Posted by: christinelaennec | August 26, 2012

A Day in Edinburgh, August 2012

Last week I ventured out to Edinburgh for the day to visit Our Son.  The Dafter had been very low the day before and it was with a heavy heart that I boarded the train.  But there is always something a bit exciting about getting on the London train:

On the left is the 7:28 train to London, King’s Cross, about to leave Aberdeen.

A man on the train was complaining that he had never experienced fog for two days nonstop, and those of us who have lived in Aberdeen for some time merely smiled at one another in a knowing way.

I was interested to hear a woman on her mobile phone to her secretary say, as we crossed the Tay Rail Bridge:  “Oh we’re crossed the Tay Rail Bridge, I always hate going across here.”  I wondered if it was because she thought of the Tay Bridge Disaster in the 19th century, or if she just doesn’t like going over a long bridge in the train?  The view is very lovely, though:

From the Tay Rail Bridge, looking down the forth of Tay. You can see the bridge between Newport-on-Tay (on the right) and Dundee (to the left of the photo). Beyond that is the North Sea.

And what did I find in Edinburgh?  SUNSHINE!  Something I hadn’t glimpsed for a while.  It was also warm, would you believe it?

Below the Scott Memorial in Princes Street Gardens, Edinburgh. August 2012.

By this time I was getting news that the Dafter was having a pretty good day in Aberdeen, so I was able to start to relax a little.  It was Festival time, and the city was crowded with visitors (and no doubt locals as well).  Look, here is a man wearing shorts!  I would wager money he is not a Scot.

Coffee time! Outside the National Gallery, Edinburgh. August 2012.

I met a friend for coffee here and had the strange sensation of worrying about the back of my neck being sunburnt.  (One of my several shawls did the trick.)  I then went to meet another friend for lunch!  She took me to a lovely restaurant called Spoons.  The windows there are beautiful:

Beautiful windows at the entrance to Spoons, Edinburgh.

In a previous incarnation as a coffee shop, this is where J.K.Rowling began to write Harry Potter.  I’m always so pleased for J.K. Rowling – and I love that the entire story came to her in a single inspirational rush, on a train journey.

Spoons restaurant, Edinburgh. August 2012.

As you can tell from the light fittings, Spoons is into retro kitsch.  Here is the ladies’ loo:

In the Ladies’ (or should that be Girls’) toilet, Spoons, Edinburgh.

It was weird seeing these 1970s magazine pages, and actually remembering that time… look at Prince Charles!

I was taken by the lacy ironwork on top of these buildings on Chambers Street:

Lacy roofline, Chambers Street, Edinburgh. August 2012.

And I nipped into Jenners for a quick spot of shopping.  The interior is very like that of Liberty’s of London.  I really liked the strands of paper birds:

Jenners, Edinburgh, August 2012.

Our Son and I sat and talked on a bench, people watching.  I like how the trees become almost indistinct one from another at this time of year, their foliage all kind of blurring together.  In spring and autumn, they are more differentiated.  This stately willow tree managed to stick out a bit from the rest:

Sunny Princes Street Gardens, Edinburgh, August 2012.

We stopped to watch the floral clock on the hour.  The cookoo in the little birdhouse comes out and from somewhere nearby there is a strange electronic cookooing noise!  The floral clock is such a masterpiece of bedding.  It must take enormous planning and skill to execute:

The floral clock about to strike 2:00 in Princes Street Garden, Edinburgh.

Our Son and I went to an art exhibit, to an amazing shop that I will tell you more about in a separate post, and then had some dinner.  He saw me onto the 19:28 back to Aberdeen.  I sat next to two hilarious and incredibly nice sisters who were full of their experiences at the Edinburgh Fringe.  They even showed me the things they’d bought in the sales!  It’s always particularly heartening to me to meet young people who are polite and clever and friendly.  It gives me hope for the world.

The sunset on the way home was very beautiful.  This was about 8:20 pm or so, in Fife not far before the Tay Rail Bridge.  It looks as if we are gliding past water, but it is a wheat (or barley?) field:

Sunset over Fife, August 2012. About 8:20 pm.

I was home by 10:15, happy to have gone and had a fun day, laden with good wishes and presents for the Dafter and indeed for myself.  And all was well!

I hope you’ve all had a good weekend, and that the last week of August starts well for you.  (I believe there is some kind of day off south of the border, but here it will be business as usual.)



  1. Nice post and photos! I am jealous of how easy it is to get around by train. By the way, what is a dafter?

    • You’re right, we are fortunate with our train service (though some would disagree). “The Dafter” is my blog-name for my daughter. I explained in my About page that when she was a beginner reader, she had learned the word “laughter”. Then she pointed to “daughter” and said, “And I’m your dafter!” She is far from daft but the name has stuck.

