On the last course we learned that Edinburgh is the first UNESCO city of literature. Another thing we know about Scotland's capital is that the city is full of mysteries. What happens if we combine those two facts? We get the chance of hearing more about the mysterious book sculptures. Today, we'll wander through the Old Tow and visit some of those sculptures. And in-between I'll tell you some theories about who might have made them.
By Kim Laura Kühne
This great mystery started in March 2011 when the first sculpture was found in the Scottish Poetry Library, where it is still on display. With it there was a message on a tag saying:
"It started with your name @ByLeavesWeLive & became a tree...
... We know that a Library is so much more than a building full of books ... a book is so much more than pages full of words...
This for you in support of Libraries, books, words, ideas .... a gesture (poetic maybe!?)
The used book is unknown, but in the broken egg, there were individual words put together from the poem "A Trace of Wings" by Edwin Morgan.
The Poetree was followed by 9 other book sculptures. All gifted to different cultural venues of Edinburgh. We still don't know who created the sculptures but there are some theories about it.
One theory is: It was all invented by the Edinburgh tourist board to get more people to visit the city.
The fourth sculpture was found at the Scottish Storytelling Centre, and it's still on display there. The sculpture is made from a copy of Ian Rankin's book, Knots and Crosses. The message on the tag says:
"For @scotstorycentre – A gift in support of libraries, books, works, ideas….. Once upon a time there was a book and in the book was a nest and in the nest was an egg and in the egg was a dragon and in the dragon was a story….."
Another theory is: Ian Ranking, a very famous Edinburgh author, is mentioned in a lot of the sculptures. Some people think it was him or that he is involved for publicity reasons.
The fifth and the sixth book sculpture were both found at the Edinburgh International Book Festival in August 2011. The fifth one shows a tray with a cup of tea on a cake stand, a cupcake and a teabag. If you have a closer look you can notice some sentences. It says on the top of the tea:
"Nothing beats a nice cup of tea (or coffee) and a really good BOOK" and next to the cupcake on the tray: "except maybe a cake as well". Another thing is written on the tag of the tea bag, which says: "by leaves we live", which is the twitter name of the Scottish Poetry Library.
The used book is unknown and the tag on the sculpture says:
"To @edbookfest 'A gift' This is for you in support of libraries, books, words, ideas…… & festivals xx"
The sixth sculpture is a child sitting under a tree. I It is made from an Everyman's Library edition of The Private Memories and Confessions of a Justified Sinner by James Hogg. The tag says: "To @edincityoflit 'A gift' LOST (albeit in a good book) This is for you in support of libraries, books, words, ideas…. “No infant has the power of deciding….. by what circumstances (they) shall be surrounded.. Robert Owen".
Both sculptures are on display in the Central Library.
A third theory is: A journalist from a local newspaper says she knows who the artist is. She says she has spoken to the man and believes he is the person responsible. She says she won't publish his name because it will destroy the fun of the mystery.
Sculpture number seven was found in August 2011 as well, but at the Central Library where it is now on display. The sculpture is a magnifying glass on a stand on top of an old book. The used book is unknown, but the words on the book are from Edwin Morgan, which is mentioned on the tag. Some words on the book are also shown in the lens of the magnifying glass: "When I go in I want it bright, I want to catch whatever is there in full sight". Written on the tag is:
"For Central Library 'A Gift' @Edinburgh_CC This is for you in support of libraries, books, words, ideas…. Libraries are expansive". The word 'expensive' has had the E crossed out and replaced with an A.
A fourth theory is: It is a woman artist who loves books and wants to support cultural institutions and places.
The tenth and final book sculpture was found in November before number eight and nine. It was in the Scottish Poetry Library, where the first sculpture appeared. The staff figured out about the sculpture because of a note in the guest book: "Hopefully next time I’ll be able to linger longer – I’ve left a little something for you near Women’s Anthologies X. In support of Libraries, Books, Words and Ideas…."
And there it was, a cap made of paper feathers and a pair of gloves with bees. The tag with the sculpture was written on both sides. It describes the inspiration for the sculptures with the quote from the poem "Gifts" by Scottish poet Norman MacCaig: "To @ByLeavesWeLive....... The gifts 'Gloves of bee's fur, cap of the Wren's Wings.......' Norman McCaig .... maybe sometimes impossible things... In support of Libraries, Books, Words Ideas...." and "10/10".
