Our younger daughter and I spend a few days in Edinburgh, Scotland some years back, one of the stops on a short trip to London and a few other places in England, Wales and Scotland, followed by a trip to visit one of my sisters-in-law in Provence, a few more days in London and then home. (Yes, it was lovely.)

Downtown Edinburgh is dominated by Edinburgh Castle perched high above the rest of the city.  The Royal Mile runs downhill from Edinburgh Castle to Holyrood Abbey (or uphill in reverse) and is filled with shops and restaurants of all sorts.  There are, naturally, all sorts of shops selling kilts and kilt accouterments, Scottish woolens, art and many other fascinating and, in some cases, merely touristy, thing.  Our younger daughter ordered a bespoke kilt which arrived after about six months and is a true treasure.

However, my biggest temptation among all the choices was the children’s bookstore halfway down the Royal Mile or maybe it was a bookstore that had a great children’s section.  I don’t remember. For all I know, it isn’t even there anymore.  But I do remember finding the children’s books and that I lusted after the hardcover editions of Arthur Ransome and other British authors’ books, despite the fact that I would have had to ship them home.  Sometimes I still regret that I didn’t, but at the time, finances were a factor and there wasn’t any way to get them in my luggage.  Since we were traveling with a train pass, we had to haul our own suitcases, so one each plus a carry-on bag each was more than enough, especially in places like Wales with steep hills!  It did hurt me to leave all those lovely books in the shop, though, particularly as so many of them are difficult to find here even in paperback.

Many English “children’s” books are quite good enough to hold the attention of adults as well, as should be all good children’s books.  Arthur Ransom’s “Swallows and Amazons” series, E. Nesbit, Rosemary Sutcliff, Tolkein, A.A. Milne, C.S. Lewis, Kenneth Grahame, Rudyard Kipling, Leon Garfield, Beatrix Potter…the list goes on and on.  But I’m digressing from my real point: the joy of finding much-loved books in an unexpected bookstore in a lovely place. It’s akin to suddenly coming across a dear friend when you didn’t expect to see her and it’s a joy difficult to exceed!

What do you think? I'd love to hear your thoughts on this, that or the other thing.

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