Monday, January 16, 2012


Today I gave Daughter 1 and Grandson a lift down to the baby group in Joppa. He wore his stripey hoodie. While they were there I went for a walk in the frosty sunshine. We used to live in Joppa; in fact, I lived there most of my life. Our current house is on the other side of Edinburgh but we may well move back some day. I miss the sea. It was just after 1pm, but you can see how low the sun is in the sky by the long shadows on the beach. Just out of sight to the left, there was a middle-aged, sturdy-looking woman jogging slowly along the sand, about to run into the picture. Very commendable, I thought, but she's never going to keep it up for long.
The sea is there, all right, but there was a low mist concealing the skyline.
We moved to the west side of Edinburgh nearly 22 years ago for the sake of the children's schooling but we still drive down to Joppa most Sundays to go to church. However, I haven't really walked around the district much since then. (22 years slips away very quickly; how can it be that long?) Here I am standing in the Quarry Park, which used to be at the end of the street we lived in when the children were small. Well, the park and the street are still there, but to my surprise there's no longer a path through. Houses have been built in the place where there were garages and a gap in the wall.
So I walked up to the main road and down and round into "our" street. I'd looked along it often enough while driving past it over the years but I don't think I've ever walked along it since moving - it's a short cul-de-sac. Today I wandered along it, remembering all the people who lived in it when we were there. Quite a few of them are dead, sadly: Miss Mackenzie and Miss Oliver and Miss Kerr as well as Sandra, who was younger than me. And other neighbours have moved away. I don't think anyone is left whom we knew.
I stood in front of "our" house and noticed the front path. When we arrived, it consisted of rather cracked concrete and we spent quite a lot of money (at least, it seemed a lot to us, in our rather impecunious state at that time) getting it neatly paved. The paving slabs were alternately pink (or was it green?) and cream. When I looked at them now, I was amazed to see that they were dirty grey and no longer flat: roots must have lifted them over the years. They looked as if they'd been there for centuries. Yet to me it seems no time since we left. I couldn't believe that this could have happened. I felt like - I'd like to say Sleeping Beauty but maybe Rip Van Winkle would be more appropriate. Some evil fairy seemed to have come and done horrid things overnight to our tidy path.
She's not really improved me either... .
Looking round the street, I felt it was just the same and yet totally different: a very weird sensation, as if I could blink and the wrong colours of the doors (ours is now black), the easy-to-maintain landscaping of Miss Oliver's garden and the smart railings on Darrell and Bill's wall would all disappear.
When I walked back down to the beach I took a photo of the sturdy lady: still doggedly running along the beach - in the opposite direction - an hour after I'd seen her before.
(Grr, Blogger's done for the paragraph spacings again. And I can't comment on Fran's or Rachel's blogs. Come on, Blogger, stop mucking about.)


  1. Now you know how Rip Van Winkle must have felt! Sometimes going back is not a good idea.

  2. I couldn't agree with you more -- where DOES the time go? Sometimes I drive through our old neighborhood to the house we had built when the kids were babies. It looks much the same as we left it -- yet different. Most of our old neighbors are still there though.

    Have you ever been to the website "Dear Photograph"? People take an old photo and hold it up to the current surroundings -- it's really fun. I want to take a picture at our old house -- maybe someday I'll be brave enough to ask the new owners if it's ok.

    So, does Joppa have a sea wall? Is that common in Scotland? Like they have in Holland?

  3. I agree with Jennifer....going back is not always pleasant - quite the opposite I found on returning to my first ( and only other house and garden since married. )It was completely trashed from renting out to share milkers and young folk who don't believe housekeeping of any sort is needed. I think I was more sorry about the state of the garden which we lovingly broke in and first planted. The house was built new for us just 44 years ago of brick so it should not have got into that state.

    There is a coincidence. We live right next door( share the boundary fence ) to a Quarry Park and our road is called Quarry Road.
    Walking on the beach is wonderful; when deserted it is even better.

  4. I can understand why you miss that lovely beach and all the green space. It`s not unlike the place where I grew up in southern Hampshire. Like you, I find it unsettling to revisit. The place is peopled by ghosts and strangers.....

  5. No, no sea wall like in Holland. Holland is flat; Scotland isn't. We're not in any danger of being inundated, I hope. Or not till the icebergs melt.

  6. ... still giggling about the "sturdy lady"... hee hee hee!

  7. Blogger loves to muck all of us about!
    I find revisiting places I once lived, or loved, never quite works for me.

  8. What lovely pics - it was a cracker of a day wasn't it?

    I dont think I've ever revisited anywhere. Oh, maybe Bristol where I was at Uni but not sure that counts as I didn't own anything there or live in any one flat for long. Not sure I'd want to really. Maybe go and have a poke around Grimsby which I left when I was 5 but that is also quite different.

    Grandson still as adorable as ever I see.

    And finally, Go Sturdy Jogger!! We sturdy lady runners have to stick up for each other!!

    Lesley x

  9. I went to Google maps used Street view and walked along a street I'd lived on as a child. It felt so strange. Though the houses looked more or less the same everything seemed so small.

  10. I have moved around a lot and every now and then I will revisit an area where I once lived. Sometimes I am flooded with memories (good and bad) and other times it just leaves me devoid of any feelings for the place. One rather downtrodden area I lived near is becoming rather artsy and full of nice bistros and galleries and I would now like to live there again, though probably couldn't afford it - especially as I would like to be in the same house without the six room-mates.