A good book on a rainy night in Edinburgh

Its getting colder again. After a sunny few days in February it is now back to rain and…more rain. I’ve even spotted some snow symbols on my iPhone weather app for next week! So due to the previously noted rain, a taxi was in order to get me to my school night glass of wine catch up in the old town. I love the architecture in Edinburgh and although I live more New Town way, the old town has just that little bit more mystery, beauty and romanticism about it.

In the taxi we giggled as we got held up by a Harry Potter tour crossing the road – just down from the Tron Church. His wand waving appealed, to the driver, although he didn’t make us disappear; possibly owing to a rubbish flick action and a pretty inept cape. It got me thinking about the books that I love, set in Edinburgh or by writers inspired by the surrounding.

Edinburgh isn’t just the home to Harry Potter

I love Harry Potter and genuinely think its a modern day classic. I bought my first one in an antiques bookshop in Cannonmills whilst looking for a present for my mum. He had it as it was an early edition (not a first…oh well!) and it was written in Edinburgh by a little known (unknown at that time) author. I read it in one sitting and passed it on to my mother, and dad, and sister; they all loved it as much as me.

But its not the only Edinburgh based authors that have kept me gripped over the years. Pulling out my collection I have lots of them, and lots set in this bloody brilliant city. The obvious classics like Heart of Midlothian (passed this spot too on the way to the pub) by Sir Walter Scott and the less obvious classic Kidnapped by the obvious Robert Louis Stevenson. In fact the Scottish Novels, which is a collection of Stevenson’s novels, is one of the most revisited books in my collection.

Yes of course I also have a few Ian Rankin books. If you live in Edinburgh I am convinced its a crime if you don’t own one. Being an early forty something (I’m going to hang on to the early as long as I can!!), I also have a youth characterised by acid house and then indie; so Trainspotting is a clear winner. My first reading of this felt like owning and promoting the gritty side of Edinburgh. It was something about the slang and the colloqualisms though that made me feel like I was a part of something bigger. I wasn’t exactly living in the difficult, gritty and unhealthy lifestyles of Mark Renton, Spud and Sick Boy (more of a Diane) but there was a sense of pride in Irvine Welsh who, according to a pal, was just a regular guy done good. When the movie was released I sat in the cinema, along with fellow ‘Edinburgers’ and there was this weird sense of the collective. This sense that around the world other people would be now know what ‘likesay’ and ‘ken’ meant. It was a strange feeling of pride and so this book will always be on my shelf.

The, not so obvious, book I settled on.

The one that will win tonight is a Kate Atkinson book. I found it by an accidental read of a review. One Good Turn Deserves Another. It has everything I like. An extra sense of comfort in that you know the streets it set in and the timing (Edinburgh Festival). Great characters and a plot that has a little grit. If you know Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson then you will already have an idea of a theme running through my book shelf. It also has the potential of more (aka other books in a series). I am a complete sucker for a series of books. This is the one I have dug out and this is the one that I am now heading to bed with. Its still raining, its dark, and the lights are twinkling out of the windows in the street. The tall windows of the classic New Town architecture. It is getting late but I can’t wait to revisit this book before I fall asleep.

Dating on a Sunday Afternoon

I’ve been on a lot of dates. It comes with the territory of being single in Edinburgh. I’m maybe a little dismissive but I figure that at my age it probably needs to be worth it to get into an actual relationship. So when I arranged a Sunday afternoon (yep that bit of timing is important) the result was already concluded.

The right site. Is there even such a thing?

I might as well just admit it. POF! I know there are great guys on there (I’ve made great friends and dated a few over the last few years. But there are also plenty of, hmmmm, odd ones. To be honest though the men on Match are not really different so why pay. This may be a mistake but I’m not the most committed dater due to work taking up most of my life. What the hell.

The right man? Yes you can laugh at this bit!

It’s really hard. You get an image and a little bit of info. You also try and broaden out your taste as age teaches you that who you fancy isn’t the same person you decided to marry when young (and divorce and then pick similar men to be with, date, and break up with). The image isn’t always reality so you get good at making quick judgements. I regret some of the men I’ve done that with before realising that the ‘they aren’t right for me and my lifestyle’ decision was wrong once I’d moved on. What the hell, I probably wasn’t right for them either.

Then there’s the ones I’ve liked more than they have liked me and the guys who have liked me more than them. This is complete confusion. But back on the horse (or something like that) – I figured I would give this guy a go. But in a relaxed (no pressure way) by doing it on a Sunday afternoon. That way I couldn’t get drunk but could have a oh so relaxed glass of wine. That went wrong…he wanted to meet in a place no self respecting red wine drinker would go. Beer it was then!

The right date?

