|Nathan Coley, There Will Be No Miracles Here, 2006|
During our trip to Scotland we stayed at my Uncle Gav's house in Polmont near Falkirk, which proved a good point to travel to and from and a very hospitable home in which to stay.
During our stay we looked at some galleries, such as...
The Modern Art Galleries of Scotland
|Clockwise left to right: the plinth for Reclining Figure Henry Moore; metal sculpture, artist unknown; Nom outside the Dean Gallery and Work no. 975 EVERYTHING IS GOING TO BE ALRIGHT Martin Creed.|
We enjoyed a lot of the work, particularly the permanent sculpture pieces in the gallery gardens, August Sander's marathon People of The 20th Century collection (made all the more impressive as the prints were taken directly from the photographer's negatives) and other individual works by the likes of Emin, Creed, Hatoum, Munch and Lucas. Curiously, the grounds of The Dean Gallery contains a small patch of allotments with no obvious connection to the gallery itself (organic veg for the café perhaps...?) Simultaneously secluded, rural, cultured and urban, we both agreed we could think of no place more interesting to grow produce.
This Edinburgh University gallery (which is in their Old College building) was showing a retrospective Rosemarie Trockel exhibition. We were both impressed by the provision of such a large and seemingly well-staffed gallery space within a university, although we were also bemused by the lack of obvious themes in Trockel's work and found it hard to engage with.
On our meandering route to the Talbot Rice Gallery we came across the small but intense Stills gallery. They were showing the second part of Social Documents: The Ethics Encounter, an unsettling collection of photographs and films around the theme of 'war, sex and political urgency'. The pieces were sometimes uncomfortably close to the exhibition's remit: to include material exploring the 'murkier waters' around the ethical codes imposed on more conventional documentary and investigative photography. Dani Marti's 'post-coital portraits' were particularly near the knuckle. The exhibition also included the very timely My Neck is Thinner than a Hair: Engines by The Atlas Group, 100 pictures collated from Lebanese archives of engines found near the scenes of car bombs during it's civil war of 1975-91. We like the overall operation of the gallery: an experimental and theoretically-minded approach to exhibiting photographs.
We ate and drank in some great places...
We'd read about Amore Dogs (and it's sister restaurant The Dogs) online before we went north. It didn't disappoint: tasty, decent portions of simple but well made Italian food for reasonable prices - so reasonable in fact that Uncle Gav didn't quite trust the menu until the bill had been paid.
Our namesake company sells itself as an established essential food outlet in Edinburgh. Having originally set up an outlet for their excess farm produce, Henderson's now have a shop, deli, bistro and restaurant which serve interesting, ethical, vegetarian food. We had lunch in the bistro: soup of the day with a choice of homemade bread and pâté. We experienced Baba Ganoush (a powerful purée of baked aubergine and raw garlic) for the first time and enjoyed it enough to make it for our first guests when we got home.
Another highly anticipated Internet discovery was this glorious establishment with a menu of over 40 teas and a range of cakes. Each tea is served in a china tea pot and infuser, with an hourglass timer for the perfect brewing time. Their mismatched, delicate cups and saucers fit in with the feminine 'boutique' decor. The cliental seem to reflect their design decisions, but gentlemen should not be dissuaded from experiencing this surprisingly rare example of tea connoisseurship. Perhaps eteaket is also a reaction to the macho coffee house aesthetic of dark-stained wood double espressos, wi-fi access and business-while-u-drink. It's not only a place to experience fine tea, but a space to relax and have a natter.
Malc tried a fine Bouteaque Blue Mist and Nom had the Chocolate Abyss (with chocolate, cocoa and coconut pieces) and enjoyed it so much that we purchased two tubs to bring home. It went well with our Tunnocks teacakes (25p!).
We experienced the downside to its deserved popularity on more than one occasion when we were turned away because there were no seats left. Go first thing in the morning or later in the evening (they open until 7) to avoid the disappointment.
We cooked pope's eye steak on an open fire mid way through our adventure on Loch Lomond (of which more later).
Caffe la Ronda
A perfect mother's coffee stop in Linlithgow, Caffe La Ronda isn't glamorous but it was a nice rest stop and shelter from the elements.
Fredericks coffee house
Another Edinburgh winner, we ended up in Fredrick's having been turned away from eteaket, and only noticed it because the pot plants outside had been blown over, but we'd go back. We had a white chocolate mocha (yummy!) and a cappuccino (a little heavy on the steamed milk, but good). We enjoyed the view of the street below and well chosen decor. Looked and felt great, tasted great and was quiet too.
Is a beautiful restored pub with a fine whiskey list. Mentioned in Uncle Bob's Pub Audio Tour (New Town). On the pricey side, but enjoyable high seating with cosy vibe and thoroughly tiled walls.
If Oliphants in Linlithgow doesn't already qualify for legendary status, it should. We had heard rumour that they had closed down, a tragedy especially because Bob the dog had eaten the last of our frozen reserve of imported Oliphant's meat pies. So, great joy when we found both the shops still open.
We ate the goods sitting beside Linlithgow Loch and were amused by the advice of a passing scot "they're bad for you they are".
Good, solid, old Linlithgow pub with eight ales always on, including their own personal brew.
Other things we got up to
- Checked out the highland coos, deer and fish farm at Beecraig's.
- Walked along the canal from Polmont to Linlithgow (shooting stills for an animation along the way) and caught the train back again. In between the two journeys we took in several eateries, the Palace and several shops.
- We loaded Gav's car up with a canoe and he took us to Inchcailloch, an island on Loch Lomond, for a BBQed steak sandwich. We had a walk around the island taking in its highest viewpoint and this pile of moss that looked remarkably like a dog.
- a laptop, a series of House and some headphone splitters* go a very long way.
- painting can be a mobile activity
- two extra plastic cups make a picnic shareable
- old scottish ladies with trashy magazines and sandwiches make good travel companions
- avoid Birmingham New Street during Friday's rush hour at all costs (particularly during strikes)
* This is our 5 way headphone splitter- share music with five people, or mix music from two mp3 into unto four pairs of ears.