Alexandra Tolstoy: Edinburgh

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I COMPLETED my MA at the University of Edinburgh, so that city has to be my favourite place in Scotland. It’s where I made some of my closest friends and enjoyed four very happy and carefree years. We must have been among the most fortunate students in the world, living in the elegant Georgian flats of the New Town and only a short distance from both the sea and the hills.

Edinburgh also has drinking hours that are the envy of all other British universities. Our only worry was how to fill the time between 4am and 6am, when the pubs were shut. I was dismayed to find myself in London after graduation, living in a poky flat and greatly missing the relaxed and sociable life of Edinburgh. The seeds were sown there for the great passions in my life. First, I studied Russian language, literature and history, and part of my course enabled me to spend a year in Russia.

Plus, Scotland has a very colourful history, and it was spending time in Edinburgh, as well as in the Highlands, that first generated in me the feelings of romance and excitement that I feel in the far-flung mountains and steppes of Russia, the Crimea and the Caucasus. If it hadn’t been for my time in the city, I would probably never have discovered my love of adventure and horses.

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