Where is it?

Portobello Beach in Edinburgh.

Why do you go there?

I've lived in Edinburgh since 1988 but I never really appreciated that it had a seaside for a long time. My wife and I moved to Portobello 18 years ago and the beach has been a mainstay of our lives ever since.

I grew up in a small seaside town, Arbroath, and I just love the sense of space and timelessness you get sitting on the sand and looking at the sea. I guess it's a kind of meditation or mindfulness, whatever, but it always makes me feel better.

How often do you go?

A few times a week at least. Whether it's a leisurely walk along the beach, a coffee outside one of the cafes, or a midweek run along the prom, I'm pretty much always there, rain or shine, summer or winter.

The Herald: Author Doug Johnstone. Picture: Duncan McGlynnAuthor Doug Johnstone. Picture: Duncan McGlynn

How did you discover it?

By chance when we were looking for somewhere to live with more space than a one-bedroom flat. We lived in Marchmont before, but we both fell in love with Portobello as soon as we saw it. Our first flat there had the beach at the end of the street.

What's your favourite memory?

I have a tradition that I go down to look at the sea on the publication day of each of my novels. This stems from when I was an unpublished author trying to get somewhere. I used to sit on the beach a lot and think about my situation.

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I remember being in despair more than once after another rejection. But when I first found out I was going to get published, I went down and sat on the sand for a long time, just staring at the sea. I'll always carry that memory with me.

Who do you take?

The family, obviously, and anyone who ever visits us, pretty much.

What do you take?

Portobello Beach has utterly transformed in the last few years. It used to be almost empty, even in the summer months.

But there have been loads of new cafes and bars opened up along the promenade, and the increase in wild swimming and watersports like sailing and wakeboarding means there's a real sense of community now.

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I'm not into wetsuits and all that, so the most we'll take is a picnic blanket, some snacks and maybe a couple of beers.

What do you leave behind?

Nothing but footprints in the sand, of course.

Sum it up in five words.

Refreshing. Bustling. Expansive. Calming. Windy.

What travel spot is on your post-lockdown wish list?

Canada. All of it in a big, long holiday someday.

The Great Silence by Doug Johnstone is published by Orenda Books in paperback original on Thursday, priced £8.99. He is part of the Summer Crime Wave event at Edinburgh International Book Festival on Thursday evening. Visit