So after a quick break for some Thanksgiving turkey and spot of armchair activism for Save the Children, I’m back to writing my Edinburgh Guide. Don’t get too excited! Today you get the entries from O-R (a mere 1200 words…), and I’m hoping to do the last two entries later this week. Thanks for sticking with me through this…
Old Odeon. The Odeon cinema on Clerk Street was very conveniently positioned. As a first year student, with lectures finishing in George Square at 2pm and dinner not starting at Pollock until 5pm, the temptation of a cheap mid-afternoon ticket for the flicks almost always proved too much. At least a couple of times a week I would pop in ‘on my way home’. By the end of the year, my walls were covered with bright green ticket stubs. I saw Monsters Inc there. I also saw Hannibal, Y Tu Mama Tambien, Monsoon Wedding, American Pie 2… I wasn’t fussy. I just loved the feel of the place. I loved the beautiful art deco building, the deep blue carpets, the almost-empty screens… Most of all I loved Odeon lady. Odeon lady was an older woman, tall with white hair, very glamorous, immaculate eye-make up, and a big bright, friendly smile for every person whose ticket she ripped. A friend reliably informs me that her name is Sandra. Well, Sandra, I don’t think I’ve ever exchanged more than a couple of dozen words with you, but you remain one of the nicest and most cheerful people I met in my time at Edinburgh. Thank you.
Papilio. This is another of those wee restaurants that you tell people about and they say, vaguely, ‘Oh yeah… I think I’ve seen it, but I’ve never been.’ If you’re one of those people, then you should give it a whirl. It’s a simple Italian eatery in Bruntsfield; nothing too swish, just really tasty, reasonably priced dishes and the loveliest waiting staff in the whole city. When DorkyDad and I first started seeing each other and we wanted to go out but we couldn’t decide where to go, this is where we’d head, and we were never disappointed. More recently, it’s where we started to go for birthday lunches, because they never minded DorkySon singing and driving his toy cars all over their tablecloths. It’s perhaps just as well we won’t be back there for a while, because on our last lunch he snatched a shot of Limoncello off the table and tried to down it… Probably not the best drink for a two year old.
Pascal. I have to be honest. I always thought acupuncture was hippy bullshit. But then I got pregnant. And I got morning sickness. I really, really got morning sickness. After twelve weeks of constant throwing up – when travel bands, ginger, and every old wives remedy I could find online had failed – I made an appointment to see Pascal. ‘It’ll work,’ said the friend that recommended him. ‘And even if it doesn’t, it wont do you any harm to lie down for an hour while a Frenchman says nice comforting things’. It worked. I left my first appointment, having eaten nothing but baked tatties and Haribo for three months, and went right across the road to a Mexican restaurant for a plate of burritos. That was the end of my morning sickness, just like that. When I was struggling with PND I went back and saw him again. And it worked again. I’ve turned into one of those annoying converts. Don’t tell me you’ve got a headache, or a pulled muscle, or something in your life that you’re stressed about, because I’ll try and send you to Pascal. Because it works.
Piercings. I blogged about one of the Royal Mile’s big characters – Lewis – a few weeks ago. The other local celebrity you should keep an eye out for if you’re wandering that way is Elaine Davidson, the most pierced woman in the world. At the last count, she had 6,925 piercings. Fortunately I’ve only ever taken a photo of the ones on her face…
Poets and Painters. I am neither a poet nor a painter, but I’ve been lucky enough to have artistic friends and family who have let me linger on the edges of both communities in Edinburgh. Through my Mum, whose painting is above, I have met incredibly talented people like Christine Clark and Imogen Alabaster, whose paintings I had previously lusted after when I saw them at the ECA degree show. And through DorkyDad I have met a wonderful community of poets – Jenny Lindsay, Sophia, Bram Gieben, Kevin Cadwallender – who make the city a more sparkling place with their wit, wisdom and words.
Pollock Halls. Ahh, Pollock, sweet Pollock. Where you open the door to the communal shower in the morning and find that you can’t get in because someone has stuffed a mattress in it overnight. Where you become obsessed with trying to beat the system and fit more than your 6 points worth of food on your tray. Where you become intimately acquainted with the sound of your next-door neighbour’s alarm clock, bleeping at you through the wall. I loved Pollock Halls. I loved the squirrels, the sound of the milk-cart clanking over the speed bump right outside my window, and the pride that came from being among the last students to ever stay in Brewster House. Shortly after we left for the summer holidays, poor old Brewster got bulldozed to make way for Chancellors’ Court. We didn’t mind. We kinda liked being seen as the Pollock ghetto. We had old fashioned, individual smoke detectors in each room, instead of new-fangled connected ones, so we avoided the numerous 3am evacuations that the other houses had when someone burned their toast in the kitchen. And while the new kids were getting en suite bathrooms and double beds, they couldn’t stick posters all over their walls like we could. Ha! Take that, posh Pollockites!
Portobello.DorkySon refers to this as ‘Granny’s Beach’ and the sea as ‘Granny’s Ocean’. I’d been to Porty once or twice when I was a student, but it was only after my Mum moved there a couple of years ago that I started to go more often. I love walking along the prom – it feels like stepping back in time, with the Wimpy burgers, the ice cream vendors and the amusement arcade. It seems like a brilliant community too. As well as the Big Things on the Beach initiative to encourage public art in the town, Porty residents are currently involved in trying to secure £80,000 for the UK’s first community owned urban wind turbine. If you haven’t voted for them yet, you can do that here.
Quiet. One of the nice things about Edinburgh is that it’s always easy to find somewhere quiet. Even in the middle of the Festival, if you’re in the thick of it on the Royal Mile, you can nip down one of the narrow closes and within thirty seconds you’ve escaped it all. Some of my favourite quiet places in Edinburgh, that I haven’t mentioned elsewhere in the A-Z, are the Botanic Gardens, Greyfriars Churchyard, Canongate Churchyard, Calton Hill, Holyrood Park, and the grounds of the Gallery of Modern Art. I don’t doubt that there are literally hundreds of others.
Roller Derby. We only found out about the Auld Reekie Roller Girls a few weeks before we left Edinburgh, and I’m not sure who was more disappointed that we couldn’t make one of their matches – DorkyDad or me. We’ll definitely be trying to co-ordinate one of our visits back to the city with one of their future matches. Mairi Campbell-Jack did a guest post for me about them here, accompanied by some brilliant photos by Dan Phillips.