On Blackford Hill

I’ve lived in Scotland since 1981, when I came to take an MSc in Astronomical Technology. I enjoyed the privilege of studying and working at the Royal Observatory on Blackford Hill, from where the view over Edinburgh is spectacular. Looking north you take in: Morningside at your feet; Edinburgh Castle;  Castle Rock and Arthur’s Seat. Beyond that is the Firth of Forth, and onto a  whole ranges of distant hills and mountains, to Ben Lomond some 50 odd miles away. To a self-exiled Brummie and Newcastle graduate it’s a wonderful vista to greet the eyeballs every day. And that’s the same in many places in Scotland: climb a hill – there’s usually one handy – and you can see a large chunk of the rest of the country.

Some years ago a Scottish friend explained to me why she didn’t like going down to England, especially the south-east corner. “It’s instinctive,” she said, ” in times of danger there are no hills to run to.”

I’m not sure how that fits in with the simple point I’m trying to make. No matter how much I see, there’s still plenty for me to discover and explore. But that’s the geography. What’s harder, and I doubt I will ever succeed, is fully to understand the Scottish heart and the Scottish mind. But one source of comment and information is helping me no end. It’s the Scottish Review.

The Scottish Review is independent and is published by the Institute of Contemporary Scotland. It’s a mixture of comment, essays and reflection on life in Scotland: political, economic, social and cultural. It’s well written and thoughtful, with contributions from a range of writers.

The Scottish Review drops into my email inbox every few days;  it’s a welcome visitor.