This month’s theme makes me really happy. This is because finding hidden spaces makes me happy. That feeling that’s summed up by the phrase ‘hugged it to oneself’ is exactly the one I get when I stumble upon somewhere hidden, secretive and all miiiiiiiine. Maybe it springs from the all too human instinct for ownership; you can convince yourself that you’re the first person to find the dappled green clearing in the middle of a city park, and you’re damned if you’re going to tell anyone about it, in case they start going there too. And leaving their crisp packets. Maybe it’s simply being an urbanite; when we’re crammed into apartment blocks, with our delineated 1 bed, 1 bath, living room with a cooker and (if you’re lucky) a sectioned piece of grass that ‘belongs’ to your numbered door, finding that Other Place, apart and separate and extra, can be invigorating.

This is also, perhaps, why Edinburgh is one of my favourite cities. It’s a place of little steps up and down, doorways that go nowhere, alleys that twist and turn, courtyards that suddenly appear around corners, windows that peek out from unlikely places. It’s easy to simply wander there and end up somewhere entirely unexpected and suddenly, blissfully isolated. I remember when I discovered a small mews at the bottom of The Royal Mile, where a whitewashed archway steps through to a cobbled square surrounded by cottages, complete with climbing roses and honeysuckle. Less than 20 feet away in one direction is The Scottish Parliament, and in the other a particularly rowdy metal club. And that made it all the more perfect.

Recently I had reason to be driving to Auchtermuchty (I didn’t make that up. Really) and passed through Falkland. Sitting in a van full of drummers (long story) we found ourselves stuck in a one way street at the end of which a sign told us we’d reached ‘The Hidden Place’. At the time we quickly roared into the building’s car park, 3.2 turned it and zoomed out again, but I was niggled enough by the contradictory idea of boldly declaring one’s own hidden-ness that I just poked Google and lo and behold, said sign is actually part of a rather cool project from a couple of years ago. A project that in itself was about revealing hidden meanings.  All of which leaves me with a rather satisfying feeling. Which I’ll hug to myself for a while.

Find out more about Erin McElhinney here.


Hidden Spaces – a month of blogs by members about their hidden space – whether they be real, imagined, unbuilt, cut-off from the public, demolished, spiritually significant or politically sublimated. Read more from the series.