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.

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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

Edinburgh – city of literature and a very fine book festival

It’s nearly time….

The clock is ticking and the big day is drawing near….

I’ve packed my case…

I’ve got my map……..

And in only  a few weeks time, I’ll be off to the largest public celebration of the written word in the world – Edinburgh book festival – and I can. not. wait.

EDINBURGH BOOK FESTIVAL FROM 10TH – 26TH AUGUST

This will be my first as THEBOOKTRAIL and I am so excited to be going back to a fair I started going to during my time as a university student in Edinburgh. Now I am going back armed with maps, novels and questions and like the intrepid booktrailer that I am, I am making the most of it. The hotel has been booked, the haggis restaurants mapped out and a visit to my favourite haunts pencilled in.

Edinburgh – I miss you and I’m coming back.

The book festival aims to be one of the biggest and the best so far and judging by the line up of authors and events, I’m sure it will be.

Where else can you meet Kate Atkinson, Margaret Atwood, Alexander McCall Smith amongst many more?

Where else can you be surrounded by people who love books and words as much as you do?

Where else can you learn about the wealth of Scottish literature and the history of its storytelling?

Edinburgh Book Festival that’s where. In a city renowned its love of literature – where even the train station’s name is taken straight from the front page of a novel (Sir Walter Scott’s Waverley)  – I can’t think of a better place to get off a train and start the first of many booktrails and literary happenings.

Edinburgh is THE literary city of all literary cities – I mean where else can you get off at WAVERLEY, and just incase you miss that literary link, walk round the corner and find yourself right of Sir Walter Scott’s presence – well a monument dedicated to him  and I think the biggest shrine to an author in the UK. Then walk down Princes street and up to the corner of Candlemaker Row and George Iv bridge and you’ll find the statue of a dog immortalised by the book Greyfriar’s Bobby.

As a translator and former languages student in Edinburgh, I am particularly excited about the Art of Translation series. How does the essence of a story change from one language to another? Having read the likes of Jane Eyre and many novels in multiple languages in order to learn that language, I will be interested to find out!

Which reminds me of my first day at university – excited coming to read foreign languages  – only to find out that the Scottish language was probably going to be as much of a challenge. I was asked by the lady who came to check the inventory of my room if I had the following items:

Read with a strong Scottish accent:

her – Do you have a bucket hen?

me – No, no I don’t think so (what on earth is a bucket hen? I thought)

her – No bucket?

me  – Aah a bucket? no, I don’t have one of them

her – What about a downie?

me – (thinking what on earth is that?) Nope don’t think I have one of them either

her  – (hearing my northern English accent) Aaah you’re from just down the road then?

me – Well..no, it’s about 100 miles away actually..

her  – Do you have a…. and seeing my face she then said – well I think I’d better come in and have a look hen

Turns out even though I had been to Edinburgh and indeed Scotland many a time before I had discovered some new words:

A bucket is a dustbin/wastepaper bin

A downie is a quilt or duvet

And ‘from just down the road’ can mean 4 miles, 40 miles or 400 miles

Edinburgh book festival is taking me back to the land of literature, the city of literature and the happy memories of reading books in several languages everyday as part of my studies.

Books had brought me to Edinburgh in the first place and now they are calling me back

Edinburgh

Books

Bliss

 

Jackson Brodie’s tour of Edinburgh – part two

Following on from Jackson Brodie’s tour of Edinburgh last week, now that the festival has started – here is part two:

The first day of the festival - the excitement is building
The first day of the festival – the excitement is building

Jackson goes to the book festival! 

In the book ‘One Good Turn’, Kate Atkinson of course features a lot of the action in and around the book festival and the fringe festival on the Royal Mile.  This enables her to write some acute observations on the atmosphere and the people who attend the writer events.  Read Kate’s words and imagine yourself right there. Linger on Jackson Brodie lingering at the back of the tent. Or Jason Isaacs – whatever takes your fancy.

‘CRIME WRITERS FOR LUNCH’ – As if they were going to be eaten  by their audience. “Lunch’ was coffee and filled white rolls, which were free and served from a bar at the back of the Spiegeltent. And the writers were the entertainment. Dancing bears. – 319

The rest of the description of the book festival is as witty and amusing as it is an honest and very apt observation of the festival atmosphere. Having been in that tent with writers answering questions and hosts directing anything the audience throws at them, it was as if I was right back there, watching  the great Kate Atkinson in admiration and recalling the words of the novel in my head as she spoke.

