the occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way.
"a fortunate stroke of serendipity"
synonyms: chance, happy chance, accident, happy accident, fluke; More
1754: coined by Horace Walpole, suggested by The Three Princes of Serendip, the title of a fairy tale in which the heroes ‘were always making discoveries, by accidents and sagacity, of things they were not in quest of’.
I am meandering in Edinburgh and my key word is serendipity. As I perambulate (walking seems too imbued with purpose - perambulate has just the happy overtones I am looking for) its cobbled streets, I discover music everywhere- there's the kilted Sctosman playing the bagpipes,the sound of which wafts down the Royal Mile suggesting good times and picnics and parties; right next to the National Gallery of Modern Art there's the street singer with short red hair and piercings on her face and a haunting voice which belongs in a church - it's ethereal and dreamy and takes me to stillness in a busy day.
I carry the peaceful feeling to Princess Street, the happy heartthrob of shoppers, and wish she gets an album out soon....
We walk to the Meadows one day - my daughter who's studying here plans a picnic with her friends and I, feeling very English, celebrate the sun with them! Right there we hear a guitarist singing mostly to himself; the occasional passer by drops some change but the guitarist doesn't really notice. Once, late at night when it's quite cold and windy, I chance upon another guitarist lost to the world strumming intensely on a street corner- the music cannot be for anyone else at that hour and I love it; bookstores have music here and cafés and pubs of course - we visit a Frank and Bennys and I am transported to Wake up Little Susie! and Elvis crooning Love Me Do
We do unplanned things - walking back from dinner we step into a Milk Bar which has the most divine hot chocolate with orange - one evening my daughter takes me to an Irish pub and I discover that her tastes are still childlike! She loves strawberry favoured cider and I love it too.
I walk into the Central Library which is a refuge from the cold outside; it's warm, welcoming, and nobody bothers you as you browse and linger forever...I discover poetry translated from the German poet, possibly Hans Magnus Enzensberger and I am struck by its bare - boned beauty:
The sea is in the blood
The stone is in the bones
The tree is in the spine
The grass is in the skin
The wind is in the ear
The rain is in the eyes
The moor is in the brain
The sky is in the spirit
God is in the seed.
There is something about Edinburgh which makes it really special - it's clearly a thinkers city - scientific or literary; references to its rich cultural heritage are visible everywhere - there's the Elephant Cafe in which J.K. Rowling wrote her Harry Potter books - there's Victoria Street which inspired Diagon Ally in the Potter books (I use it frequently and overhear a tour guide stressing the connection).
There's a huge statue of Adam Smith lording it over the Royal Mile; huge literary footprints of beloved Rabbie Burns are engraved upon cobblestones, the towering Walter Scott monument celebrates one of the city's precious sons, but more than all the history surrounding one, there is a sense of serendipity in the air. It's a city forever waiting to be discovered- you could chance upon the most exquisite paper quilling in a sideshop called (for instance) Bonkers, or be flooded with awe at the stained glass windows of St Giles Cathedral.
It is a city with many layers and each layer will appeal to the nature of the peeler - it could be theatre and music or books and writing or drinking and dancing. Edinburgh has many faces and becomes both muse and director at will. From Andy Murray to Sean Connery to Gerard Butler, from Rowling, David Hume (who's statue has a shiny foot due to the belief that it brings good luck when rubbed!); from Adam Smith to Alexander Fleming and William Wallace who inspired Braveheart with the fiery Mel Gibson, to Muriel Spark and Arthur Conan Doyle - all these greats have fed on its magic and memory, with the weather adding to the pervading sense of mystery and imminent discovery, and the magnificent Edinburgh castle topping all the scenic splendour with pomp and royalty.
On the flip side it's cold and windy even in May. But as the Scots say - bad weather is just about knowing what to wear!
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