Ian Rankin near midnight

New Year’s Eve day was cold here, but it continues to be dry, for the most part.  Bob and I spent the early part of yesterday walking along the Union Canal to the Water of Leith and then along the Leith, past a spectacular community garden and a prison, on past the Murrayfield stadium, and back to Princes Street.  Twelve hours later, tucked up for the evening with a glass of wine while the guys were next door at the Hogs Head drinking beer, I came across an exact description of the first part of this walk in Rankin’s Exit Music, on page 258.    img_0913

The canal was frozen in places yesterday, and gelid in others, a few longboats moored there had their windows shuttered.  When we came to the crossing point of the waters, we discovered the Leith Visitors Centre to be closed for the holiday–and that turned out to be a good thing because it forced us (in need of toilets and a bit of thawing) across the road to the Dell Inn, quite possibly the mostdelightful watering hole in all Edinburgh.  We got pots of tea, served with short bread, and a wonderfully large room, Christmas lit and with a fantastic assortment of early 60’s rock music playing.

New Year's morning at the Dell Inn

New Year's morning at the Dell Inn


This made us quite happy, which we were already on to being, unlike the grumpy man we’d just encountered on the tow path.  He was an ancient 60, the sort of fellow who had never been a boy, and he clearly was not in favour of the topw path being a shared space for bicycles as well as walkers.  A young family had passed us a few yards earlier and then must have come up to him for we found him muttering in their wake: “We were here before bicycles you know, madam!” and then, turning to us, “Cheeky little wench.”  And this the 21st century!

In the afternoon, we walked over to the Conan Doyle.  By then, all the streets around were quite closed to traffic and the pedestrian throngs were only on Princes Street and Queen (where the buses had been rerouted).  When we went out at 9, at the start of the street party, Princes was thick were celbrants, but everyone who bumped me in the slightest hastily offered apologies!

Clearly, Edinburgh knows how to plan such events:  streets emptying to Princes had been designated as either entry or exit points, and large gated fences erected and manned to keep them such.  Pedicab fleets had replaced motored taxis.  Fireworks were shot above the castle every hour until midnight when the most enormous display I’ve ever seen (or more properly heard, as I had stepped away from the window after the 11 pm display) went forth for a full three solid minutes–no spaces.  The city had then been instructed to join, at 00:03:00 with the communal singing of Auld Lang Syne…which they did.


The party was set to go until 3 am, at which point it stopped prompty. At 6, I looked out the window to see a lone pedicab headed south on Castle Street–which was already completely cleared of trash.  Now, just past 10 am, New Years Day, even Princes Street appears to be fully restored: no trash, fencing pushed back for pickup.  Such precision!


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