Was this life imitating art or the other way around? Kate did talk about Jackson Brodie and I did think that, like in the book, if I turned my head, he might be standing there at the back of the tent, watching as Martin described:

 He looked for Jackson and saw him standing near the bar, straight-backed with his hands in front as if he was going to stop a penalty shot. All he was missing was the black suit and the earpiece to make him look like a presidential Secret Service agent. – 321

The audience was predominantly middle-aged and female, as usual at these events… – page 322

When it came to question time, hands shot up everywhere. Young people, student types, ran around with microphones and Martin braced himself with questions  – page 322

Kate Atkinson in the signing tent
Kate Atkinson in the signing tent

In the signing tent, they sat at three identical tables. Every time an eager reader approached him Martin felt a little knock of panic to his heart, imagining each newcomer reading across the table as he signed his name and stabbing him with a knife, shooting him with a gun.- 323

I really hope Kate didn’t feel any of this ‘panic’. Everyone seemed nice and chatty in the queue and Kate herself was pleasure to meet -chatting and joking all the time. I laughed as I did overhear two women discussing the fact that Kate had mentioned that she was born just after the war – when her novel was set – and they were working this out in the queue.  ‘I can’t believe it. She looks a lot younger! I hope they told Kate this! Someone else I got chatting to, was happier to talk about her book rather than her appearance thankfully and she was keen to tell me what she would like to change in her life if she got the chance ‘to do it all again until she got it right’.

I asked her what she would do differently. She smiled at me and said ‘Ooh I don’t know really but it just sounds a bit tiring that’s all. I mean doing things over and over? I think I’d need to write a list to remember what I’d done the first few times.’  Ooh I did laugh with her. She was clearly a Kate fan – had read every single one of her books she told me – and was going to tell Kate that. I do hope she did and that Kate had a nicer and less eventful time than the Martin character in her book!

The Royal Mile – home to the festival

St Giles cathedral
St Giles

The Royal Mile was beginning to feel almost familiar to Jackson now. He felt like turning to the nearest person and pointing out to them St Giles Church and the new parliament building (ten times over budget – how could anything be ten times over budget?) – 28

Jackson goes on a little walk, taking just a morning and sees some interesting parts of Edinburgh at the castle end of the Royal Mile: The Camera Obscura for one is a popular tourist attraction with stunning views over Edinburgh  and a MAgic Gallery and Electric room for example. Wonder what Brodie made of it all?

http://www.camera-obscura.co.uk/ 

Greyfriars Bobby

I took a walk,’ Jackson said, ‘went to a museum and the Camera Obscura. Had a look at Greyfriars Bobby’s grave –

The statue in memory to the lovely Greyfriars Bobby
The statue in memory to the lovely Greyfriars Bobby

‘Oh.’ Julia made a  tragic face. The mention of a dog, any dog, always provoked an emotional reflex in Julia but the idea of a dead dog upped the ante on the emotion considerably. The idea of a dead, faithful dog was almost more than she could handle.

“Yeah, I paid him your respects,’ Jackson said. – page 41

The grave
The grave

The mound

The mound from where Jackson takes the 41 bus to Cramond
The mound from where Jackson takes the 41 bus to Cramond

Jackson  climbed on board the 41 bus on the mound and thought, OK, if she wanted him to take a bus he would take a bus. The 41 covered a long route that ended up at Cramond. He knew Cramond as a hymn tune, not a place. Or was it ‘Crimond’? So many things he didn’t know. ‘The Lord is my shepherd’. Was he? It seemed unlikely somehow.

An old woman waiting at the bus stop with him said, ‘Oh, it’s very nice out in Cramond, you can go to Cramond Island from there. You’ll like it.’ He believed it; years of experience had taught Jackson that old women tended to tell the truth. – page 96

The alley way  – 

There are many small alley ways  along the Royal Mile – one was even featured on the cover of the Kate Atkinson novel itself: so I took my own advice and revisited the cover so to speak:

The book version of the close
The book version of Milne’s Court
The real thing
The real thing

Jackson fought his way up the royal mile , thourgh the crowds and the tartan tat, until he finally gained the castle, soaring almost Cahtar-like on top of the volcanic rock.

