It’s another day drawing to a close - and I literally feel like I’ve just come in from an eight-hour aerobic work-out, what with all the climbing, walking, paddling, swimming and dashing (to avoid rain). Despite the bleak forecast for torrential downpours (what do you expect, it’s the UK), off we trooped to the Scott Monument, umbrella and raincoat in hand, refusing to let the rain dampen our spirits (please excuse the pun). And the view from the top was beyond the ‘breathtaking’ expected - a 360 panaroma encompassing the city, the highlands and the North Sea beyond. As well as being a brilliant viewing platform at 200 ft tall, it’s a beautiful piece of Victorian Gothic architecture in itself (described by Bill Bryson as a ‘gothic rocket ship’) and shrouded in history too - it was in fact built to commemorate writer Sir Walter Scott following his death in 1832. Receipt of a certificate to commemorate the climb + the emergence of (albeit watery) sunshine was a pretty sweet bonus (on top of the smug satisfaction) when we got to the top. Ahhh bliss.
We’ve spent much of the day discovering the nooks and crannies of the city - roaming the shopping quarters, marvelling at boutique cup-cake shops, walking the Royal mile, admiring numerous twee cathedrals and somewhere in between all that, squeeezing in lots of summer sales and a visit to the small coastal resort of Portobello. Wow, busy day indeed. Portobello, I think, is as quiet and as secluded as a coastal dwelling can be. Though it boasts an enviable promenade fronting onto a wide sand beach, it was all but deserted on what became (at that point at least) quite a sunny day. Sitting in the sand, watching the waves as you breath in the fresh sea air really makes you feel like you've never breathed 'clean' air before (city dwellers ey?!). The city just smells of the salty sea, the constant screech of seagulls a further reminder. Walking through Edinburgh it’s not hard to see that it’s steeped in history and tradition - the castle dominates the skyline (more on that tomorrow), you're almost always within earshot of bagpipes and Haggis really is readily available at most street cafes. It’s quite distinctly British yet so definitively distinguished from anything English. The biggest difference though, as mum puts it, has to be the language - “Sim, they’re speaking Scottish, I don’t understand!”. LOL. Oh dear mum.