  2. What a lovely place, we are visiting for a holiday soon, thank you for the pictures xx

  3. Glad you had a lovely day out with your son and the Dafter had a good day as well. I loved Edinburgh when I was there many years ago. Aberdeen is on my list for the next trip across the pond.

  4. what a heartsome post! How lovely to be able to travel into Edinburgh for the day. l enjoyed your last picture of your trip home and I can imagine myself sitting in the car with you and the two sisters having a good old laugh. so good.

  5. Thank you so much for this little peek into Edinburgh. I am in the US, but my great grandparents were from Edinburgh. They were married at St. Cuthbert’s church. I would love to visit there someday.

  6. You tugged at my heart strings with this post, Christine! That first picture of Princes Street Gardens made me miss Edinburgh and want to jump on a train myself. I know of at least 3 cafes that claim to be where J K Rowling wrote Harry Potter and I wonder if they all have genuine claims or if they’re just making the most of an opportunity? It would be great to ask the lady herself and get the true answer! I’m looking forward to the day she writes an autobiography… How lovely to see friends and your son for the day, and to know that the Dafter was enjoying her day further north. I remember crossing the Tay Bridge by train now and then when I lived in Aberdeen and I always loved it. There is something marvellous about going over water in a train, I think it’s very exciting! I’m so glad you enjoyed your day and shared it with us. 🙂

  7. Christine, you’ve reminded me of how nice Edinburgh is in the sunshine. I haven’t visited for more than a decade. In 2001 I attended a conference at Heriot-Watt, and spent a free Sunday exploring the city. Thanks for reviving those fond memories. Glad to hear that all was well with the dafter in the end.

  8. What a lovely day you had spending time with your son and friends. I agree, Jenner’s looks a lot like Liberty’s, I am off to London tomorrow to meet up with my Uncle & wife who are on their way through to Guatemala where they live. Have a lovely week xx

  9. Looks like a lovely day! i’m especially intrigued by Spoons – it looks very pretty for a food establishment. x

  10. What a lovely day out you had. Thank you for taking us with you. I love trains. I always feel excited when the London train pulls into Inverness station – especially if we are meeting someone of it.
    Spoons restaurant looks amazing, particularly the ladies loo! Glad to hear your daughter had a good day too.

  11. I love how you describe your journeys. It makes me feel as if I’ve been on it with you! So glad the sun shone for you and you enjoyed your special trip. Trains are very special, I can’t wait to hop on one when I come to visit you in September! xx

  12. Christine, I felt as though I went on this journey with you! You have an eye for the little details that make a trip special. I am glad that you were able to take this much deserved day off to enjoy good friends, food and family, along with the beautiful sights along your way. Trains are such a lovely way to travel and especially so in your beautiful Scotland. Glad to hear the Dafter was also having a good day after all, and you were somewhat free of worry for those precious few hours. xx

  13. Hello Christine – I’ve just found your blog via revelry. I was looking at your ‘Tarragon’ jumper which I’m planning to make and I saw that you were a blogger (as am I) so decided to have a look. I was delighted to see that you live in Aberdeen – I studied there in the late 80s and loved loved loved the city. I am now living in Sussex at the other end of the country. Sussex is lovely but there are days when I yearn for the mountains, the cold north sea and those crystal clear blue Aberdeen skies. Have a look at my blog if you have the time – it’s quite a new one so I haven’t quite found my voice or focus yet: All the best, Judy.

  14. Well, your views of Edinburgh are very different from mine — perhaps because I was there in March! I love your shot of the Scott Memorial. All your photos, in fact, are as exquisite as usual, Christine! I’ve made note of some of the sights you mention; they are on my list to see my next visit. 🙂

  15. I love reading about your trips and observations christine! Looks like you really saw Edinburgh in its prime, sunshine and crowds. Brought back lovely memories for me too

  16. Dear all,

    I’m so happy that you enjoyed my trip to Edinburgh with me! I was thinking of you when I was there, snapping away. It is a lovely city, and all the more so on a warm, sunny day. I’m glad to have revived happy memories for some of you.

    Quilt Crossing, I hope you can visit someday. I went to a bell-ringing demonstration in the beautiful Memorial Chapel in St. Cuthbert’s last year (photo here:

    Lorna, the friend who took me to Spoons says that the places on North Bridge who advertise themselves as “where JK Rowling wrote HP” may possibly be right – I’m sure she didn’t just go to one coffee shop to write – but that she definitely did write in where Spoons is now, except they don’t try to cash in the fact. Certainly it looks like the ideal place to write, to me.

    Judy, welcome to my blog! I hope you make it back to Aberdeen soon – only 7 1/2 hours on the train from London, a bit less by plane 😉 In the meanwhile, you’ll find a few things here to remind you of happy uni days.

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