My dad doesn’t read our blog. We talk multiple times a week and he, as he puts it, “couldn’t be bothered to read about the things you’ve already told me. I’ve got better things to do with my time Sinead”. I think you need people like that in your life.
Equally, I think you also need unwaveringly enthusiastic people like my Mum, who popped over at the end of June for a whirlwind visit. Since Mum has been here multiple times already, our time was split between new discoveries and visiting old Edinburgh favourites. For the first full day after Mum arrived we went into my work, as I wanted to introduce Mum to some of the lovely adults and children that I have the pleasure of spending my time with. After my brief tour we headed back into the city to grab some lunch and potter around Armchair Books, a firm favourite in Mum’s Edinburgh arsenal. Our first low key evening consisted of a delicious squash stew a la Chris and some serious binge watching of Don’t tell the Bride and Come Dine with Me, truly bad British TV at it’s finest. The next morning Chris and I woke up nice and early to meet Mum at her hotel for a good Scottish fry up. Chris headed off to work, like a responsible adult, while I ditched real life to saunter off to Glasgow with Mum. Mum had never been before and became interested in Charles Rennie Mackintosh during her most recent degree of interior design. As such, afternoon tea at the Willow tea rooms, designed by Mr. Mackintosh, seemed like the perfect belated mother’s day present. Iced buns in hand, we caught the train down to the banks of the River Clyde, and wandered around the shops of Buchanan Street before making our way to the tearoom. The afternoon tea experience was charming, and Mum and I immensely enjoyed ogling all the Art Nouveau before making our way back into the “Burgh”.
Saturday morning saw the sun poke its unfamiliar head out from behind the thick veil of clouds, so we ambled up to the farmer’s market. There we had tea in a double-decked bus, bought some oatcakes and mull cheddar, and listened to the sounds of the bagpipes as the Veteran’s parade curved it’s way around the base of the castle. Then we met back up with Chris and spent the afternoon in the Botanics. Given my mum’s proclivity for plants, 3 and a half hours is really rather a short time frame and I was impressed with our speediness. We ambled through the glasshouses admiring all the strange and fantastical looking botanical creations, as Chris and I relished the warm air of the tropical and desert pavilions. We hopped up to Bread Meats Bread for some seriously toothsome burgers and fries, and then crossed the street to the Odeon theatre to watch The Secret Life of Pets, as there’s nothing my Mum likes more than animals on adventures.
Sunday found Mum and I back on the tram to the airport once more, as my Dad arrived in to join the fun. They settled into the apartment my Mum had rented, which was conveniently located right next door to our place. We chatted our way through some Eurocup viewing and ended the day with a Sunday roast cooked by Chris and myself. Regardless of how often I speak to my parents via Skype (which, let’s be honest, is at least once or twice a week), there’s nothing quite like real life human interactions.
On Monday Mum and Dad and I sauntered over to the Edinburgh Gin Distillery for my belated father’s day present of a gin tour and tasting. The tour was 45 mins and absolutely stuffed full of facts about gin. From the history to the recipe to even the distilling process itself, we left feeling completely absorbed in their juniper-scented world. The tour ended with the best gin and tonic I’ve ever had and a clearly necessary trip to the gift shop before leaving. If you ever find yourself in Edinburgh with an hour or so to kill in the west end I’d highly recommend the tour. For dinner we met up with Chris at the Auld Hundred, a good standby pub on Rose Street, where we happily listened to the sounds of the sports fans downstairs cheering for anyone that wasn’t England.
On Tuesday it was the event for which my parents had come for; our family friend, and my mentor, Dr. Margaret-Ann Armour received her honorary doctorate from the University of Edinburgh. Margaret-Ann is an incredible human and even her startlingly impressive CV doesn’t even come close to adequately capturing her tenacity, kindness and generosity of spirit. Although Margaret-Ann has numerous honorary doctorates under her name, this one meant that bit more, as Edinburgh was her home. To be able to share in the experience with her was incredible, and I watched with great sentimentality as the audience gasped at her chemistry demonstration, the same that I had seen nearly 15 years ago at the Choices science conference for girls. After the ceremony the rest of the day was spent at various events organized by the University for Margaret-Ann and all of us members of her oversized fan club. For dinner we went down Leith Walk to La Favorita, to celebrate more intimately with Margaret-Ann and her friends over pizza and as many stories and witticisms as we could fit into the evening.
Wednesday was the most important day as it was Mr. Chris Brodt’s birthday. He woke up to some serious enthusiasm and off key birthday singing from myself, and opened his cards and presents over salted caramel porridge. Because if you can’t have salted caramel for breakfast on your birthday then when can you? Unfortunately Chris is a mature and sensible person so he went off to work while I made my way next door to spend the morning hanging out with my parents and drinking copious amounts of tea. We met up with Chris at lunch, as the poor man had a dentist appointment and the least I could do was keep him company for the walk. My parents and I then spent the afternoon at the National Gallery hunting down works by William MacTaggart, as Mum had just recently discovered that we had one of his watercolors hanging up in our house. Our mission accomplished, and Dad’s threshold for art galleries quickly met, we parked ourselves into the gallery café watching over Princes’ Street Gardens for the remainder of the afternoon. That evening we went to The Dogs, our old favourite special occasion restaurant and Chris’ choice for his birthday meal. It was another perfect evening full of delicious food, great company and lots of laughs and, as always, came to a close far too prematurely.
The next morning saw my parents leave for Serbia, as my little sister was there temporarily for school. The goodbye was far from sad, as we were seeing them just a week later, so we exchanged quick hugs before they went off in a taxi and Chris and I prepared for the weekend. In honour of Canada Day and Chris’ birthday, we decided to throw a wee gathering in the spirit of the great white north. We invited our friends, every single one of which happens to be from a different country, to bring some national dishes from home to celebrate the diversity that makes Canada the country we know and love and miss so dearly. We dined on BBQ and treats from all over the globe, surrounded by our homemade Canadian decorations as we cried from laughter while we all attempted each other’s accents. Given the current state of the world, and how every day seems peppered with hatred towards the perceived “other”, it was a nice celebration of people as people. The evening was full of levity and left Chris and I all warm and fuzzy, and ever so slightly more homesick than usual.