What’s a Third Culture Kid?
I’ve only just discovered a new term ‘third culture kid’ and realised it applied to me. It’s a term that was coined by a US sociologist back in the 1950s and refers to children who spend their formative years in places or cultures that are not their parents’ homeland. Both my parents are (very) Scottish but I grew up in Switzerland, Holland and France and attended a mix of local, British and International schools. When people ask me where I’m from, I usually debate whether to give the short ‘I’m Scottish’ or long-winded life story answer.
I was recently asked to write a post on my ‘hometown’ and of course it got me wondering where ‘home’ was for me. Childhood in Switzerland, teenage years in Holland, university and beyond in bonny Scotland. It was a tough one. However, it didn’t take me long to work out that despite not growing up there, Scotland was home for me. Even after 5 years in France, a piece of my heart still belongs in Edinburgh. We lived there for 12 years both pre and post children and both my children were born there.
Why We Love Edinburgh
Edinburgh is an incredibly vibrant, multicultural city and there is always so much going. It caters to all ages – whether you’re single, a couple, a family with children, retired, you’ll find something to do/visit/explore. It was also an absolutely wonderful place to bring up young children. One of the things that I love about the capital is how compact the city centre is. It’s a really manageable size and has excellent public transport links including the addition of the new tramlines (just don’t ask any Edinburgh folk about the 7 years it took to build it nor about the cost…). Getting around on foot, bus, tram, really isn’t a problem. You can also escape the city very easily by heading to the coast or further north to Pershire and the Highlands.
Family Friendly Activities – Our Favourites
There is no shortage of things to do with kids in the capital, so here’s a roundup of our favourite things to do:
Jump on bus 12, 26 or 31 from the centre and head out of town to Edinburgh Zoo. It’s heavily involved in conservation work and you will only find protected species in the zoo. Your kids will love the Giant Panda exhibit and the world famous Penguin Parade.
Tip: it’s mostly set on a hill and so can be quite tiring for little legs.
Edinburgh Castle – you can’t miss it! It stands proud and imposing above the city. It has a very colourful history. Read about it here. You might also just want to take in the atmosphere of the Royal Mile (road that leads to the Castle) which includes the Camera Obscura, St Giles Cathedral, Mary King’s Close and finishes up at the Parliament.
Gardens & Parks
Edinburgh is a very green place with many parks within the city – perfect if you have little ones who need to burn off some energy.
Princes Street Gardens – head down from the Castle and you will discover these fabulous city centre gardens which give an impression of being in the countryside despite being smack bang in the middle of the city. There are benches to sit on and people watch, there is a fantastic play park at the West End of the Gardens (towards House of Fraser on the Princes Street).
Depending on your children’s ages, climb to the top of Arthur’s Seat (Edinburgh’s extinct volcano) or have a run around Holyrood Park.
The Botanic Gardens – only a mile out of town, it’s the place I spent many hours pushing my son in his pram when he was a baby. It’s a great spot to escape the hustle and bustle of the city. There is a lovely café where you will no doubt spot many new mums and their babies gathered for a natter over coffee. Buses 8, 12 and 23 will drop you outside the beautifully ornate leaf gate at the East Entrance on Inverleith Row.
Tip: don’t miss the view of the city from the café.
Inverleith Park – situated just next to the Botanic Gardens, is a large park with a fantastic children’s playground, 3 football, 4 rugby and 6 seven-a-side pitches, a cricket square and a petanque area. Don’t miss the pond where you’ll often find old boys (and young) testing their model boats.
Tip: You’ll catch a great view of Edinburgh Castle from the boating pond and will find many people gathering there to view the fireworks during the August Festival as well as the Hogmanay (New Year) celebrations.
There are many playparks dotted about Edinburgh, however, our absolute favourite is the one at the Meadows. It has caters to all ages – from toddlers to teenagers – it includes a flying fox, swings, slides, climbing rocks, sand play.
The wonderful thing about museums in Edinburgh is that they’re almost all FREE. They’re the perfect solution for rainy day outings – not that we get much rain in Edinburgh.
The National Museum of Scotland.
Art museums: Modern Art Gallery, Dean Modern Art Gallery and the Portrait Gallery. They all have great family friendly cafés.
We love the walk along the water of Leith which can be accessed from different points within the city. Check out their site for access details.
Head to the beach or the river
If you fancy a change from the city and have a car, head to Cramond or South Queensferry.
Choose between a river or sea front walk at Cramond and if you time it well, you can even cross over to Cramond island at low tide.
If your kids are into trains, head to South Queensferry where you will get an amazing view of the iconic Forth Rail Bridge. You can also take a boat trip across to Inchcolm Island and check out the Abbey.
Find out what’s on – a local’s tip
There is always so much on for children in Edinburgh and the best way to find out is to either pick up a copy of Families Edinburgh or MADE magazine or check out their websites.
I hope I’ve convinced you that Edinburgh is the perfect place for a family friendly holiday!
More Hometown Stories
Home can mean different things to different people. Check out how these travel bloggers define home!
The Sullivan family has no home! They are planning to be mobile for as long as possible. Slowly travelling and exploring the world renting other people’s homes. With roots in the UK and 4 children born in New Zealand and Australia they are a mixed bundle of accents! Surviving earthquakes, floods, tropical cyclones and car accidents gives them a zest for life and exploration. Home is where my family is!
Jessica and her family from Travel with Jess always return to their home town of Hervey Bay in Queensland, Australia in between exploring all that this world has to offer. Here is her reasons for why Hervey Bay is a fantastic place to visit with your family
Gillian from World Schooler Exchange gives her experience on ‘Returning Home’ after an extended period of time away and the difficulties that can arise when trying to reintegrate back into your original life. How can everything still be the same, when you have changed and grown so much?
Sarah from Lots of Planets Have a North
Jessica from Magnets from Everywhere
Magaly from Border Free Adventures
Perfect! We love Scotland too – although when visited Edinburgh, we were staying on a farm on the outskirts of Stirling. It was perfect. But the place we felt most at home was the little fishing village on the west coast called Gairloch! gosh we loved it there! Will have to visit and explore Edinburgh more!
Loved reading about how you found your “home”. It’s interesting that’s it’s the place that has both your parents and your children connected to it as well.
I’ve heard amazing things about Edinburgh and these activity tips just make me want to go more:)
Ive been flicking through my Scotland lonely planet recently…..this makes me want to visit even more!
I have only visited Edinburgh, but have fond memories. Seems I learned a new term today too. Our children are also third-culture kids having been born in Australia and New Zealand to British parents.