 A city en fete
A city en fete

Crowds flowed down the Royal Mile like the lava that had once moulded landscape out of fire, moving around obstacles in  the way -the statue of David Hume , a mime artist, a piper, several student theatre groups, people handling our flyers (lots of them) , another piper, a man eating fire, a man dressed as Sherlock Holmes. Another piper. It certainly was a city en fête. – page 75

Just before I left the Royal Mile to head back to the book festival, I noticed something that made me smile. Something that would have made Jackson smile I think – I hope even that it might have been named in his honour. Yes that’s going to be the version I tell myself as it’s the one he and Kate deserve:

Jackson Brodie remembered
Jackson Brodie remembered

I left Jackson here but thanked him for taking me on this interesting tour of his city. I hope you’ve enjoyed it too.

Edinburgh via book covers

I thought I would take you on a short tour of some sights in Edinburgh as depicted on book covers. There are more but I just wanted to keep near the old town for now.

Fleshmarket Close
Fleshmarket Close

Fleshmarket close in the old Town just off the Royal Mile is as spooky and dark as it appears on the cover. Visit here to see a dark and mysterious corner of Edinburgh where the old meat market used to be. Then go next door to St Mary’s close for a tour underground and to meet the resident ghost.

Off the Royal Mile
Off the Royal Mile

In the book there is an ‘incident’ which affects many of the characters and it happens on the royal mile – on the rainy cobbles, near the stone stairs, with people watching  and waiting in the shadows. The Royal Mile is a cavern of myterious and spooky places to lose yourself in. A maze of discovery.

Greyfriars Close
Greyfriars Close

No, you can’t come to Edinburgh without going to see the famous statue of Greyfriars bobby. It’s the famous story about the loyal Skye Terrier who stayed beside his master’s grave for fourteen years. The grave is in Greyfriars Kirkyard, about 75 yards from John Gray’s grave. Bobby’s monument is on the corner of Candlemakers Row and King George IV Bridge .

Princes Street
Princes Street

This is an image of Princes Street with the open top tour bus going past. Now I for one find these buses quite useful for getting around a city if you are new to it, and even for picking up some interesting snippets of information about the history and people who lived there. Even if you don’t take a tour, walk along Princes Street (On the side of the gardens) and make sure you sit in the gardens and look up at the castle. Listen out for the one o’clock gun. Get a poke of chips from the chippy on Rose Street and sit and enjoy them here. If you enjoy people watching, you’ll still be sat there hours later. Edinburgh walks by you when you sit here.

Edinburgh festival preparation – sustenance

What I will be eating this weekend
What I will be eating this weekend

This is all you need really when preparing for a book festival – sustenance

You have to be able to be on your feet, talking to people, meeting writers and people in the book industry for hours

Time seems to disappear – there is so much to do and so little time to do it

time is precious so you need a hearty meal to see you through till the end of the day

A bottle of water may of course be invaluable tucked away in your bag – but not too big, I mean you need room for the books you will buy!

A kindle isn’t going to help you achieve getting more signed copies for your collection!

So, I have already chosen my sustenance meal of choice. Haggis, neeps and tatties. May I say that there are quite a few good places that serve this wonderful Scottish food so I can’t really recommend one.

But all I would recommend to all of you attending the Edinburgh Book Festival starting on Saturday 10th August is enjoy the books on a good stomach of haggis.

With a can of Iron Bru to wash it all down. Well, you have to eat and drink Scottish too when you’re at a Scottish Book Festival!

Edinburgh Book Festival – Why Fiction is beautiful

Why fiction is beautiful – Canadian author Margaret Atwood

photo-62

This is the first post of a few I will be doing featuring some of the authors of the Edinburgh book festival which starts this Saturday August 10th. I have decided to start with Margaret Atwood as she was the first Canadian author I read and I discovered many more Canadian books and authors thanks to her.

