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Geographically Challenged vs. Edinburgh

A month ago I decided that I would take up Tai Chi and was reliably informed that a good class ran at Edinburgh University. I have been eagerly looking forward to it since - it's something entirely new and may prove to be a challenge. A small amount of research unearthed when the class was to begin a new term. That happens to be today: the class is, in fact, going on as I type. The class started at 7 and it's now 8.15. So why aren't I there doing the slow motion stretchy thing?

I am a trifle geographically challenged. That is, I couldn't tell you which way East was if you offered me a year's supply of chocolate spread and I don't retain directions from one journey to the next. I tend to find my way around by sight. If you asked me how to get to the seafront in Folkestone, where I've lived for the best part of 23 years, I'd generally direct you via buildings along the way rather than road names.

Edinburgh being a new town for me, it's taking me a while to get my bearings. So I headed out this evening armed with a map which cairmen had helpfully printed off for me; the route to the relevant part of the University looked simple enough. What could possibly go wrong? If I took a wrong turn and arrived a tad late, so be it. Sure enough, I found my way to the nearest main road without much trouble. I'd say I found the turn off from it without any trouble, too, but I only really found it to be next to me by gazing blankly out of the car window whilst pulled up at traffic lights.

I think I found the University. There seemed to be a lot of suspiciously student-y types wandering around and there were glimpses across the pavement of an officious concrete complex. Oh, there was also a sign which read 'Edinburgh University'. The problem was that there appeared to be little parking. I drove around what I assumed was the academic area looking for a turn in or some kind of car park, and ended up going down a one way street.

I drove for some time in the same direction as I'd ended up in an area of town which looked unfamiliar. Suicidal pedestrians, whom are *everywhere* and swarm across Edinburgh's roads at will but particularly when cars are less than 5 yards away, were doing their thing from all sides. I'd not seen a single signpost for ten minutes but it was when I spotted the one directing me to Carlysle and Peebles that I decided turning around was a good idea. On a side note: who on earth names a township 'Peebles'? Surely there's some kind of written accord for naming a residential area and whomever signed that one must have had more than enough cause for thought before scrawling a signature.

Upon seeing said sign I promptly took the next turning and got more lost. I quickly gained a newfound awe of cyclists: they were coming out in force and seemed to have a teleport spell which allows them to be halfway up the street by the time I'd turned the corner just two seconds after they had.

As it was quickly getting dark and I didn't recognise any buildings or shops - although I did misread some of their names admirably - I quickly adopted the "see lots of cars, follow them; they're probably headed for a) town centre or b) Newcastle". This strategy led me to a park which looked vaguely familiar so long as I ignored the nagging feeling that I'd seen several such parks around Edinburgh, and then to a sign to the Royal Mile. This is a mythical area of Edinburgh. I believe I've driven through it several times before, though I've only a whimsical idea when I've begun and so ended being on said Mile.

My subconscious led me back to Easter Road - the appearance of which was quite a surprise to me - and I decided that I'd give getting to class one more go. I went round again, taking the same route to the University and past it, again lacking parking. I somehow also managed to take mostly the same route back to Easter Road whilst cutting out at least 30 minutes of the first trip's Peebley detour.

So. Annoyed? Yes. Defeated? Nope, I found the place, now's just to find parking ready for next week. If anything this has confirmed several creeping suspicions: that I need to learn to read maps, which is something I've started doing in the past couple of weeks; to research parking in advance and arm my car with anti-pedestrian heat-seeking missiles.


( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 28th, 2009 05:25 pm (UTC)
Hi I added you as a friend. We met at Simon and Alex's flat party a couple of weeks ago - I'm Jackie(Ask Hugh if you don't remember me)
Oct. 1st, 2009 01:04 pm (UTC)
*waves hello* I was at the American banquet - adding you too :)
Oct. 1st, 2009 01:37 pm (UTC)
Have added you too!

I suggest a number 5 bus for next time. Leaves from London Road and goes up North Bridge, dropping you off a three minute walk from the university buildings. Getting parking in the center of town is notoriously painful.
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )

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