Water of Leith

P1020927.JPG We took a wee stroll on Sunday (a wee 10 km stroll that is), from the Gallery of Modern Art down the Water of Leith to the port/shore/firth at Leith itself. Something of a pilgrimage for a Plenderleith, of course, since one of the more interesting possible derivations of my surname is a descendancy from Viking explorers who once plundered Leith. (The Penguin Dictionary of Surnames has something a bit less interesting involving an Old English phrase for ‘under the tree’ – then again, maybe that is quite interesting in its own right).

P1020920.JPG We started at the Gallery of Modern Art, passing one of Anthony Gormley’s ‘6 times‘ statues on the way out. The only one not standing in water, he looked much more cheerful wearing my hat. It was a beautiful Sunday and the course of the river was a bit of a revelation to me, the deep faces of the gorge topped with a whole gamut of architectural gems, parks and gardens carpeted with snowdrops, bridges, weirs and mighty trees, birdsong heralding a very busy Spring in the city, a symbiosis of nature and civilisation. It wasn’t all idyllic sunlight sparkling on crystal-clear water, of course, this being Scotland there is a healthy crop of plastic along the banks, and the odd supermarket trolley provides some unintended urban art. But it was rather lovely.

P1020941.JPG We’ve done lots of walking and cycling along water, Dee and I. While all comparisons are of course invidious, they are also in many ways inevitable. Some of the wooden-fronted houses were reminiscent of La Petite France in Strasbourg. We were both taken back to the day in 2000 when we did the ‘Philosophers’ Walk’ in Kyoto, Japan (one of the things I remember most clearly about that day was being brought back to earth when we rounded a corner to see a Starbucks coffee shop before us, arising from the mist of the river and the rain of the cherry blossom like a mirage in the eastern desert).

P1020923.JPG Yesterday’s oasis was the equally welcome Cafe Truva in Leith. We were initially thwarted in our quest for Gormley’s last, or first, statue looking out to sea by our unwillingness to bow to the requirement to view it from the deck of the Royal Yacht Britannia. We went back later in the car and you can just about see him from the Asda car park across the water, but not clearly enough to photograph, even with Dee’s new camera. A lovely day – here are some pictures.

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