Friday Favourites

Thomson's Tower. Photo (c) SCRAN

Thomson’s Tower – one of the highlights of this year’s Door Open weekend. Photo (c) SCRAN

This week’s major distraction has been the Scottish independence referendum. It’s been incredible to see how engaged people are with the political process and whatever the result I hope we can maintain that level of participation.  As I type this the polls are still open and every pundit around says that the result is too close to call. I feel very fidgety and so I’ve decided to get ahead with some of the blog posts I’ve been meaning to write while I keep an eye on the news and the results coming in – I foresee a very sleepy day tomorrow..

I’m sticking with an Edinburgh theme for my Friday round-up and what better than Doors Open weekend which takes place on the 27th and 28th of September. As always there is an amazing range of buildings open to view, many of which are closed to the general public for the rest of the year. There are churches aplenty, the Lothian Buses depot and some of the New Town’s beautiful private garden squares. One of the buildings I’ll be visiting is Thomson’s Tower in Dr Neil’s Garden near Duddingston Kirk. As you can see from the picture at the top of this post, the octagonal William Playfair designed building has a beautiful setting with the lower level being given over to a museum of curling. I love curling but am blessed with rather more enthusiasm than ability but it will be lovely to see the museum and imagine the romance of curling on Duddingston loch in the shadow of Arthur’s Seat rather than the usual rather more municipal setting of Murrayfield curling rink.

Another thing I’m looking forward to is the Night in the Garden s ‘Go home and sit still! The Scottish Women’s Hospitals in World War 1’eason at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (known to locals as ‘The Botanics’). Walking around the gardens at night will be interesting, never mind with the light show that’s being planned.

The National Library of Scotland on George IV Bridge is a special place – our very own copyright library and I love using it. Every possible book and journal you could need is there and the reading room is a lovely place to be.  A lot of people don’t realise that they have a vibrant series of events and lectures and I’m hoping to go to ‘Go Home and Sit Still! The Scottish Women’s Hospitals in the First World War’, looking at the work of the heroic Elsie Inglis and the women who staffed her hospitals making a huge difference to the care of injured soldiers.

Lady Agnew of Lochnaw

Lady Agnew of Lochnaw by John Singer Sargent

We’re also taking a break from politics over the weekend to visit the American Impressionism exhibition at the National Gallery of Modern Art. There’s an interesting blog post by Phil Jupitus about his favourite painting, Lady Agnew of Lochnaw by John Singer Sargent. It’s one of my favourites too – the technical skills in the way that Sargent captures the texture of her white silk dress is amazing but I’m also fascinated by the subject. What is she thinking with that direct, almost insolent gaze? Compared to so many Victorian paintings of refined noble ladies, there’s no doubt with Lady Agnew that she was trouble.

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