/ Scotland2017

Underground, Overground (wombling free)

Everyday the bus had gone past The Nordic Shop, Edinburgh's Scandinavian Outdoor shop. I kept meaning to get off and go take a look. Last night we were talking about cooking options in the van and Liz mentioned Zebra billy cans. We mused that The Nordic Shop might be a stockist. So today I got to look in at last. Oh, could I spend money here. The £100 plus Fjall Raven trousers, the £250 merino top. This was real outdoor clothing. Probably made to last a lifetime, and everything was an object of desire. The Zebra pots, not sure, we really need to take the container we want to store them in into the shop to be 100% sure they would fit. We may do that tomorrow.

Sometimes I make bad decisions. No, hold back that gasp of disbelief, they're​ rare I know, but I still make them. Today's was the belief that we had enough time to get across town to S Leith and visit the army store there to see if it has any alternatives. Getting back across Edinburgh in time for our 2pm underground tour could have been a close run thing had traffic not been so kind to us. So a goodly percentage of today's 15,000 steps were done at quite lick.

The Mary King's Close underground tour was different. Back in the 17th century there were many very narrow closes and wynds in the city. Being a fortified walled city the only expansion could be upwards so many of the narrow city closes where several storeys high. Now Edinburgh is built on some quite steep slopes, what may be several storeys high from one ground level is barely on the ground of an adjacent street level. So in the 18th century when the city built the Royal Exchange on the Royal Mile (a street at a particularly high level) they simply built in to several storeys of houses originating at the maze of closes at a lower level. I've not explained that well. The 7th floor of a house built in Mary King's Close (at a very low level) was up to about ground level on the Royal Mile. So expanding the Royal Mile to build the Royal Exchange the builders could simple demolish the 7th floor of Mary King's Court and build level in the rubble, with the close street and all 6 lower levels of its tenant buildings becoming some incredibly tall foundations for the Royal Exchange.

The weird thing is the close underneath still flourished. One occupant, a saw setter, had his house repossessed as late as the late 1800s but he and his son were using his workshop two doors up into the 1930s. Today this underground street complex and 17th century houses is a tourist attraction complete with costumed guide and state of the art AV displays. Lots of ceilings held up on props but with some investment this could be a real gem in historical time travel.

Back to the 21st century, a gentle stroll to Holyrood Palace and smile in its gift shop at all the over-expensive tourist tat. A fool (particularly a tourist fool) and his money are soon parted. As evinced by the £6 I spent on two small ice cream cones from a van at the foot of Salisbury Crags!

Still I did manage to get the photo of the rear of the Parliament building that failed the other day when the sun was full on.