Friday, 24 August 2012

Ah, Edinburgh (a rant)

I live just outside Edinburgh and mostly, I love that.  My town has a great character, lovely views of the Forth and reasonable house prices.  My two bedroom flat with a garden would cost two or three times as much in the city itself.  The small Scottish boy goes to a great school which I can literally see out of my front window.  I work 10 minutes away.  I'll write about the town at some point.

Most weekends, I head into Edinburgh to meet up with various members of City Knitty aka "scary queer knitters".  Every other Saturday, we meet up with kids, usually in the museum.  The other weeks we meet on a Sunday, mostly but not always without kids, in a cafe near Fountainbridge.  I also like to go into Edinburgh for other reasons, like shopping, eating out, the cinema or shows.

One of the things people who live elsewhere always say about living in Edinburgh is how great it must be able to go to the Edinburgh Festival (by which they invariable actually mean the Festival Fringe).  The problem is that it is extremely difficult to get to since there is so little parking in the city centre.  Public transport has it's own problems.  I don't do well on buses.  They usually mean long waits at bus stops with either uncomfortable seats or no seats.  They swerve about and judder a lot which leaves me with back pain.  Trains are better, but Edinburgh's train stations are not disabled friendly.  Haymarket lacks lift access to all but one platform.  Waverley has impressive lift access between platforms but as yet no lift access to Princes Street (a level access way used to exist, via a shopping centre, but this is closed off).  The steep, narrow pathway from the platform to Waverley Bridge meets no-one's standard.  I'm surprised not to see wheelchair users piled at the bottom of it.  The only practical way to get from the station to Princes Street at the moment is to take a taxi!

In a few years we will hopefully have trams running down Princes Street, the main shopping street in the New Town, which will be great.  I will be able to leave the car at the park and ride out by the airport and by delivered, comfortably seated and reasonably swiftly, to a stop right outside Marks & Spencer.  In the meantime, tram works just add to the misery.  Princes Street was until recently closed to traffic, for tram rails to be laid for a second time, after the first ones buckled before the trams even ran.  This shifted bus traffic onto George Street and meant all the on-street parking on George Street and a number of adjacent streets, including most of the disabled parking bays, were suspended for the duration.  Dashing (slowly) into the bank one day, I managed to get a parking ticket at a place I'd previously been able to park - poor signage meant I didn't notice the temporary "no loading at any time" signs, though the Council did cancel the ticket when I sent photos of said signage.  Here's the sign.  That's my red car.  Can you see how I managed not to see it?  Oh and that's two tickets - because they managed to issue the first one to the wrong coloured car.

Now, back to the Festival.  It adds even more fun.  Various street events take place, leading to more on-street parking bays being suspended.  In particular, the handiest for the Old Town, at the top of Victoria Street, and those in front of the Museum, in Chambers Street are pretty common targets.  On a recent visit to Chambers Street, the disabled bays by the Museum entrance had been suspended, but none of the other spaces.  Unfortunately, these are narrow spaces, running down the centre of the road (where the old tram tracks ran, as it happens) and I need space to fling two crutches and both legs out before I get out of my seat, so even without a wheelchair they're not practical.

If I do get parked, the town is so full of tourists and people trying to fling fliers in my hand (which hand, I have a crutch in each!) any attempt to get anywhere in the city during the festival is an exercise in frustration.  And endless apologies for having knocked someone round the ankles with a crutch (sometimes, it's not entirely accidental - don't cut up people on crutches!)  You can't pause for a rest without fear of being bowled over.

So, see you in September, Edinburgh.

1 comment:

  1. Sheffield was a nightmare while they were putting the tram in. It took years for some places to recover.

    Having been to Edinburgh for the Fringe, I'm not particularly keen to repeat the experience and I often wonder why everyone keeps raving so much about it. If R4 didn't do all their August programmes from there, it would die a natural death!