Doors Open Day 2016

Tuesday 27 September 2016

At the weekend it was Doors Open Day in Edinburgh, a chance for the public to see inside buildings that are not usually open to them.

James (16) had volunteered to help his grandad as a doorman at the old Magdalen Chapel in the Grassmarket, but before we went to see him there, the other boys and I headed along to the Lothian Buses Depot.

They had a couple of vintage buses parked outside alongside one of their newest styles.

It was a popular attraction and I was glad we had arrived there just after it opened, because by the time we were leaving it had got really, really busy.

Most of the buses that were on display inside the depot were open for you to climb aboard. The boys have always wanted to go on an open-topped bus and so that was the first one they headed for.

This bus went into service just after the second world war.

Inside the vintage buses we noticed how much narrower they are than today's buses, and how sitting next to a complete stranger on those buses would have been much more of a squash! Perhaps we were less socially awkward in those days though?

We didn't find out why this lorry was here, but David (10) was thoroughly impressed with it!

One of the buses was jacked up with all the parts of the undercarriage labelled.

As well as all the buses, there was a stall selling some bus memorabilia, and we had to fight our way through some serious bus anoraks to get something there, but I'll save that for the end.

After we had seen all we wanted to see at the bus depot we made our way across to the Grassmarket and to the historic Magdalen Chapel. The chapel was built in the 1500s, and if you are interested in history you can read more about the history of it here.

When we were finished at the chapel, and James was relieved of his doorman duties, we walked up from the Grassmarket and towards the Royal Mile.

I have lived in or around Edinburgh for over 20 years now, and I never tire of the beauty in it's streets.

Once we were at the Royal Mile we headed down towards St Giles.

We weren't going to see the cathedral though, but the Supreme Courts which sit just behind the chapel.

The building dates from the 1600s and the main hall, Parliament Hall was where the original Scottish Parliament used to sit.

I was too busy watching a 2 year old to read all the info that was around about the Hall but I did manage to snap this photo of one of the information boards!

Further into the building we saw into one of the courts, we looked into the cells, and Ally (7) was able to try on the robes, wig and mace of a judge!

There were quite a few maces on display. This one that David is holding was the oldest there, dating from around the 1500s. Or maybe it was the 1600s. Anyway, it was really old either way!

Immediately outside the courts is the burial place of John Knox., now car parking space no. 23.

By the time we were finished looking round the courts we were all very hungry and so we grabbed a bite to eat. Rather appropriately, having spend the morning looking around so many historical Scottish sites, I went for some haggis and chips.

Suitably fuelled up again we headed across the Royal Mile and down to the train station to catch a train home.

Now, remember the bus memorabilia I mentioned? The bus company were raising money for a couple of charities and were selling off all their old bus stop signs. The signs were all in bundles against a wall and it was quite a scramble to get in to them, as there were quite a few eager bus fans all keen to get one! I wanted to make sure that we got one for a stop that was relevant to us in some way and was delighted when we saw one for Blackford Pond. 

Back in my earliest days in Edinburgh, and when my husband and I started seeing each other as more than 'just good friends', my in-laws lived near Blackford Hill and so we had many walks up the hill and around the pond. One of the buses that stopped at that stop was also one that I used to get to University so the sign has a double significance to us. 

David carried it about Edinburgh the whole day, and we had quite a few people stop us and ask where we had got it from! I have no idea where we are going to hang it in the house yet though!

There were lots more buildings open for Doors Open Day and if you have one near you coming up then I highly recommend you get along to see what is open. After all, you can't get much better than a free day out, can you?!

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