Southampton has the loveliest little airport. When I say ‘little’ I mean one single building, just a short walk from the car park and a runway too small for big planes.
Speaking of planes…sadly we weren’t taking one of the really cute twin propeller jobs north. Even so, our jet plane only had two seats either side of a central aisle and quite a rickety ladder up to the door.
Once settled into our seats, Nicktor went to his zone-out place while I watched some zombie action, starting series three of The Walking Dead.
Upon arrival at Edinburgh, we met Andy (Nicktor knows him from work, I’d never met him), collected my bag and stepped out into the wind and decidedly cooler temperature. We quickly moved into a cab for the short ride into town.
The student accommodation that Nicktor confused with a hotel, just happened to be around the corner from where Nicktor was having a tour of the company call centre. Handy. Even so, he and Andy headed into the modern building while I started the walk into Waverley station in order to catch the bus out to Ocean Terminal to wander round the old port.
I didn’t bother with the Royal Yacht Britannia (we visited it last time we were in Edinburgh) but wandered around, following a walk I’d found online.
I saw so many lovely ships. I stood and watched the Kapitan Konkin taking on, what appeared to be some sort of ore. I only watched for a short while because the ferocious wind and driving hail, forced me to seek the shelter of Ocean Terminal until the weather improved.
The ferocious wind soon blew the hail away and I once more stepped out into what was now a blue sky and set off for the old dock area.
Leith was once the centre for shipbuilding but, like all of them, it fell into decline turning the place into a deprived area of rough types. It was rarely visited by gentle folk.
Then came the progressives, turning warehouses into flats and slums into restaurants. It didn’t take long before the whole place was once more part of proper society. Okay, that’s a bit extreme but the end result is certainly something to crow about.
A lot of the building and restoration work is in sympathy with the original style and blends in beautifully. The one thing that could have improved it would be some sort of invention to stop the incessant wind.
I spotted an interesting vessel, moored across the channel from me. She is the French brigantine, the STS Jean de la Lune. The scaffolding is around the second mast which is, I guess, being repaired. A very pretty little boat, if you ask me.
Having wandered full circle, both with and against the wind, feeling almost Dorothy-esque, I settled into Starbucks for a light, late lunch before heading back into the town on the wonderfully regular number 22 bus.
On the way back down to the student accommodation that Nicktor confused with a hotel, I decided to pop into the Surgeon’s Hall Museum. This snap decision turned out to be quite fortuitous.
The museum is part of the Royal College of Surgeons which was founded in 1505 as the Incorporation of Surgeon Barbers of Edinburgh. The collection is made up of lots of surgeons’ ‘stuff’ and is suitably gruesome. It’s similar to, and slightly better than, the Hunterian in London – that’s my opinion.
Sadly, I couldn’t find any gout. A lot of the museum is taken up with battle field surgery, bullet holes, hacked off limbs, blown up bits, etc. There is a rather bizarre painting of a man who was shot through his testicles. The rest of him was completely unscathed. It’s anyone’s guess how it happened (I couldn’t).
An amazing place though annoyingly, given there’s no guide book, no photography allowed.
When I emerged it was to drenched streets and pavements. There had obviously been a huge down pour during my museum visit. Smiling into the now sunny skies, I wandered down to the student accommodation that Nicktor confused with a hotel and checked in.
Actually, I’m being a bit hard on Nicktor. The accommodation was fine…well, my room was, anyway. And there was no column in the shower.
I was having a lovely little rest when it was shattered by a knock at the door and a demand that I join Nicktor, Mark and Andy in the foyer. So, shoes back on and off to the Grey Friar’s pub, where beer was had while Nicktor, Andy and Mark had a rehash of their day at the call centre.
From Grey Friars we moved to the Ensign Ewart (having failed to gain entrance into the heaving Jolly Judge). I haven’t mentioned it yet but tomorrow night is a rugby international between Scotland and France and it’s here, in Edinburgh. This means that Edinburgh is packed with the French. Walking down the streets is like being in Paris. Very odd.
We had a few more beers at the Ensign Ewart (lovely Black Sheep) and successfully deciphered the big painting on the wall before Mark went up and read the inscription above it, which agreed with our interpretation exactly.
It shows brave Ensign Charles Ewart of the Scots Greys, as he captures the French flag at the Battle of Waterloo. It seemed ironic given virtually everyone sitting under and around it, were French.
We were then joined by Evelyn, someone who Nicktor worked with in his old job. She’d just returned from two years working in Denmark. They hadn’t seen each other for years. It was a lovely reunion and a lot of catching up was done. It’s always fun meeting Nicktor’s old friends, because it gives us all a chance to take the mickey out of him.
Evelyn was lovely, lively and great fun and made up the fifth and final person in the group. We finished our drinks and popped across the road to Hanam’s Restaurant. What a fantastic meal! And, in a wonderful bit of coincidence, one of our waitresses was from Katoomba.
Now, I’m afraid the discussion became a little lively when religion was mentioned (not by me). There followed a long diatribe about the stupidity of an invisible creator, the waste of time that praying is and my general opinions about fate and other suchlike nonsense. It wasn’t until we were on the way back to our hotel, that Nicktor told me Andy is a Catholic.
Sorry, Andy, but I take nothing back. Hopefully you’re not too upset. And, Mark, I don’t care what you say, hope and fate are two entirely different things. Only one of them is real, for a start.
Still, ignoring my realism, we had a lovely night and, finally, crashed at about midnight.