Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Sunday in Edinburgh, Part 1

I'm going through one of those periods when I am intensely aware of the pleasures of living in Edinburgh. We've had a few weeks staying home, after a period of being busy or being away and we've had a wonderfully relaxed and self-indulgent time. Living in central Edinburgh, it's very easy to while away the hours just wandering around the city. All too easy really. On Sunday , C and I were full of good intentions to go and have a bracing walk in the country and try and shake off the winter lethargy - not to mention the winter flab (although in my case, the flab is much longer established than that!). What did we end up doing? A short walk to one of our favourite cafes for a lazy brunch while reading the paper, then a stroll across the city to the cinema for a double bill matinee! This was hedonistic, even by our standards. Blame it on Valentine's Day.

This is just a taste of some of the sights on our Sunday in Edinburgh.

An early (well earlyish) walk through the streets of Marchmont. A few people out walking dogs, or picking up ingredients for breakfast - and as it was Valentine's Day, one or two young men clutching red roses. Aw.

For those of you not familiar with Edinburgh, these 'tenements' are very typical of the inner suburbs of the city. Long sandstone terraces of buildings, each containing 8 or so self-contained flats sharing a stairwell, all built in monumental late Victorian style. We live in a block very similar to this. Tenements were first built much earlier in the city, in the old town - from 16th century I think. I always think this style of building, which Glasgow shares, has more in common with european cities than other British cities.

Walking down a back street we must have been on many times before, we suddenly noticed these graves behind iron railings. Turns out it's the historic Jewish cemetery. The land was bought for the burial ground in 1816 and it was in use until 1867, and, according to some of the sources I came across, the first dedicated Jewish cemetry in Scotland.

The cemetry is opposite Sciennes Hill House, which is apparently where the only meeting of poet Robbie Burns and novelist Sir Walter Scott took place, at a dinner party held by Enlightenment philospher Adam Ferguson. You can't move for history in Edinburgh!

On a less erudite note, this is the fantastic cafe Metropole. We've recently rediscovered it. It's one of those easy-going places where you can sit and relax, read, chat or work for as long as you like. The food, while nothing fancy, is homemade and good. I can personally vouch for the french toast with bacon and maple syrup!

This is the cafe noticeboard - which is always a mine of information about all things 'alternative' going on in Edinburgh.

After our hearty breakfast we headed up South Clerk Street, which is a really vibrant part of Edinburgh. A bit studenty, a bit arty, a bit 'ethnic' and even a bit chi-chi in parts. You can buy anything on South Clerk Street: fish, meat, fruit and veg, second hand records, bicycles, drums, hookas, artisan bread, ice cream, etc etc etc. And vintage clothes, from one of the branches of Armstrongs, who have Edinburgh's vintage clothing market pretty well sewn up (no pun intended).

Even after brunch, there's always room for chocolate:

(I love the fact that the woman in the shop just happened to be wearing a red jacket that complements the display of valentine's hearts!)

Phew. After brunch and chocolate shopping, what next in the list of self-indulgence?  It was time for a bit of arty cinema. A brisk walk across The Meadows (past a gang of teenagers rehearsing for some kind of performance/demonstration, singing a rowdy version of 'Footloose'! Honest!) to our favourite Edinburgh cinema, The Cameo.

One of Edinburgh's oldest cinemas, built in 1914 as the King's Cinema. A bit scruffy now, but with many of the original art deco features intact, including the main, large auditorium. It's programme is largely independent cinema, but not unremittingly highbrow. We went to see a Valentine's double bill of 'Before Sunrise' - set in my favourite city, Vienna, and the follow up, 'Before Sunset', set in Paris, which is pretty good as well I suppose. And as a bonus, turned out the second film had a happy ending.

I suppose you're expecting me to tell you that as a finale to our Valentine's Day, we spent the evening eating oysters and drinking champagne at a candlelit restaurant. But no. We went home and ate spaghetti bolognese infront of the tv.  Much more our style.


  1. Lovely Edinburgh walk...the tenements look grand

    I think a happy ending is rather nice

  2. Thanks for the tour Rosie - it was interesting to visit Edinburgh again!