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‘Preparatory work’ has started on the trams on Leith Walk. This is before the public enquiry to the trams has reported. One cannot but think that the council’s haste to foist this onto to Leith is because they are mighty afearid of what will be in the report and they want to get works going before a political row can stop it.

Yesterday my morning errands were made much more complicated by the left hand lane of Leith Walk as you look down to the Foot was closed for several hours as a really serious accident had occurred to a cyclist. Originally the rumour was that they had died but subsequent rumour says not. However buses were redirected around one block of the Walk while the Leith Police took photographs of the crime scene. It bears saying that when the tram comes it cannot be redirected and any accidents etc just cause the entire system to grind to a halt.


Random pinterest image*

At a recent family lunch we were mesmerised by the entertainment of a wedding at the church opposite my parents house. Now a Chinese church we were struck by the number of kilts worn by the wedding guests. Indeed high days and holidays like weddings, graduations and sporting occasions will have a large number of kilt appearances. My cousin infact thought it was becoming ‘common’ so many men were migrating to tartan trews as a reaction to the kilt.

My uncle then told a tale of wearing the Kilt to New York about 15 years ago where it caused  a sensation and then in a throwaway remark said his kilt was over a hundred years old. Indeed! My uncle is at least eighty and his kilt was remade from my Great Uncle George’s kilt. And his kilt was from my Great Grandfather David Brown Dott. Now the kilt could easily be 120 years old  – depending on when he  got his kilt. One garment going strong at 120 years old ! Take that throwaway fashion!

Of course tartan has a very chequered history which anyone who has read The Invention of Tradition knows but apparently the BBC put out a documentary recently rehashing it all – dubious Welsh charlatans invented it….


*sorry about using Pinterest images  – they frustrate me by having a paucity of information about the origins of the image and about the image itself (but don’t you just love those socks?)


Practising Milking using Artificial Udders by Evelyn Dunbar

Cook Book Club* was last night on the theme of Preserving. Others went in for smoking fish, making pastrami from scratch (awesome pickles!) home made jam. I decided to make cheese as I’d never made any before.

Unlike my normal mode of operation (last minute panic) this time I experimented. I started with a simple recipe which took milk and then using cheapest blandest vinegar separated the curds from the whey. Then the curds were whisked out using a tea strainer to be washed and left to drain in muslin  / tea towel. This I made with both cow and goat’s milk and was simply delicious but on reading recipes more closely and with a bit of googling began to understand that a gallon of milk to make a decent amount was 8 pints of milk. I’ve now swapped to milk in glass returnable bottles and the thought of carrying that down Leith Walk was insupportable.

However I then tried a strained yoghurt cheese. The Turkish shop at the bottom of Leith Walk is selling plain yoghurt in glass jars cow, ewe and buffalo. I got two cow and one ewe (sadly no buffalo left). Using my muslin cloths bought from Lakeland I strained each for 28 hours in colanders/sieves over bowls with heavy mason jars with contents on top to press down. The cow turned out firmer I think the jar on top was heavier. To this I added sea salt, chopped chives and a clove of garlic finely chopped. To the ewe I just added salt.

Then I made butter. I have never made butter. Cream again from Mossageil Farm in a jar which I shook while listening to The Archers on iplayer. Top tips. Make sure jar does not leak. Only fill 1/3 as when the cream thickens it is more than you expect. Shake vigorously I was too languorous. Others use mixers and there are instructions online. I then rinsed the butter in a colander and then added a bit of sea salt.

Home made cheese crackers were a cheat. Short crust pre made pastry cut into oblongs and dusted with grated parmesan, and salt. Another lot with salt and pepper.

I had masses of cream over and made the mistake of putting two lots of cream in glass jars thinking it would be jolly to give to guests at Cook Book Club after dinner. When I was at the bus stop the bag feel off the seat… some of the cheese biscuits were ruined! and cream runneth everywhere. My first job at our hosts was to make a beeline for the sink. and repair the sticky damage.

*Motto: Everything’s Better With Butter – insginia two butter knives rampant.


Well hello! A chat with a dear friend this week made me think about whether it was time I was ‘playing in my own playground’. I confess I’ve been a lot in Facebuik (sadly tethered to it was my beloved craft group organises via it) twitter @fatblackcatspaw where I get driven mad with distraction about politics (particularly local politics- I now know FAR too much about what is happening locally) and much more joyfully but addictively instagram also @fatblackcatspaw.  The problem is that you become a consumer of posts or reactive instead of standing in your playground playing. So as a huge enormous weight has shifted off me a few hours ago. Another annoying irritating local political shenneigans has finished its first consultation round. I’ve said my piece I can now think about other things.

