EV Tales #8: What to do While You Charge (Leith)

Leithsterdam & Aldi

We're here for Fringe comedy, staying in a work colleague's flat in Leith, or Leithsterdam, as it's becoming. Edinburgh's dockland, a couple of miles north of the center. It's followed a traditional developmental narrative for a UK port: war, politics, the French, seige, plague, decline, prostitution, trams, war again, decline, government funding, the Proclaimers (unique to this UK port), Ivine Welsh (see Proclaimers), Tesco, artisan coffee shops, and trams again. Over the last 100 years it's transformed from broken to buzzing; sinful to synergistic.

We leave the car and walk into town. Scottish road crews laying tramlines are hard at work setting traps for English pedestrians who navigate barriers around the necessary road closures. We’re funnelled like ducks in a decoy towards a worker at a dead end who helpfully announces we’ve missed the tiny, ‘pedestrians this way’ sign, having opted for the more obvious yet ultimately doomed ‘that way’.

We saw 6 Fringe shows yesterday and returned to the flat at 1am. I wake, parent-prompt, 6 hours later and take the car for its optimisation charge. The final journey stage is a couple of days away, I want to be ready.

The Leith area boasts (if you want an investment property here you're too late) 4 charging stations:

  • BP Pulse, at Peter Vardy Mini - 7kwh - Broken
  • Shell Recharge at Waitrose, 50 kwh - 24/7, unlike the 24/7 Waitrose
  • Instavolt at Madonalds, 50 kWh
  • Community by Shell Recharge at Aldi, 22kwh

I choose Aldi because it's closest.

Rumour has is that JK Rowling considered buying an onion at this Aldi while she was writing the final installment of Harry Potter, though this has not been confirmed by either Rowling or their agent.

The charger is a lovely stripped down affair, no touch screen or cable. I plug in and use the handy icons to initiate charge. I wonder if the symbols would communicate equally well to a forest tribe as yet uninitiated into the joys and heartache of the 'developed' world. I wonder if the dot and rippling arcs of the RFID symbol could initiate a hunt or a marriage or a tribal war.

I've an hour to wait.

Things to do while your EV charges

  • Read a book
  • Fiddle with the car's settings apart from factory reset
  • Reinitialize the inflation sensor thing (it worked, it needed the tyres to be cold, see previous post)
  • Shop in Aldi / Waitrose (daylight hours only) / Macdonalds
  • Meditate
  • Write a blog about charging EVs
  • Notice how dirty the car's becoming
  • Listen to music, a podcast or a topical audiobook such as Putin: his life and Times, Putin's People, Killer in the Kremlin, Putin's Postbox, Vladimir Putin Life Coach or even Paulo Coelho's The Alchemist
  • Watch other people in the car park of Aldi, Leith.

Chargers reduce the rate of charge as the car nears 100%.

The Aldi charger began with a rate which adds 39 miles worth of charge per hour. Once the battery reached 90% this dropped to 8 miles worth of charge added per hour. There are 40 minutes to go to a full charge which I shouldn't really do.

I get 90 minutes free parking in Aldi. I can see these two deadlines (parking limit and time to full) converging like a BMW 5 Series and an aspiring Skoda Superb approaching neck and neck towards a ‘dual carriage way ends’ sign. I bail at 94%, 203 miles. That should get us started on our return journey.

The next day we explore Leith on foot using the Hidden Walks in Edinburgh guide book. Stephen Millar’s concise self-guided city tours (Walking Guide) take you (metaphorically) behind buildings, under streets and into the quirky history and culture of, for now, London - 4 volumes - and Edinburgh.

Rumour has is that JK Rowling thought about buying the Hidden Walks book while she was writing the final installment of Harry Potter. But decided she didn't have time to do the walks. Because she was busy with having ideas and writing them on her typewriter, though this has not been confirmed by either Rowling or their agent.

Half way round the walk we come across four unattended charge stations and my heart leaps. They’re a five minute drive from our flat. But I’m surprised they’re empty, what with Leith and all its artisan coffee shops. A closer look reveals three things:

  1. All four are out of service
  2. All four are ‘Charge Place Scotland’
  3. All four are also branded ‘BP Pulse’

My Google search reveals three things:

  • Charge place Scotland is a BP Pulse partner - I could have been using it all along
  • Allegedly charging in Scotland is largely free thanks to the Scottish government
  • I am therefore considering moving to Scotland, which I love


Final day in Edinburgh. The car is charged so I default to a traditional driver concern, parking.

I have a straightforward task:

  1. Find cheap day parking close to Waverley station
  2. AND a very short walk from our 1245 venue.

After extensive online research, including the discovery of someone's drive on JustPark for £148/day, I opt for:

  1. An expensive hotel space, next to Haymarket Station
  2. which is 24 minutes walk from our show, that starts in 24 minutes.

My wife and daughter treat me with sympathetic benevolence. I am grateful, though I realise they've permanently lodged my error in the family anecdote library for instant loan. I have a taste of how I'll be treated 30-40 years from now as a trusting elder who's had the soffits and glazing replaced for the third time in a year at the behest of a charming doorstep consultant.

Rumour has is that JK Rowling once had her soffits replaced while she was writing the final installment of Harry Potter though this has not been confirmed by either Rowling or their agent.

At the end of a final day of Fringe comedy we return to the hotel where we parked. Two receptionists tap away at screens. I pick the one most likely to support my side of the argument regarding cost.

'May I have my car park ticket validated thx'

'Which room '

I could have pretended. Instead,

'No room, I used your wonderful car park. As a non resident. A member of the public. With a car.'

At this he freezes and adopts a thoughtful expression.

His colleague intervenes.

'Its 30 pounds. When did you arrive?'

1215 I reply

'Oh, go on, 10 then but it should be 30.'

'And don't say I said'

I won't.

I am moving to Scotland.

We drop our daughter at Waverly station and pray to St Stephenson Rocket, the god of rail travel, that she arrives back in London as scheduled within plus or minus 1hr. I mean within plus one hour.

In EV Tales #9 we start and complete our journey home. How many charges does it take to get an Corsa E from Edinburgh to Winchester?

(Rumour has it that JK Rowling is so concerned about the number of 'while JK Rowling was writing...' rumours circulating these days that she's going to change her name to Robert Galbraith. Needless to say neither Rowling nor their agent have confirmed or denied this.)