Along with the sculpture there was also the following longer note:
"It's important that a story is not too long ……does not become tedious ……. 'You need to know when to end a story,' she thought. Often a good story ends where it begins. This would mean a return to the Poetry Library. The very place where she had left the first of the ten. Back to those who had loved that little tree, and so encouraged her to try again …….and again. Some had wondered who it was, leaving these small strange objects. Some even thought it was a ‘he’! ……. As if! Others looked among Book Artists, rather good ones actually……. But they would never find her there. For though she does make things, this was the first time she had dissected books and had used them simply because they seemed fitting…. Most however chose not to know….. which was the point really. The gift, the place to sit, to look, to wonder, to dream….. of the impossible maybe……. A tiny gesture in support of the special places…. So, here, she will end this story, in a special place … A Poetry Library …. where they are well used to 'anon.' But before exiting …a few mentions. There could be more, because we have all colluded to make this work……. Just a few though.
What happened to sculpture number eight and nine? Both were found one day after the final one.
Another day later they found an eleventh sculpture even though the artist said the series consisted of 10 sculptures. The eleventh one was addressed to Ian Rankin.
Almost a year later the artist was back. She left fifty paper flower sculptures at the Edinburgh International Book Festival, each with the Oscar Wilde quote "… freedom, books, flowers and the moon" and on the backside of the tag "A Gift For You" and a limited edition number of /50.
In November 2012 it was announced that the artist had been contacted via an anonymous email account and had agreed to create five more sculptures for Book Week Scotland. The sculptures were hidden around Scotland, the finder of it had to forward it to a literary institution. However, each finder would get another small sculpture as a prize.
In November 2012 there was another gift for the Scottish Poetry Library. It's a girl sitting under a tree, wearing a crown and reading a book. This is constructed on the book A Child's Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson. The open pages show the poem "To My Mother". In the tree are the words, "You in a garden green" and "With me were king and", and on the girl's crown is the word "Queen". On the trunk of the tree are the words, "Were hunter, soldier, tar" and the inside of the small book reads, "And all the thousand things that children are". Some bunting from the tree read "But time, which none can bind, While flowing fast away, leaves love behind." All those lines are from Stevenson's poem "To Willie And Henrietta". The tag belonging to the sculpture reads: " .... For the Love of Books. Every ending marks a new beginning." You can find the sculpture in the Scottish Poetry Library.
And then guess what, in May 2013 the Scottish Poetry Library got another sculpture. Three blue paper eggs in a paper nest in a cardboard birdhouse. The tag simply read "Preparing to Fly 1/3 In support of libraries, words, books, ideas.....x" Two more sculptures followed in this series.
In 2014 as part of the Macmillan Art Exhibition "Inspired", another sculpture appeared. An open book out of which butterflies flew out - "Butterflies on the move". The sculpture was auctioned and bought by the Mackenzie family, owners of Hi-Fi Corner and the Movie Rooms. They decided to tour this sculpture so that a wider audience could see it. During this tour, the artist wanted the public to create paper butterflies and send them in till 31 July 2015.
It turned out the artist used the butterflies for the final sculpture "The butterfly tree and lost child". This sculpture is 6'6' high tree with butterflies as leaves. This final sculpture appeared at the Edinburgh Book Festival in August 2016. The sculpture is now on display in the Central Library.
We still don't know who the artist is. All we know she is definitely a woman. What do you think about the book sculptures? Any ideas who the artist might be? Share your thoughts with us.
Unbelievable, it's already Thursday and our last complete course day. Two weeks can pass by so quickly when you're having fun and learning interesting things in a wonderful city. As it's the final day, there needs to be a special program, well we always have fantastic activities, but this is one of my favourites as it includes food. Yes, we're travelling all the way to Duddingston to Edinburgh's oldest pub. But, I'm not telling you about the really delicious food and all the useful vocabulary we learned today, I'll tell you more about the village Duddingston. While exploring the village the CLIL Teachers explained to the Speaking & Listening students some interesting facts about this hidden gem.
By Kim Laura Kühne
The area of Duddingston was originally a separate village to the city, which back then was only the medieval Old Town and later the New Town as well. Other areas of Edinburgh used to be separate villages such as Leith. Nowadays Leith is not noticeable as a village, it seems like a part of the central city whereas Duddingston still has its village character and it gives you the feeling of being transported into a sleepy country town.
First stop, the Sheep Heid Inn. The Sheep Heid Inn is known as the oldest pub in Edinburgh, dating back to 1360! For those who are not fluent in Scots, Heid means head, so sheeps head. And they say the name comes from a snuff box which was either embellished with or shaped like a ram's head.
