Posted by: jeannineatkins | August 30, 2016

Edinburgh Writing Tables, Scotland Views

I had a wonderful week with my daughter, starting in London where we visited sites for two days, the second less sleep-deprived than the first. At King’s Cross Station, where happy people imagined a brick wall opening for them, Emily and I boarded a train not to Hogwarts, but Scotland. Close enough.



Emily took some great pictures as we walked the stone streets of Edinburgh, where we often turned corners and spotted the astonishing castle on green cliffs, a glimpse of the sea, or signs of poetry and fiction love.


One morning I sipped tea and ate porridge in The Elephant House, watching fog rise over the same castle that J.K. Rowling saw when she hunkered in that still-welcoming café for hours, trying to stay warm while writing her first book about Harry Potter.


I looked past stacks of free curling magazines, spider plants with yellowing strands, and worked on a poem while hearing Paul McCartney’s Blackbird play, then Auld Lang Syne, one of Scotland’s most famous poems.

Some successful years later, when J.K. Rowling couldn’t write among the wobbly wood chairs and tables in peace, she left this college part of town – the café is down the block from the library –and hid out in a room of the elegant Balmoral Hotel to finish a sequel. That room is now named in her honor.


The city has the world’s tallest statue for a writer — Sir Walter Scott — and The Writer’s Museum, which celebrates him, Robert Burns, and Robert Louis Stevenson.


Here’s a first edition of A Child’s Garden of Verses, which hold some of the earliest poems I remember.


People walk on or past engraved stones outside the museum.


We visited the Edinburgh Book Festival where lovely lines of people waited to purchase  armfuls of books. Emily and I alternated two days in the city with two days of taking van or bus into the Highlands, where we saw more old abbeys, castles, and stunning views. Heather mixed with green grasses on the hillsides.



We gazed up at taller mountains and into deeper lakes, or lochs, than those I love in Massachusetts, where I sit now. But I close my eyes and remember views of Loch Ness and Glen Coe.



  1. Magnificent! What a rich trip!

  2. Lovely writing, as always Jeannine. I have read all of Alexander McCall Smith’s books, and feel I already know Scotland from his wonderful (and loving) descriptions. If you have not yet read his Isabel Dalhousie series, you may want to give them a try. I long to go to Scotland myself one day, and thank you for the vicarious journey there!

    • Thanks, Laurie — you are such a traveler! I know you’d love Scotland.

  3. What a wonderful adventure! I was swooning all through this post. The Elephant House! The Balmoral Hotel! Wow! And what gorgeous views of the Highlands. I also felt a wave of nostalgia, since I also visited Loch Ness with my mother.

    • That’s so touching to know you were at Loch Ness with your mother. What a great memory. Yes, much swooning to be done in the face of those views, and the more intimate moments: channeling J.K. Rowling over tea, Emily and I wondering if we could just peek into that room at the Balmoral Hotel.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: