The website of David F Porteous
Why I Love East Lothian
A few weeks ago the http://www.eastlothiancourier.com/ asked me to write their weekly column "Why I Love East Lothian". This doesn't appear in the electronic version, but I'm able to reproduce it here. This is my original version, which was very slightly changed for the print edition.
I cannot separate East Lothian from my childhood; for me the towns and landscapes are as much memory as brick and weather.
On a stretch of summer-crowded beach past North Berwick I lost a dog for an anxious hour. On the playground of Cockenzie Primary I lost a square yard of skin from my knees (over several years). Likely I’ve forgotten as much as I remember, but some things remain vivid to all my senses.
I can still feel a child’s hands – my hands – pressed to my ears to block the guttural roar of planes soaring overhead at East Fortune. And on an occasional visit to the Museum of Flight, peering on tiptoes into the cockpit of a Vickers Supermarine Spitfire.
But usually we went to East Fortune because of my grandmother. A renowned – and self-acknowledged – raker and hoarder, she found a unique happiness in trawling through the stalls at the Sunday Market. The journey down winding country roads in my grandfather’s orange Skoda was a weekly event and nothing at the Museum of Flight was ever so majestic as my grandmother returning home from the hunt with a clutch of bargains.
When I think about East Lothian as a whole, it’s the view from a car window along that route.
Being from a large close-knit family on my mother’s side, I was never more than six feet from a cousin growing up. We were always playing in a street unsullied by speed bumps, making noise that today people would phone the council to complain about. We had impossibly long summer days entirely without rain and as much nostalgia as we could carry.
I got my first job in 1996 working for RBS at South Gyle. If the tea hadn’t come out of a machine, I would have spent that summer making tea. Instead my inconsiderable skills were employed in collecting the tea from the machine and bringing it to people. My boss, Edinburgh born and raised, referred to East Lothian as “the sticks”. Until then I don’t think it had occurred to me that living elsewhere would be a different experience. Edinburgh was on the other end of every bus route – there wasn’t even passport control between these two foreign lands divided by custom, tradition and language.
I love Edinburgh, I work there and during the Festival there’s no better place on Earth. But it isn’t home and it doesn’t have a monopoly on culture. The growth in local arts and community events – like the Fringe by the Sea happening in North Berwick all this week – has made this an even more vibrant and interesting place to live.
East Lothian is relaxed, the people have more time to be friendly, each village has its own character and around every corner I find a memory and something new. That’s why I love East Lothian.
30/8/2011 07:29:45 pm
That was beautiful!
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