I have loved Edinburgh since I first visited it as a pretentious backpacking student in 2006. It’s one of the more historical-feeling cities I’ve been to, as most of the buildings are UNESCO protected in both the Old Town (where the castle and Holyrood House are) and the New Town (which isn’t that new – 18th century). Edinburgh used to smell like malt and yeast, which always brought me back to the first time I stepped off the train at Waverley into a purple and gold whisky evening, until in 2010 the North British Distillery erected an “odour control tower” (oh yes) and the smell stopped. It is the least pleasant aroma I’ve ever genuinely missed, although you can still catch a little bit when the wind is right.
The scent of rich whisky being made had only just vanished last December when we arrived very late in the evening, having got the train up from London after work. After a deep sleep in a cosy bed and the above realisation, we woke up and realised we hadn’t brought up any presents for our hosts AT ALL, nor either of Ewan’s cousins (the Tory one and the good one) nor his nearly ninety-year-old grandmother.
What followed was a multi-day Inspector Clouseau-style dash around Edinburgh’s small city centre as we tried to buy presents for five family members, who were also out trying to buy last-minute presents for us. After a hairy near-miss with Ewan’s uncle in a whisky shop (hurrah! whisky! we privately exulted) we made it to the relative safety of my favourite shop in Edinburgh, Jenners department store.