Meet Me Halfway: Edinburgh Book Festival
Edinburgh has good public transport, but it’s also a small city and easy to travel by foot, wheel or cycle. As the Scottish capital opens up, Sultana Malik is one of many residents who has been taking the opportunity to reexplore her hometown on foot
With Edinburgh open for business again, it's a great time to get out there, meet friends you haven’t seen in ages or simply reconnect with the city and its cultural scene. Edinburgh resident Sultana Malik did just that recently, by exploring the town centre with her two children, three-year-old Ibrahim and one-year-old Imanni, inspired to do so by the City of Edinburgh Council's new campaign, Meet Me Halfway.
As well as being a busy mum, Sultana has been blogging for eight years, and shares the reality and struggles of being a mother and daughter-in-law to her 13,000 followers on social media (find her at @mamamiahdiaries). We spoke to her about reconnecting with her hometown on foot.
The Skinny: Where did you begin your journey?
Sultana Malik: We live in the Merchiston area, and took the bus straight to the Edinburgh College of Art to check out the Edinburgh International Book Festival.
What did you do while you were there?
We watched Julia Donaldson, who does songs and stories for little ones, which is perfect for my two and their two-year-old cousin, who joined us. There was a small kids’ play area too, which kept them entertained.
How did you choose your route?
I went to school across the road from the Art College so I know the area very well. The number 27 goes straight there and I knew there were other things in the area we could do after the Book Festival. So we walked to the National Museum of Scotland, and from there went on to the new St James Quarter via the Royal Mile.
Did you see a different side to Edinburgh or anything new on your journey?
I’d forgotten how close everything is in central Edinburgh. And just how beautiful it is; you can see where JK Rowling got her inspiration from – the side streets, the bricks on the buildings. Moving out of town and coming back makes you truly appreciate how beautiful the city is and how friendly the locals are.
Image by @mamamiahdiaries
Did you stop for food or drink in town?
We tried this new mac ’n’ cheese van at the St James Quarter, which was the best macaroni we’ve ever had!
How long did the journey take?
The bus journey took 25 minutes and we walked from the book festival to Princes Street in around 20. We enjoyed the walk. There was a bit of rain on the way, but we had our coats and the buggy rain cover ready in advance.
What, for you, were the benefits of meeting halfway?
The exercise, which felt like fun and not a chore as we were walking around somewhere really beautiful. And the kids enjoyed seeing a bit of the world they haven’t been able to see because of the pandemic. Plus, compared to paying for petrol and parking, we only paid a few pounds for the bus (kids under five are free).
Can you see yourselves meeting halfway more often?
YES! Due to the pandemic, Ibrahim had never been on a bus (other than when he was a baby) so he loved sitting and watching the world. Also, I don’t have time to go to the gym at the minute, as the kids are so young and I don’t have many childcare options, so I enjoyed the exercise.
Follow Sultana's journey at @mamamiahdiaries
To find out more about the health and environmental benefits of the City of Edinburgh Council's Meet Me Halfway campaign, as well as ideas for your own journey, head to edinburgh.gov.uk/meetmehalfway