My ‘short and sweet’ series is for posts that I reel off, from my fingers to my screen, in record time. Little thoughts, memories, snapshots of my Scottish existence. Here is today’s entry.
Lately I’ve been suffering from severely itchy feet. Metaphorically not literally, of course. With colleagues making the most of the off-season’s budget flights, I’ve suddenly come to the realisation that as great as saving is, it’s not conducive to a spontaneous, outward existence. Gosh, we’ve been saving so long we haven’t properly holidayed abroad in several years (and we earn decent salaries. Spare a thought for those who aren’t as fortunate).
And so it was that, for the past few weeks, I’ve found myself a little bit bored of Edinburgh.
Well, not just Edinburgh… My whole routine. The weekday nine-to-five (that mundane existence that yes, ‘makes a living’ but moves entirely retrograde to creativity and impulsiveness). The domestic chores of dinner-making and cleaning (oh how I hate them). And the same old sights: the castle’s crag and Calton Hill the backdrop to the Saturday shopping drudge along Princes Street, shoulder to shoulder with the tourists.
That feeling continued this morning as I wandered into the city centre for coffee with a friend.
Towards the Balmoral’s clock tower, across the Mound and up the Royal Mile, dotted with black berets… I’d forgotten that today was the Six Nation’s Scotland versus France game and so the city — both the Old and New Towns — were crammed full of French visitors. As I watched them, waiting in a cluster for their tour guide, peering into tartan-clad tourist shops, or just gazing at the medieval architecture, I remembered, quite simply and suddenly, that I was (I am!) living in a city which people from around the world scrape pennies together to come and visit. And all this — the castle, the crags, the cityscape itself — all of it was just on my doorstep.
I opened the door to the café on Victoria Street, where sightseers and Harry Potter fans crossed paths.
Here I was, quite unremarkably, out and about in Edinburgh for coffee and cake with a friend. The simplest thing; not even worth writing home about. But — as we drank tea and ate financiers, listening to French voices on the table adjacent — I continued to look around like it was me that was seeing the city with fresh eyes. Outside the café we continued up to Greyfriars Kirkyard, down to the Meadows and looped back towards the West End where Edinburgh Castle glinted gold in the afternoon sunshine. And blink… It turns out even the ordinary can be captivating if you demist your vision.