City Chambers Station
Edinburgh’s Old Town transports me back in time and feels home to many wonders and mysteries.
Moving house takes a lot of time, who knew? My wife and I (but admittedly mainly my wife) have spent the last fortnight packing up our lives and unpacking them again. We've moved about 2.4km, which isn't far at all except when you have two van loads of stuff, two cats, and a dog to shift. That's why I'm behind schedule with the weekly blog posts, but hopefully we can get back on track. Let's jump right back into it shall we, with the next instalment in my ongoing series about Just Eat Cycle Hire Stations.
City Chambers Station Location
Today I'm focussing on the area around the City Chambers’ Station, which is located in the quadrangle of the City Chambers building on the Royal Mile. I don't bike here that often - though I did recently to attend the Edinburgh Open Streets earlier in May - but I like exploring around here. Edinburgh's high street is a unique urban environment. It's full of narrow wee side streets known as closes. I've spent the last few months on my walks to work cutting down closes on both sides of the mile, curious to see what secrets they might hold.
Transported Through Time
There's something about these winding, sloping streets that transports me back in time. Edinburgh is an old city, but the hobbled and cobbled streets around the City Chambers, in particular, make me feel like I'm in a time when people wore cloaks, feet booted up to their knees, traded in gold coins, and ale was considered a good breakfast. It's a place of pure fantasy and feels steeped in lore — Riddles Court in particular looks like a set from Game of Thrones' King's Landing. If you're into Game of Thrones or novels of that ilk, take the time to explore Edinburgh's closes. Go on your own and go in the early morning around 0700, it is imagination realised.
Exploring Edinburgh's Closes in the early morning has allowed me to discover some quite beautiful things. I found an old stone plaque that marked the entrance to an 'out school' for girls who attended George Heriot's dated 1839. I found a lock, so rusted I thought it was trying to age itself to catch up with its surroundings. I found an actual Sinclair C5, the personal electric vehicle that was unfortunately way ahead of its time. In this setting, it looked like something from the future! There are some genuinely excellent things to discover down a close. One thing, in particular, was an answer to a question I've sought for a long time.
Pigeons, where do they nest?
For as long as I can remember, there is one question I have always wanted to answer. Where do pigeons nest? I've seen seagull nests, I've seen chicken nests, I've even watched an osprey nest on a live webcam, but never have I seen a pigeon nest. That was until April this year. Crouching to take a photo of a fallen seed-pod I heard a frantic chirping and the unmistakable 'thrubbing' of pigeons. The high pitched chirping was the sound of baby birds. This squabble of crying bird song was the sound of pigeon chicks!
I quietly pivoted, tilting my head to hear the direction of the nest. I spotted a gap in the wall, not a close, just some dead space caged over with some drain pipes running through it. It was dark, but a small spot of light was coming down from above, gently illuminating the area. I could make out the familiar silhouettes of city pigeons, the sort with the usual raggedy dusty feathers. I frantically messed with my camera settings to bring the brightness of the image up without distorting it too much and snapped some photos. I grinned from ear to ear.
This series has brought a lot of joyous experiences, but none so much as the sight of those pigeons. I'll keep saying it, travelling by bike and going by foot slows the world down and provides the time to notice and appreciate more things. I wouldn't have heard the pigeons chirping if I was on a bus or in a car. Active travel is a rewarding activity, and if you can, I encourage you to adopt the lifestyle. Slow down, get active, and listen for the birds singing.
Next week I'll be doing my best to understand the criticism and doubt facing the Edinburgh Open Streets project. In a fortnight I'll be writing about the Just Eat Cycle's Station within Waverley Station.
Thanks for reading.