Just a wee walk in the park….

2 Nov

So, here I am. My very first ‘proper’ blog post. Now I actually have to write something other than a ‘list’. To make the process a little less painful for me, and for you who are reading this, and to calm my nerves at finally putting myself out there in blog-land, I will share my trip to the Royal Botanic Gardens in Edinburgh.

I had been told the Gardens were a fantastic day out by a few travellers I had previously met in Edinburgh, but due to me wanting to see what I considered more exciting sights, I had invariably brushed the idea of a visit aside. Until this morning. Wondering what to do on a day off, and the Gardens not being so far away from my flat, I decided to set out and explore.

The first thing that impressed me about the Gardens is that they are not as small as I expected. They are a wide expanse of trees of all sizes and colours, with winding pathways, scattered benches, and lovely duck-pond complete with mini cascading waterfall over which is a cute little stone bridge to watch it from.

I spent a few hours just wandering the grounds, taking photos, and enjoying the pure, fresh air. What I have found that I enjoy most about Edinburgh is the feeling that you are never quite in a big city – the whole town has more of a village atmosphere -albeit a big village – than a city vibe, and I particularly love the fact that there are areas such as this where you can take time out, and just sit and relax for a while.

Whenever I am exploring a new place, I always try and keep my eyes open for the unusual and the unexpected, and often get rewarded for my efforts. One of these moments came as I sat down on a park bench, and was joined by this little guy! 

He came over, curious and totally unafraid, and at one point even crawled onto my arm in the search for food, which I happily obliged – he was so gentle with his little tiny claws on my hand, with a cheeky glint in his eye as he returned back in the hope of seconds and thirds! I managed to take a photo of him just before he reached over the park bench onto my arm. 

After I said goodbye to my little friend, I continued to make my way around the park, fascinated by the array of autumn colours- all shades of red, orange, yellow, gold, and green. I couldn’t resist taking a few pics of nature at her best – at one point as I was walking up the hillside, I came across a bright red leaf wedged in the cross-branches of a tall yellow-gold tree. It’s sights like these that inspire me and create wonder, and what I’m always on the look-out for –  a simple kind of beauty. 

Next, I stumbled across the little water-fall. As I made my way around the park to the duck-pond, I first heard it – the sound of rushing, gurgling water. This was the sight that met me as I rounded the corner – it reminded me straight out of a scene in The Wind in The Willows.  I find it interesting just how much every stream, river, canal, or countryside brook that I’ve come across in Scotland reminds me of the book, it’s almost as if I almost expect a water-rat, or a mole to materialise. Though if they did, and they appeared together in a wooden-sailing boat or out of a hole in the bank, I would have thought I was on drugs, or to put it more specifically, magic mushrooms.

After my walk, I discovered that the Gardens were running an exhibition  ‘From Another Kingdom -The Amazing World of Fungi’ at the John Hope Gateway in the grounds, touted as a multi-media exhibition on the weird and wonderful world of fungi and all things mushrooms. Being a little skeptical at first on the potential of the exhibition to capture and hold my attention for longer than five minutes, I wandered inside, and was surprised to discover it was actually fascinating. Walking around the different sections, I made the acquaintance of both edible and poisonous-but-very-pretty mushrooms ( including toad-stools – so Alice in Wonderland!),  learnt all about the cultural and shamanic practices involving mushrooms, ‘magic mushrooms’, the role of fungi in the biological world, and what we can do to protect them. While it was all very school-excursion, I gained a new perspective on what most of us consider an edible vegetable, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing at all. And the one thing that I will take away with me? Judging by this Q & A sign I found in the Magic Mushroom section, I will never look at Santa’s innocent reindeer in the same way ever again.  All in all, I enjoyed my time at the Gardens, and will definitely be back, Scottish weather permitting, to walk around, read a book, see another of the exhibitions, or perhaps have a picnic with a cheeky little squirrel or two. 

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