Day Sixty Four

I don’t know how he did it, but Chris has coaxed (scowled…) me out
of bed and back on the early train into Edinburgh again.
The weather is a little kinder today, quite a lovely day actually. It
makes the outdoor activities much more pleasant. We are a little
better prepared for the crowd this time, have our bearings and have
a full complement of cameras, umbrellas, coats etc.
Armed with our new knowledge of the city’s layout, we decide to
explore on foot, taking in more details of the old town and visiting
the other end of the spectrum from yesterday, this time, a tenement
house.
Our first stop is to walk “the royal mile” which is the heart of the old
town running from the castle down to the current parliament. We
see much more today as we are on foot and pick up a few souvenirs.
I have decided that the occasional tea towel is a practical souvenir.
Especially animal ones….. a surprise, I know. Chris also buys a lovely
cashmere scarce and I buy a little cashmere faux fur collar.
Along the way we come across the People’s Museum, an account of
social history from the 1600s to the present time. It’s detailed and
fascinating. Covering both men and women separately, it outlines
life from the early time in the tenements to the present day, taking
in unionism, trades of the times, political movements, suffragettes,
prohibition and the wars. Everything. Fascinating. Work’s looking
pretty good when you compare it with times past. As a side note,
most of the museums are free here we were told by a guide
yesterday. A great way of engaging the city with its culture and
history.
After the museum we stop for lunch at a surprisingly authentic
Italian restaurant and then head back out again to the tenement
house.
This is also a Trust property and well served by guides who explain it
in fine detail. It’s the opposite life to the ones we saw yesterday. The
very poor rented the basement and attic, whilst every inch of
available space was otherwise split and rented as separate rooms.
We see a small hallway, smaller than ours at home, which was split
into two rooms, each let separately. The ground floor was let as a
series of shops, and the only “good rooms” were on the first floor.
Three rooms, a study, bedroom and kitchen were the height of
comfort compared to the rest. People lived cheek to jowl and even
rented space under the stairs – home to a family of three in a display
in the museum.
Over time, the landlord extended his property with five extensions
over all six levels rendering it jigsaw like to with adjacent properties,
all doing the same. It was a case of pack ’em in and keep on
charging. Rats, lice, fleas, TB and the plague were constant
companions. Infant mortality and death during childbirth were rife. It
was a very sobering look at life.
In the “good” apartment, they would have had a kitchen maid. She
slept on the hearth stones, in the one dress she owned, and worked
an 18 hour day. Fun.
Tour completed, we meander thorough the old town and take in the
sights visiting market square, the base of the castle volcano and
eventually stop for a coffee and drinks before the train ride home.
Another long day, and I’ve been slack in keeping my diary. Three
days to write up promise me a long night. But as you can see, I am
now done. 🙂

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