I spent this weekend in the lovely city of Edinburgh. I had not been to Scotland before and I must say, it is beautiful. It represents the furthest north I’ve ever been, mostly because I’m a soft Southern shandy. I was treated to a whistle-stop tour as well as laughs and family in abundance. Prior of course to being in Edinburgh comes the flight.
It’s not so much the flying that I dislike, it’s the issues around it. Somehow I had believed you needed a passport to fly on a domestic flight so this meant insuring my youngest brother had a passport (for the first time in 6 years). This was a trek in itself, one that I will relay at some point in a novelised form.
For some reason our flight was delayed by an hour which meant the rush and duress I was put under to arrive at the airport on time came to nought. After having the contents of my overnight bag well and truly ruffled we were allowed access to the bar. This of course is the best bit about flying.
An hour later we were invited to board.
I don’t understand how it happened but the sight of the three of us got to one of the air stewardesses and she spent much of the journey gently teasing us. We tend to be treated in this way. I blame my brothers for being so darned handsome.
The flight itself was less than an hour which meant it seemed undue proximity for us to be in another country. As we headed out to the hire car collection point we kept turning our heads as accents headed back in the opposite direction. They sounded Scottish enough.
We got our car (a Vauxhall Mokka) and shot up the six miles to the city. We were due to stay with my Mum’s second cousin who none of us had seen in some time. He works as a professor of genetics at Edinburgh University, brilliantly intelligent, interesting and caring.
When we arrived I was reminded of the brownstones of New York, big old buildings with wide steps, tall doors and happy dogs in the windows. Cousin Tim was on the top floor, the penthouse if you will. He came down to meet us and then led us up the four flights of stairs to his beautiful apartment where we met his partner Megan.
Having shaken off our travels we headed out for dinner and ended up in a restaurant called Hectors’, befittingly this was the name I was given when I was just a jumbled up embryo and my parents needed a solid name to refer to me by. The food was good. The Peroni was as Peroni is anywhere.
Once our bellies were lined and we felt suitably balanced, Tim took us on a tour of his new city, having only been there since April himself. I’ve never been anywhere like it. There was so much history but it didn’t feel oppressive and overhanging like many areas of London. The streets appeared to have pushed the buildings back, kept them at bay so you could always clearly see the sky, and a sun that never seemed to want to go to bed.
After travelling the Royal Mile up to the castle and back to Holyrood Palace we sent the others back and went for a whiskey with Tim in a packed out watering hole where a bright young thing strummed through acoustic covers of songs I would always love.
We were told they had no Jura and in my panic I asked for Jamesons so our toast to Scotland was performed by Irish whiskey.
Once we had our fill we walked back, up the stairs and collapsed into our put up beds, Robb somehow getting his claim on the double while Edd and I slept on sofas in the lounge.
We awoke to the most beautiful sunshine tickling the tops of the constant chimney stacks and giving our best view yet of our host city. It looked amazing, like a toy town, too ideal to exist to scale.
After breakfast I gave Tim and Megan a copy of my new book. I liked the idea of having visited a city and leaving a part of me in it and I knew the novel would be in safe hands with the pair of them. One false start later we took off to Pitlochry to pay tribute to family and to hike through the Black Spout walk before lunch at the river where the salmon leap. Robb and I had haggis, neeps and tatties because we are bore-off tourists and that’s what you have to do.
We got back to the city centre after a short storm to try and get our fill before our evening flight. This involved buying shortbread and magnets, looking at tartan capes and considering them an actual possibility, doing bad Scottish impressions and winding each other up before heading back for another delayed flight.
I would love to have more time to experience it and I’m sure it will call me back again soon but the brief experience I did have with the people I was with suited me perfectly.