Callendar Park; a Jewel in the Crown of Scotland.

Callendar Park in Falkirk.

The swans of Callendar Park Loch.
Some of the many inhabitants of Callendar Park loch.

Having spent some of my formative years in the Falkirk area, Callendar Park has a special place in my heart. As a child, a trip to Callendar park was quite an event. A picnic would be prepared, we would make sure that the bag was packed with all the food and, if we had pocket money, we knew we would be able to buy an ice-cream cone from the kiosk that still stands there today. Back then, some 45 or so years ago, there was more for children in the park than there is today. I remember the play park there for its merry-go-round and just across from the kiosk, there were rectangular trampolines set into the ground. You could bounce to your heart’s content and the only thing you had to worry about was someone ‘stealing’ your trampoline while you nipped away for a minute.

Callendar House in the Winter Sunshine.
A February Afternoon at Callendar House

We used to have a go on the rowing boats and row around the beautiful, scenic lake there for 20 minutes or so then go and find a place on the grass to eat our much awaited picnic. Now there are swan pedalos instead of rowing boats and the trampolines are long gone, consigned to the memories of people like me.  However, time moves on and the park has stood the test of time. The play park has been modernised and, a sign of the health and safety times, it has a huge fence around it to prevent dogs from coming in where the children play and, of course, the equipment there is much different from 45 year ago. Although there are no trampolines,  in the summer months a bouncy castle is sometimes in situ and parents can pay for young children to have a bounce under supervision. The crazy golf is popular with families and there is also a 9 hole, 3 par golf course  for the enthusiasts who are not satisfied with 10 minutes on the crazy golf.

Fun at Callendar Park.
Having Fun at Callendar Park in the Winter.

The park is home to the beautiful  600 years old mansion, Callendar House which throughout the ages has hosted many famous people including Mary, Queen of Scots and Oliver Cromwell. Today it is a tourist attraction, like so many historical buildings but the difference is, it is free to enter and wander around its rooms and corridors which host exhibitions of various kinds and a lovely tea room that overlooks the gardens to the rear through huge sash windows. You can even have a taste of what it was like to be a scullery maid in the basement kitchen which retains its original features and kitchen utensils. If you’re lucky, the ‘cook’ in full period costume will allow you to taste a biscuit just like the ones they used to cook there long ago.

Pugs at Callendar Park
Pugs in the Park

The best thing about Callendar park, though, is its beauty. With lots of walking and bike paths, the natural beauty of the mature woodlands can be enjoyed for days at a time and if you’re coming by car there are many free car parking spaces in public areas.

Callendar Park High Flats
Callendar Park High Flats – the New in Harmony with the Old.

While you’re wandering through the grounds and woodlands of Callendar Estate, you will understand just how much this park and its surroundings means to the area. At most times of the day and into the evening,  you will see people walking, jogging, cycling and horse riding and you will mostly be greeted with a nod or a hello. Dogs are welcome too and they bring their own kind of social scene, with dog owners standing around and chatting about their furry loved one as their dogs play together.

Walking in Callendar Park
There are many walkways in Callendar Park, Falkirk. Enjoy them in Winter or summer.

There’s nothing like trees and nature to bring out the best in folk and in this era of technology and being stuck at a desk, a natural area that is free to all and easy to access, is just what the doctor ordered.

The Beautiful Trees of Callendar Park
The Beautiful Trees of Callendar Park in Winter

Don’t make a trip to Falkirk and Central Scotland area without keeping a day free to spend at Callendar Park. There’s always something going on.

Callendar House, back gardens.
A beautiful place to spend the day.

Callendar Park looks forward to welcoming you. How to get to Callendar Park.

The Meadows, Edinburgh

The Meadows, Edinburgh

Although Edinburgh is a city, it’s a small city and you’re never far away from the many green spaces that surround it and lie within it. The main green space called The Meadows is probably the most used. Lying to the south of the city centre, it is surrounded by the beautiful areas of Marchmont and Bruntsfield and, of course. the gorgeous city centre of Edinburgh with all its tourist attractions as well as the University buildings and many cafes, shops and restaurants.

Looking towards Edinburgh Castle as you enter The Meadows from Bruntsfield Links
Looking towards Edinburgh Castle as you enter The Meadows from Bruntsfield Links

The Meadows is an important area and facility within the City of Edinburgh. If we look back in history  up until around 1621 when Edinburgh’s piped water from Comiston was put in place, the loch that covered part of The Meadows provided much of the water for Edinburgh.  After the piped water was established it was eventually drained and from that time it was steadily improved and turned into a place where people could meet and socialise and eventually, an act of parliament in 1827 made The Meadows a permanent place of recreation by protecting it from building development.

