Edinburgh residents asked to bring items ‘inspired by the coast’ to Portobello event
Who remembers the sound of oystercatchers in Portobello, the lovely smell of kippers, or the cacophony from the rookery in Granton Dell?
How long has the accordion man played on Portobello promenade? How many of the sounds and smells of the past still remain, and what new ones have come along?
The answers to these questions and more will be explored at two upcoming events in Portobello, organised by the Edinburgh Shoreline Project and Scottish Storytelling Centre.
The first event, Sounds and Smells of Edinburgh’s Coast, will dive into memories inspired by the scents and sounds of years gone by.
Locals will reminisce about the aroma of chocolate from Duncan’s and of paraffin from Wilson’s Ironmongers, the whiff of fish boxes and the strange odour of sulphur.
Residents and visitors are invited to bring along items that evoke particular sounds and smells for them – a piece of old tarred rope, a bicycle bell, a snatch of song, or a bottle of whisky. But please, organisers ask, don’t bring any dead fish!
The event will be hosted by Jan Bee Brown in Bellfield Church, Portobello, on Tuesday, February 12 at 6.30pm.
A second event based around nicknames in Edinburgh will be held later in the month.
What Did You Call It?, hosted by Tim Porteus, will be an evening spent exploring the names residents used to have for places and people.
Participants will discover the names which have survived, and any new ones which have appeared. They will discuss questions such as how many people remember where the Cinder Mire was, who the Toffee Woman was, or where the Penny Bap Stone has been moved to.
Names carry clues to local history – from Laverockbank, derived from “laverock”, a lark, to Peatdraught Bay, named after the peats said to be drawn into it by the tide.
Dates and times of the event are to be confirmed.
The Edinburgh Shoreline Project, launched in March 2018, is led by Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh and Edinburgh Living Landscape. It aims to reconnect Edinburgh residents with the city’s coastline, and to raise Edinburgh’s profile as a coastal city.
Charlotte Johnson, Edinburgh Shoreline Project Manager at the Royal Botanic Garden, said: “Our upcoming ‘Sounds and smells of Edinburgh’s coast’ event is a chance to share personal tales provoked by our most evocative senses.
“One attendee has already been in touch to let us know she will be bringing some netting needles, used to make fishing nets. These needle are thick with tar: a smell that strongly reminds her of the fishing boats at places like Newhaven. We hope the session, delivered by Jan Bee Brown, will a chance to reminisce about times gone by: industries, work, leisure time spent at the beach, food, songs and games, and no doubt much more.”
Organisers at the Shoreline Project hope to pay tribute to the array of nature along Edinburgh’s 27km coastline, from pink grasshoppers behind Seafield sewage works to the Leith tern colony in Forth Ports, the largest common ternary in Scotland, which accounts for five per cent of the UK population.
All are welcome to both events, but booking is essential as space is limited. More information and booking details can be found at www.edinburghshoreline.org.uk.