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Whitehaven, 14th-18th August 2004

A short visit to my parents' in Whitehaven, to show Craig where I grew up. A chance, too, for me to visit the various tourist attractions that have opened up as part of Whitehaven's regeneration over the last few years!

I may be biased but I think Whitehaven is a lovely town. It doesn't get many tourists, though (except at the biennial Maritime Festival, which attracted nearly 200,000 people in 2003), partly because it hasn't yet really established its reputation for tourism and partly because of its location, beyond the Lake District and not really on a route to anywhere else.

View from the Beacon Overlooking the harbour from the Weather Gallery in the Beacon. The Beacon is the local museum, consisting mainly of display on local history. Interesting, but I found the numerous sound loops a bit irritating, as there were several instances where you could hardly hear what was being said, because the sound was either set too low or being drowned out by another booming display just round the corner.
Whitehaven harbour Craig at the harbour. This area used to be a mudbath when the tide went out, but the harbour now has lock gates so that the dock is always under water. There's a new marina too.
St. Nicholas' Church St. Nicholas' Church Tower and gardens. The rest of the church burned down in 1971, when I was a baby (we were up in Scotland on holiday at the time).
The Rum Story In the "Rum Story" tourist attraction. This was very good, better than the Beacon in my opinion. It's in the former bonded warehouse of Jefferson's, a local family of wine merchants who traded in Whitehaven for well over 200 years, and tells the story of the rum trade and Whitehaven's involvement in it.
Clock at the Rum Story Clock at the Rum Story: comes to life to tell the story of rum every hour!
Meal at Platform 9 A very nice meal out at Platform 9 in St. Bees (formerly the French Connection) to celebrate Craig's and my engagement.
Haig Pit The Haig Colliery Mining Museum, in the pithead buildings of Whitehaven's last deep coal mine, which closed in 1986. At one time there were over 50 mines in Whitehaven. The buildings were bought from British Coal for the grand sum of £1, and the restoration work is being undertaken by volunteers.
Restored engine
Unrestored engine
Restored and unrestored winding engines at Haig Pit. Apparently there are only three of these engines in existence, and Haig Pit has two of them.

Edinburgh, 22nd-25th November 2002

My parents have recently bought a new-build flat in Edinburgh, so I took a trip up to see it and to visit the city - and also to meet up with Kristina, a friend from Germany who's now doing a PhD in Edinburgh.

Because my grandparents on Dad's side lived just outside Edinburgh, I used to go there regularly for holidays as a child, so the trip involved a certain amount of nostalgia. However, as a passenger in the back of Grandad's car I'd never really got to know the layout of the city, so exploring it on foot was quite a different experience.

On the Saturday we went to the Camera Obscura (first time for all of us, and well worthwhile) at the top end of the Royal Mile, at lunchtime we met up with Kristina's friend Nicky, and in the evening we took the Mercat "Ghosts and Ghouls" tour. There must have been about ten different ghost tours to choose from, operated by several different companies; they're obviously highly lucrative, especially on a fine Saturday night! The tour was good, but there seemed to be a lot of moving from one location to another with most of the locations having no obvious connection with the stories we were told in them. I suppose that avoiding nine other tour groups must be a logistical nightmare!
Mum & Dad's new flat Mum & Dad's new flat - 2nd floor, on the corner. You can just about see Dad standing at the window.
Mum's student digs Mum & Susan outside the flat just off the Royal Mile where Mum lived as a student in the mid-60s. The bit that juts out from the wall was her toilet and the window to its left was her main room.
Scott Monument The Scott Monument in Princes Street Gardens.
At Camera Obscura Mum, Susan, Kristina and me at the Camera Obscura.
Castle Edinburgh Castle from the roof terrace of the Camera Obscura. You can find the Edinburgh Castle website at
Royal Mile The Royal Mile from the roof terrace of the Camera Obscura.
Sweets illusion An optical illusion at the Camera Obscura.
Fudge Introducing Kristina and Nicky to the delights of Orkney Fudge, which we'd just stocked up on from the Scottish Grocery Shop on the Royal Mile.
At Kristina's Me with Kristina and Nicky at Kristina's flat, near Greyfriars.
Ghost tour Ghost tour. Liz, our guide, telling a story about gruesome punishments doled out for seemingly minor offences.
Ghost tour Ghost tour - in the city vaults. This was the best bit of the tour, though none of us had any supernatural experiences.

On the Sunday Kristina and I met up at Dean Village with the intention of following the Water of Leith Walkway all the way to Leith docks. We managed it for about half the distance but then somehow managed to lose our route and ended up following the road instead. At the docks we saw the Royal Yacht Britannia (but didn't take the tour) and Kristina was very excited to discover that Greenpeace's Rainbow Warrior was also there. Dad's bought a flat off plan as an investment; it's under construction in a new development off Leith Walk, so at his request we called in on the way home to get a photo of the site. Had an excellent meal at an Italian restaurant on Leith Walk, just round the corner from my parents' flat, called Vittoria's.

Water of Leith Viaduct over the Water of Leith at Dean Village.
Royal Yacht Britannia The Royal Yacht Britannia moored at Leith docks.
Rainbow Warrior Kristina with the Rainbow Warrior in the background.
Rainbow Warrior Kristina by the Rainbow Warrior .
Dad's new flat Dad's new flat under construction - his is the one on the ground floor, tucked away in the corner on the left.

On Monday Mum, Dad and Susan had to leave in the morning for appointments back in Whitehaven. I spent the morning doing a historical tour of the Royal Mile, also run by Mercat; I had been going to give Auld Reekie Tours a go, but it turned out that they only do the ghost tours nowadays. The only other daytime tour available was a literary pub walk, which didn't really appeal. I met up with Kristina, Nicky and their friend Sarah for lunch, and spent the afternoon around the shops before taking a bus back to the airport.

Edinburgh Castle Edinburgh Castle from Princes Street.
Arthur's Seat Looking across the roof of Waverley Station towards Arthur's Seat.
Calton Hill Looking across the roof of Wverley Station towards Calton Hill.
Royal Mile Tour "Secrets of the Royal Mile" tour.
A close off the Royal Mile One of the many closes off the Royal Mile. At one time there were about 300 but nowadays only 60 or so remain. Typically, between 300 and 500 people used to live down each of these closes.

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© Lynne Donaldson
This page last edited 31st August 2004