Windy Edinburgh

Me, My hat, and Sir Walter Scott

I am a wearer of a hat.* My hat is a black felt cap with the added feature of ear flaps that can fold down if needed. I think this hat is awesome. The only trouble with wearing a hat in Edinburgh is that, well, Edinburgh is windy.

On Tuesday this week, for example, I was crossing Princes Street at North Bridge (meaningless if you don’t know the city, but whatever; google it). As I crossed, the wind grabbed my hat and tossed it into the middle of the intersection (if it wasn’t the wind, it was a fairy, goblin, or gremlin).

North Bridge hits Princes Street as a T-intersection at a statue of the Duke of Wellington. We pedestrians were allowed to cross because the cars turning right (like a left in most of the civilised world) had a green. My hat landed approximately three feet from the outside edge of the turning cars.

I watched as they all drove past my hat. Determining that no car would hit either me or the hat I approached the hat. Then I waited until a bus was turning and grabbed the hat while the bus was beside it. I carried my hat until I was across North Bridge and on the Royal Mile.

This was not an isolated incident. One time, my hat was snatched by the wind, and I turned to see it descending from at least a metre or a metre and a half above my head. Thankfully it landed on the pavement (sidewalk). Another time, at the intersection of Lothian Road and Fountainbridge, the fences that the city erected along Lothian caught my hat before it could be blown into traffic.

My hat is not the only victim of these winds, however.

I used to own an umbrella. A good, sturdy £16 umbrella. Bought it at Boots when we first arrived.** It was a rainy, windy September day, and I was on my way to study, so I had to go up Granny’s Green Steps. These (as in this photo) are a very steep flight of stairs that go right up the side of the craggy, extinct-volcano-hill-thing upon which the castle stands. In order to keep the rain from soaking me and the wind from snatching away the umbrella, I angled my umbrella into the wind as I mounted the steps.

And then the spokes that go out from the stick in the middle (I know nothing of umbrella parts), the ones that hold the umbrella open (yeah, those ones) — half of them collapsed. They bent the wrong way.

Most people get their umbrellas destroyed by the wind turning them inside not, not the wind collapsing and imploding them. But I am not most people, and the high-speed, North-Sea winds that blow into Edinburgh are not normal winds.

These winds are cold and, as you can see from the above, strong. So the BBC will tell you that it’s going to be 10 above. Great! That’s balmy for many Canadians. Aye, but then there’s that wind, eh? Cold, bitter, driving, cutting through everything but wool. Lots of wool.

No wonder Scots raise so many sheep.

So if you ever come to Edinburgh, come equipped for the wind and leave behind your umbrella.

*Not a wearer of hats given that I wear only one.

**Maybe my problem is buying umbrellas at drug stores; I dunno.

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