My wife and I went to visit the Royal Botanic Gardens in Edinburgh this week. This has been on our list for years but, as many people discover, visiting places which are near you (Edinburgh is 28 miles/43K) from Dunbar, often takes much longer to achieve than visiting other countries. The gardens are a wonderful place to visit. Firstly, you can walk – for free – along the many paths within the gardens. At this time of year, the autumn colours in the gardens are at their peak and there are great swathes of fallen leaves on the grass. Both children and adults can be seen walking through the leaves and experiencing not only the feel of the leaves but also the rustling sound the leaves make. (See photos 1-3). As you walk along the paths, there is a very good chance of seeing grey squirrels squatting on the grass and eating beech nuts as if their lives depended on it or famine was around the corner. This is furious eating. (See Photo 4).
Secondly, there are the glasshouses, which contain a huge variety of plants from all over the world. You do need to pay to visit the glasshouses but it’s a nominal sum. There are many glasshouses, so it’s not possible to visit more than 2 or 3 on one visit. Nor is it desirable, as I think that if you try to pack too many visits in one day/afternoon, you forget what you’ve looked at. We went into the orchid house first and were greeted firstly with a damp warmth and then a scintillating array of orchid plants and flowers. I think that orchids are very plain plants that transform themselves from dull cygnets to dazzling swans when the flowers appear. (See photos 5 and 6). The next glasshouse (Photo 7 6869) had a large pond, on the surface of which floated large green circular leaves and small, delicate flowers (Photo 8 – I like the patterns in the water).
For my recent birthday, I was given 2 very welcome book tokens. Now, probably like most of you reading this blog, I like bookshops and frequent them whenever I am in Edinburgh. However, again like most of you, I have got into the habit of using bookshops as a) a café and b) a library i.e. you go into e.g. Waterstones in town , pick up a new book from the display and take it up to the café upstairs. You enjoy your tea/coffee, read the first chapter, put the book back and leave the store. Then you might order the book online to save money. I think that this makes many of us uncomfortable because for the bookshops, it’s an unsustainable model and we’re going to end up with no bookshops at all. So we should all resolve not to buy books online but from bookshops? Mmm – on that principle, maybe we should not book flights online in order to get our local travel agent – remember them? – to re-open? So, I guess it means we have to ask ourselves how important we feel it is to have bookshops. I bought 4 books with part of my book tokens, so felt a bit better.