallagher.

And Manchester is one of the many reasons why I am here where I am now. Manchester is one of the reason why I came to this country. So, even though I haven’t been to Manchester yet (time and money… ), I do feel a certain connection to it — albeit very superficial.

I don’t have much angry words for now. At least not those which are safe for the consumption of people under 21 years old. But I do have some words… and I said it already.

Learning from experience, I know that British people are one of the most resilient people. Grump reminded me that when the attack in Westminster Palace happened not so long time ago. I really hope he’s proven right again this time, and hopefully the city, and the people of Manchester would recover soon…

With lots of love…

From us

First World..thoughts and grumps

Well…

I was initially going to have a grumpy outraged rant about some news that I heard recently. The news that here in the UK old married couples are sometimes split up and sent to different nursing homes.

I have to admit that nowadays I’m a pretty apathetic bastard a lot of the time and not much about humanity surprises me. But this bit of news actually got to me. I was genuinely outraged that this kind of thing can happen in a first World Country.

And then…. I remembered how privileged I am to be in a first world country.

Most of my life has been spent with my head pretty much in the sand (or with it up my arse?) and “world events” as well as “the other persons perspective” never really entered my head. I had for a long time given up following news and politics because its pretty much depressing (oh, and I rant about newspapers and biased or “silly” reporting).

Meeting and getting to know my beautiful alien has changed all that.

I was lucky enough to travel to her country and it opened my eyes. At least it did when I stopped thinking “first world expectations and rights”. I heard about some of the countries turbulent history too and how it affected my beautiful alien, her family, and a good amount of the countries population.

While I was there I saw a totally different way of life and values. It has made me realise just how lucky I am and just how lucky people in the UK are.

The UK government (and the news media) put out statistics of how the NHS is “failing”, for example. Some people have to wait over 4 hours to be seen.

I know it’s not as black and white as this but… the people are waiting for a free service. The doctors and nurses are busting their proverbial balls to heal people and everyone gets outraged if it takes “too long”.

Fuck me, Id rather wait for several hours knowing that someone will look after me (for free) rather than not get proper decent medical attention, or not get any treatment/medicine at all because I cannot afford it.

Sometimes I think that people have been “given” so much that some people scream about their “rights” if they are denied a luxury…. oooh, that can easily turn into an entire grumpy ranting post about having to work hard to get things in life, not expect them to be handed to you.

Its good to remind myself (or get reminded) of this occasionally. I know that for “first world people” first world problems can seem awful but at least we (here in the UK) are relatively safe and secure as we go about our day-to-day lives. We can walk the streets in (relative) safety, we are secure in the knowledge (even if we don’t always realise it) that whatever happens to us there is some authority or organisation that will pick us up if we fall and look after us. We don’t have to deal with corruption, nor see it as “a way of life” when dealing with authorities or corporations.

Oh, and we can turn on a tap pretty much anywhere and expect not to get sick off the water (and if the water is dubious [small risk of being a bit ill after drinking it] there will be a bloody big sign behind the tap telling us “not drinking water”).

 

I have no idea why I wrote all of that. It’s just my own thoughts and observations (as I see them). I love my little country and it’s interesting to see the differences between it and others around the world.