Writing in Edinburgh

Last month I went on holiday to Edinburgh and unexpectedly had some writing to do – in fact a lot of writing. I needed somewhere nice to write, after all, I was meant to be on holiday.

The Royal Botanic Garden was the perfect place; the weather was warm enough to sit outside and there were still lots of flowers to see, but the colours had an autumnal tinge. In fact the actaea looked positively Christmassy.

Sitting in the sunshine, on a bench brushed by lavender with a view ofView Edinburgh Castle in the distance is surely the way to write.

The other perfect place to write, and eat, is Earthy, at Canonmills, beside the Water of Leith. There were pumpkins and gourds on rough wooden tables reminding one that, however summery it seemed, autumn was approaching. Vases of fresh flowers and the warm sunshine which streamed in though the windows allowed one to imagine it was still summer. It is on a busy road but inside is calm and quiet. On the wall it says ‘You are how you eat, as much as what you eat’. I arrived in time for breakfast and stayed till lunch. It was busy enough to have an air of bustle but quiet enough that is didn’t matter that I spread my papers over the table and worked while I ate breakfast and drank delicious coffee.

Mid morning an elegant carafe of water with mint and long twirly slivers of cucumber appeared like magic. The croissants, fishcakes and the Strawberry and Pistachio Mess were wonderful and, if they are anything to go by, the rest of the menu would be delicious too.

Outside the back window is a broken old piano; a sight that should be sad but is actually charming. The candlesticks remain, as so most of the keys, but it is clearly past its prime. With strawberry plants and ivy growing out of the top and a bird house resting where sheet music once sat it has been given a delightful second life. Had I been less entranced I might have remembered to take a photo.

At times, Earthy can be a victim of its own success. On my last morning I went there for a farewell breakfast, rather sadly as I wasn’t ready to leave Edinburgh. I was shocked to find it packed, barely a free table. It was jolly, but not the quiet sanctuary I wanted. Perhaps it was time to go home after all. Jane.

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