Sunrise on Leith

Dawn beyond the apartment blocks and docks

I didn’t get around to posting this on the day we had a chance to be tourists around Edinburgh but I’m getting it out there now, for completeness. The title is a riff on that beautiful song by The Proclaimers, ‘Sunshine on Leith’ and the musical of the same name, which used many of their songs, and is a joy of a film.

20th September 2021

Having had about two hot baths in the aftermath of the race yesterday, I woke up early and my limbs felt nicely mobile, but, to be absolutely sure I had another quick one this morning. We got rid of ours at home when we renovated the ‘bath’room a few years ago. Ever since then, whenever we stay in a hotel, I feel I need to make up for lost hours, or something.

Anyway, it was lovely and restful, and I got out in time to see the sun coming up behind the flats on the water front.

I’m not normally up with the lark but I had almost fallen asleep at the restaurant table last night much to Anne’s amusement and we’d had to take the rest of the meal to go! So I was blissfully snoring away by about 8 in the evening.

Leith, or the part of it that we were in, has a lovely European vibe going on, especially when the sun is out, which it kindly was for us. There was water all around us with the small river, docks and canals. And the cafes and restaurants had a good footing on the pavements creating a convivial atmosphere along the streets.

A view from along the bridge

If we come back in a year or so’s time, the tram link will have been set up. Currently there are road works all over the place here as it gets laid. If a vocal minority of Leith had their way then it wouldn’t get built at all. They consider Leith to be a town in its own right and not just a ‘burb of Edinburgh, which is what inevitably happens to the satellites of main cities.

However the ease of getting in and out of the city will definitely make our life as tourists a lot easier. This morning though, after a fine breakfast in a local café, we walked, the fairly straight road into Edinburgh. It’s not really that long. You could speed walk it in under 40 minutes, but we leisurely ambled and later puffed up the last hill to the Palace.

We had tickets for a little tour around Holyrood, one time residence of the monarchs of Scotland, and still an occasional bolt hole for Queenie and her progeny. I’d never been inside it before so I was looking forward to seeing a bit of the history and be a voyeur on how the other 0.05% live.

The tickets included those handy little headsets to give you a guide to each section of the building and gardens. It is worth taking a couple of hours to stroll around the place if you like a bit of history. They ham up the murder of David Rizzio, the secretary of Mary Queen of Scots, by her husband, Lord Darnley, which happened near her rooms (you can still see the bloodstain on the floor!).

A 'blood stain' on the floor where David Rizzio was murdered.
How often does this stain need to be touched up?

Her own chambers, we found, were absolutely tiny, compared any of the other rooms in the palace. Mary is definitely the most intriguing past resident of the Palace and made me want to go away and read more about her life.

Because the day was so warm we were able to finish off the tour with a nice bit of coffee and cake sitting outside, at the Palace Cafe. I was definitely ready to put my feet up by then so we ordered an uber. We picked it outside the Scottish Parliament building which stands splendidly next to the Palace grounds. Apparently, there are guided tours here too so maybe one for us next time.

I managed to sit through the entirety of the evening meal this time, at a lovely restaurant called Fishers, handily a stone’s throw from the hotel. If you like seafood, which we very much do, I highly recommend it. The evening wrapped up a really enjoyable long weekend for us, and has me seriously contemplating doing the same again next year. Hmm, would be nice to try and improve on my time on the same course.

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