City break

Edinburgh Castle, from Prince’s Street

We’ve just returned from a mini-break in The Athens of the North, also known as Edinburgh! This second visit gave us a little more time to not just revisit what we enjoyed before but to seek out some more delights — Holyrood House, Arthur’s Seat and the Botanical Gardens, for example.

As is our wont we walked everywhere, all the better to see the architectural highlights and quirks of the city’s built environment.

Literature wasn’t neglected either. I began racing (well, probably strolling leisurely) through Alexander McCall Smith’s 44 Scotland Street, a title I’ve had on my radar for a while thinking this would be an ideal occasion to get stuck into it, seeing as it’s set here. What an unexpected surprise then to see that Scotland Street actually exists! No Number 44, however… More on this later.

I also devoured a mini-collection of short stories by Diana Wynne Jones called Stopping for a Spell, an apposite title for the witching month of October. More too on this for another post.

And I polished off and posted a review of Nina Bawden’s The Witch’s Daughter, as you will have seen, which because set in Scotland (on the east coast, though, not the west) was an apt choice too for reasons both seasonal and sojourn-related.

A handful of photos follows, for no reason other than to extend this post a little longer while I prepare something more substantial for the next post!

Alexander McCall Smith, Scottish National Portrait Gallery
East side of Scotland Street, New Town, Edinburgh

Can you guess which former Edinburgh resident’s novels this bookshop display is referencing?

Waterstone’s, Edinburgh

22 thoughts on “City break

  1. I’m not a fan of McCall Smith’s Edinburgh books but I love all his Botswana books. Nothing against Edinburgh – it’s a great place. I was born in Musselburgh but do not often visit there.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. As this is my first McCall Smith (drawing a veil over Portuguese Irregular Verbs which challenged my patience) I’ll reserve judgement till I’ve sampled more of his stuff! As for Musselburgh, the closest I’ve got is when passing rapidly through the railway station en route to York…

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Though I’m not teetotal I prefer to absorb the spirit of the place rather than sup the, um, spirit of the place, but if you’ve going to savour whisky this is certainly the country to do it in. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

        1. Methinks you do protest too much, Colin, in my book a philistine doesn’t write as literately as you do, let alone love people and places while revelling in what you perceptively call quirky nonsense: if that was otherwise I’d have to admit to philistine leanings too. But whisky? Well, nobody’s perfect… 😁

          Liked by 1 person

  2. Unllike Stillwalks, I’ve enjoyed the 44 Scotland Street series. Great characters, and poor Bertie! But very soap-opera-ish. I’m curious to read your review. As for your quiz question: JKR, of course.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Alyson Woodhouse

    I’m glad you enjoyed Edinburgh. I’m fortunate enough to live between there and Glasgow, so can go to either on the train any time I like. I’ve only read one of the Scotland Street novels, and never felt especially compelled to read another, but I hope you got something from it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We had a good old wander through Broughton to the Botanics and then down through Stockbridge and Dean Gardens, so got more of a sense of this part of the town than from our last visit, making this Scotland Street opener more vivid than would have been the case! I’m still enjoying it though, haven’t completed it yet.

      As for Glasgow, the last and so far only time I was there was nearly half a century ago, so it would be lovely to see the changes!


  4. Well, I didn’t get JKR – I was busily trying to get Scott or Stevenson to fit or even Muriel Spark. My excuse is that I think of JKR as English… you have to live in Scotland for at least eight generations to properly count as Scottish… 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sorry to muddy waters, FF! I did try to distinguish between a native Edimburgenzian — is that the correct term? — and a temporary resident (‘toonie’?) such as Rowling, who’s lived in the Forest of Dean, went to school just outside Bristol and now resides who knows where. I’m a resident of Wales, for sure, but can in no sense be accounted Welsh or properly Cymreig!

      Liked by 1 person

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