It happens each October in the ancient and storied city of Edinburgh.
The Storytelling Center is in a house built in 1490, the last residence of Protestant reformer John Knox.
The festival opened with Scottish stories, although this year’s focus was on South and Central America.
Two doors down from the center was our flat, with a splendid view.
What a treat to arrive at the height of the autumn color!
Every day we filled up our story banks. In Scotland a guid crack is lively conversation, the sharing of gossip, news, stories. Over lunch, Meg’s brother Jim told ghost stories, personal stories, and history fun facts. The storytelling gene clearly runs strong in their family.
We picked up stories and histories from the castles, and a few from Holyrood Palace…
…where Mary, Queen of Scots, once lived (in the older wing).
We visited The National Portrait Gallery, The Edinburgh Museum, The Museum of Childhood, and the photography exhibit in the Parliament Building. The People’s Story was a museum highlighting the changing conditions and the continuing pursuit of social justice for the people of Edinburgh, including women and the LGBTQ community.
I was intrigued by a painting hanging on the wall of The National Gallery. It depicted the very room it was displayed in as it had appeared when painted over a century before. Not much had changed.
We popped into Jenner’s, an elegant department store built in 1895, where they weren’t allowed to remodel, because it was a ‘listed’ historic building. Meg grew up in a nearby village and would ride the train to town with her mother to shop, but they went to the C&A down the street. Meg remembers window shopping at Jenner’s as a college student.
Mostly we just did window shopping.
But you know…
…in Edinburgh even window shopping is quite special.
I loved the Tartans.
And there’s nothing like a kilt to make a man look his best.
But even in Scotland accessories can make–or break–the outfit.
Everywhere we went, we were just steps away from natural beauty.
There were ancient churches and cathedrals around every corner.
Steep narrow passages called ‘closes’ spread like ribs from the spine formed by The Royal Mile.
Edinburgh looked like a city on tiptoe…
…with so many layers of mystery and history just waiting to be discovered.
Meg had to translate the words on this sign for me. It says, “Long may your chimney smoke,” but it means, “May you always have fuel for your fire,” which is a cozy way of wishing someone a long and healthy life.
I never did discover the answer to the vital question most visitors wonder about when they come to Scotland, but are too polite to ask.
Which is probably all for the best.
All words and images ©2016 Naomi Baltuck.