A Note From The Editor
A Note From The Editor
Oh My Edinburgh
I've grown up on the other side of the river, literally. Born and bred in the heart of Dunfermline, I spent sixteen years of my life watching my father live his life in our little semi-detached War House and travel relentlessly back and forth between the kingdom of Fife, and a little place you might have heard of called- Edinburgh.
I could never quite comprehend why he would travel the half hour every day to serve his role in that city, which he could have perfectly done in a more local setting. His secular decision and passion for our capital intrigued me through my school years and when I moved on from high school, it was only natural I decide to study in Edinburgh itself.
I remember the routine well. I'd get the 7.57am train (just) every morning from Dunfermline Queen Margaret train station, and watch as my initially quiet carriage piled in with people of all backgrounds in the space of four stops. It takes nine stops for me to get into the City of Edinburgh. In that space of time, my window is brimming with scenery and I get to look out towards the North Sea on a historically protected ironworks bridge which dates over 125 years old. So, it's not the worst commute I've ever been on.
At a time when the Waverley steps were still actually steps, I would burn my thighs from station to street. Making my way up the never-ending staircase of rush hour hell in an attempt to catch the 10 bus off Jenners. And I never did. Not that the bus was late, or early, or for any legitimate serious reason. My reason for missing that bus every day, really and truly? Coffee.
Half way up the steps was this little coffee shop. No bigger than four steps long and three steps wide. A free pastry with every coffee and a smiling student behind the counter. It was a nice addition to my routine, I could stop my heart attack half way up the mordor-inspired steps and grab a coffee/pastry combo with a quick chat before I ran off to college with my made-up story on train delays. That was just one thing that made me love Edinburgh, the idea of routine mixed with a sense of personability. The fact that, unlike the metropolis of London, in spite of Edinburgh's rush hour it still had time for something small and comforting. An independent shop that grew to know each passing face, no matter how much we did or did not want to be working that morning- The free pastry and smile up the stairs made it a little nicer.
But then things got unfortunate. One morning, I noticed a board opposite my favourite little coffee shop. There was another coffee shop opening, a pretty famous one at that. And it was opening right across from mine. "Great" I thought "Less queues for me on my commute, most people will be heading to [said competitor] instead" - As the weeks went by, I noticed each day I entered my shop got a little less cheery and a little more anxious. The queues certainly lessened, but to the point of struggle it seemed. Each morning I stepped in, there was plenty more choice of pastry. There wasn't anyone queuing. Eventually, I mustered up the courage to talk about the issue in question. The big, flat white elephant in the room. They were losing customers to the big guys a mere five steps over from their three steps wide store. There was nothing that could be done, only that they had to prepare for their closure in the next few months. I was pretty heartbroken. And, I was only a customer. The owner, I couldn't imagine. All they wanted to do was present Edinburgh with a sense of morning familiarity, and here we had a competitor. Someone with so much money that they didn't necessarily need to establish themselves a service in this area of Edinburgh. Someone with so much money that they didn't ever need to open another store again. But here they were, stepping on the smaller and more humble folks who just wanted to get by. Why? They didn't need this location. And when my shop closed down, I could hardly bring myself to stop half way up the steps and grab a coffee at said competitors. I just kept going and made sure I got my bus.
That story has bothered me for five years, I now take the escalator up the new and improved route and feel a sense of sadness when I look to the slot my coffee shop should still be standing. But it's not just one store which have suffered a hit or loss in the city of Edinburgh. Plenty of independent businesses have been driven out by means of bigger competitors with louder, neon signs and roadworks clogging up the paths which lead towards our backstreet bistros. The support of our local businesses, is what makes any city a community. Edinburgh is one of the most beautiful cities in the world, with some of the most beautiful and fair business concepts.
'Oh My Edinburgh' is designed to give you, visitor or local to Scotland's capital, a guide to our city's best independent businesses. A sense of our cobbled street personalities and some of the finest services, all at the price of affordable guided goodness. So when you look through this new, monthly, publication- we ask that you enjoy the music we present you and the articles we encourage you to read. But overall and most importantly, make time for the businesses we have to show you, run by your fellow people. The most wonderful people of independent ideas, in Edinburgh and out.