This is unusual
This entry is a week late, for which I apologise.
Two weeks ago I did something rather out of character: I booked a room in a four star hotel in Edinburgh with a plan to drive there and say hello to someone I’d met on the Internet. I remember booking it and wondering if I had gone slightly mad.
Last Friday (the 22nd) arrived and I found myself happily going through with it, leaving work at about 1pm and driving 270 miles to another country.
The weather was absolutely fantastic both Friday and Saturday, and the drive up was far more simple than I had anticipated. The scenery on the way up was breath taking in places, I just love the mountains - with hundreds of sheep scattered around as tiny white dots, old stone walls marking boundaries, and the occasional half collapsed stone shack sitting forlornly on the mountain side. I felt like this was home, which is extremely odd when you realise I live in the Midlands, which has a couple of hills and that’s about it. I had a fanciful daydream of walking over those hills, carefree, the wind in my face, the sun hot on my skin and knowing I would be going home to a thick stone cottage half way up the mountain. It appealed.
As I said, the drive was simple - until I actually hit Edinburgh, where I somehow found myself behind schedule and utterly lost. After almost 45min of driving around the city trying to find the hotel and getting nowhere I spotted a taxi dropping a woman off. I quickly pulled over, dived out the car and promptly hired the guy to show me the way to the hotel. Following a taxi through the many streets isn’t as easy as I’d expected - I came this close to running a couple of red lights *holds finder and thumb a few millimetres apart*, and the cobbled streets are not too nice an experience either. Thankfully I got there soon enough, it turns out I had ended up on completely the wrong side of Edinburgh - next time I’m getting a detailed map.
Laura had been patiently waiting on her own in the hotel bar for at least an hour and a half, which I felt pretty bad about, but I’d gotten there at last! The hotel was very nice, and I particularly liked the live piano music. I have also decided I like the Scottish accent.
Edinburgh itself is a nice place to visit, and not what I was expecting. It was busy for sure, but not cramped or impersonal. On Saturday Laura took me around the city, stopping off at a Scream bar along the way. After having some much needed food we visited the Walter Scott monument, which is a pretty big piece of Gothic architecture that can be climbed to get a very good view of the city. Unfortunately the very top was closed for maintenance. After that we wandered through the gardens and visited Edinburgh Castle - which my parents assure me I’ve never visited, but the castle itself, particularly the entrance, seemed very familiar. I can only assume I’ve seen it on TV before and that’s why it seemed familiar.
When I was a child on holiday with my parents visiting these sort of places were the down point in the holiday. I much preferred it to be raining heavily so we had to stay in the caravan and I could read a book and listen to the rain. I had no appreciation for sight seeing and things like castles were really rather dull. Isn’t it interesting how things change as you get older? The castle apartments particularly were good to walk around. I found myself wondering what it would all have been like a couple of hundred years ago; huge fires burning in the equally huge hearths, a cold wind beating at the imperfect glass, shadows dancing around the room, the crackle of the logs, the materials I might be wearing, how the city scape outside might be different. I wondered who had been in these rooms before, what they thought about, what happened to them, what was their daily life like?
After much wandering around the city we sat down for a drink, completely worn out and got a train back to Haymarket station so we didn’t have to walk any further - which is the first time I’ve been on a train that wasn’t a steam train. This is also the first time I’ve been in a hotel, driven to another country, or met up with someone from off the Internet. Quite a few firsts there.
Sunday arrived before I knew it, and I found myself not really wanting to go home. Having said that, I don’t think city life is for me, it was all rather too busy and disorientating for my liking. A great place to visit, not such a great place to live. I walked Laura to Haymarket station and we said our goodbyes. It was odd standing on the platform watching her train leave.
The drive back was easy going but extremely tiring and I kept drifting off to a little world of my own, so I ended up taking a good 6hrs, with three or four breaks at service stations despite the trip back being shorter than the trip there. On the plus side I managed to navigate out of Edinburgh perfectly after walking along some of the route to check I knew where I was going in the main city. I probably walked three or four miles just doing that before I actually left.