The plan yesterday was to finish work a bit early in time to get through to Edinburgh and along to Easter Road to watch Hibs play Dunfermline. It was a late kick-off, since it was on BBC Alba (I’ve written about the Alba experience in the post Raw, published in November), and even though I could have watched it from the comfort of my own home, I also had a seat in the East Stand that would have been empty and that wouldn’t have done. In the end up, I arrived in Edinburgh just over two hours before kick-off but on the train through I had thought about going for a walk up Leith Walk. That was what I did but with an edge. Recently I wrote here about a project called Streets of Glasgow that I would like to work on, whereby I walk from one end of a notable city street to another and record what I find. I haven’t had the chance to do that yet, sadly, but I practised walking up Leith Walk, just being more aware of my surroundings and those around me. I looked into shop windows and paid attention to different accents and voices I heard. I heard one guy standing in a bookies’ doorway arguing with a woman who was walking speedily away from him. It was just generally excellent. Walking often has a nice meditative element, focusing on the steps one in front of another rather than anything else, and I felt better after just walking from one end of Leith Walk to another, thinking pretty much only about what was going on there where I was.
As I reached the Foot of the Walk, I still had loads of time to get to the ground so I went up Constitution Street, looking across to the South Leith Church’s pillared kirkyard, then turned right at Leith polis station to Leith Links, where I decided to cut across its northern edge, which was entirely new to me. There were smart offices in grand, old buildings and a cricket club as well as a community orchard. I found the start of the Restalrig Railway Path that went up onto a ramp – some point I will follow it – just as the Links ended just shy of Seafield Crematorium. Seafield is an unglamorous bit of the capital – it’s where Edinburgh’s sewage goes, for starters – though the houses at the edge of the Links were rather fine. Seafield is also where the Eastern General Hospital was, just at the other side of the cemetery, and it was where I was born. I didn’t linger to see if there was a plaque.
The game was frustrating, to put it mildly. Usually after a game, I walk down Easter Road and then along London Road towards the station. Since I had a little more time before the train home, I decided to cross London Road and head up Abbeyhill to Regent Road. I can’t remember if I’ve written about Regent Road before. It is one of the nicest throughfares in Edinburgh, with great views across Holyrood Park and much of the city, including to the city centre, which was certainly the case last night with the twinkly lights of Waverley and the city all in evidence. Regent Road also has the Burns Monument and the Royal High School, some of the city’s grandest architecture, and even in the eveningtime, there were tourists floating around. Our capital is a beautiful place and this is true even, and especially, of its more unsung parts. I never tire of being there even if I close my eyes and doze on the train home after another long day.