Monday, 3 November 2008

Inverleith Park

Edinburgh's parks, few in number, are well used. Inverleith Park is my nearest and is used at all times of the day and week - it is heartening in our sedentary, solitary age to see Edinburgh at play on its green acres with rugby, cricket, football, ultimate frisbee, and tennis all popular. There's no booking - you just turn up with some friends and play. I have done this before for games of touch rugby, both here and on the Meadows.

This evening I walked home through Inverleith Park. A freezing fog was out, rolling slowly through the air like a living thing. The smudged yellow lamplight of the avenues looked like the fog of Old London Town, a stage set for a play about Jack the Ripper. Dark silhouettes moved in the light's margins, British Military Fitness taking their regular recruits through their paces. Across the way under bright spotlights, a rugby team practiced, their clear shouts carrying in the frosted air across the park, the bright white light filtering in rays through tree branches, illuminating the dark glassy surface of the pond, ducks and swans still awake and gliding about. A woman entered the park with her dog - it was wearing a collar with a dim red LED. What was the light on the dog's collar for? Without it, if the dog ran into the middle of the unilluminated area of the park, it would be impossible to see.

The avenues through Inverleith Park, the Meadows, and Bruntsfield Links (a free putting course) are well lit and are not no-go areas in the evenings. Back home in Glasgow, I would never have considered crossing, for example, Queens Park at night.

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