Her collection of books and stories is impressive. Some of these books below were bought in Canada as as well as the stories, I thought the book covers were quite something too. I mean just take a look at them:

eerie, unsettling, Daliesque and not unlike a dark fairytale
Eerie, unsettling, Dali-esque or the setting for a dark fairytale?
As the book blurb says: 'Imprisoned by walls of their own construction...' The book cover seems  to represent this via another Dali-esque design
As the book blurb says: ‘Imprisoned by walls of their own construction…’ The book cover seems to represent this via another Dali-esque design
Ten days after the water eded, my sister Laura drove a car off a bridge
Ten days after the water eded, my sister Laura drove a car off a bridge

The cover represents the age and elegance of the time. Set in Canada, it is narrated from the present day, referring back to events that span the twentieth century.

As if it were a artistic sketch on the wall of a empty, grey gallery
As if it were a artistic sketch on the wall of a empty, grey gallery

photo-58And for one of my favourites if not only for the detail and the artwork involved. I would quite happily hang this book cover on my wall. In fact, I think I will. ‘All books are equal to art forms but some are more equal than others’ – very animal farm I know but something I believe to be true. All of the above could be artistic paintings hanging in a gallery. I’m just pleased they are currently gracing my shelves in my book, I mean ART display case.

Edinburgh Book Festival – Jackson Brodie’s tour of the city

book cover

Many of you will have read at least one book by Kate Atkinson – especially her Jackson Brodie series which has been a very successful television series too.

Well, having read ‘One Good Turn’ recently as preparation for attending the Edinburgh book festival where I will be attending one of Kate’s events, I smiled as I revisited a lot of the sights of Edinburgh featured in the book.

Then it got me thinking.What would it be like if Jackson Brodie were a tour guide? I mean if I could wander through the streets of Edinburgh accompanied by the great man himself. What would I see and do?

So that’s exactly what I did and it turns out that Mr Brodie is a very interesting guide indeed.

The setting during the Fringe Festival in Edinburgh, Scotland is a great back drop, and the details of Scottish life made me smile at the memories of living in Edinburgh and attending the Fringe on many an occasion:

(All snippets below are taken directly from the book and are accompanied by page numbers for ease of reference)

Welcome to Jackson Brodie’s Edinburgh

Waverley station – his first time to Edinburgh

Waverley station  - and the view across to the old town
Waverley station – and the view across to the old town

‘When he stepped off the train in Waverley station yesterday, he had been expecting the 50 per cent of his genes that were Scottish to recognise their heritage.’

‘As he pushed his way thorough the crowd he tried to orientate himself towards the castle’ – page 45

‘The rain had in no way deterred the crowds – it had never occurred to him that Edinburgh was in the middle of ‘the festival’ and that there would be carnival hordes of people milling around as if the end of a war had just been declared.’ – page 13

The Castle

Looking up from Princess Street gardens
Looking up from Princess Street gardens
Have a coffee in Jenners and see the castle in the distance
Have a coffee in Jenners and see the castle in the distance

‘The castle was a brute of a building,  all fairy-tale Scottish from below but once you were within its glowering walls it was dank and doom- laden’ – page 68

‘A rustle of excitement preceded the One O’Clock Gun. The story went that the citizens of edinburgh had been too mean to pay for twelve cannon shots for midday and so had settled for a gun at one o’clock.’ – page 70

‘He had a look in the building at the heart of the castle that housed the Scottish national war memorial. He was surprised at how beautiful it was inside..{} …The names of the dead, so many dead, were written in big red books’ – page 73

Go visit the same Valvona and  Crolla cafe I did just next to the foodhall in Jenners    http://www.houseoffraser.co.uk/edinburgh-jenners-department-store/store_page_0450,default,pg.html and for the yummy website http://www.valvonacrolla.co.uk/

As for the story of the one oclock gun – this would be funny if true but the one thing I remember at uni and long after was the game I enjoyed playing of ‘Spot the tourist’ where at just before one o’clock if on Princes Street or the Royal Mile you and your friends pick someone who looks like a tourist and then wait to see if they jump out of their skins when the gun goes off. Sad but true.

