Sunday, 26 September 2010

Greyfriars Kirk and Herbs

Yesterday, we decided to take the train into Edinburgh. We were only here a couple of months ago, when we explored Leith.
We took a slow stroll in Princes Street Gardens.

Then decided to wander towards the Grassmarket and Cowgate area of the city, before finding ourselves in the heart of Edinburgh and a street we walk down often near the Edinburgh University area. As well as passing a host of charities aka thrift shops, various eateries including the Mosque Kitchen, one of the best places to eat authentic Pakistani fare in my opinion, we always seem to see something different around here.
This time we noticed this building hidden on one of the side streets. It looks like it reads 'Cry Friars', but its actually Grey Friars. Greyfriars Kirk known today as Greyfriars Tolbooth and Highland Kirk is a parish church of the Church of Scotland. It was founded in 1620. I've always been interested in looking at old historic buildings, but namely from the outside. However with the doors being open to the public, we decided to have a walk around the Kirk. It was rather spacious.
The only thing that was off-putting whilst wandering in the Kirkyard was the number of aged homeless drunkards hanging outside around with their bottles of cider. Most of these drunkards are harmless and lost in their world of intoxication; others can be abusive to tourists, locals - well anyone really as D and me witnessed. Thankfully, though no one around could understand what the drunken man was bleating, so no offence was taken, just bewildered and amused looks.
One of the main reasons, a number of people like myself will have heard of Greyfriars Kirk is the story a Skye Terrier dog called Bobby. It is claimed that one of the most visited graves in the kirkyard is that of John Gray. John Gray was an Edinburgh policeman who died of tuberculosis in 1858 and was buried there. For the following 14 years, Bobby remained devoted and faithful and kept watch over his owners grave, until its own death in 1872. Nearby the Kirk you will find signs of Bobby, for example there is a pub next door called Bobby's Bar. It also has a statue of Bobby.
Whilst still inside the Grey Friars Kirkyard, I was taken by the number of herb garden spots created there. I was furthermore impressed by the effort someone had made in writing and sharing the medicinal value of each herb on individual slates. Here are a couple of them. (Above) Ginger mint also known as Scotch mint.
Scot's oregano,
Because there were so many slates, I created a collage of them. Please click on the image to see in more detail. After scraping the soil of some of the slates and musing. We left and went on our merry way to explore other side streets. We also decided to stop for a coffee, but rather than stop at a coffee shop we supported MacMillan Coffee morning that was being hosted by a church not far from Greyfriars Kirk.
We stopped for a little while at the Edinburgh People Museum for two reasons, it was on route situated in the Canongate Tolbooth at the bottom of the Royal Mile and secondly, it was free to the public. The People’s Story explores the lives of Edinburgh’s ordinary people at work and play from the late 18th century to today. There are a number of displays showing such as original cell/jail and a wartime kitchen. I'm always interested to see old posters and objects from the past.
This is the entrance to Holyrood Palace which is most definitely not free entry to the public. If you want to go in, you need to tuck into your purse or wallet and part with some notes. So we didn't go any further and just took a peek from the gates, before deciding to call it a day and head back to home.


  1. Hi Mangocheeks
    I was up in Edinburgh a couple of weeks ago for a work confernece at Our Diverse earth nerxt to Holyrood Palace, so frustrating as it was a lovely sunny day and I just wanted to get out and walk up Arthur's Seat! also had little time to take in the sights as the train was waiting, anyway going back up in November for a weekend so will have more time to sight see
    thanks for the pics

  2. Hi Jane,
    So nice to hear from you.
    When ever I would go into Edinburgh for work, that is how it was for me. No sight seeing at all, it was all work - work - work. So I know totally how you feel. Well next time, when you come up and hopefully the weather will be kind.

  3. I just have to say how much I enjoy your blog, it's a treasure and this post is one of my favorites:)

  4. Oh Patty, stop it - your making me Blush. Thank you so much for such a lovely and warming compliment. It really means a lot to me. Thank you ever so much.

