A Year in Scotland

I’m on a new adventure – I’ve moved to Edinburgh for an entire year, in part to get my masters degree in Scottish History, in part to research and write a new novel, and most of all to act on a very old dream of mine.  I’m planning to post some fun, quirky and interesting highlights of the things that I see and experience while being a foreigner in a beautiful, enchanting, old, and above all mysterious place.


The big news this week is of course the independence referendum, and everyone here is fully engaged. Flags with YES and a smaller number with NO hang everywhere. On campus, people are handing out flyers for both sides like candy. My very first piece of mail, slipped – I kid you not – through a slot in my front door, was from JK Rowling urging me to vote NO. A parade, complete with bagpipes and men in kilts, all carrying big YES signs, briefly blocked my way to the train station until a police officer helped me run (well, okay…waddle rapidly) through a gap in the groups. The vote tomorrow is going to be really amazing whichever way it turns out.

Transport (?!)

Many of you have asked about a new novel, and I fully expect to write a new book – right after I solve the mystery of figuring out how to get around this place. They have these things called “buses” which, while claiming to be convenient, are in reality pedestrian-devouring monsters with a single minded goal of flinging your small helpless body down the center aisle where you ricochet off seats and other passengers until you manage to grab onto anything solid like a terrier grabbing a mailman’s leg. Then, it’s anyone’s guess where you’ll actually end up because you can’t really see upcoming stops from the inside, and eventually you just take your best guess and hurl yourself from the door. I walk a lot.

My Flat

My flat is situated on the second story (or first floor if you’re Scottish) of what used to be an old stables. It’s a bit battered and strange, unsurprising considering it’s university housing and it was designed when William Wallace was discovering blue paint. (Yes, I know that’s not historically accurate.) To be fair, they’ve redone the bathroom (which means that everything is still laid out as inconveniently as possible, but the fixtures are new), and they’ve repainted (which means that the choking smell of mold-resistant paint partially masks the underlying fug of Brussels sprouts and old sock). They’ve provided a heated towel rack (nice!) but have placed it too far away to be able to reach it from the tub. The British are adverse to having electrical outlets anywhere near the bathroom, which means you have to find another location to blow dry your hair. Two excellent things:

  • When I was looking for flats, the enticing picture of this one showed a blue bucket situated in the tub. That bucket is STILL here! And there is a second bucket – my bucket needs are fully and completely met.  As a friend said, I’m living a two-bucket life.
  • I have a mail slot IN MY DOOR.  Even though my flat is up a steep flight of outdoor steps, the postman actually walks all the way up and delivers my mail. As I said, my first piece of mail was from JK Rowling…well, at least from someone using JK Rowling’s quote to promote the Better Together campaign.

Anyway, it’s only been two weeks, and I’m overwhelmed, exhausted, frazzled, and exhilarated.  I’m well on my way to having enough fun things to fill a dozen novels.  Let the adventure begin.

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8 Responses to A Year in Scotland

  1. K.B. Owen says:

    I can see this is going to be quite the adventure! Good for you for living out your dream. What are you getting your degree in?

  2. Dennis W. Jones says:

    And the adventure continues. We still wonder what adventure your luggage experienced for the five days you were separated from it. Your next novella written in the the style of “Where in the World is Carmen Santiago?” It can be called “The Adventures of the missing luggage!”

    I hope it is a wonderful experience.

    • Janice Hamrick says:

      Hi Dennis!
      Thanks – yes, it’s quite possible my luggage had a very wild ride. Just glad it finally showed.

  3. carol pouliot says:

    My first teaching job was in the South of France – a zillion years ago. It was an amazing experience. Decades later so many parts of that adventure are still crystal-clear in my mind. I hope you have a wonderful time and of course will look forward to reading the new book!!

  4. Dad says:

    Live it to the fullest, Old Jan!

  5. Bernadette Bendygunk says:

    Buckets are good.
    Watch out for those pesky unicorns.

  6. Martin Porter says:

    Mmmm, it’s the 14th October. I believe Hamrickfans deserve a blog update.