The Sheeps Heid used to have a very famous customer. Just some around the corner from the Inn is a house, were Bonnie Prince Charlie stayed for a month before the battle of Prestonpans. So, it's pretty likely that he would have had a pint or two at the local pub, the Sheeps Heid.
Next stop is an incredible place, even a lot of locals don't know about it: Dr Neils Garden. It's located between Duddingston Church and the Duddingston Lake. The founders of the garden were Nancy and Andrew Neil who both worked as GPs, or family doctors. In 1963, the couple started to work on the Duddingston church land which was the start of Dr. Neil's Garden. The doctors encouraged their clients to help out in the garden, as they thought it was a brilliant therapy. Andrew and Nancy Neil both died in 2005. The garden is open to the public every day from 10 am till dusk and still functions as a therapeutic place.
A special feature in the garden is Thomson's Tower, which was designed by William Henry Playfair, and built in 1825 for the Duddingston curling Society to store its stones.
On our wee tour through this little village we also stopped by the church, or kirk as the Scots would say. The church was built around 1124. At the entrance to the kirkyard you can see the gatehouse, built as a lookout point to watch out for "bodysnatchers" in the early 19th century. Some other noticeable things at the entrance is the big metal chain, called "jougs", used as punishment. If you had done something bad they would put the chain around your neck and you had to stay there for a day or longer. And everyone knew you've done something bad. Right next to it, you can see something which looks like steps. This was an elegant way for a lady to get on a horse.
And to finish off, a nice picture of Duddingston Loch. Wait what, Duddingston Loch? Doesn't it ring a bell? Do you remember who was ice skating on this loch? If you can't remember in my very first blog about the Scottish National Galleries you can find the answer.
How have you enjoyed my blog post about our intensive? Which day was the best in your opinion and why? Not had enough yet? On Monday the Advanced Speakers course starts and you can read more about our summer activities. But the best thing would be if you join The Edinburgh Experience for one of our future summer courses. Don't hesitate and get in touch with us!
When in Edinburgh, there's one thing you really have to do: A ghost tour. Well, they call them ghost stories, but what you need to know is they are all true (or at least kind of trueish)! Today, we were lucky and one of Edinburgh's ghosts (the man with the blue cape in the picture below) decided to tell us some terrifying things about what is now a touristy city.
By Kim Laura Kühne
As you can imagine, there are loads of tales about Edinburgh. And all of them of course worth telling. Sadly, I can't tell you all of them, so I have to pick one. You have already heard about one of my favourites of Burke and Hare. So why not one about a famous lady this time? We go back to the early Eighteenth century, where an innocent girl was doing her job - selling fish. You might wonder, why should a fishwife become famous? Well, obviosuly not because of her job, but because of what happened to her. The lady, let's call her Maggie Dickson, was pregnant. Not such a big thing nowadays but back then a real scandal, as Maggie wasn't married! And it got even worse when Maggie gave birth to her child who was dead. According to her the child was stillborn, but no one else believed her that. So, she was accused of murdering her own baby! Yeah, you know what's coming now, sentenced to death. And as we are back in the Eighteenth century it had to be a public hanging. And this was the end of Maggie Dickson. Not! Her body was in a wooden coffin on the way to the graveyard. Just when there were about to arrive, they heard knocking. It was Maggie, waking up from the dead! How is this possible? We don't know. But in Maggies case a good sign, as she got a full pardon. A bad one for future criminals as the sentence was changed from then on to "hanged till dead". That's the story of Maggie Dickson or Half Hangit Maggie, which she was called after that.
Instead of another story, I want to tell you now a very true fact about Edinburgh. Back in the 19th Century, when they were building Waverly Station they found a number of human bones. Do you have any idea where they come from? If we go further back in time, there was no Princes Street Gardens. Instead, Edinburgh had in this place a lake called Nor or North Loch. Don't think of the Nor Loch as something nice like Loch Lomond or Loch Ness, the Nor Loch used to be something really disgusting. Back in the Middle Ages, not only were the streets of Edinburgh full of different kinds of waste, so was the Nor Loch. This terrible smell gave this nowadays wonderful city the name Auld Reekie, which means old and smelly. Apart from being the place for trash the Loch had a lot of other roles in this period of time. The most famous one: Witch doucking. This was a simple test to figure out if someone was a witch or not. The suspect had her arms crossed and her thumps tied to her toes. Then the possible witch was kicked into the Nor Loch. If she sank and drowned, everything would be fine as it proved she was innocent, but she was of course dead. If they could find her body she would get a Christian burial. If the suspected witch was unlucky and all the waste made her float up and survive the drowning, she was found guilty and burned at the stake on Castlehill. And this is the horrible background for the bones which were found were nowadays Waverly Station is and the wonderful Princes Street Gardens.
