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Perseverance personified


They say that Leith is a state of mind. ‘Sunshine on Leith’ the philosophy. Our motto, to persevere.

Every spring Leith enlivens, shaking off our winter layers for the brief summertime. We make up for the dark winter by embracing long bright June days with open arms and taps aff. We sit, lean or stand in any patch of sun we can find.

Tables outside the Harp and Castle pub populate early on a sunny day, the clientele pinking in the rays. There are a good many places to catch the sun in Leith. Sometimes it’s a glimpsing ray that has made its way around a corner on Leith Walk. The tables at Vittoria on Brunswick Street or Artisan Café on Balfour Street both get corner sun.

Whilst I’m not a fan of the tram street furniture, I have (kind of) got used to it. I’m starting to appreciate the brutalist rusty planter boxes now there’s some blooms. They also make excellent leaning spots for those glimpses of sunshine.

If you prefer to sit, I highly recommend carrying a travel towel in your bag. It packs small and is essential for comfortable outdoor sitting - we can be a good three degrees chillier (and damper, with haar) than up the toon.

I first started carrying a travel towel after re-reading The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy when I was turning 42. Some of the soundest life advice is to always carry a towel. Thanks Arthur Dent.

Enough retro sci-fi, onto the very real subject of where to get sunshine on Leith (not just a Proclaimers anthem):

Sitting on the Shore: The most obvious place for summer is The Shore. Dangling your feet over the edge towards the water and watching the swans is a tradition here.

A new tradition is the benches on Customs Wharf, supping a fine flat white from Williams and Johnson Coffee Co. Picnic tables at Teuchers Landing need a special mention as favourite haunts for sunset socialising. The food delivered to the table is pretty good (try their Mac in a Mug if you’re feeling the chilly breeze, it sticks to your ribs and warms the cockles). Hooray for the repaired bridge too, a highlight on my ‘Shore loop’ run I do with PT clients (we chat restaurant recommendations, running is easier when talking about food).

Growing Your Own: We’ve had an allotment in Leith for over a decade and feel truly blessed. It took a wait of nearly 7 years, but the waitlist nowadays is impossibly long. C’mon Council, build more allotment plots!

Urban gardening in Leith is coming on in leaps and bounds, thanks partly to Earth in Common (formerly Crops in Pots) of Leith Community Croft on Leith Links. This super group has growing space, a café and learning opportunities. If you want to have a go at growing, drop them a line.

Go Al Fresco: with a picnic in Pilrig park. Part of the ritual is dragging the picnic blanket into the sun as the shadows lengthen. Grabbing something from a local café to enjoy (or for the tipplers, a can from the nearby Pilot brewery, mochaccino stout recommended).

Head along the coast: If tourists and the ding of the tram is driving you mad, escape on two wheels following the cycle path to Cramond or the other way to Portobello beach.

Wander the Water of Leith: a fav sunny spot is the decrepit concrete and brick benches just before you get to Coalie park. A suntrap with ducks to watch. A Saturday morning wander to Leith Market along the Water of Leith always a good thing. Leith Market has the hardiest of traders as they’re there year round. In the summertime they’re very happy and there’s a wee spot to sit and enjoy artisanal food.

Scenic fish ‘n’ chips: Not strictly Leith, but an evening perambulation to Newhaven harbour for a fancy version at the Fishmarket – sitting on the harbour steps watching the sun set, is bliss.

Gala Day: Always the second Saturday in June on the Links, Leith Festival Gala is glorious when it’s sunny and memorable when it’s not. Catching up with locals and checking out all the stalls and entertainment is peak sunshine on Leith.

On 10am to 5pm Saturday 18 June, you’ll find live music, a mix of stalls, storytelling, kids activities, food and even a dog show. Best of all, it’s free

Sun shadows on buildings of Leith Walk: Just look up! And see the shadows on the buildings, ghost signs and chimney stacks, lit up, up high. Thanks to the ever-changing landscape of Leith, we now have different buildings, different shadows and different suntraps.

My favourite may not do it for you. I’ve heard our editor used to frequent a certain graveyard for his UV fix (not now dog Thomas has arrived).

Wherever your favourite spot to enjoy sunshine on Leith is, I wish you a happy summer solstice, and Happy 20th Birthday to The Leither.

Perseverance personified. ■


X: @tracygriffen

Sun shadows on Leith buildings, just look up and see the shadows, ghost signs, and chimney stacks



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