I dyed these balls of yarn while I was ill in the last few weeks. They came to me via a craft group destash. Japanese yarn in slightly shaded green and pink and I over dyed them. I’m trying to wean myself off acrylic partly all the publicity about plastic me thinking about where our stuff goes and also the influence of two podcasters Knitbritish and Mrs M’s Curiosity Cabinet. 

The result has been that I’ve been making do and using up my stash. Not even buying from charity shops! I have had quite a few donations but even so I’m slowly making my way through it. I find that I have more than I thought in the under stair cupboard.

In other news the Fat Black Cat herself is sadly not so fat, has kidney disease and thyroid cancer so we sit together trying to give each other comfort. She may be furry but she holds my heart between her paws.


Daisy Carnegie the library cat of Central Library in the 1950’s

I am aware that I only come on the blog to bang on about a development in Edinburgh (full time work means my blogging time has decreased so I only come here when I’m  truly incensed). As it is I cannot make this demo due to feeling quite wabbit.

However read below why ….

Dear All,


Just in case you didn’t get the 38 degrees email today with details of the action this Thursday:


In response to the Council’s 2012 broken pledge and their decision to grant permission for this ‘hideous’ hotel, we are meeting this Thursday 24th Nov at 9am outside the City Chambers on the High Street to register our displeasure and disgust as Councillors and Council officials turn up for work.


Do please come along if you can and bring placards and banners.


We then intend to leaflet in Parliament Square to lobby the law profession for help in pursing a legal case.


Then in the evening we are having another public meeting to discuss further actions:


Venue: Grassmarket Community Project, 86 Candlemaker Row, Edinburgh EH1 2QA
Date: Thurs 24th November 7 ­- 9pm


For more details of the campaign see:

In between in the afternoon after we’ve leafleted we’ve been given an invitation to attend this free event which is hosted by our new web site helper Alex:

A reminder of the Council’s promise in 2012:

We… need to recognise that there has been a breakdown in trust between the residents of Edinburgh and their elected representatives on the Council. That relationship needs to be repaired… this new contract with the capital marks a fresh start, with a Council willing to listen to local people and work together with local communities… A council where co-operation, fairness, accountability and responsibility really matter. The City will be able to judge the Council against this promise.



Dear Supporters of the petition “No Confidence in the City of Edinburgh Planning Department”,

A final reminder of the emergency public meeting to discuss the matter of the India Buildings and its major impact on the City in the wider context of speculative ‘development’ putting the reputation of Edinburgh and her World Heritage status at serious risk:

Venue: Grassmarket Community Project – 86 Candlemaker Row, EH1 2QA

Date: Thusday 13th October 2016

Time: 7 – 9pm

Please come if you can to show support, learn more and contribute to the meeting, and do please share the “Let There Be Light” petition with others who may not yet have signed:

and the “No Confidence” petition:


Thank You for your continuing support.


Yours for the Love of Edina,


Simon Byrom
For those with time and inclination the latest details of this scandalous debacle are:
The local community consider the City of Edinburgh’s Council’s planning report to the Development Management Sub-Committee in relation to the proposed India Buildings hotel application to have been significantly flawed in:


  • withholding key information subsequently obtained through FOI requests which would have undoubtedly affected the outcome if the public had faith in the process
  • presenting insufficient, misleading and contradictory information
  • not adequately addressing the many issues of objection.


As a major development with considerable implications that will have, contrary to the view of the planning report, a massive impact on both the local community of the integrity of the Old Town Conservation Area and World Heritage Site, in which the local authority has a significant financial interest, this application deserves the highest scrutiny and certainly merits being of “national significance”.

A ‘conflict of interest’ clearly exists and furthermore disposal of significant public assets without any public consultation as to alternative options represents a failure of the Council to honour its coalition promise, having stated that

We… need to recognise that there has been a breakdown in trust between the residents of Edinburgh and their elected representatives on the Council. That relationship needs to be repaired… this new contract with the capital marks a fresh start, with a Council willing to listen to local people and work together with local communities… A council where co-operation, fairness, accountability and responsibility really matter. The City will be able to judge the Council against this promise

Given how sensitive and important the Old Town of Edinburgh is, this matter is of such importance it has the potential to irreparably damage the reputation of Edinburgh and cost the City its highest accolade, the World Heritage status.

Having betrayed Citizens and consistently broken election pledges, the integrity of the Council, and indeed other complicit public bodies such as Historic Environment Scotland and the Edinburgh World Heritage Trust, who contend that the proposals do not raise issues of national significance”, and thatthe overall impact of the development on the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the World Heritage Site remains broadly neutral”, is fundamentally in question.

