We had a week off and went to Edinburgh! That wasn't all we did—we were only actually in Edinburgh itself for a couple of days—but it was the thing that dominated in "stuff we did" stakes for the week to such an extent that it's probably all I've got to talk about.
My maternal grandfather, Arthur, is from Edinburgh. He grew up there, the son of a greengrocer, went to university there, then ended up being sent down south for his National Service, where he met my grandmother and ended up staying. I've never been, so I thought I should really go and see what it's like.
The days we were there it was mostly quite sunny—a state of affairs I'm given to understand is not normal—but it probably did add to how taken we were with the place. It was beautiful in the sun.
The Royal Mile might be full of tourist tat shops, but the closes leading off it were certainly something. The hilliness of the city means you have excllent sight-lines, so you could look through as though they were advent calendar windows openings. You're walking down the street, look to your left and all of a sudden—oh! there's the Scott monument.
On the advice of a local we didn't go into the castle, content with the view from its peak, but we did go into St Giles' Cathedral, a beautiful space with many fascinating historical figures buried there, a very impressive pipe organ and some cracking stained glass windows:
The Georgian townhouses and tenement buildings are splendid. One of my friends joked that the core belief of UK YIMBYism is just "liking sandstone townhouses" and I guess I've gotta own up to that: it's me, I love the sandstone townhouses. CM made fun of how much time I spent wandering around saying: man, I love these buildings.
The food was wonderful, particularly Nova Pizza, a vegan Italian restaurant. Seriously: I wanted to eat every item on that menu.
We also for some Fancy Whisky at a Fancy Whisky Place that was just down the street from our hotel. My palate is, generously, unrefined, but I could definitely taste that this was something special—even if the tasting notes did seem like absolute bobbins.
The Scottish Parliament was a revelation. It's deeply frustrating that Westminster continues in its absolutely archaic building–one which you read every few months is falling to bits—and the antique processes that persist with it, when you could have something that feels this welcoming, this inclusive, this modern.
The National Museum of Scotland was a genuinely excellent One Of Those museums: interesting, extremely heterogenous material presented in an engaging manner. There was a great deal of Scottish history, what felt like mini science and natural history museums, a section about ceramics, which is apparently mandatory for all museums of this kind. We didn't even see a tenth of what was in there, confining ourselves largely to the terrace and upper floors, but we'll definitely return on our next visit.
We spotted three shops advertising Princess Diana tartan. One of them had shut down, though, so it probably wasn't the sales winner they were hoping for.
We saw a weird little repurposed telephone booth which you had to go into a fancy menswear shop to get a key to unlock, and which I think we both assumed was some kind of mini-escape room but which, googling around, is mostly just a selfie-dress-up opportunity with a charity donation attached. It led us to pop into said menswear shop and buy some delightful but very pricey menswear. I guess it worked as a sales ploy as well.
We saw Greyfriars Bobby and rubbed his little nose. People leave sticks for him at his actual grave, which is incredibly sweet
I can't think of anywhere else I've visited that's induced such a strong desire to return. If I didn't love Brighton so much I'd consider moving to Edinburgh, that's how lovely it is. We'll be going back, and soon.