Love Letter

The gorse in flower, in November, Calton Hill, Edinburgh

Despite the year creeping towards the darkness of Winter, there were still bright yellow  flowers on the gorse on one of Edinburgh’s  ‘seven hills’ (this number, seeking to align Edinburgh with other luminous cities like Lisbon and Rome, is highly debatable). I love the heady, coconut smell of gorse flower – although it was a little more demure when I saw it, not quite the full blown experience of summer.

From the summit of Calton Hill; Arthur's seat, Salisbury crags (the long diagonal cliffs) and at their feet the Scottish Parliament (among other structures)

I went wandering with some friends who were up for a visit, and once again found myself gifted with a second sight of the city I now live in.  Too easy it is to stay indoors immersed in other worlds and to forget how inspiring this place can be. Part of the beauty of this city is in the elegant mix of architectures, from the hobbledy-cobbledy of the Old Town (mostly from the 1500s and onwards) to the Georgian New Town, and the quirks of the contemporary – turfed roofs, new materials, slightly disconcerting angles. But another part stems from the atmosphere – at once cold and distant and sometimes sinister…

Like this shot of 'Edinburgh's Folly', a never completed monument (Calton Hill again)

But capable too of being graceful, hazy…

Looking down towards Princes St from Calton Hill

That picture of Princes St shows the Ferris wheel, up for Christmas. It’s gaudy with lights in the mid afternoon dark, and the German market at its foot will soon open, soon thrum with shoppers picking over overpriced wooden toys and gingerbread shapes and hats with cat ears and so forth, but I love it all the same.

I hope this hasn’t been too wandering a post. While I wait for more news of Kilea, I try to locate myself in a sense of place, to prevent the mind whirring off in strange unfruitful directions.  In fact, I feel I’m having to re-learn this city season by season, having been away so long.  An almost love letter, trying to create love in itself.  If I make some of you want to visit Edinburgh, all the better…




Filed under Edinburgh, Scotland, The Now

9 responses to “Love Letter

  1. Your photos and descriptions of home are magical to me. In my town, everything is new and flat and covered with fine grit. Except the Strip, which is dirty in an entirely different way. I love hearing about other parts of the world, and imagining myself there. (I also imagine your accent as I read, which adds to the experience.)

  2. The pictures and the words are lovely and haunting. Thank you for taking us through your wandering mind.

    • Thank you Lyra! If you ever want to pay a visit to Scotland, let me know. I can rave about my favourite places all day (and often do)

      • Oh dear Helen, I hope to take you up on that one day.
        When my husband was getting his masters, he and his ex-wife went to Ireland and England. In my head, I think I ruled those places out, not ever wanted to revisit someone elses’s memories.
        As I look at these photos of yours, I feel a sense of home, the crags, the green, the old stone buildings, the haunting beauty layered upon itself.
        Two things occured to me about this. Scotland could be my place and I have Scottish ancestry…
        Save a spot at your table. We’ll bring the wine…

      • Please do try to visit some day! Scotland is so different to Ireland in terms of the landscape and history – and has not a lot geologically in kind with the South of England (more so with the craggy North).

        I would gladly put on a spread for you and your husband. I know how to make cranachan (one secret to making tourists fall in love with Scotland forever). Let me know, and I’ll get the cream and raspberries stocked up (this goes for other like-minded commenters if you are planning to head this way)

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