  5. Sounds like a good day out. I love the story of Greyfriars Bobby and remember being entranced with it when I was a young girl and my aunt was giving a tour of the kirkyard. Don't remember the herbal slates from my last visit, but that was over a decade ago.

  6. This is a great little tour of Edinburgh, a city I would love to visit some day. That herb garden is so charming!

  7. you just brought back the memories of Edinburgh,i spent five years there and did my bsc there. I fall in love with this beautiful city,I miss it so much. Thanx for the wonderful post and photographs

  8. Your Photographs are fantastic and I enjoyed your tour of Edinburgh, made me feel quite homesick. I love your recipes too, keep up the good work.

  9. edinburgh is so lovely to visit - I love your photos of the fountain in full flow in the princes st gardens. I think the people's story is a great museum and even better for being free! Glad you had a nice day there

  10. coincidence - I had a day out in Edinburgh about a year ago for my 40th birthday, with my good friend who still lives there. I was intrigued by Greyfriars and took some photos but we were pressed for time and didn't go in. I will def go in the next time though and will make sure she and I are not the drunks chasing everyone away! Here is my post about it -

  11. I think I heard the story of Bobby too... but possibly every country has a similar one. How nice to see the herb 'instructions' on the herbs' beds :-)

  12. Thank you mir.

    Thanks Choclette.
    It was a good day out and the rain stayed away too :D
    The herbs garden(s) seem like a relatively new addition, perhaps in the last 3 years - I'm guessing of course.

    Thank you Jeanne.
    Edinburgh is def. Scotland tourist city. If you ever get the opportunity to visit Scotland, please do visit it.

    Thank you so much MoOn.
    I am so pleased it brought back good memories of your student days in Edinburgh.

    Thank you Mary.
    So pleased the photographs brought back some good memories for you. And thank you for the lovely comment, I really appreciate it.

    Thank you Johanna.
    I'm rather chuffed with the fountain in full flow against the backdrop of Edinburgh Castle.
    I don't know how I've missed the People's story Museum in the past, I've walked down the mile many a time.

  13. Louise.
    Thank you for sharing your entry from last year. It made me smile. I've been to the Pear Tree many years ago and remember sitting outside loving the feel. Sadly, Susie's Bar is no more. Its on the same street as the bookshop WordPower. PS I am sure you and your dear friend will not be the ones frightening the tourists away too!

    Thank you Alessandra.
    I agree with you that every country must have a loyal dog story similar to that of Bobby. When I was growing up, I remember my father telling me one similar too. A dog slept under the cradle of a child. The owners went upstairs to check on their baby in the cradle and upon entering the bedroom noted the floor was all bloody, they assumed the dog was jealous and harmed the baby. Assuming this, the owners shot the dog in anger. Later to discover the baby sleeping happily in the cradle and a dead wolf/fox in the corner of the bedroom. Learning, that in fact the dog had protected the child. Yes, the herb garden is pretty cool.

  14. beautiful area! Makes me want to pull out my pictures from our europe adventure many years ago. I love your blog... will definitely be back! - Ellen (la pure mama)

  15. So so beautiful. I fear I'd never leave.

  16. Hi there, what a great day out and fab pics you took too! Please pop over to my blog as I have a well deserved award for you to pick up.
    Deb x

  17. Thank you so, so much for such a lovely comment Ellen aka Pure Mama.

    Oh Ginny - it is so good to hear from you. Its been a while :)

    Oh Deb,
    I am so glad you like the pictures.
    Also, Thank you so much for thinking of my blog for the Versatility Award. It is most appreciated. Thank you.

  18. Have walked down these roads many times.The last Hospital I worked in was Edinburgh Royal Infirmary.This was the place where the "homeless drunkards" could find warmth when they could be found hiding in the Hospital at night. Now that Edinburgh Royal is closed they will need to find other places.

  19. Dear Neuron,
    I remember you mentioning before that you worked at the Edin Royal Infirmary.

    Yeah, some of the homeless drunks now hang out here.


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