I'm sure you have heard of other stories about Edinburgh, which is your favourite one? I personally can't get enough of those kind of tales. Are there any about your city? Tell us the stories and we'll see if your town is scarier than Auld Reekie.
Here we go again - it's time travel Tuesday! Back to late 1700s. Of course still in Edinburgh, to be exact 7, Charlotte Square where you can find a building which is nowadays called the Georgian House. As we arrived, we started with a movie about the first owner of the house and his family, followed by exploring the house.
By Kim Laura Kühne
The first owner of the Georgian House was John Lamont, born in 1741. He was the eldest of seven children. He became the 18th Chief of the Clan Lamont in 1767. With his wife Helen Campbell he had five children: John, Amelia, Georgina, Norman and Helene Elizabeth. He used the Georgian House as his summer residence from 1796 - 1815. Today, I'll take you on a wee tour through the house and let you know how the Lamont family would have lived there.
First of all we have the basement, which was a hidden world where servants supported the lavish lifestyle of the family living above. At the heart of it was the kitchen, where a cook, assisted by a young kitchen maid, would have worked hard to feed the family and their guests. Nowadays it's hard to imagine how hot and smoky it must have been inside. It was also very noisy and full of different smells. Did you know that they used to paint the kitchen blue as it was believed that it scared flies?
On the ground floor we have the dining room and the bedchamber. In the dining room the family would have their normal dinners as well as glamorous dinner parties. The owner, Mister Lamont, would also have used this room to handle his business and meet clients. The Lamont family would have dinner in the traditional French style, with all the courses on the table at the same time. Having one course after the other came in fashion in the early 19th century and is called the Russian style. The Lamonts would usually have dinner at 5 o'clock.
The bedchamber was not only the place where Mr. and Mrs. Lamont would sleep at night, it was also an informal breakfast room and a ladies sitting room. During the day the ladies would use this room as a hobby room and do some sewing. The bedchamber is connected to a dressing room, which is not on view for the public.
On the first floor is the Parlour and Drawing Room. The Drawing Room was the grandest room in the house and was used for entertaining guests. A typical dinner party would have looked like this: First of all they would all have dinner together in the dining room. After dinner the ladies would withdraw to the Drawing Room. This action is also the reason for the rooms name. The men would stay in the dining room smoking and drinking port and brandy. Meanwhile the ladies would have tea and perhaps talk about gossip until the men joined them for cards, dancing and singing. A typical party at the Lamonts would go on until two or three o'clock in the morning.
When the room wasn't used for parties, all the furniture was protected with a cover. The carpet would have been covered with another one called a "drugget". During normal days the girls, Amelia, Georgina and Helene Elizabeth would use the Drawing Room as an exercise room and promenade around it, as unmarried ladies weren't allowed to leave the house without the company of a man.
Next to the Drawing Room you can find the Parlour, which is what we call the living room today. And similar to what we do in our living room, the Lamonts would have done the same. They would have used the room for reading newspapers or books, listening to music or other hobbies. Children were allowed in the Parlour as Mrs. Lamont would have taught them the basics of reading and writing there. A more formal use of the Parlour was for the afternoon tea. Mrs. Lamont would have invited the ladies over for tea. On a typical invitation it would say that the guest should arrive at 4pm. The Ladies would then first play cards before they would take their tea around 6pm.
On the second floor the Lamonts would have more bed and dressing rooms. Those are used today as a film room and exhibition rooms. The attic, where you would find more bedrooms and the nursery, is not on view to public. However, the Georgian house hopes to open it next year.
Go and visit the Georgian House, it's absolutely worth it. Have a wander and explore all the rooms. You will find loads of interesting objects and the very friendly volunteers are happy to tell you more about them and all the rooms. And don't forget to tell us your thoughts about the Lamonts and the Georgian House.
They say never talk about sex, religion and politics. Today we break this unwritten rule as we visit the Scottish Parliament, or at least we learn more about the place where politics takes place.
By Kim Laura Kühne
The Scottish Parliament as we know it nowadays opened its doors in 2004 and was designed by the Spanish architect Enric Miralles in partnership with the local Architecture firm RMJM. It is located across the street from Holyrood Palace and it's really close to Arthur's Seat. Inside the parliament you find a model of the whole parliament, where you can see that it basically looks like a branch growing from the extinct volcano to the parliament. This symbol means that it grows from the country for the people. In and around the parliament you can find a lot of symbols, for example boat-like shapes, which represent the history of Scotland as a maritime nation.
