The last few weeks might look like a blank page in my travel journals, and it is true I have not been anywhere very interesting – with a notable exception – but I have been busy with planning for a holiday in September.
The exception was a visit to the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh for a work meeting. It was 100% work, but in some ways a privilege too.
It was the kind of meeting my boss would usually attend, but he was away on holiday. It was a briefing from a Cabinet Secretary on a particular issue, and while a few other staffers like me were there, mostly it was MSPs and MPs around the table.
I have been to the Parliament as a visitor a couple of times, and for work several times, so any novelty about the place has worn off. It has been replaced with a sense of belonging coupled with a familiarity which does not obscure the unique architecture
Part of the experience is its location in such a historic part of the city, opposite Holyrood Palace. For me it means a 10-20 minute walk from the railway or bus station down the Canongate (part of the Royal Mile) either dodging the tourist throngs, or enjoying the fact that it is winter.
Some part of the building are open to the public, and guided tours are available. You will find a cafe and gift shop in the ground floor public areas. They often have exhibitions in this area over the summer when Parliament is in recess and the building is quieter. All visitors have to go through airport type security at the entrance.
The Parliament’s future is in doubt at the moment. The Conservatives hate it because under the system of proportional representation used for its elections, they will always be a minority. They see it as a platform for the SNP and the independence movement. They would love to shut it down, or emasculate it, and Brexit may be their perfect opportunity.
The current (minority) government in the Parliament is an SNP one and with support from the Scottish Greens (also pro independence) most legislation can be passed.
ⓒ iain taylor, 2019