Glasgow-born Archie MacPherson is now Rector of Edinburgh University where he was elected by the students and stall to follow in the footsteps of David Steel. Archie is best known for football, however. He is one of Scotland's leading commentators on the game. Currently working for network BBC, this month he will be reporting on the Commonwealth Games.
Edinburgh— fora Glasgwcgian it‘s so near and yet so far. I‘ve been in
Edinburgh frequently over the years and yet this is the first time. as Rector of Edinburgh University. I‘ve had a solid connection with it. It‘s been a great eye-opener. especially around the University area itself. One ofthe nicest places of all must surely be Milnes Court. a hall ofresidence that is quite simply superb. It feels like the epicentre of the city. I love it and make a point of going to the student balls held there in term time.
I find myselfin a few ofthe student bars close to George Square. Maxies Wine Bar and The Pear Tree pub are both typically ‘student‘. Maxies is one ofthese ‘Frenchish‘ restaurants in Edinburgh with a varied menu and good wines. Very informal; suits me. I‘ve also been into Sandy Bell‘s with Hamish Henderson bttt to be honest my main drinking area is Rose Street where I go to La Coquette. a typical bar-cum-lunch place where a lot journalists drink.
Rose Street itself makes one ofthe most interesting pub crawls of any city in the world. The Abbotsford is a magnificent pub. as is. as I remember it. The Cafe Royal. The last time I was there was in the 1970 Commonwealth Games — but then you can't be drinking everywhere!
I tried the Aye. the new Japanese restaurant. the other day. which lived up to its reputation — it was hugely expensive! At first I thought I was going to be disappointed. I don‘t like eating raw meats of any kind but in the end I warmed to it and got to like it. I‘m very fond ofCosmo‘s. a wonderful Italian restaurant and l was very impressed with the Sheraton Hotel brunch. Simply one of the best brunches in one of the airiest and lightest restaurants in the city. It may look like a Civil Service office block from the outside bttt inside it‘s wonderful. All in all I‘m a great believer in hotels and I've stayed in Sheratons all over the world — not that I'm necessarily
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saying it is the best in Edinburgh. I like the Carlton and the George very much. It’s solid and it's Edinburgh.
My earliest memories of the city are of the Zoo. when we came on a school trip. In those days Edinburgh seemed like a very distant place fora Glaswegian and we thought we were going to a different country. I remember being amazed that the tram cars were a different colour; maroon instead of Glasgow‘s green and yellow. We ate in a little Princes Street tea room where I heard my first Edinburgh accent — an old woman asking me (I think) for 'a bite' from my plate.
Things have changed since then. indeed they‘ve changed since I was here for the last Commonwealth Games. I don't think the KingJames Centre had been built then and I‘m certainly not an admirer of that. Leith is an interesting area which I saw again recently when I had lunch there. I liked the whole atmosphere. the ambience ofthe place. What do
you think are its chances of
becoming a totally revived area‘.’ There are other areas in the world I have been to where similar things have happened. York town in Toronto isn‘t exactly the same but it’s similar— it was inhabited by hippies and down and outs and was
3 an absolute dump. Now it is one of
the most exclusive places in the city; expensive condominiums. superb and varied restaurants. It has I happened to umpteen areas of New York. I think it‘s great when it does happen. I remember Peter Shaffer the playwright talking about how the tenement block was the definitive urban way of living — everything within a few yards ofevery other. The cinema on the corner. the hamburger bar. the Greek
restaurant. the barbers. the laundry — all contained in the one block. Glasgow was like that — that's why. and not so much with Edinburgh. I felt such an immediate affinity with New York I think.
Really there is no exact parallel to Edinburgh. although there are things that remind me ofcities like Stockholm or Vancouver— the airiness ofthe castle in relation to the city brings in mind the mountains of Vancouver. the discreetly laid out streets remind me of Stockholm.
I would certainly advise tourists to go and see the Castle. It may be a cliche. an old standard bttt it is none the less for that. I would certainly go up Calton Hill and have a look at the city from that angle — it gives a real feel for the city. And ofcourse you should always make the effort to go up Arthur‘s Seat.
I like the Old Town — the Grassmarket is a development that does a lot ofgood to the city and contains some lovely buildings — but if I were to take one thing about Edinburgh to build my perfect city it would be the layout ofthe New
Town. Ifthere isone thing I
dislike it's the traffic. Come
the Festival. you won't be
able to move!
Edinburgh University Edinburgh University is over 400 years old and is based on its George Square campus in the Old Town and at King‘s Buildings to the south ofthe city. This summer the Old Quad will be used as a ‘stage' for the Festival production by the Japanese Toho Company of Medea.
Milne’s Court home of the first university hall of residence. Patrick Geddes Hall. Magnificent panelled dining room and the millionaires' view across to Princes Street. Stay there for Bed and Breakfast throughout the summer. £13.70 per night each person. single or double room.
Maxies Bistro 32b West Nicolson Street,()3l 667 (I845. Informal French food place in same building as The Pear Tree. see below.
The Pear Tree 36 West Nicolson Street. Ultimate student pub in lovely. rediscovered old building and with beer garden.
Sandy Bell’s Forest Hill Bar. 25 Forest Road. Nick-named after a famous landlord. traditionally the
home of folk music — but hardly so now.
Hamish Henderson A determined Scot Nat. and poet to be found in the University‘s School of Scottish studies.
Rose Street Rtms parallel with Princes Street. More pubs per foot than anywhere else!
Aye Japanese Restaurant so Queen Street.ll3l 2265467. Edinburgh‘s only Japanese restaurant.
Cosmo‘s Restaurant 58 Castle Street. ()31 226 67-13.
Sheraton Hotel 1 Festival Square. (Bl 229 9131 . Lunch or Brunch on a Sunday served in the main restaurant. A carvery-style meal £l().5()including aglass of wine (Buck‘s Fizz on Sundays).
Carlton Hotel North Bridge. 556 7277. Recently completely re-furbished — now complete with (small) swimming pool!
The George Hotel 21 George Street. 031225 l251.0uintessentially Edinburgh.
Edinburgh Zoo (‘orstorphine Road. 031334 9171. Open every dayol'the year. Mon—Sat 9am—6pm. Sun 9.3(I—6pm.
King James Centre At East End of Princes Street the monstrous shopping centre — well at least it has John Lewis. Soon to be made even bigger in order to ‘mask its bulk‘. Leith Follow l.eith Walk to the town arguably as old as Edinburgh bttt in recent years the poor relation. Now becoming the ‘yuppie‘ centre bttt with some of the nicest bars in Edinburgh (see Drinking).
The Grassmarket Once the home of the public gallows and haunt of Burke and Hare. In more recent times a mix of hostels for the homeless and expensive shops. The New Town The great eighteenth century addition to the city — nowhere else in the country can compare with the scale (at that time) ofthis formal development. Perhaps the most beautiful sections ofall are the crescents ofthe Moray estate. Charlotte Square and Ann Street.
Edinburgh Castle A must for the tourist..but not apparently as popular as Glasgow's Burrell. Now there are plans to commercialize the Castle further— level the esplanade. high class restaurant. arcade of shops. audio-visual displays— that sort of thing.
Calton Hill Free at the East End of Princes Street. Climb or take the car. The unfinished National Monument crowns the top. along side Nelson‘s Tower (lookout for the signal ball on the top that drops at one o‘clock each day).
Arthur’s Seal Volcanic activity past provides strenuous activity present for bill walkers. In the middle of Holyrood Park.
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