For those of you who haven’t visited the magnificent castle: http://www.edinburghcastle.gov.uk/ 

Holyrood Palace

Aaah nothing quite beats the taste of a poke of chips smothered in salt and sauce
Aaah nothing quite beats the taste of a poke of chips smothered in salt and sauce

‘He walked down to Holyrood palace, bought a poke of chips and walked back up the Royal mile.’

http://www.royalcollection.org.uk/visit/palaceofholyroodhouse

The old town

The roof tops of the old town
The roof tops of the old town

Back outdoors in what passed for daylight, he was greeted by ancient, tall tenements staring blankly at each other from either side of the street, making it feel more like a tunnel, making it feel as if night had fallen. If there had been no people around, you might have mistaken it for the film set of a Dickens novel. You might have mistaken it for the past itself. – page 45

Well I’m going to sit in the old town and enjoy these chips. Maybe even have a can of Iron Bru to celebrate being in this fine city. I shall leave you there but please be sure to join me and Jackson once again for part two.

Edinburgh book festival – a celebration of books and literary happenings

It’s nearly time….

The clock is ticking and the big day is drawing near….

I’ve packed my case…

I’ve got my map……..

And in only  a few weeks time, I’ll be off to the largest public celebration of the written word in the world – Edinburgh book festival – and I can. not. wait.

All packed with the essentials
All packed with the essentials

EDINBURGH BOOK FESTIVAL FROm 10TH – 26TH AUGUST

Preparing for the book festival of all book festivals
Preparing for the book festival of all book festivals

This will be my first as THEBOOKTRAIL and I am so excited to be going back to a fair I started going to during my time as a university student in Edinburgh. Now I am going back armed with maps, novels and questions and like the intrepid booktrailer that I am, I am making the most of it. The hotel has been booked, the haggis restaurants mapped out and a visit to my favourite haunts pencilled in.

Edinburgh – I miss you and I’m coming back.

The book festival aims to be one of the biggest and the best so far and judging by the line up of authors and events, I’m sure it will be.

Where else can you meet Kate Atkinson, Margaret Atwood, Alexander McCall Smith amongst many more?

Where else can you be surrounded by people who love books and words as much as you do?

Where else can you learn about the wealth of Scottish literature and the history of its storytelling?

Edinburgh Book Festival  https://www.edbookfest.co.uk/  that’s where. In a city renowned its love of literature – where even the train station’s name is taken straight from the front page of a novel (Sir Walter Scott’s Waverley)  – I can’t think of a better place to get off a train and start the first of many booktrails and literary happenings.

Waverley Station
Waverley Station

Edinburgh is THE literary city of all literary cities – I mean where else can you get off at WAVERLEY, and just incase you miss that literary link, walk round the corner and find yourself right of Sir Walter Scott’s presence – well a monument dedicated to him  and I think the biggest shrine to an author in the UK. Then walk down Princes street and up to the corner of Candlemaker Row and George Iv bridge and you’ll find the statue of a dog immortalised by the book Greyfriar’s Bobby.

Scott Monument to your left
Scott Monument to your left

As a translator and former languages student in Edinburgh, I am particularly excited about the Art of Translation series. How does the essence of a story change from one language to another? Having read the likes of Jane Eyre and many novels in multiple languages in order to learn that language, I will be interested to find out!

Which reminds me of my first day at university – excited coming to read foreign languages  – only to find out that the Scottish language was probably going to be as much of a challenge. I was asked by the lady who came to check the inventory of my room if I had the following items:

Read with a strong Scottish accent:

her – Do you have a bucket hen?

me – No, no I don’t think so (what on earth is a bucket hen? I thought)

her – No bucket?

me  – Aah a bucket? no, I don’t have one of them

her – What about a downie?

me – (thinking what on earth is that?) Nope don’t think I have one of them either

her  – (hearing my northern English accent) Aaah you’re from just down the road then?

me – Well..no, it’s about 100 miles away actually..

her  – Do you have a…. and seeing my face she then said – well I think I’d better come in and have a look hen

Turns out even though I had been to Edinburgh and indeed Scotland many a time before I had discovered some new words:

A bucket is a dustbin/wastepaper bin

A downie is a quilt or duvet

And ‘from just down the road’ can mean 4 miles, 40 miles or 400 miles

Edinburgh book festival is taking me back to the land of literature, the city of literature and the happy memories of reading books in several languages everyday as part of my studies.

Books had brought me to Edinburgh in the first place and now they are calling me back

Edinburgh

Books

Bliss