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Saturday, 4 October 2014

Last supper Saturday

A lie in on Saturday morning was followed by a walk in the continuing rain down to the new Scottish Parliament opened in 2004. A great testament to Scottish democracy and radical architecture our guided tour took us through the chambers, committee rooms and social spaces of the building where we learned about the history of governance in Scotland the devolved powers of this reestablished institution.

The rain kept us away from our planned walk to Salsibury Crags on Arthur's Seat but swept us instead into Our Dynamic Earth a fascinating interactive museum of geology and science. And when we emerged from these great exhibits, the sun was suing and we head to the former city of Leith for our fish and chip supper. The Tailend is one of the most renowned "chippies" in the capital. It was a great way to spend our final big meal in Edinburgh. 

TGIF writers, cucumber sandwiches and ghosts

Friday was an action packed day starting with a whizz round the bijou Writers' Museum where students were able to read about 3 of Scotland's most famous writers and several bought books in the museum bookshop. Next stop was the Princes Street, the main shopping street of the city. The more adventurous amount us climber the 287 steps to the top of the Walter Scott Monument which dominates the skyline of Edinburgh.

The afternoon found us at the National Portrait Gallery of Scotland where a small collection of paintings and sculptures has been created to commemorate the centenary of WWI. Our guide explained the significance of each piece and eliciting their opinions about the execution of the art.

A leisurely afternoon tea at the bespoke Howard Hotel helped us all to refine our etiquette and table manners. Finger sandwiches, cream scones and other dainties washed down with lashing of tea, resembled a scene from Downton Abbey.

After a few rounds of cards back at the hostel, we waited impatiently for night to fall. As rain beat against us we made our way thought the dark wynds of the old town for our ghoulish tour of the Edinburgh vaults and graveyards. We were met by Mark in his black cape and cap. his resonant voice led us through the underground catacombs of the old city, describing anecdotes of murder, executions and unexplained ghosts.

More ghoulish goings on tomorrow.

Friday, 3 October 2014

Night at the theatre

Our tailor-made Robert Louis Stevenson walking tour, took us through the closes and wynds of old Edinburgh and provided valuable background info on Stevenson's ambivalent attitude towards religion, his love of the city as a source of inspiration and the real live characters who imbued his work.

Prior to the performance of Regeneration students were lucky enough to have an audiences with the producer of the play who explained the whole rocks of "page to stage". The performance itself was well staged and engaged the packed house. The students were given and insight into the creative process of writing through the meeting of two WWI poets, the barbaric conditions under which soldiers had to fight and the treatment at Craiglockhart Hospital in Edinburgh which sought to "cure" soldiers' she'll-shock and return them to the front lines as soon as possible.

Thursday saw us heading iff to the People's Museum which focuses on the lives of ordinary Scots from the 17th century to the present day. The previous evening's theatre performance was linked into a poetry writing workshop led by renowned Jacqui Rowe. Students worked collaboatively to create initial drafts of poetry through the stimuli of objects and photos. The student response was energizing as we are hoping they will enter polished poems into a national War Poetry Competition - first prize being 500 pounds.

The evening found us in Ocean Terminal where we saw Guardians of the Galaxy much enjoyed by the students but only just "tolerated" by the teachers.

Monday, 29 September 2014

Counting the Hours

We are counting the hours until the trip begins. Breakfast food is ordered, travel insurance purchased and boarding passes are being prepared. Roll on tomorrow at 11.

Wish us well and remember to check out the blog everyday for new videos, photos and news.

Friday, 19 September 2014

Breaking News: Scotland to Remain Part of the UK

The referendum on Scottish independence has ended with 55% of the electorate voting to remain part of the UK (over 2 million votes). So no need for last minute visas to a new country! The disappointed 'Yes' campaign received 1.6 million votes but only 2 of Scotland's 32 regions voted in favour of seperation.

It will be interesting when we visit Edinburgh to ask locals about the outcome. With over 85% of people voting, it seems everyone has an opinion. Let's record some interviews.