Inside the parliament there are also many forms of the saltire, the cross of the Scottish flag. They all have different forms as it shows a flag waving in the wind. There are many more symbols in and around the parliament, one I want to mention are the amount of windows. It represents that the parliament is transparent and open for everyone. That's why you can visit the Parliament 6 days a week. You can either explore the parliament on your own or book a guided tour. On Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays sessions are held in the parliament, which you can visit. If you intend to do so, you should book this in advance to make sure you have a seat.
Now that we are inside the Scottish Parliament, a few more things about it. The parliament consists of 129 Members of the Scottish Parliament, MSPs for short. Each MSP is usually a member of a party. At the moment, the following parties are represented in the Scottish Parliament: Scottish National Party (61), Scottish Conservative & Unionist Party (31), Scottish Labour (23), Scottish Green Party (6), Scottish Liberal Democrats (5) and 2 Independents. As you can see, the Scottish National Party is in power at the moment which is lead by Nicola Sturgeon, who is also the current first minister.
Have you ever visited the Scottish Parliament? What do you think about it? Also, let us know more about the parliament in your country. Where is it located? Can you visit it? Which party is in power? We are curious to hear how things work in different places.
If I have to pick one reason why I love Edinburgh so much, then it's definitely because of its horrible and mysterious history. I can't get enough of those stories and even enjoy hearing the same story again and again. So, today was a very special day, I heard about the mysterious miniature coffins for the very first time . And guess what, I'm going to tell you now about this really interesting story and its unclear background.
By Kim Laura Kühne
Beside the Scottish Parliament you can find the mountain Arthur's Seat, which is an extinct volcano. Arthur's Seat is not only a tourist attraction, it's also the place were people made an interesting historical find.
Back in 1836 a group of boys headed to Arthur's Seat and found 17 miniature coffins. The coffins were arranged in three tiers: two tiers of eight and one single coffin on top. Inside each coffin is a wee wooden figure. Only eight of these coffins have survived and are on display in the National Museum of Scotland. What happened to the other nine? We don't know. The Scotsman tells us that a number were destroyed by the boys, but we don't know how many. Now, almost 200 years later, we still don't know who made those little figures and why. But there are several theories about it, some more believable than others.
Back then, the coffins were donated together with some cuttings and the Society concluded that the intention of the coffins seemed to symbolise an honorific burial. But there is no proof of that.
Five year later, in 1906, The Scotsman published another bizarre story. A lady from Edinburgh told the newspaper that her father, Mr. B had been visited by a "daft man"*. One day, the man drew three small coffins on a piece of paper , with the dates 1837, 1838 and 1840. What happened next is really weird. In 1837, a near relative of Mr. B died, in the following year a cousin and in 1840 his brother. After the funeral, the daft man appeared again "glowering"* at Mr.B, disappeared, and was never ever seen again. Was this guy maybe the maker of the Arthur's Seat coffins or is the whole story a really spooky coincidence?
Jumping forward in time and to a change of location: In 1976, Walter Hävernick, the Director of the Museum of Hamburg History came up with a new theory about the miniature coffins. In Germany, it was common for sailors to carry mandrake roots or dolls in tiny coffins as a talisman. Sounds like a believable story, but unfortunately there is no evidence that Scottish sailors had this tradition as well.
Any favourite theory so far? Mine is the following one. We go back in time and meet Edinburgh's most famous murdering duo Burke and Hare. The two Irish immigrants started their questionable business almost by accident when an elderly guest died in their Inn. What to do with the body? They sold it to Dr. Robert Knox, for use in his anatomy school in Surgeon’s Square. Easy money! As Burke and Hare didn't want to wait till the next lucky accident of someone dying from natural causes , they decided to speed things up and help a little bit. They started to kill unknown tourists who where staying in the Inn. This worked out perfectly for about 10 months, but the pair got greedy and careless. When they killed locals such as a well known prostitute and a wee boy, the public got suspicious. In 1828 Burke and Hare were arrested. Hare turned King’s witness and was freed but needed to leave the country. Burke was charged with murder and hanged in Edinburgh’s Lawnmarket before a crowd of thousands. Guess what happened then? Burke's body was publicly dissected at the University of Edinburgh Medical School - what a fitting punishment.
