A weekend around Edinburgh14th January 2014
The past weekend got spent around Edinburgh and spots from my time at university there got frequented. On Saturday, my perambulations were blessed by blue skies and sunshine as I strolled around the city’s Old Town and New Town areas when on my way to Holyrood Park. There might have been cross-country running going on there but it was easy to leave that after me to spontaneously head south to Duddingston and Craigmillar Castle. For all the lack of planning, neither of these disappointed me though it was late in the day when I made a photo of the classic western profile of Craigmillar Castle.
That there remain so many sights around Edinburgh that I left unexplored while I lived there sometimes makes me wonder what I was doing while I lived there. There was more than four years, so that should have meant that not very much was left unencountered. However, it only was after I moved to England to start a career that I got to savour the likes of the Pentland Hills, the Water of Leith, Dean Village, Leith’s Waterfront and Cramond. Was it a certain lack of curiosity that limited my horizons back then?
A developing interest in computers and the time that took certainly has been one thing that I blame as well as the need to find my own way through life. On Sunday, I found another culprit under skies that remained largely cloudy: Edinburgh’s world-famous city centre. Even in Princes Street Gardens, it was possible to allow a slip into reverie and recollection without very much in the way of disturbance. The same could be said of a stroll around Grassmarket and Dean Village as it could for dawdling in the West End branch of Waterstones surveying books in the Scottish Interest section or sampling a coffee and a croissant with copies of a few books with me.
Another suspect might have been my travelling around by bicycle. Just walking means that there is no need to find a parking place for one or get stopped from leaving it in a location such as the front of the Balmoral Hotel as happened once. It was the lessened practicality of a bike for exploring hill country that caused me to turn to walking in the first place. When I went further afield to see other parts of Scotland, the bike had to stay at home, so walking more than did and there was a certain lack of planning to these ventures. It was as if they were learning ventures and that I need a few visits before I get to make the most of anywhere.
Now that walking retains its appeal for me, books like Kellan MacInnes’ Caleb’s List and Rab Anderson’s guide to the Pentland Hills, published by Mica, hopefully will see some use in the future. Not only do I hope that they will bring back to Scotland again but I am left thinking about returning to Edinburgh more often too. Even in January, it retains its allure and is without the crowds that frequent it during the summer too. Sunday stayed bright and offered more than could be expected from the forecast. If cloud had broken in the right part of the sky for long enough, it would have felt even more special: a day of superb weather when the forecast didn’t predict one.
Returning to Kellan MacInnes’ Caleb’s List, there was but one occasion when the Scottish hill country got visited during 2013. With all else that happened, it was more than could be expected and allowed a period of calm in a period of ferment. That was a visit to Glen Coe and Loch Shiel, but there are opportunities around Stirling and Peebles too. As odd as it may sound, a sort of hill wandering trip could feature Edinburgh too. Between the Southern Highlands, the Ochil Hills and the Pentland Hills, there should be enough excuses for short getaways.
Before I leave this piece, there are more reasons why some parts of Edinburgh needed me to leave to see them. On initial appearances, it is tempting to blame getting too comfortable in one’s neighbourhood and home. Having open spaces such as Bruntsfield Links and the Meadows nearby, it can feel that there is no need to go further afield whenever the sun appears. Then, there are films and shows to be seen along with museums and other attractions to visit. Edinburgh’s festivals have been the cause of my seeing the Tattoo on a weekday night and a Bertoldt Brecht satire (Mr. Puntilla and his Man Matti) in the Traverse Theatre so it is easy to see how a city can distract anyone. It can be said that there is much to see and much for which to return. Maybe that can keep me coming back again and again.
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