The last few days of May saw the arrival of some wonderful sunshine and two of my favourite people, Pat and Doadie (real name Gerald but what 2 year old can pronounce that). Call them what you will, neighbours, godparent, non-blood related grandparents, they mean the world to me, and both Chris and I were beyond excited to show them the ropes here in Edinburgh. Having spent a few weeks down in England prior to coming up, Pat and Doadie were already adjusted to the time schedule and arrived rearing to go. After getting them settled in their flat, we went back to my house for tea and cookies and some proper catching up. Once Chris had finished work for the day we met up and walked up Calton Hill to admire the view. Because what OAP doesn’t want to climb a big hill after traveling all day. A top the hill lies one of the best vistas of Edinburgh and we gazed out over the city while my constant stream of “look over there” and “interesting fact about that” filled the early evening air. We had dinner a la Chris and ended the evening looking through our wedding photos.
The next morning we woke bright and early to do the pinnacle tourist event of the trip, a visit to Edinburgh castle. Pat had been when she was a child and had been looking forward to a second visit for some 25 and a bit odd years. Despite the festival still being months away the city has started to swell with tourists already. As such our visit to the castle was rather full, although still as fascinating as always and definitely something I would recommend. No amount of selfie sticks can take away from the breath taking views and stone cold walls full of history. I did rather enjoy explaining to Pat why everyone was carrying those “funny looking long sticks”. I take solace in people like Pat who aren’t afraid to point out ridiculous behaviour when they see it. After our fill of by gone days we made our way to Zebra and Co to grab some sandwiches, or in my case pancakes the size of my face. We had a quick visit to the museum before I ran off for a meeting, leaving Pat and Doadie in a row of used bookstores. The evening saw us venture down to Leith for dinner at Old Chain Pier. This came as a recommendation from a few of Chris’ colleagues and it certainly did not disappoint. I called ahead and mentioned it was for a 30th wedding anniversary and they very kindly seated us by the window, affording us some seriously spectacular sea scenery. We had delicious seafood and delighted in the loveliness of the evening, watching the sun dip behind the Forth as the black-capped gulls, or potentially some other gull that I haven’t learned the name of yet, danced around the sky.
The next day we arrived at Waverley station, ready to start our out of town adventure. Unfortunately our train to North Berwick was cancelled and we had to wait an hour of the next one. Normally this would be nothing more than a bit of a pain but in this case it meant us arriving at 11:16 am when the boat we had booked was scheduled to depart from the dock at 11:30. I called ahead to warn them of our inevitable tardiness and I can’t speak highly enough of the whole operation. As we literally ran through high street toward the dock I could hear them calling my cell phone asking if we were going to make it while relaying the conversation back to the captain who was holding the boat. We made it in the end, albeit a bit sweatier and more out of breath than I’d expected and I’m thrilled that we did. To say that Pat and Doadie are avid birders is a gross understatement. They’re one set of feathers away from completely assimilating into the species. As such, a boat ride out to Bass Rock to see the gannet population was right up their alley. For someone like me who views birds as either big, little, or one of the Canadian goose variety, it was a very educational experience and really quite fun! I managed not to vomit from the boat and seeing 70 000 birds in one place is truly astonishing and not something I’ll forget. It was my very own Hitchcock moment. I also got to see a puffin which was adorable and wonderful and oddly surprising considering I’d always thought they were the size of chickens. They’re not. They’re far more travel sized. We grabbed a quick coffee from Steampunk before heading back to the train, at a far more leisurely pace than earlier. A roast chicken dinner at our flat was the rest of the evening, peppered with wine and as many embarrassing stories about me that Chris and Pat could exchange.
By Friday we were all a bit tired and we met later for a lunch at the Portrait gallery, my favourite space in all of Edinburgh. They loved it as much as I thought they would and it meant a lot to be able to share it with them. When I was here on my own last year I lived really close by and many a Sunday was spent there wandering the halls and I will always look upon it as my sanctum. We poked around some antique shops in new town and some shops along George Street, before stopping for some much appreciated caffeine at Cairngorm coffee. For our final dinner we went to The Dogs, a great place to showcase novel and local Scottish cuisine, all buzzwords that appeal to trendy B.C. island dwellers like Pat and Doadie. Plus it is Chris and my go to nice meal place so we weren’t at all surprised when it was a big hit. We had scrumptious food and lots of laughs and the whole room was filled with the warmth that can only come from being with the people you’ve chosen as family. The next morning came all too soon and we said our see you soons through glassy eyes before they headed down to England to start their journey home to the great north, and Chris and I headed to M and S to eat our feelings. Although it was all too short of a visit, we left with a treasury of new stories, a couple hundred photos, and memories I will truly hold dear forever, most notably whenever I see a selfie stick.