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Adventures: The Edinburgh Experience and Haul

Lawnmarket, Edinburgh

So. I spent a few days in Edinburgh, from Friday to Wednesday. I staid with a friend who’s there on exchange, and we had such a good time! She showed me around town, introduced me to some of her friends, and advised me on getting around whenever she couldn’t be there to show me by the hand. Thank you, dearie!

This post will cover a couple of things that are of interest to me, and maybe even to my readers. At least I hope so! And let me apologise in advance for photodumping this post.

The first thing I think when I know I’m going to the UK is, “Books!” Living in Finland, you get a decent amount of books in English (at least compared to a lot of other European countries), but let’s face it, having a bookstore that is filled entirely with books in English is an Anglophile’s heaven. The first whole day I spent in Edi therefore included finding the main bookstores. Later in the week, while walking towards Arthur’s Seat (which we didn’t climb) we discovered a very nice second hand bookstore. There are lots of them in Edinburgh, actually, but this one was very neat and approachable. Absolutely loved it.

The books bought – top one was for my brother

Second thing I think when preparing for UK is HMV. This time I didn’t find most of the series I wanted – but guess what! The LotR trilogy special extended edition DVD box set was half price! I’ve been hunting for it, and there it sat, bless the little thing, like it was just waiting for me! (Also hauled both seasons of Downton Abbey and two first seasons of Hustle. Should have gotten the third one, too, I think…)

The box set took a lot of room in my bag…

To all who watch QI and know the people who frequent it – we saw David Mitchell at Blackwell’s. Yes. He has recently written a book, called Back Story – A Memoir and was signing there. I don’t do hardbacks, and it was expensive, so I didn’t buy the book and get it signed and talk to him, but we saw him. And that makes me insanely happy.

The Castle on a clear day from Princes St

Third thing I enjoyed a whole lot was Edinburgh Castle. It was a very foggy day, and so the view was virtually non-existent, but there was so much to see that I pretty much forgot to worry about panorama views. The National War Museum was so great I spent about an hour there – we’ll just call it research for the final paper, right? I took notes on all the Waterloo stuff! There was also the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards Regimental Museum, as well as the Royal Scots Regimental Museum, although I didn’t enjoy them as thoroughly. They’re worth a look though, if you’re into this sort of thing!

The Castle on a not so clear day from the Castle Esplanade.

Other interesting spots, particularly for the bookworms, are the Writers’ Museum and the Elephant House. Writers’ Museum was disappointingly small, although the building was charming.

I almost didn’t find the museum, it was so small.

The Elephant House, for those who don’t know it, is “the birthplace of Harry Potter”, which for a Potterhead like me was an absolute must.

Tea and shortcake at the Elephant House.

The bathrooms of the Elephant House are covered with quotes and thanks to J.K. Rowling.

Holyrood Palace is also worth visiting. Beautiful views from the garden!

I really recommend Edinburgh. It’s charming, easy to move around (everything is within walking distance) and very interesting.

 

Tomorrow, I’m going to the Book Fair! A day of browsing, listening to panels and making an idiot out of myself trying to talk to authors! It’s going to be fun! More about it on Saturday – unless after party goes absolutely crazy.

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Favourites: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

It’s no secret that I’m a total and complete potterhead. I read the first book at the age of nine or ten, fell in love around age twelve, and when the last book came out it was about a month after my 17th birthday. I’m of the Potter Generation and grew up with Harry, and he has a special place in my heart even though I don’t list J. K. Rowling among my favourite authors (anymore). It’s practically all my tween and teen years. Yes, I’ve always been into other fandoms as well, but Harry Potter is the one I’m most comfortable with. A book has never made me cry like Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows did.

However, the seventh book is not my favourite. The favourite ranking inside the series varies, but number one is always the same.

FAVOURITES

J. K. ROWLING: HARRY POTTER AND THE PRISONER OF AZKABAN

Published: July 8th 1999 Bloomsbury (UK)/ Scholastic (US)

Pages: 317 (UK) / 435 (US)

I think it’s not exactly necessary to summarise the book here, so I won’t. If you haven’t read the series, but are going to and don’t want to get spoiled, don’t read any further. I’m not going to be cautious about details or what happens in the latter books.

About a year ago I admitted to myself I’ve grown out of the first two books. It’s perfectly obvious why people older than me never fell in love with Harry the way people my age did. But the third book is getting more mature, if only slightly. It’s not nearly as dark as the fourth one, no, but it’s not as straightforward as the first two. It’s the calm before the storm. Voldemort is not seen in person; Harry learns new things about his parents and their lives; he meets new people who have a previous connection to him.

The characters are what make me a very biased judge of this book. Remus Lupin is the biggest literary crush I’ve ever had, and honey, it’s still on. He’s a good man who has suffered a lot, and in this book I believe we witness some of the best things that have happened to him in thirteen years, maybe even more. He gets a job, he meets the son of some of his best friends, and gets his living best friends back. Okay, so the friendship situation is more complicated than that with Peter and things finally coming together and making sense about the Fidelius Charm, but anyway. I’m very partial to the Marauders, who are introduced in this book. That’s one of the things that endear this particular book to me.

Mr Moony presents his compliments to Professor Snape, and begs him to keep his abnormally large nose out of other people’s business.

Mr Prongs agrees with Mr Moony, and would like to add that Professor Snape is an ugly git.

Mr Padfoot would like to register his astonishment that an idiot like that ever became a Professor.

Mr Worm tail bids Professor Snape good day, and advises him to wash his hair, the slimeball.

It’s very hard to pinpoint the reasons for my love of this book. I’m just utterly comfortable with it. It has a neat plot. I don’t know it all by heart anymore, not the way I used to, but close enough so I can only look at details while reading if I want to. There are all the tensions and relationships between the adult characters that weren’t much there in the first two books. It’s just delicious.

For a course on audiovisual culture and society, I wrote an essay on fandom. Initially the chosen fandom was Harry Potter, and I managed a couple of pages before it became evident a change of fandom was in order. I’m in too deep, and it’s hard to see anything to do with Potter objectively. That’s how it is with this book, and the reason why this introduction/explanation is so short. I recognise that it’s not the most brilliant prose since Austen or Wilde. I’m well aware that it’s not the most intellectual book ever. But it is a part of a great story, and a cornerstone in my becoming a fantasy reader.

Oh, and rereading the series after the last book is an exciting and emotional experience. I can heartily recommend it. You keep noticing the little details that will be significant later on.

Besides, I read somewhere that rereading is good for your brain.

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