The Edinburgh Charity Shops.


There are probably more charity shops in Edinburgh than in any other city in the British Isles. I don’t know why. There just is. On some streets there are more charity shops than ordinary shops. I long ago reached the view that at least one out of every three people you meet in Edinburgh must be wearing the other two’s clothes, or perhaps drinking from their glassware, cooking in their pots, reading their books, wearing their jewellery and listening to their music. For me it is one of the joys of Edinburgh, Each year, when I visit for the month of the festival, the very first charity shop purchase is usually a set of candlesticks, for we dine by candlelight during the festival. I now have a collection of about twelve pairs of charity shop candlesticks, for I always take them home with me. I have stopped taking shirts to Edinburgh in my luggage, for you can buy good quality shirts for £2.50, and why not?. Again I tend to take them back home and by now I have sufficient shirts to clothe a small army
The charity shops are so abundant in Edinburgh that there is a map, a sort of London underground type map, detailing the location of all the shops across the city. If you are really obsessive you can co-ordinate the charity shop map with the bus route map and systematically raid each shop in each district. It might take you six months but I am sure it could be done. Almost certainly has been done. But I much prefer to meander about the city. Leave a fringe show and catch a bus to Morningside or Stockbridge and see what’s to find. Last year I bought a fine pair of brogue shoes in Brunsfield for about £6.00. Of course we must have tins for our Edinburgh Flat. I only take Earl Grey tea, my wife takes Typhoo, my first son only organic tea and my second son Irish builders brew. We need separate tins for each of us and the charity shop tins are wonderful. Needless to say I now have a quite extensive collection of tins… I am a bit of a sucker for a good piece of glassware and have purchased good looking wine and beer glasses in Stockbridge, Morningside, Tollcross and Leith. Must admit, somewhat reluctantly, that we are beginning to run out of space at home.
This year I bought an audio book of Obama’s life story, five discs, £2.50 on the Lothian road; an audio book of Robert Harris’s Pompeii, four discs £2.00 in Shelter and another audio book of the No. 1 lady Ladies Detective Agency, five discs 2.50 Barnardo’s. A couple of books about the first world war, a cookery book for my son who is moving into his own flat and a small jazz book called Wild Party with illustrations by Art Spiegelman and signed by the artist! £5 on the Westport next to Hooters nightclub. There was also some music by Leonard Cohen, a tin tray featuring a London bus advertising good Scottish whisky and a glass fruit bowl for the flat in which we were staying. The only thing I left behind was the fruit bowl.

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