But what has this horrible story got to do with the mini coffins? Burke and Hare murdered 17 people and there are 17 coffins, buried only a few years after. Could each of the coffins stand for one of the victims? It's important to point out, that 12 of Burke and Hare's victims were female, whereas the dolls in the coffins are all dressed as men. But it would still work as a symbolic gesture in respect of the victims, wouldn't it? My gut feeling says that the coffins might have belonged to a little boy who was a friend of one of them and to say goodbye to his friend he buried his toy soldiers.
And the mystery continues. Thousands of people have visited the coffins. One visitor, who was really fascinated by the coffins is Ian Rankin, he even mentions them in his book "The Fall". In the novel, a serial killer places coffins near the scenes of his crimes
In December 2014, the Museum received a mysterious package, and inside was a wonderful replica of one of the coffins, entitled "XVIII", which is the roman symbol for 18.
Attached was as well a label, saying "XVII? To the National Museum of Scotland, A gift" and quoting the chilling climax of Robert Louis Stevenson’s short story ‘The Body Snatcher’ (1884), which has elements of the Burke and Hare story. "And as Fettes took the lamp his companion united the fastenings of the sack and drew down the cover from the head. The light fell very clear upon the dark, well - moulded features and smooth - shaven cheeks of a too familiar countenance, often beheld in dreams of both of these young men. A wild yell rang up into the night: each leaped from his own side into the roadway: the lamp fell, broke, and was extinguished: and the horse, terrified by this unusual commotion, bounded and went off to ward Edinburgh at a gallo, bearing along with it, sole occupant of the gig, the body of the dead and long - dissected gray."
An 18th Arthur Seat's coffin? Where does it come from and who made it? Could it be the mysterious Book Sculptor? Another mystery around the Arthur's Seat coffins! If you want to know more about the mysterious Book Sculptor, get in touch which us, as we will be learning more about it during the Advanced Speaker course, starting next week.
What do you think, which theory is the likeliest? Or can you think of a totally different one? Tell us your thoughts.
Who doesn't like a good story? I definitely do. But today it's not about stories itself, it's more about those who created them and where they got their inspiration from. Walter Scott, David Hume, Arthur Conan Doyle, J.K. Rowling and Irvine Welsh are all writers from Edinburgh, some locals and some inspired by the city. So it's no surprise that Edinburgh was declared 2004 as the first UNESCO world city of literature. While exploring the New Town we learned some facts about one of Edinburgh's most famous writers Robert Louis Stevenson.
By Kim Laura Kühne
Who was Robert Louis Stevenson? I'm sure you must have heard from at least one of his books : Treasure Island. In this book, Stevenson created the typical image of a pirate - men with parrots and wooden legs looking for hidden treasure. But back to where everything began: Edinburgh, to be more accurate in the New Town.
We start our wee tour at Heriot Row in front of a red door. Not that it's anything special to have a bright coloured door here in Edinburgh but this red door leads into a very special building: The house were Robert Louis Stevenson grew up. Robert Louis Stevenson was born in 1850. His family was famous for building lighthouses. Robert was an unlucky little boy as he was ill all the time. Imagine now, being wee Robert in his room on the top floor of this four-story house staring out of the window, across the street and looking into Queen Street Gardens.
But before we move to the next stop, one last thing connected to the house. If you have a close look you can find one of Stevenson poems: For we are very lucky, with a lamp before the door, And Leerie stops to light it as he lights so many more; And oh! before you hurry by with ladder and with light; O Leerie, see a little child and nod to him to-night!
We are now in Queen Street Gardens. The place that little Robert saw from his bedroom window. People say that this is the place which inspired Stevenson to write Treasure Island.
Stevenson studied law but never practised it. What he really loved was writing and traveling. On a travel to France he met Fanny Osbourne and fell in love with her. His parents, especially his father, disagreed on this liaison. Fanny wasn't the kind of women one would have wanted as a daughter in law. She smoked cigars and always carried two revolvers with her. As well untypical for a women back then, Fanny was divorced, had children, was older than Robert and was American. Fanny left Robert and went back to America. Stevenson was deeply heartbroken. He couldn't live without her and followed her to America. This journey brought him back his beloved Fanny but not his health. Stevenson nearly died on his trip to America. But only nearly. The two lovebirds headed off on their honeymoon to islands in the pacific ocean. Robert realized that his health was way better in this climate. He and Fanny settled down in Samoa. 1894 Robert Louis Stevenson died. Surprisingly, not because of his illness. He had a stroke. Some people say his last words were "That's funny" while he was eating mayonnaise.
