Edinburgh wildlife getting wilder: A fox has been eyeing up my Brew Dog, I was bullied by a rabbit and have you seen the size of the squirrels? – Susan Morrison
In 1560, the siege of Leith ended. It’s a long story, but essentially about a dozen years before Mary of Guise had invited the French troops over, and they overstayed their welcome like Fringe mime street performers who just won't leave.
The English and the Scots stopped battering each other long enough to gang up on the French. It dragged on a bit then, plot twist, the Queen died. Everyone decided the game’s a bogey, and the French could go home.
Before they left, they had a sort of barbecue on Leith beach and invited the defeated enemy. The English turned up with beef, poultry and beer. We brought mutton and wine. The French rocked up with horse pie and roast rat. It was all they had left to eat.
You’ll notice our Gallic cousins didn’t just turn up and drop a rat on the barbie.They roasted that vermin. Says everything you need to know about the French and their inventive ways with strange foods. Can I tempt you with a snail? A frog's leg?
Our foodie friends could knock themselves out today. The Water of Leith walkway is a great opportunity for an adventurous chef if they partner up with a small game hunter.
Could it be because of lockdown? Urban game are getting bigger, and cheekier. You launch an outsider from an out-of-date loaf in the air and seagulls the size of Boeing 747s glide in for a mid-air refuel. Pigeons peck up the leftovers at your feet. They don’t fly away. Some of them can’t.
Our rats are growing bolder by the day, and, boy, are these guys fat. They frolick freely in the undergrowth and pop out mob-handed to make free with the bird food that people scatter for the sparrows, finches, and lest we forget, the pigeons and seagulls, those rats of the sky.
And when you cast your bread upon the waters, great waddling mallards will clack disappointment into your face. Not wholemeal? With the wee market open again and the artisan bakers back and you can't bring yourself to chuck a croissant?
Have you clocked the size of the squirrels? Seriously, it's only a matter of time before they start lounging about the Kirkgate asking folk to go in and get them some nuts, cos the staff have chased them again.
A rabbit bullied me the other day. It just sat on the path in Pilrig Park and stared me down. A rabbit.
Last week, I had a socially distant drinkie in a friend's garden. We kept telling ourselves it was really mild for the time of year whilst simultaneously huddling as close to the chiminea as we could. A young fox trotted right into the light, sat himself down and regarded us in a very chummy manner. I half-expected him to say “pass us a can of that Brew Dog”.
Sleekit these beasties may be, but the timorous thing has definitely passed them by. It might be time we took a leaf from the book of the besieged French and started taking a cook's look at the plump protein around us.
There are seagulls that could feed four. Let's get our ducks in a row, on an oven dish, and I’m thinking of a nice orange sauce. Rat on a stick, anyone?