Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Wandering down the Royal Mile . . .

Sing to me of raspberry, little pots of fresh raspberry and cream, two light scones fresh from the oven, and tea. We sat in Clarinda's this afternoon, surrounded by fine china, lace tablecloths, tiny bouquets of dried roses and heather at each table. We were wearied from walking along cobbled streets in Auld Reekie, a nickname for Edinburgh, no longer so sooty, a medieval city well guarded by provosts and burghers, well preserved for tourists, like we two, sitting for a moment, hidden gardens in closes nearby, leaves turning now to red and gold.

Today we visited the Museum of Edinburgh, housed in Huntly House, several interconnected merchants' houses from the 16th and 17th centuries, just on the Royal Mile.

I was taken by this stone panel once over the gate to Leith a port near Edinburgh. Carved in 1678, the panel shows wine being unloaded from a sailing vessel. Here in true medieval fashion, more than one event is shown at the same time. The ship is docked in the lower left; you can see a man folding the sails. Two wine porters (called stingmen) carry casks in the upper left. On the upper right of the panel, a young boy powers a crane using a sort of treadmill, helped by a man.

Everywhere we study the history, I can see how the Industrial Revolution transformed Scotland, but I also see how many suffered until governments acted to protect workers. In fact labor laws protecting children were the first to be passed. And I learned today that tea was decried as an unnecessary luxury for the lower classes, as it was more healthful (and cheaper) for them to stick to breakfasts of oatmeal porridge and milk.

Then, before we stopped for tea, we visited at The Scottish Poetry Library, tucked off the Royal Mile (turn right at the sign of the mermaid, another Starbucks). We sat quiet for a time at a small round table. Allen read Robbie Burns' “Holy Willie's Prayer” and me, I read poems from Gordon Mason's Catapult to Mars. Another lovely day.


Gordon Mason said...

Glad you found the SPL! And thanks for the reading of me!

人妻 said...