Alison Craig: Why is old friend sleep evading me?

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Insomnia is an affliction which affects a large percentage of the population at one time or another. For now I am one of those baggy-faced folk.

I used to sleep for Britain. I mean go to sleep at 11 or 12 and sleep through an alarm at nine. In fact, to be honest, I used to get a wake-up call at 11am for the lunchtime show on radio. I was a professional sleeper.

I recall the day I was offered the breakfast show and as it is supposedly the one to aspire to I accepted it then three months later I had to go and see my boss and say: “You know what, I really can’t face getting up at 5am. Any chance of a transfer back to lunchtime?”

Sleep won out over ambition. I didn’t go to university but if I had I would have got a first class honours in the art of slumbering.

So you can imagine the horror when sleep began to evade me. The going to bed process was the same but instead of my head hitting the pillow and going out like a light the old head hit the pillow and my brain went into overdrive.

Hundreds of thoughts flew through my head about absolutely nothing of any importance and yet these useless and meaningless meanderings prevented me from falling into my previously taken-for-granted sleep.

I have tried herbal remedies, walking until my wee fat legs are slightly less fat, hypnosis apps, meditation, drink, reading, writing, counting sheep, eating sheep, everything until I finally went to the doctor and said “Help!”

He looked at me and gave me the prescription. Go to bed at the same time, get up at the same time, exercise, don’t drink coffee after 2pm, don’t drink alcohol, no computers, TVs, mobiles in the bedroom and get into a routine. I was not amused but decided as he had been to university for many years and I had been emptied from the local comp after fourth year that he may just know more about it than me.

Red-eyed and grumpy I rise at 7.30am – go about my day-to-day with a snarl and a baggy face and at 11pm I keel over into the pit at which point I do indeed fall into a deep, deep sleep until at least 1.30am. Yes, not really adequate. I shall persevere until such time as my repeated begging letters to Baileys for an intravenous drip are answered. Until then, I am following doctor’s instructions. Any tips gratefully received . . .

We must fight them on the beaches

East Lothian Council is talking about a £2 charge to park your car at beaches around the county with installation of pay-and-display machines on site. It is bloody ridiculous. People head for the hills and beaches to escape the restrictions of the city.

Local traders count on the influx of families and visitors to bolster their coffers and now the council plans to ask each car driver for £2 to park at the beaches.

We have to shout loud and stop these numpties or a day at the seaside will become a luxury rather than a cheap family day out.

Unique street is well worth a wee meander

It is a while since I shuffled about in Stockbridge. I was a full-time shuffler there a fear years back. In fact at one point I wondered why I rented a flat at all as I spent every waking hour outside work in the bars and restaurants in the area. The Baillie, Antiquary and St Vincent to name but a few.

And yet it has taken this long for St Stephen Street to finally morph into the charming vintage, emporium of eccentricity that it has promised for many a year. Now peppered with independent wee shops which include a second-hand book shop, groovy furniture, art, antiques, hairdressers, restaurants, beauty therapists, lighting and vintage clothing shops, it is a real destination for a meander with friends, family or visitors.

Approaching the street from the Stockbridge end I recommend you walk past Starbucks situated on the corner promptly and head to Sprio, a small bijou and authentic Italian café about half way along. I had a cappuccino there the other day and went from a slumped half-shut knife to a babbling hyperactive productive human being for the rest of the day. No really. A miracle.

Next door is a charming vintage shop Miss Bizio Couture which is causing a bit of a commotion. Tantalising exotic and colourful clothing is draped over the mannequin outside tempting you in and on this occasion there was a visit from two four-legged friends of the shop. Pictured here you can see two of the most beautiful dogs I have ever seen. One boy – named Marvin Gay – and one girl, Carly Simon.

They were led off for a walk as we sat in the early spring sunshine agreeing that this city never loses its beauty.

So I encourage you to meander off the main drag and rediscover a unique street offering a cornucopia of eye-watering delights. Long live the local trader!