One of the many paths used for walking and cycling thoughout The Meadows
One of the many paths used for walking and cycling throughout The Meadows

Over the years it has seen much activity. In the 1800’s it was the place where Hibs and Hearts football clubs played and in the second world war some of the space there was laid to allotments where crops were grown to help the city be more food independent.

The modern and very expensive Quarter Mile apartments overlooking The Meadows, Edinburgh.
The modern and very expensive Quarter Mile apartments overlooking The Meadows, Edinburgh on a Winter’s Evening

Today, The Meadows is a very attractive recreation area. Any day of the week and all year round  you can go to the meadows and see runners, dog walkers, cyclists and children using the park’s facilities.

An Edinburgh Police car rushes past The Meadows to someone’s aid somewhere in the city

What’s on in The Meadows?

The Meadows is host to many official events such as the The Meadows Festival. It hosts the start and finish point for the Edinburgh Moon Walk. You can also attend the Edinburgh Fringe Sunday at The Meadows and The Meadows Marathon.  And, if you fancy a game of tennis there’s always the tennis courts there. 

Meadows Tennis on a January Evening

Of course, these are just some of the things going on at The Meadows but you can also feel free just to wander through and enjoy this green space for the beauty that it is.

One of the Wonderful Children’s Play Parks in The Meadows, Edinburgh.

Please enjoy The Meadows responsibly, take your rubbish home with you or deposit it in one of the many bins available and if you have a dog with you, please use poop bags to dispose of your dogs waste in the appropriate manner. Keep Edinburgh clean. x

A Lovely Couple of Hours in Edinburgh Butterfly and Insect World

Just relaxing on a leaf

Winter Sundays in Edinburgh can be a bit slow. There’s lots to do but if you are feeling the cold and just want to be somewhere warm, what do you choose to do? Cinema, bowling, etc are all great but sometimes you feel like being in touch with nature again and one place you can do that is Butterly and Insect World at Lasswade.

Easily accessible by car or, if you prefer the bus, you can catch many buses to Butterfly World. Look on https://moovitapp.com/index/en-gb/public_transportation-Butterfly_World-Scotland-site_8175229-402 to see which bus is best for you. The bus stops right outside it.

I know I’m not a butterfly but do you like me anyway?

On their website, there’s plenty of information about what they offer as well as the standard opening times and prices. https://www.edinburghbutterflyworld.com/ . Bear in mind that the ticket price is a day ticket so even if you go out for lunch or a walk around the nearby garden centre and shopping complex, as long as you keep your ticket you may go in and out as often as you want in that day. That means you can make a day of it in the area because, serviced by the same car park, you have Dobbies Garden World and its lovely cafe and shops such as Lakeland and Shuropody, etc https://www.dobbies.com/find-a-garden-centre/edinburgh/

We love it here, hanging out with our buddies.

When we went on Sunday, the first thing that struck me was how small it was. However, we found that you could easily spend a couple of hours there just sitting and giving the butterflies a chance to come to you, which they did. While we strolled through, it was lovely to feel the warm, almost tropical temperatures and enjoy seeing the butterflies glide past us and, a couple of times, land on our hair and clothes! There are seats strategically placed to allow visitors to spend time just absorbing the quiet atmosphere and gaze at the various types of butterflies flying freely in this purpose made environment. On the way in you can purchase an identification catalogue which shows the types of butterflies you might see and allows you to tick them off as you identify them; a great thing for the kids.

Don’t worry, I’m behind glass.

In this area, there are other animals to see too. We spotted some bantam hens wandering about. There were tortoises and terrapins.

I want to touch your finger.

When we’d have enough of serenity we decided to challenge our fears a little and entered the reptile house. Again, not a huge place but it had enough to keep us curious. Snakes, lizards of various kinds, various insects and Spiders! Some of the biggest, hairiest spiders! Fortunately,  these guys were all behind screens and visitors could look on without worrying about one crawling up their leg.  There was also an area for nocturnal animals; slightly darker and here you could see various small nocturnal animals.

I’ve just emerged; where am I?

On the way out we had the obligatory look around the gift shop and there you could buy novelty items, big or small. Many things were offered at pocket money prices but there were also more expensive items if you wanted something a bit special.

Yummy, some rotting apples for dinner.

After our visit to Butterfly World we had a little stroll through the shops and the garden centre and noticed that there is a farm shop selling food as well as a butchers, a cycle shop and many others.

Absolutely beautiful

All in all, we had a lovely time and I would certainly recommend this day out. It’s suitable for all ages and abilities and especially if you have any little ones interested in bugs and beasties.  

If you wish to holiday in Central Scotland, see the facebook page for holiday accommodation in a central location of Scotland https://www.facebook.com/Edinburghdaze/

Winter has Come.

Edinburgh has visitors all year round from all over the world. The busiest time, of course, is the late summer when the Edinburgh Festival https://www.eif.co.uk/ is in full swing however, when that frenzy has ended until next year, the city is a bit calmer and this gives visitors the chance to explore with greater ease.

Art Galleries in Edinburgh

We decided to do just that and from the bus stop at Polwarth Church we discovered from a lady called Elsie that we could get the number 10 or the number 27 and that would take us to the city centre, where we could get off at Princess Street. The bus ride was entertainment itself, with the majority of the people making their way to hear Doddie Weir, a famous Edinburgh Rugby Player, say a few words in the centre of town. The bus ride was full of lively people, mainly enjoying life and I must say, I enjoyed the buzz and the chat and so did Elsie. In fact, she was very animated and said “it’s jist like the auld days when it’s like this, it’s awfy braw tae huv a blether”. And yes, it was braw.

In the City Centre and Down Leith Walk.

We disembarked from the number 27 bus and found ourselves in Princess Street. It really is the most beautiful street, with the wonderful Princess Street Gardens on one side and on the other side, shops still housed in the beautiful buildings that are famous throughout the world. In spite of the colder weather having arrived, the street was still busy with shoppers and we decided it was time to venture further, to slightly less busy places.

With a keen interest in saving the planet, like most folk these days, I have taken a liking to recycling. Not just plastic bottles and the like, but furniture and other larger items. I’ve always loved antiques and curiosities and the furniture our grannies used to have but due to this love not being shared by all of the household, I invariably don’t get my way. However, now it’s all the rage and growing in popularity, with many more people seeing the point to repairing rather than replacing. So, without hesitation, I made my way down Leith Walk as I sought out The Edinburgh Remakery who, in their website, say Learn, Fix, Shop. https://www.edinburghremakery.org.uk/  

Basically, you can go there for lessons to learn how to repair all manner of things or you can just get your broken things repaired at a reasonable cost or you can purchase the things that they sell there. It’s very impressive, the work that they do there; inclusive and benefits the whole community.


What is the Edinburgh Remakery?
The Edinburgh Remakery is a social enterprise, community repair hub and second-hand shop based in the Leith area of Edinburgh.
Our vision is to create an alternative to a disposable society by making repair education accessible to all, to build a stronger, waste-free community and support vulnerable people within our city.
We run workshops and teach different repair techniques and skills around sewing and textiles, IT, phones and computers, and furniture and woodwork.
We also refurbish and upcycle second-hand furniture items, textiles, and IT equipment, rescuing these from becoming waste and giving them a new lease of life. We then sell these quality and affordable refurbished items at the Edinburgh Remakery.
 

This had taken more time that we thought it would. If you ever feel like walking down to the end of Leith Walk, I suggest sensible shoes; it’s a long street. The good thing, though, about walking there is you give yourself the chance to see what’s on offer. Edinburgh Art Shop http://www.edinburghartshop.co.uk/ proved to be a real Aladdin’s cave for the budding artist and we managed to purchase a few goodies there that will keep us busy on a rainy day.

Edinburgh Castle
Edinburgh Castle

Food

Shopping all done, we decided we needed food so, as we travelled back towards Princess Street, we looked at the various places offering an array of world foods. We didn’t know what we fancied but eventually came across Slum Dog https://slumdogdelivered.com/ , a takeaway with a small seating area that advertised Indian food. The premises looked unpretentious and we hoped the food would be the same. We weren’t disappointed; delicious, freshly cooked food came to our table. The price was very reasonable and the portions so large that we had to take some home and the waiter was the friendliest man ever; he couldn’t do enough for us. What more do you want when you eat out?

Our bellies filled, doggy bag in hand, we decided it was now time to retire and call it a day. Back to Princess Street to try to find the bus back to Polwarth; this was harder than it seemed. We walked along Princess Street and went from one bus stop to another until we were at the end and we still hadn’t unravelled the mysteries of bus catching to go back to our starting point. But, at last, we found a bus stop on Lothian Road and a very nice woman who advised us that our desired chariot would be along shortly. We even managed to download the Transport for Edinburgh app under her friendly supervision which came in very handy indeed. All in all, a good day with lots of good discoveries.

The Journey Begins

Thanks for joining me! Edinburgh is such a fantastic city, there’s so much to see and do all year round but, even if you’re from Edinburgh, it’s the best place from which to launch a trip to elsewhere too. So many people from all over the world come to Edinburgh to enjoy the Festival, the history and the love of the people so let’s share with them and make Scotland proud. In my blogs I’ll write where the mood takes me, whether I’m in Edinburgh or whether I’m on my way to somewhere from Edinburgh and hopefully you’ll join me. Let’s welcome everyone.

“Peace at Home, Peace in the World”
― Mustafa Kemal Atatürk

Beautiful crocus flowers highlight that spring is coming.
Beautiful crocus flowers highlight that spring is coming.