So yesterday I posted the first installment of my guide to Edinburgh, covering A-C, along with an explanation of why I’m doing it. Today I’m posting Part 2, letters D-G. Again, if you want to post any thoughts and suggestions, along with your own favourite things about the city, you’re very welcome to do that in the comments below.
Dominion Cinema. If you live in Edinburgh and you’ve never been to the Dominion, you’re missing out on a real hidden treasure. I imagine this is how all cinemas used to be, and after you’ve been, even once, it becomes impossible to return to the soulless seats of the out-of-town multiplexes. Tucked away on Newbattle Terrace in Morningside, and still family-run, the entrance of the Dominion is crammed with photos of the smiling owners, standing beside numerous famous actors – from Sean Connery to Sigourney Weaver. Inside, it’s all leather seats, gin and tonics, and a sparkling, starry night embedded in the ceiling. When the cinema itself is this good, the quality of the film you’re watching seems a lot less important.
Eddie’s. On our last night in Edinburgh, we had dinner at Fishers in Leith. Our waiter was called Eddie. “But,” he said. “I’m not THE Fish Eddie. There’s only one Fish Eddie in Edinburgh.” He meant Eddie of Eddie’s Fish Market, on Roseneath Place. A true legend. The best fishmonger, not just in Edinburgh, but in Scotland. Fresh langoustines, beautiful white crab meat, scallops, mussels, lobster, sole, and one time, an entire swordfish, caught off-course in the Firth of Forth. Eddie and his family became good friends of ours over the last few years, and leaving them behind has left a hole in our hearts (and our diets) that the weekly fish van from Grimsby can’t quite fill.
Forest Café. I’ve blogged about the Forest Café before – unfortunately it isn’t open at the moment due to ridiculous wrangles with the landlord. But for some hippy love, good hummus, and a brilliant example of what dedicated volunteers can achieve, the Forest couldn’t be beaten. Keep an eye on their campaigning and fundraising efforts here, and keep your fingers crossed that they’ll be open again soon. The Edinburgh arts scene desperately needs it.
Fringe. It’s November, and I’m still recovering from last summer’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe. There is nothing like it. If you were beamed down from space and landed in Edinburgh in the middle of August, you’d hop right back in your spaceship to escape all the weirdos wandering around. Even now – with all the money, the promoters, the dominance of the big venues and the sponsorship deals – if you look hard enough you can find innovative, exciting, new performances that retain the essence of the earliest Fringes. It is magical. There is nothing like it in the world.
George Square Labyrinth. I have done many things in George Square. Eaten my lunch, as a student. Drunk too much in the Spiegeltent, as a festival reveller. Sat through an hour of Kevin Cruise as a reviewer (surprisingly good, actually). The best thing I’ve done there – by a long way – was having DorkySon christened in the George Square labyrinth. It is a beautiful space, and we spent the day surrounded by beautiful people. The sound of jazz musicians practicing in the venue next door only added to the joy. If you find yourself in central Edinburgh and need a five-minute time out from your life – or indeed an hour of deep reflection – this is the place to do it.
Ghost Signs. Edinburgh is full of these – old signs, from old shops, that have worn off but remain so ingrained into the stonework that parts are still visible. Apothecaries, hosiery and chimney sweeps all feature heavily. Isn’t that Edinburgh in a nutshell?
Greenfield Suite. I don’t think this even exists anymore. It was a computer lab in the corner of George Square, which was open all night. There used to be a mass exodus every night at about 9.45pm from Edinburgh University Library across to the GFS. There was always a strange sense of camaraderie among those of us who braved the fluorescent lights and the resident mice to make our essay deadlines. It was perfectly placed – five minutes from Favorit, which served strong black coffee until 3am, five minutes from Tesco, where you could stock up on reduced price sandwiches and Haribo, and five minutes from the Meadows where you could go and sit on a bench for a breath of fresh air and a fag. I sat and wrote my entire honours dissertation there, in 5 days, without sleep. Like every other student I met in the four years I frequented the Greenfield Suite, I ended up with a 2.1.
Guerilla Knitters. I don’t know much about the folk that spend their spare time knitting woolly jumpers for the signposts and street lamps of Edinburgh, but they always make me smile.
Image Credit: The photo of George Square Labyrinth was taken by the lovely Margaret Clift McNulty from Cocoa Rose Photography.