blog post, books, travel

A Vacation of Sorts -Art Galleries and Book Shops

Its official, the paperwork has been signed and relevant departments notified. I have officially withdrawn from my PhD program and am no-longer a student. Woohoo! So, as my move-out date isn’t for another couple of weeks yet, I am taking advantage of these last couple of weeks in this lovely city of Edinburgh and playing tourist.

I have a short list of places I want to visit and so first up today it was a trip to the National Gallery of Scotland. I absolutely adore art galleries, I love walking around taking in all the history, seeing how each artist has their own take and style of things, reading the little information plaques, learning lives of the artists and their muses, seeing emotion painted out within a frame. But the best thing about art galleries, lets be honest, is that they’re free. I get to spend hours upon hours, wondering around this magnificent building, surrounded by a wealth of culture and talent and beauty, all for the grand price of nothing.

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My favourite artists are probably, (and maybe predictably) Vincent Van Gogh and J. M. W. Turner.  And now  Jean-Baptiste Greuze is added to that list. ‘A Girl with a Dead Canary’ by Greuze is one painting that I fell in love with as soon as I saw it. I love portraits more than I do landscapes and the level of detail in this Oil work is awe inspiring. I love the way the colours are so vibrant, and the way in which the yellow pigment has disappeared leaving the flower stems blue and the canary white really adds to the overall vibrance. So of-course the first thing I did upon leaving the gallery was to search the gift shop for a little print of the painting.

The second stop on my first day of tourism was Grassmarket. To get there, a little walk down Candlemaker Row to take a quick look (and snap) of the Diagon Alley sign that’s situated at the end of the Row. This being the street (along with the adjacent Victoria Street) that inspired JK Rowling to create Diagon Alley in the Harry Potter book series.  It was at the meeting of Grassmarket that I then discovered the vintage clothing shop W. Armstrong & Son, and honestly I could have spent the next two weeks in there alone. So much wonderful vintage clothing being sold for genuinely reasonable prices, and spanning the decades too. Unfortunately, everything piece of clothing I found that I then fell in love with happened to be either very much not my size, or out of my budget range. And for the sake of my will power I stayed the heck away from the cape section because I could hear the velvet calling to me and I would not have been strong enough to resist. Alas, at this time I have no photos, I was truly too engrossed in my browsing to think of taking a picture of this magnificent wonderland, but fear not, I’m certain to return there before my time is up.

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My third and final stop of the day was a return to Armchair Books, a quaint little bookstore that sells Antique & Victorian books. Again, a store I could spend forever in. The last time I was in here I came away empty handed, too overwhelmed by the vast number of books – plus the loss of dust-jackets and therefore blurbs. This time however I finally came away with two books; Extraordinary Women by Compton Mackenzie (1929) and Can Such Things be by Ambrose Bierce (1926).

The first of which I am most intrigued to read, as I am led to believe is a satirical comedy that at the time was scandalous due to its lesbian themes.

In 1914, bored of wartime Lucerne, the beautiful, cross-dressing Rosalba Donsante escapes to the island of Sirene to seek out new conquests, followed by her long-suffering English lover, Aurora. But even Aurora’s patience is tested to the limit when Rosalba sets her sights upon a new target, leaving a trail of broken hearts in her wake.

The second of which I picked purely because the title piqued my curiosity, and it was only £3. Turns out, I did well to trust my instincts as it is in fact a collection of short horror/supernatural stories.

…to be read in the dark, perhaps with a light crackling fire burning dimly in the background. Stories of ghosts, apparitions, and strange, inexplicable occurrences are prevalent in these tales. Can Such Things Be? implies and relates that anything is possible, at any time.

Top of the list for my next excursions are the;  National Museum of Scotland, National Portrait Gallery and Holyrood Palace. So watch this space! 🙂

Over and out. Xx.

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