Having seen the blog post about visiting Riccarton Library during National Libraries Day, Lindsey and I decided to take advantage of the offer of a self-guided tour, and we took the #45 bus to Riccarton with the intention of seeing round Heriot-Watt University Library (where I worked for many years up to 2009), and then walking back into Edinburgh along the Sandy Road, Wester Hailes and wherever else the route took us.
Riccarton campus seemed almost deserted when we arrived, at about mid-day. We found a cafe, which seemed to be the only place open, and enjoyed a fairly nice curry. Afterwards, on the way through the main buildings, I could see very few signs which mentioned the library. It would in fact be quite difficult to find it, if you didn’t already know where it was.
At the library entrance the first thing I noticed was that they had replaced the display posters that I had some part in producing seven years ago. My display had replaced some very scruffy plants, which previously had been the first things people saw when they came to the library. The new display is nice and colourful, and in fact the entrance area is much better than it used to be.
We were warmly greeted by the staff on duty, at the new service desk. The library has been transformed since my days there. Gone are the horrible tables, and apart from the lower level floor all areas are now very pleasant. There are various well kitted out study rooms, numerous group pods and different seating arrangements. I would expect that students enjoy studying in the library nowadays. Some of the print books have gone, as have most of the reference texts and new journal displays, and the print journals have been weeded. There’s a self service checkout facility, and we were told that the building is now open 24/7 for much of the year. The area where I had my desk for several years is now a study area, and our project room where we worked on EEVL, PERX, Gold Dust, TechXtra and other services is now a group study room with a fantastic view over the sunken gardens to the north of the library.
Lindsey, Shaun and I enjoyed an interesting Indian street food meal with Jeanie, her son and friend, the other evening. Following on from my post of last week, someone pointed out to me the fact that at the bottom of the food bill it helpfully divided the bill by the number of diners – (£15.58 as shown above).
About two minutes after we’d paid the bill, the head waiter came over and explained that he would like to clear the table and prepare for another sitting, so he hoped that we would not linger. Two minutes after that, a waitress came and said more or less the same thing. We felt rushed! I suppose that, as it was a BYOB establishment, they didn’t want us sitting around drinking our own booze for a long time. But we felt as if we were being herded away.
On another matter entirely, I had problems buying tickets for a forthcoming concert in April. My usual sources said the venue was sold out, apart from seats right at the back, five minutes after the tickets went on sale. Another website said it was completely sold out. I ended up going to the venue website (The Usher Hall), and had problems logging in (because I couldn’t remember my password from yonks ago), then problems re-registering (as my new details were too similar to the original registration), so I had to become Mrs MacLeod for registration purposes, and then I had more problems with verifying my email and creating my new password. Some of this was my own fault. All the while, the time limit for my selected tickets was running down to zero. At the end of the process I wasn’t even sure whether I’d secured the tickets.
So I phoned the Usher Hall, and I have to say that the chap who answered (and I didn’t have to go through any selection options or nonsense like that) was MOST helpful. First of all he confirmed that I had bought tickets. Then he offered the information that he could see that I had multiple registrations and would I like him to merge these all together? – I did. Then he confirmed that their website did actually have a slight problem at the bit where you create your password – a message about passwords not complying was appearing too early, and the compliance information was also not accurate.
If only some of the other websites that we all have to confront nowadays had someone as helpful as the chap from the Usher Hall available at the end of a phone line!
I picked this up in the Sahara, when walking back to M’Hamid. I reckon it’s a stone age tool. The guide wasn’t so sure.
I took Jamie & Shaun to Dundee, to Tayside Aviation, for a flying lesson. This was their Christmas present. Tayside Aviation is a friendly place, and it was quite busy the day we were there.
Shaun’s lesson was first, with Jamie sitting in the back, and with Alastair the instructor. They flew up the Tay then over to Fife Airport, landed, and then Jamie had a lesson on the way back.
We were driven through the Tizi n’Tichka mountain pass to Marrakech.
The photo above made me look at my slides from 30 years ago.
Lindsey hasn’t changed much, has she? And I think it’s the same water seller!
I’d wanted to have a coffee in the Argana Cafe, which we had been to 30 years ago and which was bombed in 2011, but it was closed for the day.
Our group tried to get in to La Mamounia Hotel, one of the top places to stay, but we were turned away because our footwear was not appropriate.
We were not harassed in Marrakech, this time. Not like 30 years ago, when walking down the street could sometimes be difficult. Other things that had changed included the Jemaa el Fna which had been paved over. Parts of the souk had been paved as well.
Every Thursday there’s a busy open market at Telouet, which has the feeling of a frontier town and services the surrounding villages in the mountains.
Here are a couple of short clip videos of the market:
Writing, the other day, about the group dynamics on our Exodus trip to the Sahara, I mentioned a trip Lindsey and I took to Lake Turkana in northern Kenya in 1985. On that trip, which went to Loiyangalani and back, was an English couple who wore hippie pants and were forever discussing between themselves whether something-or-other had happened on previous holidays on their first, or second, trip to Pakistan. It seemed important to them, but of course no-one else was fussed about this at all. Him, “We saw some gazelle on our first trip to Pakistan” – her, “I’m sure that was the second trip” – him, “No, it was definitely the first trip” – her, “No, on the first trip it was hog deer we saw” etc, etc.
I was desperate, on our recent trip, not to sound like those two, but the truth is I probably did. The thing about the trip Lindsey and I took to Morocco thirty years ago is that we can’t remember the route we took. We definitely spent some time in Marrakech, then Imlil, then Mt Toubkal, then the Tizi n’Test road over to the valley of the casbahs, and we took a bus to Tinerhir and Todra Gorge, where we were stalked by a dodgy looking man, and somehow we also visited Essaouira, on the way to which we were pulled off the bus by the police and made to stand in the baking sun for half an hour (for no reason we could understand – we were eventually ushered back onto the bus), which is on the coast. So at some stage we probably also went through Ouarzazate which we visited this trip. But the point is – it doesn’t matter.
The photos below were taken on the way to Telouet.