Destinations | Perfect Weekend

Ian Rankin’s Edinburgh

Ian Rankin is the bestselling crime author in the UK. His Inspector Rebus novels, mainly set in Edinburgh, have been translated into over 36 languages and ITV has televised 13 of them. His latest book, The Complaints, is published by Orion.

October 24 2009
Hilary Whitney

“My alarm goes off at 7.15am seven days a week and, at the weekend, I like to sit in the kitchen with a large cup of coffee, reading the papers in peace while everyone else has a lie-in.

My wife, Miranda, and I have two sons: Jack, 17, who’d gladly sleep until the afternoon, and Kit, 15, who wakes up pretty early. Kit has Angelman Syndrome, a genetic disorder that causes developmental delay so he sleeps in a cot and uses a wheelchair. After I’ve had my coffee, I make sure Kit is up so that when Jonathan, his carer, arrives we’ll be ready to go to the farmers’ market at Castle Terrace, not far from our home in Edinburgh. Kit loves it and once we’ve done some shopping we’ll have a roast pork sandwich from the pig on the spit.

Then we might drive to the Hermitage, a glen just south of Morningside. Only one path runs through it, alongside a river with steep woods either side, but it’s pretty manageable with Kit’s wheelchair, especially if I let Jonathan do the uphill bits.

When we get home, I’ll wake Jack and, if Raith Rovers are playing at home in Kirkcaldy, I’d make him come to a match with me. I was brought up in Cardenden, five miles from Kirkcaldy, and have followed Raith since I was a kid, when my brother-in-law took me to matches. Jack isn’t that keen on sport but I like his company and the train journey gives me the opportunity to bore him with stories about his dad’s childhood, most of which he’s heard before. Ideally, we’d watch the game in bright autumn sunshine and at half-time we’d tuck into a scotch pie, filled with mutton and something of an institution at Scottish football matches. And of course, Raith would win – hurrah!

However, if Raith aren’t at home, Jack and I would stay in Edinburgh and go to a record fair. There’s sometimes one at the Assembly Rooms. I’d be looking for 1960s and 1970s rock – Led Zeppelin, Frank Zappa, that kind of stuff. I’ve probably got most of it already, although I’d love to get my hands on a first edition of The Who Live at Leeds with all the extras. Then I might pop in for a pint at The Oxford Bar, which is where my detective, Rebus, drinks.

In the evening, Miranda, Jack and I might go to the theatre. We recently went to the King’s Theatre to see Waiting for Godot with Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen, which was a huge success. We’d eat somewhere close to the theatre or at one of my favourite restaurants, The Kitchin in Leith, which uses lots of locally sourced produce such as mussels, crab and, if you’re lucky, langoustines from Shetland.

If we don’t go out, as we’ve been to the farmers’ market I might make vegetable soup, which my mother taught me to make, or stick a piece of beef in the Aga. I have a penchant for good red bordeaux; when Miranda and I left university we worked at Château Brandeau in the Côtes de Castillon region and got rather a taste for it, so I might open a bottle of Brandeau ’82 or ’83.

One of my regrets is that I’ve never lived by the sea, so on Sunday we’d head for the East Neuk, which consists of pretty fishing villages with cobbled streets and gabled fishermen’s cottages. For lunch we’ll have fish and chips from the Anstruther Fish Bar, which is probably the best in the land, and on the way home we’ll take a detour to Perth to call in on my sister.

After supper at home, I put my feet up and watch Top Gear. I’m the only one who watches much television – Jack prefers his computer and Miranda is studying for a Classics degree so she’ll be slaving over a Greek translation – but I like blokey TV: Have I Got News for You, Mock The Week

Bedtime is about midnight. I always read for a while. I’ve whittled the 50 books by my bed down to a dozen or so. I’m reading Still Midnight by Denise Mina, another Scottish crime writer, and there’s always a stack of music magazines. Then it’s lights out and suddenly it’s 7.15am again.”

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