At this time of year I often find my thoughts turning to a little place just outside Edinburgh, a place in which I lived for a few years and have loved ever since. Its waves soaked my feet. Its sand blew into my house. Its skies painted themselves on the backs of my eyes…

For an outsider looking in, Portobello has the air of a scruffy old seaside village quietly forgotten by its once faithful flock of holiday-makers. But once you pass through the curtains of judgement and arrive on the inside, it is that very emptiness which will keep you there. Like an old woman who has lived through her own heyday, Portobello seems wise, unhurried to be anything other than lost in time. Her beauty has faded but still she is loved by the folk who live in the once grand old houses which line the streets and lanes leading from the high street down to the beach. Few villagers ever even think of leaving Portie, as it is known locally. They are trapped by the small signs of honest life. The smell of salt and vinegar wafting from fish and chip shops, the mass of old dears oozing out of the bingo hall every Friday night, the never ending sound of waves crashing just outside the window. And then there’s the beach – and the light above it. Many locals feel their breath catch in their throats when they glimpse the early morning winter skies. The sun hangs so low at one end of the promenade that it almost touches the ground, like a huge flaming ball it spits its colours across the sky to the other end of the prom where the moon is beginning to fade. And these displays of natural fireworks, these morning performances scream out from the heart of this old Scottish beauty that there’s life left in her yet.

Looking out from Portobello beach – albeit without the light!

Category: Writing

3 comments on “Portobello

  1. As a German, (so pardon my English), i loved Portobello, for the few days I was there. It had this, “Death in Venice” feeling, except it was not in Venice. I remember the halls with all the old gambling machines, which are so much more fun than any computer game. Then I drank a wonderful crappy coffee in a big hall where people played a strange bowling game, something like “lawn bowls”. Whatever… I agree with the author: Portobello has a certain kind of magic, even for a German…

  2. loved the description of porti.yes i am a local.looking forward to reading your book and discussing with book club

    • Thank you Lynn for your comment and your interest. Book is out next Friday! It doesn’t feature Portobello, but will take you to another beautiful corner of Scotland…

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