Robert Louis Stevenson was buried in Samoa and you can find one of his poems, "Requiem", at his grave: Under the wide and starry sky, dig the grave and let me lie. Gald did I live and gladly die, and I laid me down with a will. This be the verse you grave for me; "Here he lies where he longed to be, home is the sailor, home from sea, and the hunter home from the hill."
To finish off our tour and the story about Robert Louis Stevenson life, we head to Princes Street Gardens. There you can find a memorial. What do you think about this memorial? Does it match a famous write like Stevenson was? Do you know any of his stories? Which one is your favourite?
... and back in time. The learners of the summer intensive courses had a very special experience today, they travelled back to the 19th century straight into a Victorian classroom.
By Kim Laura Kühne
Haven't we all heard some school stories from our parents and grandparents? For example my grandma told me all the time how good we have it nowadays with modern technology. Teachers can simply print out papers for us. Back then they would write everything on the blackboard and the students had to copy it with a pen. No chance of erasing it when you misspelled something, you had to cross it out. Now imagine how some pages must have looked! And to my brother she would always say that he should start to write more neatly. With handwriting like that, the teacher would have punished him back then. And from all I've heard about school in the past, we should be happy about the way the teacher might punish us nowadays. But let's see how it really was being a pupil in the Victorian Classroom.
The bell rings. Time to line up. Girls on one side and boys on the other. Stay straight, chin up and arms behind your back. Walk into the classroom. Girls first. Stand until the teacher tells us to sit. Girls on one side and boys on the other. Sit up straight and fold your arms. Everything has its strict order. And you don't want to break those rules as the punishment methods were horrible. Turns out, my grandmother didn't tell us those stories to scare us, it was all the truth.
There were three different methods of punishments, depending on what they did.
Number 1: The teacher told you to sit on the punishment bench, next to the teachers desk. Doesn't sound that bad, but you have to consider that you were exposed and everyone knew you had done something bad. Now imagine the headmaster walks in while you're sitting there...
Number 2: The belt. The teacher hits your hands with a leather strap six times.
Number 3: The teacher sends you to the headmaster who hits you harder with a thicker belt.
Quick side note here - what where they thinking??!! They punished students with the belt for terrible hand-writing. Did they seriously think your handwriting would be better after that? I assume it looked even worse when you had to write with sore hands and fingers. But back to our Victorian school lesson.
On today's timetable were the 3 Rs: Reading wRiting and aRithmetic. Maths first on. Oh no! Let's say it all together: 7 times 1 is 7. 7 times 2 is 14. 7 times 3 is 21 and so on. Followed by an exam, testing your mental arithmetic skills. Teachers instructions "Write your name on top of your slate and then the number 1 till 5.
Question 1: On a field are 5 men, 2 women, a dog and a horse. How many legs are on the field?
Question 2: In a room are three windows. Each window consist of 8 small glass plates. How many glass plates are in the whole room?
Question 3: Little Tom is 6 years old today. How old will he be in 9 years time?
Question 4: You have 5 flowers. Each of them has 3 petals. How many petals do all the flowers have together?
Question 5: A stamp costs 1 penny. You have 2 shillings. How many stamps can you buy?
Lucky me, I got 4 out of 5. The last question really confused me, as I'm not use to this currency. But moving on, it's time for writing.
Yes! Finally some fun. It felt like being back in primary school when you had to do some nice writing tasks. The difference was we used a fountain pen with ink out of a dispenser. Definitely my favourite part. I don't remember when I sat down the last time to write something that nicely.
And now the last part of the class, the only proper R: Reading.Let's read it out lout all together: Play the game! Every boy and girl should try to speak, read, write and count well. Learning can be made an excellent game with you on one side and difficulties on the other. Just try to win and you will gain the best of prizes. A good education. Never think of anything as hard work. Just say to yourself: "Play the game!"
What a wonderful and true statement to end our lesson in the Victorian classroom.
By the way the answers to the metal arithmetic questions.
Answer 1: 32
Answer 2: 24
Answer 3: 15
Answer 4: 15
Answer 5: 24
How many could you answer correctly? Do you know any interesting school stories from your parents or grandparents? Tell us about it.
Finally, it's summer! Even here in bonnie Edinburgh we get some hot and sunny days. So, what's the best you can do with your free time? Exactly, being part of the summer intensive course 2018 at the Edinburgh Experience. Today we started with two of our intensive courses: Listening & Speaking Skills A2/B1 level and CLIL-Bilingual Teachers B2+ level.
By Kim Laura Kühne
Even though I'm not a teacher, I'm joining the CLIL-Bilingual Teacher course because I've been a passionate student looking for something new to learn for my whole life.
To kick off the day we checked our general knowledge about Scotland and Edinburgh. For example, did you know, that Princes Street Gardens used to be loch or that the Gaelic word Uisge Beatha means water of life? Those and other interesting facts helped us to use some language of speculation. I mean, I have no idea if you have ever seen Braveheart but I'd guess that you might think, that most of the film was filmed in Scotland. See, it's that easy to use some language of speculation. I just managed to use three expressions in one sentence - I'm so proud of myself. And for your information, Braveheart was mostly filmed in Ireland.
Another aspect of the morning class were adjectives and modifiers or how to make your language more interesting. For example there is nothing wrong when you say "I had a good day" but it sounds way better if you use a modifier and say "I had a really good day" or use a strong adjective like "I had a amazing day". Or even better, combine a modifier with a strong adjective to "I had an absolutely amazing day". That's much better than only good food, doesn't it?
This all was preparation for our afternoon program - a visit to the Scottish National Galleries. We had descriptions of ten paintings which we needed to find in the Gallery and were discussed later on. Thanks to the morning lessons we tried to avoid boring sentences like "that's a nice painting". We were able to say more interesting sentences like "I really like this painting. It shows a lot of details. The skin of the lady is so white, I'd imagine she must come from a very wealthy family ".
Do you know which painting I tried to describe? Have a look at all the paintings we were talking about in class. What do you think about them? Which one is your favourite and why? Do you know any fascinating paintings from your country? Tell us about them!
After a long break we are back on the blog! We will be inviting guest bloggers over the next few months, and this month it is our wonderful teacher Rebecca who has written a great post about the differences between American and British English. She has included some briliant vocabulary for you to learn too! If you want to study with the best teachers in town, check out our courses HERE, starting from only £5 an hour.
EXPRESS YOURSELF! By Rebecca Jackson
Language learners: raise your virtual hands if you’ve ever felt frustrated by not being able to fully express yourself. Being unable to convey your emotions, attitudes, and desires in the target language can certainly result in feeling defeated. I’ve felt this frustration before while studying Spanish in university and working with children in parts of South America. However, as a native English speaker, I was completely unprepared to feel it in the UK.
As some of my students know, I originally come from the USA. Specifically, I’m from Louisiana, but I’ve come by way of Baltimore, Maryland, where I lived for a few years before moving across the pond. Before arriving to Scotland I had been advised by other expats that had gone before me. I learned quickly that not all accents are the same, and that it was OK to ask for clarification when an accent was too thick for me to understand. I knew not to say “fanny” or “pants” in public. What I hadn’t been told, though, were the different uses of phrasal verbs. While this may seem trivial, it has actually resulted in a few, well, uncomfortable situations.
One of my more embarrassing encounters occurred while at a shop after I had been living in Edinburgh for nearly 2 years. I went to buy some special water-proofing detergent for my raincoat. There was a young guy working the till (20-ish years old), but he didn’t notice me approach the counter. So I asked, politely, “Hi, would you mind ringing me up?”
And he blushed. Like the wide-eyed, pink-cheeked emoji.
So there I was, holding an armful of 3 detergent bottles, and completely confused about what I did wrong. I finally asked, “Is that OK or should I go somewhere else?” To which he replied, “OH! You mean at the till… I thought you were asking me to call you.”
Then I proceeded to out-blush him and make things even more awkward and uncomfortable by saying, “That won’t be necessary.” I don’t think the pink left my cheeks until 15 minutes after leaving the shop.
Now, having lived in Edinburgh for four-ish years, I’ve definitely learned through experiences of trial and error. I’m sure there are still many “British-isms” that I’m unaware of, but, for your enjoyment, I’ve made a wee list of what I consider to be “Very British Phrasal Verbs.”
1) To come by way of: the place between point A and point B.
2) “Across the pond” is a common expression referring to the country across the Atlantic. When used by US English speakers, it typically refers to Great Britain, although it can also refer to other European/African countries.
3) A “thick” accent is another way to say a “strong” accent.
4) This is a special type of soap to use in the washing machine in order to protect your jacket against rain. In my personal experience, it doesn’t actually help that much in Scottish climate.
5)When your arms are holding something and are otherwise not free.
6) To “out-VERB” someone is when you exceed them in the given action. So, to “out-run” someone would be to run faster than them.
Learn vocabulary and expressions while you communicate in English! Please feel free to comment on our posts or ask any questions