A book trail to 44 Scotland Street – and the search for Ian Rankin

Well, We’re on the chase for that painting from the Something Special Gallery – I jumped in a taxi and raced along Morningside Road just as Matthew described:

The taxi arrived and they set off for Morningside Road. ‘Holy Corner’, said Matthew, as they traversed the famous crossroads with its four churches.

Holy Corner
Holy Corner

Then they passed the Churchill Theatre, scene of Ramsay Dumbarton’s triumph all those years ago as the duke of Plaza-Toro in the Gondoliers

Church hill Theatre
Churchill Theatre

Then, my heart pumping furiously in my chest as the taxi sped almost ran the lights at the crossing and raced towards that charity shop in Morningside. I knew the one – I just hoped the painting would still be there.

The taxi crested the hill, and there, dropping down below the well -set houses, the Pentland Hills could be seen, half wreathed in low cloud. It was a reminder that the city had a hinterland – a landscape of soft hills and fertile fields, of old mining villages, of lochs and burns.

The taxi
The taxi crested the hill…of Morningside Road

I found the charity shop where the painting is thought to be:

The charity shop in Morningside where the Peploe painting ends up
The charity shop in Morningside where the Peploe painting ends up

But oh no! The lady there , Priscilla I think her name was, told me that this nice young chap called…now what was his name again? Oh ‘that nice man who writes about Rebus’

That nice man who writes about Rebus
That nice man who writes about Rebus

The cafe

Big Lou's
Big Lou’s

Big Lou’s cafe – Glass and Thompson – 2 Dundas Street

Inside the literary haven that is Big Lou's - booktrails with bite!!
Inside the literary haven that is Big Lou’s

Now in the book , Big Lou’s cafe is just opposite the gallery. Glass and Thompson is also in Dundas Street and both looks and feels just like the cafe in the book. So, wanting to get really inside the novel and its characters I went inside to meet Big lou and to have a coffee and a piece of her homemade cakes. I recommend you taste the ginger cake with rum icing…yum yum yum

I wish this computer was scratch and sniff - or scratch and taste!
I wish this computer was scratch and sniff – or scratch and taste! I only ate this for research purposes you understand hehe

Matthew felt as if he was the discoverer of Big Lou’s coffee bar, although, like anything else that is discovered (America or Lake Victoria), it had always been there; or at least it had been there for the last three years or so. Before that it had been a bookshop, noted for its jumbled stock that observed no known principle in the shelving of its collection

Take a look for yourself: http://www.visitscotland.com/info/food-drink/glass-thompson-p305541#overview

Now when I was here, something a little spooky happened. I had a literary thrill  – my next stop on the tour was back at Jenners – the Valvona and Crolla Cafe where Bertie and his mum go to eat. and what should I see from my window of big Lou’s?

It was as if Bertie and his mum knew I was going to follow their part of the trail next
It was as if Bertie and his mum knew I was going to follow their part of the trail next

The Valvona and Crolla cafe  – within foodhall in  Jenners, Princes Street

I admit I looked for Bertie
I admit I looked for Bertie

Bertie visits here with him mum and wants to speak italian.

They had never pushed  Bertie – not for one moment. Everything that they had done with him ad been done because he wanted it. He had asked for a saxophone. He had asked to learn Italian after they had gone to buy sun-dried tomatoes at Valvona and Crolla. They had never pushed him to do any of this.

Buy something for Bertie hehe:

http://www.valvonacrolla.co.uk/

Well these Alexander Mccall smith tours are very interesting and make you hungry all that walking and booktrailing. Might just have to stay here for a bit and have something else to eat….now what’s that I see. Chocolate cake? Well, goodbye for now.

On a booktrail to 44 Scotland Street

 

Such a funny and uplifting book. I loved it!
Such a funny and uplifting book. I loved it!

44 Scotland Street is a joy of a novel. Full of fascinating people and some of the best characters I have come across in a book ever. And that’s a fact. I lived in Edinburgh for 4 years as a student and have returned many times to this stunning city so I have a lot of Scottish friends and experience of living in the new town. funnily enough I lived not far from Scotland Street for a while. How I wished I could have lived at no. 44:

ooh I'm actually here on Scotland Street!!
ooh I’m actually here on Scotland Street!!

The Georgian new town where Scotland Street is situated, is very pretty. The mix of people who live there – a pushy mother, a small boy called Bertie, a girl called Pat and a man called Bruce who become room mates – is both true of Edinburgh and a happy memory of living in a flat with so many different people living around you – meeting on that stairwell is surely a Edinburgh rite of passage!

Ooh is this the famous door knocker?
Ooh is this the famous door knocker?

Now I just happened to come across this door knocker as I wandered to Scotland Street – it’s not in the street itself but I thought in my head that it was the one as I thought by looking at it that I was seeing the area and the inspiration of Alexander McCall Smith. It was quite the find – a nice little touch that I didn’t expect to see.

Scotland Street

Next door to 44
Next door to 44

There isn’t really a 44 Scotland street – I mean the street is real and is just off Drummond Place as mentioned in the novel. But there is no 44 – I remember reading an interview where the author said he didn’t want to attract journalists and the like taking pictures of a strangers house. But I really hope he didn’t mean book trailers as, well, here I am.

The corner of Scotland Street - 44 would be where the trees are.
The corner of Scotland Street – 44 would be where the trees are.

I stood here for a little while hoping that I may bump into the pushy Irene and little Bruce or to meet Pat on her way to her job as the art gallery.

The gallery

The Something Special Gallery?
The Something Special Gallery?

SG gallery run by grandson of Guy Peploe – Dundas Street

Something special in literature was inspired here
Something Special in literature was inspired here

Now this gallery is supposedly the one inspired to act as the real life version of the Something Special Gallery in which the characters Matthew and Pat work. Pat gets a job there and they work well together but the discovery that one of the paintings could be a Peploe worth around £40,000 starts a funny and intriguing story of the painting getting stolen, sold to a Morningside charity shop only to be bought by the famous writer Ian Rankin himself!

 

You can read and find out more about the paintings here – there is a nice slideshow giving a good introduction to the man’s work:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/arts/yourpaintings/artists/samuel-john-peploe/paintings/slideshow

Tomorrow – I go off to Morningside in the search of that painting and of course Mr Ian Rankin