The consistent favour shown to private speculative interests over the primary duty of care in acting solely in the public interest, as defined by the Committee on Standards in Public Life, represents an explicit dereliction of duty, revealing that crippling debt, precipitated by maladministration and the imposition of ‘austerity’, has rendered local government dysfunctional and disgraced.

In consideration of the finer details:

ICOMOS‐UK, the UN body tasked with overseeing the care of World Heritage, considered that the proposed India Buildings hotel is one of seven developments it hasserious concernsabout and concluded that:

…evidence of the potentially negative impacts of cumulative new developments is becoming increasingly apparent. Opinions seem to suggest that too few have reached a level of distinction appropriate for such a distinguished city, and even fewer have contributed in beneficial ways to enhancing the distinctiveness of the World Heritage site. Whilst no objective study exists of the impacts or likely impacts on Outstanding Universal Value, the widespread expressions of concern which have been made known to ICOMOS‐UK convince us that a serious investigation into the cause is merited.

UNESCO holds the government ultimately responsible for the care of World Heritage and warns there is an “ongoing threat” to Edinburgh’s world heritage status, stating:

Regrettably the current situation, including both approved and proposed developments, appears to have tipped the balance inappropriately, away from conservation, towards inappropriate development. There is therefore an urgent need to reconsider, revise and re-frame current approaches to development… so as to deliver greater focus on values, to incorporate appropriate expertise and to improve engagement with the community.”

The director of UNESCO World Heritage, Mechtild Rossler has recently stated:

I would like to express the World Heritage Centre’s strong concern about the state of urban conservation in Edinburgh. The quality and pervasiveness of development projects being pursued without due consideration for conservation is deeply worrying.”

After concerted lobbying local MP Tommy Sheppard has now expressed his own misgivings, listing three strong concerns, urging that planning consent be suspended pending a thorough reconsideration of the application:

1) The Planning Report included no mention of the then ongoing review of the listing of the Central Library. This concluded very shortly afterwards, resulting in the upgrading of the Central Library’s listing category from B to A, in recognition of its national importance as the finest example of a Carnegie endowed library in Scotland. Had the decision to upgrade to an A listing been made before the meeting of the Development Management Sub-Committee, it seems reasonable to assume that Historic Environment Scotland would not have withdrawn their note of concern in relation to the proposal. Given that the eventual vote was so close, at 8-6 in favour, the Development Management Sub-Committee may have reported a different view.

2) The proposed development to which consent has been given is for a 225 bedroom hotel, with a total floor area of 11,950 sq.m. for hotel use and 185 sq. m for ‘other uses’ while other uses restaurant/bar etc. This represents a 98.5% to 1.5% split and must therefore contravene the Local Development Plan requirement for developments to be mixed-use. It is in any event a massive development for the size of the site.

3) The City of Edinburgh Council carried out its own environmental impact assessment in relation to the development, which recommended the rejection of the planning application, citing, among other concerns, the environmental impact on the Cowgate, as it already has amongst the worst air quality levels in the City.

If planning consent were retracted such an action would then allow the community to pursue the alternative vision, as outlined in the “Let There Be Light” petition, of using the recently legislated Community Empowerment Act, thereby safeguarding the Central Library and honouring the aspirations and remarkable achievements of the Library’s benefactor Andrew Carnegie who, at the opening ceremony of the Library in 1890 stated his desire that the Central Library:

“grow in usefulness year after year, and prove one of the most potent agencies for the good of the people of Edinburgh for all time to come”.

Inspired by the writings of Robert Burns and the Scottish Enlightenment, the importance of Carnegie’s legacy cannot be underestimated having established some 3000 public libraries throughout the World, representing perhaps the greatest tangible legacy a Scot has ever made for the betterment of Humanity.

Therefore, the importance of the public land long set aside for the benefit of the Library, but now threatened by this incongruous and audacious speculation, can hardly be overstated, were it to be used to honour Carnegie’s aspirations and re-vision the relevance of the public library service, which has otherwise become such a tragic victim of the despicable imposition of ‘austerity’. Indeed a recent Guardian article claims that over 300 libraries have now closed across the UK since the chicanery of the global financial ‘crisis’:

Libararies, as physical storehouses of information, safeguarding and imparting knowledge and wisdom, are regarded as the greatest expressions of civilisation, and though some question their relevance in thisdigital age, if for some reason the digital infrastructure collapsed conventional libraries would be absolutely essential to the survival of humanity.

It is the opinion of the utterly offended and disregarded local community that should this hotel be built it would constitute one of the greatest cultural crimes ever sanctioned by the City of Edinburgh Council.
In this year of Scottish Architecture and Design, for those not yet convinced that this matter is a disgrace images of the proposed hotel can be viewed at: