Tag Archives: plants

Cobblepunk Edinburgh

Edinburgh must be the most three-dimensional of our British cities. I like that. It appeals to my inner sf fan. All those old illustrations covers with bridges between towering buildings and streets in the sky and monorails and personal jetpacks.

OK, this is the steampunk version of that, with all those 18th and 19th century buildings, or perhaps a little earlier than that – we could call it the cobblepunk version. One of the characteristic sounds of the city being buses rumbling down cobbled streets.

Beneath Regent Bridge

The four bridges or viaducts that have the biggest effect are all 19th century – North Bridge, South Bridge, Regent Bridge, George IV Bridge – the latter two names are a bit of a giveaway – so they really are the gaslight era, but somehow they look and feel older. The basic layout of the Old Town and its immediate surroundings is mediaeval even if a lot of the buildings themselves are later Scottish Baronial imposters. And that mid-century cobbled Edinburgh was the one Robert Louis Stevenson and Arthur Conan Doyle were born and brought up in, so its one of the original homes of steampunkery and gaslightery, even if London (and a little bit New York) are where such things found their dark corners to hide in.

You could click here for some more pictures

Regent Bridge from_george_4_bridge_3174
What used to be here? from_south_bridge_3045

And some nice plants to show its not all doom and gloom even in January:

Snowdrops in the New Town

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Queue for Kew

To Kew Gardens, to meet some people who use the Ship of Fools forums. Kew as always wonderful. A little late for the lilacs, too early for the lilies. The Temperate House is a bit orderly these days but the Palm House delightful. Not much to say about it that fits here really, except that everybody should go.

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They seem to like queues though. A queue to pay to get in, a queue to get a cup or tea, a queue to get into the Waterlily House (with a great exhibition of chilis and some Very Important Sub-Tropical Wetland Plants in the corners), a queue to pay for the book I bought. (Garden Natural History by Stefan Buczacki, one of the latest in the Collins New Naturalist series which must be one of the great cultural products of Britain – and one or two of which are among the best natural history books we have – I think everyone should have read Mountains and Moorlands by WH Pearsall)

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A lot of queuing to spend an afternoon in one of London’s best parks, which is also one of the country’s best displays of the variety of living things (its more a zoo for plants than an example of a garden types, though it has plenty of those as well), and most of all perhaps one of the top three or four centres for research into taxonony and systematics and evolution in the whole world. Trust me, I’m a botanist.

Welwitschia at Kew

And I still can’t remember what pollinates horse chestnuts.

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Then to the Dove at Hammersmith, one of the iconic riverside pubs and scene of quite a few meets. And they do keep their London Pride well. Fun, though it was crowded and too wet to sit outside.

Threw myself on the mercy of the London bus system to get back home and worked my way from Hammersmith to Wandsworth, then a 37 to Peckham, and a 21 home. With a pint or two on the way.

Overheard on train leaving London Bridge towards Waterloo:

“We’re passing the old Market Tavern. I used to drink in the other one, the Globe. That Richard Harris, you know, the film star, used to come in in the morning. You know, it was open in the morning ‘cos of the market porters. Open from six to eight. Hw used to come in two or three times a month. Drunk as a fish.”