Shifting light, changing skies and sudden vistas

I was born in Edinburgh and although I haven’t actually lived there since 1998, still consider it my home town.  In reality, I am only a visitor these days, stopping off for a couple of days to see people and remind myself of Arthur’s Seat, the castle, Calton Hill and those unexpected views over the water to Fife.

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Edinburgh Castle

This time was no exception in terms of a brief and intense stop, but it was lovely to see my brother, nephew and partner and their gorgeous 5 year old son and lots of old friends.  I grew up in Leith, and it was there we headed on Monday after our two days in Glasgow, to have lunch with a friend from Edinburgh University days at the Roseleaf Bar and Cafe on Sandport Place (couldn’t find it as the area had changed so much!).  I had a really nice spicy prawn dish, served with flat bread, and a glass of rather good viognier.

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Lunch in Leith

After lunch, we took a walk around Leith, spotting things that had remained the same and things that had changed. Historic landmarks such as South Leith Parish Church and the statue of Queen Victoria at the foot of Leith Walk remain, but Leith has changed a lot since the days when I was a child.

imageThe abandoned St James Episcopal church where I was christened

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My old primary school in the distance (still a primary school)

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My old secondary school (now flats!)

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The Water of Leith

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The King’s Wark Pub built in 1432

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Me outside the flat (or ‘stair’ as they are called in Edinburgh) where I grew up

That evening, Iceland beat England 2:1 in the European Cup (football or soccer if you must), and we toasted the excellent victory with an Icelandic friend, sitting in a pub down in the Grassmarket, home to many a watering hole.

The following day, we met the few members of my family who actually live in Edinburgh at the National Museum of Scotland on Chambers Street.  This institution has always been part of my life, and although the comparatively recent renovations have meant a loss of the goldfish ponds in the entrance I remember from my childhood, the building itself looks clean and fresh and the exhibits inviting.

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The museum entrance

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The ceiling

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An interesting rock

Dinner that night was a delightful catch up with old school friends at The Scran and Scallie. An excellent fish pie was preceeded by a consommé with lobster ravioli, and accompanied with good wine and good conversation.

And that was the end of our trip.  The next day was spent doing some final shopping before heading back to Glasgow Airport to catch a flight first to Dubai, then to Sydney and finally back to Wellington – 24 hours of flying time to be precise.  So here we are, looking out at a sunny Wellington, catching up on laundry and blogs (and my husband on Game of Thrones), and getting over the jetlag bit by bit.  It was a lovely if tiring trip, with a few days of summer, lots of talking, eating, drinking and shopping and catching up with friends and family.  I’m still reflecting on the trip and my thoughts and feelings, and no doubt will do for the next few days to come.  It was a great trip, but nice to be home in New Zealand.

Title of the blog is taken from Alexander McColl Smith: “This is a city of shifting light, of changing skies, of sudden vistas. A city so beautiful it breaks the heart again and again.”  The passage was originally written by the author, as part of a campaign to promote the capital, the world’s first Unesco City of Literature.

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