13 Mar 2011

Steeples, stones and a bit of imagination

Back in my somewhat younger days, my experience of travelling began on a small scale. I fell in love with the idea of local exploration, of taking a limited area and highlighting the details until they glowed with their own magnificent mystery.

In my 20s I spent several months backpacking around Europe. I remember wandering through Bruges with my best friend, with our only aim to follow the sound of the various church bells. It was a brilliant way to get lost.

With the atrocious winter we just suffered, it has been awhile since I took one of my random walks. But today, with the skies only partially threatening to dampen my spirits, I headed out for a bit of an aimless adventure.

I set off from Gorgie and managed to take in Polwarth, Merchiston, Morningside, Bruntsfield and Fountainbridge. It proved to be just as uplifting and inspiring as it always does.

For example, I like to look for buildings that I can imagine being haunted. I have certain criteria that must be satisfied, including stones which are at least slightly blackened, and preferably as dark as a crow’s wings.

Church steeples with either very small or boarded up windows also causes a delightful shiver to slink down my spine. Or in the case of the church in Polwarth, some jaggy gothic spires and ghoulish gargoyles does the trick.
Being of German heritage, when it comes to potentially haunted houses I am admittedly drawn to a bit of symmetrical architecture.

Giant bay windows through which I can imagine some shadowy figure lurking behind heavy curtains is also a plus.
Of course I am not alone in my deep and complex love of a nice old fashioned turret.

Even better is a turret with either shuttered windows or dusty slats that you know would cast the most brilliant lines of light on the inside walls. Top the whole thing off with a creaking weather vane and I couldn’t be happier.

But the house-of-the-day was one I couldn’t even get to properly in order to photograph it.

All around it there were high stone walls and hedges, so I had to stand across the street just to get this photo.
Quirky window accents, vines climbing up the walls and gnarled mushroom-top chimneys made the building look like something from Grimms fairy tales. I bet the floorboards are wonderfully uneven and squeak in that slow-motion way like they do in horror films.

It was a good day. I’m looking forward to a lot more aimless wandering as the spring slowly (very slowly) begins to emerge.

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