Readers in the Spotlight #9 – Tom Allan

We are pleased to welcome Tom Allan as our reader of the week today.  He is currently the Guardian’s Edinburgh beatblogger and you can also follow him on twitter.

Tell us about yourself. 

I’m a freelance journalist, a young dad, and a wannabe gardener.  I’ve lived in Edinburgh about ten years – I studied history here, and fell in love with the place.  I started out as a journalist at the same time, starting a student magazine, and later getting into community radio and youth work in Leith.  We’ve left to work and live in other places – South America, London, Cornwall, but we always find ourselves drawn back here.   I’m currently the Guardian’s “beatblogger” for Edinburgh, writing and curating the Guardian Edinburgh website.

What do you love about the city?

Being able to walk and cycle everywhere.  And all the layers – the stories buried in the place in the buildings and the landscape.  You can walk around and read it like a book.  It appeals to both sides of my character – the beautiful buildings and the green spaces, and the grittier sides to the city are really close together.


What would you change about Edinburgh if you could?

Nothing. I even like the weather – when the sun comes out, everyone drops everything, because they know it won’t last.  It’s like a gift from the gods!
n.b. There is one thing – bring back Suzie’s Diner.


What are your must sees in town for visitors?

When I go to a new city, I like to just wander and get lost.  I’m not really interested in the main sights (I still haven’t been into the castle after ten years!) Try somewhere different, like the Mosque Kitchen, Wordpower books, the Canny Mans, Sandy Bells, the Royal Oak or Portobello promenade.


Favourite Street or area and why?

Tollcross.   Great local fruit and veg, Saunderson’s Butchers, the Cameo Cinema, Lupe Pintos Deli.  Cooler, cheaper and more down to earth than nearby Bruntsfield.


Where would we find you relaxing in Edinburgh?

Blackford Hill or Arthur’s Seat if I have the time (I love walking.)  The Cameo bar for a pint.


When you are out of town, what do you miss about Edinburgh the most?

The feel of the place.  It has just the right amount of things happening, right at your finger-tips.  But it’s not hectic or stressful like London.  It’s a capital city with the feel of a big village.

If you had 24 hours in town before you had to leave forever, what would you do?
A swim and a Turkish bath in Portobello; climb Blackford Hill; a film, popcorn and a pint at the Cameo, and get Suzie’s Diner to re-open so I can have a farewell meal there!


Any interesting stories you know about Edinburgh?

Yes. But you’ll have to read my blog to hear about them.


Sum up Edinburgh in 5 words or less.

Light, turrets, towers, trees and…trams!


We agree with you about Susie’s Diner.  Thank you Tom.

One of Tom's favourite pictures of Edinburgh

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