I’m ok at these as I can get on with most men. But I’m always nervous (hide it well) and never know what to wear. I ended up with jeans and a nice top. Edinburgh is pretty relaxed in dress code even on a Saturday night (if you are over 25) so this was a good choice. He was nice. Conversation was good and he had a lovely face. The rest didn’t match what I thought it would be. This is where I think I go wrong. The assessments in my head of things including: could I ever move in with him, would he cope with my lifestyle (city girl through and through), is he too needy, would my friends like him. All this is way too much pressure. Or maybe it’s the smart thing to do to save everyone time. This is bound to be why I’m single and a walking contradiction :).

Anyway it went ok…I just didn’t get the attraction vibe and neither did he. So I was really surprised to get a few flirty messages from him later. Today I just figure he had a few wines when he got home. No word at all today which is good (and bad for my ego). Does everyone go through this…or is it just me. I’ll just focus on yoga for the week (and wine at the appropriate levels)

From Edinburgh to St Andrews

Last minute decision to get out the city before the wind and rain starts. To be fair it was going to be the same in St Andrews but I was booked in for literally the best facial!

I caught the last of the sun before diving into the Old Course Hotel. If you like golf it overlooks the 17th so just along to the left of this photo. Quick look out the window and I made my way down to their spa. It’s a Kohler hotel (I think the only one outside of the US but make sure you get an upgraded room for the view!

The spa is tranquil. They have a separate swimming pool for general use so you are pretty much guaranteed (outside of saturdays) for a relaxing spot by the pool and water therapies. I’m a reader so this was perfect before a leisurely stroll for my champagne and canopies whilst waiting on my facial. In the package (overnight) it’s a back massage or a facial. I’d say go for the facial as they also massage arms, shoulder and legs from the knee down. Perfect 50 minutes and good advice on my sensitive Scottish skin before a lie down then a stroll back to the room.

I’m now heading up to the bar overlooking the golf course (nothing to see at this time of night) for a cocktail and some food. Back to Edinburgh tomorrow but I feel like I’ve now relaxed into the weekend!

Try it out…Old Course Hotel, St Andrews and their spa package. You won’t regret it and may find an alternative to Stobo. X

My new yoga habit

How I started

I started yoga for the first time last August. Seven months in and I absolutely love it. My gym membership is redundant as a result and in February I was at classes 3-4 times a week.

Like all good cynics of Yoga I always had the view that it was unachievable, too sedentary and full of overly pretentious people who love to give fake hugs and ‘namaste’ every one they see. I was really wrong about this; not for the first time in life! So being in the ‘lets try everything’ frame of mind I took a class at my gym. A bit of time out from the never-ending deadlifts, squats and (the ones I really hate) burpees. I liked it. The instructor was doing free classes as she was pretty new to teaching. But first class in and done I felt pretty relaxed. The next morning my muscles ached. First realisation of yoga, it isn’t as easy and ineffective as I thought. It can be expensive though and my free classes at the budget gym weren’t going to cut it if I wanted to give it a go. Aims – strength (obviously in this day and age) but also flexibility.

Luckily a new studio opened up in Edinburgh and I signed on immediately. The studio you go to is important. This one was perfect. A place that didn’t have an inexplicable list of classes that I wouldn’t understand. Easy explanations of what the types involved, and more importantly, taglines telling me all levels welcome and intensity of each type.

Which class to pick?

I started with Hatha. The slow pace has really allowed me to understand what the poses are, how to build on flows and it also meant my teacher was able to take time to teach me. The class was mixed. Yes there were the tall, skinny typical yogi type. But no one was pretentious. First myth debunked! Secondly I could do most of it without falling over and the strength Ive built up with weights really helped in things like high lunges and planks. I never imagined I would be able to do it. Hatha is great. Its not as easy as I thought it would be and sometimes I wake up with the same DOMS as a leg day in the gym produces but that just makes me more hooked.

I tried Yin. Wow, just wow. There is an edge to the long held stretches. But doing it by candlelight in an Edinburgh studio in winter is just the most relaxing experience. I literally float away from every yin class.

The vinyasa classes. These vary so much depending on the teacher in terms of strength, fluidity. But they all have one thing in common – a class that moves you through an hour of poses which help you develop and make you feel great. I don’t think I could touch my toes at the start of my yoga ‘yourney’ (yes using the lingo now!). Now I can and feel comfortable enough with the other yogis (non-pretentious bunch that they are) to know that my practice is my own and my flexibility is getting better at better. My muscles are even developing (shoulders and back especially!).

I say pick them all and enjoy the variety this brings. There is something for everyone.

Biggest achievement in yoga

Crow! I know it is probably the easiest of the arm balance poses, but for me it is the most impressive thing I have done. There is something about balancing with a somewhat wobbly appearance when you know last week you were face planting the floor.

So today I’m off to my Hatha class. I can’t wait and yes I will bow namaste and be grateful for my practice when its done. I am a yoga person. I like yoga people. I am basically a new me 🙂