/ Scotland2017

Sent away by the constabulary

Before anyone gets worked up by the title, it is a reference to where the police dismissed us. Leith. As in Sunshine Over and Trainspotting.

Firstly Morningside. Morningside is a suburb of S Edinburgh on the bus route from the campsite.

Rewind, first the campsite. Here's a picture, automatically enhanced by Google, of one of my neighbours

Back to Morningside, it's one of those interesting little suburbs. You know the sort, independent shops. Waitrose, an M&S food store, bijou craft shops selling bespoke jewelry and shabby chic. And a surprising amount of charity shops, but almost all very upmarket with merchandise pricing that means no one can buy and make a killing on eBay. Still I found an artisan baker and paid an artisan bakery price for an extremely nice rye loaf and also one of the Disney Classic DVDs I'm now collecting. A pleasant hour's stroll.

Did I mention bus prices earlier? Oh I can't be bothered to go back and check but Edinburgh is simple. £1.60 for any single fare of any distance and £4 for a day ticket that allows unlimited rides on any bus or tram. This is cheap! And very convenient, hopping off at Morningside I could rejoin the same bus route a few stops later and go all the way to Ocean Terminal, the hyper-modern shipping mall on the opposite side of the city. Southampton bus fares are exorbitant by comparison, just like the parking!

Of course if you've read my invective about Junction32 you might be surprised my destination is a shopping mall. Well, it was selected for 3 reasons, none have anything to do with me spending money. Firstly the royal yacht Brittania is there, secondly it is at the far end of Leith so the ideal jumping off point to start my walk back into the city. And last but not least, it is certain to have public toilets!

Disappointing Brittania is actually inside the mall, on the 2nd floor, and, to be honest, I just couldn't be bothered to find the escalators and go up, especially since it might even be behind closed doors that need money to catch even a glimpse. Still the loos were clean!

Leith is real Edinburgh. It is the down-market counterpoint to the up-market Morningside but it is obviously a community with a strong sense of identity and loyalty. The film Trainspotting was based in Leith. At the northern end there used to be a huge train station Leith Central but this closed in 1952, became a depot which closed in 1972 and in the 80s the derelict building was the ideal haunt for junkies to congregate and fix. This was know locally as going for a wee bit o'trainspottin'.

The adjacent Leith Central Bar is one of CAMRA's heritage pubs and with help from CAMRA recently got upgraded to a Category A Listed Building. It's an interesting enough bar with Art Deco stained glass in the doors (although how it has survived is a miracle). Certainly a real Edinburgh bar not a tourist trap. Hard working, hard drinking men, and me, nursing a half of Tennent's Lager, they no longer serve real ale.

Another quick diversion, I forgot to mention yesterday that I popped into another Edinburgh Heritage Pub, the diminutive Oxford Bar. As well as a small bar and unchanged side lounge the pub became famous as the haunt of Edinburgh detective Rebus, played brilliantly by the dour Ken Stott. Of course it was Rebus's pub because it was the haunt of his author Ian Rankin amongst many Edinburgh characters.

Back to Leith.

Many more ethnic shops and the charity shops weren't as well-heeled as Morningside but the prices were often similar. But some real gems of shops, a shop selling new and used military gear, an independent shoe shop that specialised in men's shoes and sensible ones at that. No £150 poser trainers but walking shoes, work shoes, shoes that hurt neither your feet nor wallet.

Highlight of the walk was the Word Of Mouth coffee bar where they roast their own beans fresh every day. It was good coffee, very good. Made even more enjoyable by a chance encounter with professor Rob Kirkwood (check out his Sparks in the Classroom website). Rob is a retired professor of moral and religious philosophy. I think I got off to a bad start by mentioning I am currently reading Harari's Sapiens. He didn't seem impressed. I realise now that Rob is a theist whose books seem (and I may have this wrong, I've not read any yet) explain the case for a God. Harari's treatment of man as just another animal and attempt at explain the human condition through social-evolution probably doesn't sit well. Still we chewed the fat about the state of the world, the current political debacle and the difference in social approach between the Scots and the English. If I lived locally of certainly be a regular at his philosophical get togethers.

A fight back across town through the tourists and workers leaving, most of them for bars it seems, to my final appointment, Cloisters bar. A good range of beer but I've in particular took my fancy

Another chance encounter, this time with a young Chilean, his girlfriend and mother. We got chatting, as you do. I've visited his hometown Santiago and he was planning to tour S England so we discussed various places. A second beer. Then a third. Time to go home!