I came, I saw - I wore myself out! Edinburgh - what a city!
Of course, I didn't wise up to the fact The Fringe Festival was also on at the time. My thinking on the way up in the train was; it'll be busy. I arrived and the city was crammed to bursting with people all in search of a good time. I've lived in a few big cities in my time but rarely those that are so efficient. Case in point - by the end of the day the streets were covered in everything - those that had finally given up - litter - the odd lost pet. But by the morning the city was as shiny as a new pin. How do they do that!?
Back to the Literary Festival. It has a much more mellow vibe going on. People where sat around in comfy chairs shooting the breeze and necking good quality gin from the generously sized, all things gin bar, located in the centre of the festival - so I'm thinking - yup, my kinda place. Its a multiple marquee set-up - so a little different than your regular venue. It stretched from a park and across the road which had been pedestrianised for the purpose. The biggest difference I found to some of the larger literary festivals; for example London International Literary Festival was the tempo. Edinburgh was more gingham and less suits. There were literary events a'plenty and many that were free to enter. I meandered around sucking up the atmosphere and thinking deep literary thoughts - yeah right. Actually, I pretty much marched through each marquee snagging up free-bees along the way - I now have enough HB pencils to last a dozen books and stand-back...as I flaunt my Edinburgh Lit tote at the checkout of my local supermarket - yes, it doesn't take much to rock my world! There were a authors signing books - although, it seemed many need a hand break as they weren't at their desks - just their books. Did I see or meet anyone you would have raised your eyebrows for? - not personally.
I had made it my mission to visit the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Centre; home of the Edinburgh Association of Spiritualists; - I wasn't disappointed. Eleanor, a very knowledgeable guide showed me around. There's an almost church/library type feel when you enter, I almost felt like whispering. The internal architecture is truly breathtaking, from the Egyptian style black marble fireplace on the far wall as you enter to the incredible view of the domed and decorated ceiling that can be seen from the ground floor looking up through four floors. It has all the marvelous architectural characteristics of the upper echelons during the Edwardian/Victorian era - so I was somewhat reminded of Sherlock's rooms in Baker Street - but there is something undefinably mystic within its walls. There are wonderful works of art and I was loath to leave after so short a stay.
So to sum up - Edinburgh Lit festival = books as far as the eye could see - people swigging gin - arty types throwing their shawls over their shoulders and men in pink shirts with deep tans - I'm guessing they're agents, as we writers rarely see daylight. The Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Centre = if you don't pay a visit you'll miss something memorable to last you a life-time.