On the last Monday in November my parents arrived and Scotland got that bit more wonderful. Although we talk every day, there’s nothing quite like a visit in person and I eagerly rushed home from work to meet them. Having been in Ireland for the weekend, my parents had a quick flight over, followed by an enthusiastic hotel lobby reunion with me. My Dad was exhausted so my Mum and I let him sleep while we hurried through Princes street gardens towards the Christmas market. My momentous enthusiasm for this festive season is solely matched by my mums. So you can only imagine the amount of mirth that poured out of us as we drank hot chocolate and marveled at the stalls. I’m pretty sure my mum said, “It’s like a dream” a half a dozen times. After the market we picked up my Dad and walked over to our flat, where Chris had made it lovely and warm. We had steak and haggis pies from Pie Not (easily the best pies in Edinburgh), watched Shaun the Sheep, and had a lovely low-key evening, which ended only once they literally fell asleep on the couch.
Tuesday I had my parents over for breakfast and we walked to the nearby modern art gallery. Neither of them are the biggest fans of modern art, my Dad still complains about how long I forced him to stay in MoMa, but both enjoyed the quick visit. My Dad was even impressed by something, up until the point that Chris later pointed out that the whole thing was done with a computer rather than the meticulous by hand measurement my Dad had thought. From the modern gallery you can walk along the water of Leith right the way into Dean Park Gardens. From there we continued on into Stockbridge, until we arrived at the Royal Botanic Gardens. Mum is a botanist, a master gardener, and an all around flower lover so it comes as no surprise that she’s visited the botanic gardens each time she’s in Edinburgh. The first time she went twice in 5 days. My Dad is not a fan but he’s a good husband and used to it, and has visited botanic gardens all around the world. Unfortunately, the glasshouses were closed for maintenance so what should have been a four-hour or more visit (it takes awhile for mum to tell us all the Latin names, historical anecdotes and impossibly obscure facts about each plant) was wrapped up in two. My dad couldn’t even pretend he was disappointed. “What a shame” he said with an obnoxiously Cheshire like smirk. For our second night’s dinner we went to Vittorio’s on the bridge and had a wonderful meal, with delicious food and great conversations.
Wednesday I met my parents for breakfast and we meandered up to Armchair books, my mums’ second favourite spot in Edinburgh. My Dad even found a book for himself, which made me feel a bit better about dragging him to galleries and places with used books, neither of which are his favourite. A quick visit to the library to take out some books for my parents to flip through and we went up to the museum. Both had been before so we stuck to the rooftop for the view and to the locomotion exhibit, as it was new to all of us. We met Chris at Caffeine drip for lunch and afterwards Mum and I spontaneously went to get our hair cut at the barbershop Chris goes to. Afterwards, Mum and I met Chris and Dad at the Christmas market, stopping quickly at M&S on the way to ogle at all the delicious offerings. We snacked and drank at the market and capped off our visit with a trip on the Ferris wheel, to admire a lit up and sparkling Edinburgh from above. Once we’d had our fill of the market, we went back to our flat to watch an episode of Death in Paradise and eat some iced buns. I can’t begin to describe how nice it was just to relax and watch a show with murder. It was as though we were right at home.
Thursday was my graduation and the reason my parents flew over, so we went and did that. It was great and now I can proudly say I’m a master of science. My background is in arts so I really like to emphasize the science aspect to my chemist father. After the ceremony we went to the portrait gallery because a) It’s my favourite and b) they have the best spiced scones in the city. After that we split off into our couples so we could do some not so subtle Christmas shopping for each other. We met up back at the Dome, which is the most beautiful place at this time of year, and had Christmas dinner. That’s right, turkey, stuffing, plum pud, the works. It was incredible and unexpected and so very special to be able to have Christmas dinner with my parents and Chris. After peeling ourselves from our seats, that last mince pie did me in, we went to St. Andrews Square to see the show on at the Spielgeltent. It was called Circa and it was an amazing feat of strength and acrobatics. It was fearsome and imposing and I swear some parts seemed to defy physics in such a way that you were afraid to breathe in case it made them fall.
Friday the unusual warmth disappeared, replaced by a far more authentic dreich day. I was hoping to take my parents to the gin distillery for a tour but was awful and didn’t book tickets in time. Sorry dad, I swear I’ll book it the second you buy your next tickets over here. Instead we did some last minute shop wandering and spent the afternoon with warm drinks in their hotel lobby. It was a lovely relaxed end to a very full week. Dinner was at The Dogs, another favourite haunt, followed by another murder show and iced bun nightcap. We joined my parents for an incredible breakfast at their hotel early the next morning and said our see you soons and waved them off. It sucked, as these goodbyes always do, but I truly couldn’t have asked for a more wonderful week.
The inevitable lull that followed my parents’ departure was thankfully short lived as later that afternoon we had another visitor. My friend Zarah, a fellow Canadian, was over from Scotland for her graduation and kindly peeled herself away from her wonderful family in Glasgow to come visit Chris and I for a chatting filled 24 hours. Zarah and I met last year as we lived in the same building, and spent the entirety of our master’s degrees eating our way through the city. Seriously. There was a lot of cake. She’s amazing and I hate that she’s not still in Scotland, so it’s safe to say the visit and reunion was long overdue. We visited some of our old Saturday morning favourites, cake at Lovecrumbs was a must, and Chris and Zarah were able to get better acquainted while I marveled at having two of the best people in the world sitting on my couch. Chris made us a delicious dinner and Zarah and I spent the rest of the evening catching each other up on our lives. The next day we went to Caffeine Drip, where Zarah and I were regulars last year, and it was one of those wonderful moments where it felt like no time had passed at all. Once again the see you soons sucked, as they always do, but as we waved Zarah’s train off I was left feeling nothing but gratitude for a wonderful week of visits. Additionally, having spent all of last year doing the see you soons on my own, it sure was lovely to be able to come home to a house with Chris in it.