Interlude in Musselburgh

I hadn’t planned to write about Sunday’s trip to the Edinburgh International Book Festival – and I’m still not – but I would like to say a bit about what I did in the three-hour interlude between events.

I hate Edinburgh in August. It’s full of people and most often people trying to sell something. (Interestingly, though, I heard more Scottish voices than normal.) The only thing that makes it even tolerable is the Book Festival and that’s because there are good authors and an incredibly good bookshop. Between events, I wanted to escape and decided to head out of the city to Musselburgh. It would be a whole lot stressful to be there than almost anywhere decent in the capital.

I know Musselburgh well. It’s the biggest town in East Lothian, sitting on the river Esk. It’s fair to say that Musselburgh wouldn’t win many beauty contests but I’ve always liked it. The Esk is quite nice plus the walk by the Ash Lagoons affords great views over the Forth. It also has good places to eat, including the Coral Reef chippy, which I sampled on this visit.

This isn’t a restaurant review, honestly. I sat on a bench on the Promenade near Fisherrow Harbour with a full view over Edinburgh and across the Forth to Fife. In such a defiantly urban setting, it was great to hear the songs and cries of the seabirds, some gulls but also oystercatchers and others I’m not sure of, and I felt my heart-rate drop the little while I was there. Maybe it was hearing the voices of my ain folk, maybe it was even eating a chippy the right way with salt and sauce, but I felt undeniably better. Glasgow is home but a very big part of me is still from the east and it will always be thus. Perhaps that’s the answer to my own personal Edinburgh-Glasgow divide: I have the best of both worlds, by the way, ken.

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