As a frequent visitor to the Edinburgh Military Tattoo over the years, our family has got into something of a routine in planning our trips to this amazing spectacle, so when asked for some advice about where to park if coming to the tattoo from out of town, I realised that our experiences probably had enough ‘old timers’ knowledge in them to merit a little article on how we do it.
As soon as you arrive on holiday at Craigwell Cottage, Edinburgh you’ll see views towards Salisbury Crags from the living room window. Read more
January in Edinburgh is a month of long nights and short days, so if you’re thinking about a visit to Edinburgh for a weekend break, then you’ll probably be looking for activities to keep you cosy and out of the cold. Read more
A recent visit to the Edinburgh Room in the Central Library on George IV Bridge in Edinburgh led to a chance discovery of “Edinburgh Days – or Doing What I want to Do” by Sam Pickering. I’m often on the look-out for books which can be read in preparation for a visit to Edinburgh, or as a companion while staying in the city. Many visitors come here to visit as part of their studies – either for short courses, or like Mr Pickering, on a longer sabbatical to carry out research at the University of Edinburgh.
I’ve read this book over a couple of extended ‘sittings’ – or rather ‘lyings’ as I do like to read in bed.
Mr Pickering comes to Edinburgh alone, and at the beginning of a year, arriving in winter 2004 and staying until spring on a 4 1/2 month visit. His prose can seem melancholy, lonely and sad to start with, but warms considerably with the arrival of his daughter on a visit, and the coming of spring. He documents his stay with investigations of his own state of mind, and his writings made me think very much of the many visitors I’ve welcomed over the years whose travels are so wrapped up in their own attitude to travel and their willingness to adapt to local conditions and make the most of their time in a different city. A positive frame of mind would seem a necessity when embarking on a holiday, or one would at least expect to find that frame of mind while travelling and relaxing. Mr Pickering’s journey certainly tends to finding peace and contentment as his stay extends.
There were several quirks of his experiences which I really enjoyed. I liked the fact that he visited antique shops and poked around, getting to know the owners and selecting a single item from each which he chooses to covet – although it appears that he never really gets round to buying anything. I also liked the fact that, despite an extended stay, he chooses not to venture outside Edinburgh – and indeed rarely goes anywhere he cannot reach on foot. So, the extent of his wanderings is usually confined very much to the city centre, and a walk out to Balerno via the Water of Leith Walkway is his longest journey from the centre.
I wasn’t so sure about the stories of characters from his home town in Tennessee, or the snippets of information which he puts into the book about letters received from friends. The places where he mentions interaction with others in the faculty which he is visiting, or discussions with people he meets on his wanderings seemed much more vital and relevant.
However, my perception changed when I got to the end of the book and turned to the narrative on the dust-jacket tucked inside the cover. For there I discovered that Sam Pickering was the inspiration for Robin Williams’ character in the film Dead Poet’s Society , and suddenly I had found a reason to read this all over again. I hope that you will too, and find pleasure in accompanying Mr Pickering as he wanders the streets of Edinburgh, visiting mainstream and more obscure tourist attractions and bringing his literary knowledge to entertain.
Wandering around Edinburgh this morning reminded me of city walking in Rome – the sort where you move from shady spot to shady spot with frequent stops for coffees and ices.
As I’d arranged to visit a friend with an apartment near Nether Craigwell, I was strolling up the Canongate section of the Royal Mile when I spotted the sign for Dunbar’s Close and thought it would be a good time to go in and explore the shady spaces there. What a treat!
Several others had chosen to take a picnic lunch there, and I was wishing I’d done the same as it’s a real haven of peace among the city streets.
You can find Dunbar’s Close Garden by following the close off the Royal Mile next to the Christmas Shop and opposite the Canongate branch of Starbuck’s.
A friend has just emailed to say that his Daughter’s flat will be available for let for 4 weeks (weekly minimum) during August. If anyone’s still looking for accommodation, email me and I’ll pass on your details. Let will be £450 per week, flat near Ocean Terminal (Leith). Good transport links to city centre. Email joflat (at) 2edinburgh.co.uk
If you’re staying at Craigwell Cottage, you’ll have access to free wi-fi and many of our guests find it helpful for keeping up to date with their emails or booking tickets for events while they’re here.
If you’re an iPhone user, then there are some Edinburgh Apps which you might like to download ready for your visit.
Edinburgh Spotlight’s iEdinburgh app gives you an insider’s view on places to eat, current events and perennial favourites around Scotland’s capital city – you’ll even find a review of Craigwell Cottage in there.
The EdinBus app provides up to the minute information about bus timetables.
Getting last minute tickets at last year’s Edinburgh Festival and Fringe was made more exciting by the Theatre Ninjas app – great if you’re in town and want to take in a show.
And if you’re an Ian Rankin fan and would like to take narrated walks round the Edinburgh featured in his novels, then the Ian Rankin’s Edinburgh app is the one for you.
The Walking Through Time app developed as a joint project between Edinburgh College of Art, University of Edinburgh, and the National Library of Scotland overlays historic maps on present day ones so that you can see historic changes as you walk round the centre of Edinburgh.
Do you have a favourite app for your mobile phone which you’ve used when visiting Edinburgh? Leave me a comment and I’ll check it out.
I’m excited to see that the Granturismo Project being undertaken by Lara Dunston and Terry Carter will culminate in the two globe-trotting travel writers spending two weeks in Edinburgh in January 2011. They’ve chosen a great property in Edinburgh’s historic New Town to base their stay.
Over the course of the last year, it’s been entertaining to dip in and out of their posts to see what their latest adventure or discovery has been as they make their way slowly around the Globe, staying in vacation rental homes in each of their destinations. Self-catering holiday property stays are favoured by more and more travellers who like the options to eat out or eat in, get up late, or get up early – in short to enjoy freedom to relax and enjoy slowing down and remembering to savour cultural and local highlights wherever they choose to spend their precious days away from normal routine.
I look forward to seeing what culinary discoveries they make when exploring Edinburgh – they’ll be able to buy a great range of Scotland’s best produce at the weekly Edinburgh Farmers’ Market, and I’m sure they’ll be sampling haggis, whisky and shortbread. A personal favourite would also be a trip to Clark’s Fishmongers in Musselburgh. Where else in Edinburgh do you think we should recommend they visit to source local delicacies?
It’s still snowing outside as I write this post, but it’s been a lovely day with the schools closed because of the severe weather. However buses were running, so we got out and about and made a little video for you to wish you a Happy St Andrews Day and to say hello from Scotland for all the expats who pine for home on days like this. Come and visit soon – we know a lovely little cottage where you can stay right in the centre of the capital city.