Auld Reekie

Before Edinburgh was being lauded as the ‘Athens of the North’, it contended with a less savoury reputation. The Auld Reekie, as Edinburgh is sometimes still affectionately called, means ‘Old Smokey’ in the Scots dialect.

Although the city is now renowned for its architectural splendour and beautiful natural surroundings, things were quite different in the 17th century. The city (now the Old Town) was enclosed by a wall and to the north was the Nor’ Loch (now Princes Street Gardens). The city’s waste and effluence drained into this loch which was also used for dumping dead bodies. Compounding the reeking stench of the loch was the air pollution from the city’s chimneys and coal fires. This combination of stink and fog became the origins of Auld Reekie.

Edinburgh has been my home for the past four years and it’s looking increasingly likely that I’ll be moving away in just over four weeks. Having little time left in the city makes me appreciate it more and I started this blog in homage to Auld Reekie.

When I stepped out with Tango this morning, it was a face-achey 3 degrees centigrade (feels like -1 with the wind). So we’re having a lazy day, staying warm indoors.

The featured photo – showing my view from Calton Hill to the Castle, with snow on the Pentland Hills in the background – was taken this afternoon. The day was so grey that it almost looks black and white. Here are some genuine black and white photos from Auld Reekie’s more recent past.

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