1. The Museums in Edinburgh are Free
Take the National Museum of Scotland, for example, where I went yesterday. It’s massive. It’s free. I touched rocks from outer space. I grinned at a taxidermied Dolly the sheep (yes THE Dolly the sheep) and then had dreams about cloning all night. By the way, Dolly is a strikingly large sheep. If she weren’t dead and in a glass box, she could probably take you down. Watch out.
2. Victoria Street
Before I came to Scotland, I found a photo of Edinburgh that looked a bit too much like magic to be a real place. Last week, after taking a pretty much identical photo of a road I had walked on countless times before, I realized it was just Victoria Street. And that Victoria Street is really just that lovely.
Victoria Street snakes down to Grassmarket, a hopping hub of pubs, restaurants, and boutiques. Not only is it essentially the most photogenic curvy little road I’ve ever seen, but it also houses some of my favorite shops in Edinburgh. Which brings me to my next Item of Awesome–
3. The Red Door Gallery
See that red door peeking up over the car in the photo above? It leads into a little indie gallery/shop called The Red Door Gallery. It feels a bit like walking into a corporeal Etsy, and if you know me at all, you’ll know I am an absolute sucker for indie crafts (I try to fight my inner hipster, I really do. She just wears brass knuckles sometimes. It’s not a fair fight). Everything there is absolutely fantastic– prints, pins, stamps, journals, bags, jewelry– all made by independent artisans. I stayed in there for so long that the woman behind the counter remarked “We’ll you’ve certainly been here a while, haven’t you!” …Yep. Yep I have.
Not only do I love all the art there, but I far prefer purchasing something when I know the money is going to an actual person trying to live off their art than to some big factory corporation. As someone who sells my own art and writing, I know how exciting it is for someone to purchase and enjoy something you made. Maybe I should try and get some of my stuff sold in there… Hmmm.
Here is a link to the Red Door Gallery– they ship all over, check it out: http://edinburghart.com/index_content.html
4. Scottish Poetry Library
Last night I went to hear a talk from Liz Lochhead, one of Scotland’s most famous contemporary playwrights, on adapting myth into poetry and plays. In other words, exactly what I am interested in. Literally, that is what I do. All the time. It’s exactly what I’m studying– my concentration at Hampshire College (the equivalent of a major) is called “Explorations in Storytelling through Playwriting, Poetry, and Performance.” In other words, I could not miss this discussion.
It was a really interesting talk, and got me all excited. The event was in a tiny room upstairs at the Scottish Poetry Library, and I was in the front center row. Liz even kept bringing up Hawthorne– and I sure do love me some Hawthorne. I also got to meet some cool, like-minded people and peruse the library, which is a building filled with thousands of volumes of poetry. I had never been there before, but it is absolutely wonderful. I will certainly be going back.
5. The Traverse Theatre
When I was first researching Edinburgh while considering coming here, one of the aspects of the city that most excited me was that it was the home of a theatre specifically for pioneering new plays– The Traverse. Not only that, but the Traverse also offered a fortnightly playwriting workshop for playwrights between the ages of 18 and 25. Well that made me REALLY excited, so much so that I immediately emailed the theatre to reserve a spot in the class. Now, a year later, I’m two sessions into the course and just as thrilled. The Traverse is one of the most beautiful modern theatres I’ve ever been in. Before my last class there, I sat in the bar jotting tiny poems into my journal. The majesty of the space made me think of cathedrals– great, brilliant testaments to a deity, beautiful enough to knock you to your knees in wonder at the marvel they were built for. This theatre felt like my cathedral, a monument worthy of the muses. I have yet to see a production there, but just being inside it makes me feel giddy and at home all at once.
6. Visiting Glasgow
Last Sunday, I went to Glasgow with my friends Ann-Kathrin and Jenny. It was only a few pounds each way to take an hour and a half long bus ride– such an easy trip! The city feels much more modern than Edinburgh, and is quite a nice place if you stay in the central areas. We went to the modern art museum (also free), which was quite lovely. My favorite exhibit was a light sculpture of lampshades stacked to the ceiling.
7. Getting Essays Done
I handed in my first essay yesterday! It is a close reading of Alexander Pope’s satirical poem “An Essay on Criticism,” where I discuss Pope’s use of self-awareness within the piece. I hadn’t done a close reading since high school, so was rather terrified at the prospect of diving into one with essentially no experience, but I felt fairly good about it once I’d finished. And it’s done now! HOORAY!!!
8. Egg Poofs (better name suggestions welcome…)
The last recipe I gave you guys for mochas was lame. Anyone can figure out how to make a mocha. So in an attempt to make up for that, here is a real recipe. Well, kind of real, I sort of just made it up last night when I had nothing else to eat. But it came out awesome, so it’s fair game. The experiment was a variation on a meal my mother used to make called “Volcano Pancakes.” I essentially took the basics of this recipe and baked them in a slightly different form, using muffin tins instead of a larger dish. The result was a collection of poofy, eggy, doughy snacks stuffed with cheese. Mmmm… Here’s the instructions:
1 Cup of Milk
1 Cup of Flour
1/2 cup melted butter
shredded cheddar cheese
confectionary sugar (bonus fact: As a child, I called confectionary sugar “Confederate sugar.”)
Preheat Oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
1. Beat eggs until whites and yolks are fully combined
2. Add flour and milk and beat until smooth
3. Pour the melted butter into the bottoms of each muffin tin, dividing evenly between compartments.
4. Pour the egg/flour/milk mixture into tins on top of the butter, so each compartment is about 2/3 full– it will inflate, be warned.
5. Bake for 20 – 30 minutes until all poofed up and golden brown.
6. Remove from tins and place on a plate– the poofs will be hollow little bowls. Immediately stuff each poof with shredded cheddar cheese and sprinkle with confederate *ahem I mean confectionary* sugar.
7. Serve warm with a tall glass of milk.