Sunshine to storms …



I WAS fooled by a blue sky today.

When I woke there wasn’t a cloud in the expanse of perfect blue that stretched from horizon to horizon so I grabbed my camera, piled on the warm clothes, and headed out to explore Edinburgh.

I had a plan to walk from my hotel just below Calton Hill to the end of George Street, where I would take a detour to visit the elegant Georgian terrace houses on the other side of Queen Street Gardens, before strolling home along Princes Street in the shadows of Edinburgh Castle.

The sun was in the perfect place to take photos of the beautiful sandstone buildings that line the streets of the New Town, and I knew I would find a quiet cafe on one of the neighbourhood’s streets to have lunch and warm up when I got too cold.

So I set off, camera batteries charged, for one of those lovely walks where you just follow your nose and see some treasures not mentioned in the guidebooks.

The New Town, which was established in the 18th century, was built when a plague killed 22,000 of Edinburgh’s 38,000 residents in one year during the middle of the 1600s.

Those who ruled the city decided that something needed to be done about the Old Town, where healthy living was not a big thing, and the New Town was built a few decades later.

While the Old Town, which is perched on the narrow ridge of an ancient lava flow, is a jumble of streets, with narrow lanes and paths leading down each slope from the Royal Mile, the New Town is a grid of organised avenues.

By the way, if you look at the Old Town from above it looks like a fish – Edinburgh Castle is the tail, the Queen’s official Scottish abode the Palace of Holyroodhouse is the head, the Royal Mile is the spine, and the little alleys are the bones.

I found a cafe near the end of George Street, where I enjoyed a bowl of soup and a lovely crusty bread roll, but when I returned to the footpath I found a spanner had been thrown in my fabulous plan.

When I turned the bend to head towards the Queen Street Gardens a ominous black sky was rolling towards me.


Change of plan, and instead of tuning right I went left back to Princes Street and the protecting of the shop awnings that covered the footpath and would provide some cover when the clouds burst.

Needless to say I got very wet, but managed to snap a few pictures when the sky turned black over Edinburgh Castle.

And all wasn’t lost, I ducked into the shops during some particularly heavy showers and found a jacket that would go perfectly with my going-out jeans, some new PJs at Gap, and a pair of red wool knee-high socks which the local blokes wear with their kilts.

Visit the Edinburgh website

This story originally appeared on my travel blog …this is Wanderbliss in February 2011


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