Week 508

Sunday, 16th September, 2018

Gorgeous day again. These are always considered bonus days in the second half of September. 22C/70F and lots of clear, blue skies with uninterrupted sunshine. Why are we going to Scotland? It can’t be better than here. Anyway, at least we will be reunited with our friends after all this time.


Our neighbours installed their new/our old garage door and then came over with a ‘thank you’ pot plant. I must admit, we don’t ‘do’ pot plants these days but politely received it. It is an Anthurium which originates from Brazil, Ecuador, Peru, Columbia and Venezuela. It was brought to Europe in 1876. The name Anthurium derives from the Greek words ‘anthos’ and ‘oura’ which mean ‘bloom’ and ‘tail’.

Apparently, ‘House Plants’ are back in fashion. In the 1960s and 1970s, when we were setting up house, they were all the rage. No home was complete without a Monstera Deliciosa  or Swiss Cheese Plant growing up in the corner or a Wandering Jew or Tradescanthia hanging down from a basket. They thrived in the damp conditions of student flats or first time buyers houses. As my generation moved up market, cleaner, dryer conditions were de rigour. Even the Che Guevara posters have gone. However, in time-honoured tradition – what goes around comes around – house plants are back in fashion. Who are we to resist?

Monday, 17th September, 2018

Summer in full bloom. The whole day has been sunshine-filled and a temperature of 24C/75F. We won’t expect any more of the Canary Islands in November. I have been watering pot plants on the patio prior to leaving them to their own devices tomorrow morning. We expect to continue cutting Rocket leaves for a little while to come. The lawns (lol) are cut and the hedges trimmed. We’ve done another gym workout today and packed our bags. Actually, it seems strange to be flying but staying within UK. We’ve packed our passports anyway because we will need Photo I.D.. We made them anyway if Scotland breaks away. It will be good to get in before we need a visa and before mobile roaming is cut off.

Edinburgh Station looks very interesting!

The flight from Gatwick to Edinburgh is 1hr 35 mins long at a cost of £227.66/€257.00 for the two of us which compares well with a train journey from our village to Edinburgh of 10hrs 11 mins. costing £330.53/€373.00 for the two of us and a of a drive of 461 miles and 8 .0 hrs non-stop driving costing £158.00/ in Unleaded Petrol for the return trip without stops but also takes a few years of your life.  Edinburgh Station looks very interesting but after 10 hrs? Probably not so much.

Tuesday, 18th September, 2018

Up at 7.00 am to a grey and blustery but very warm (18C/65F) morning. I have scheduled ‘Hive’, internet-controlled, light bulbs around the house so that I can play with them while we are away. Having announced that publicly, of course, I have negated their effectiveness but who reads this nonsense. Final packing – phone/iPad/watch chargers + multi-socket still have to be packed. Breakfast juice enjoyed and dishwasher stacked and then we are off.

Descending in to Edinburgh

We are driving to Gatwick at 9.30 am – timed in order to miss the worst of rush hour. Normally, it would take about 40 mins but we expect at least an hour at this time on a week day. …. The drive was good. We soon went through to No1 Lounge and relaxed before going down to gate. Early take off and early landing. The plane was not full. Plenty of room for spreading out. Took this photo as we were descending to land.

Edinburgh Airport small and friendly and easy to use. Taxi to Queensferry Road was immediately available. Our taxi driver shocked me immediately when he replied to my questions: Did you vote for Independence? No. / Did you vote for Brexit? Yes. These answers go against all the trends for younger Scots. He went on to explain that he voted on selfish (his word) grounds. He dealt in Bitcoin as a hobby and he was likely to make more money out of chaos. He was also a fan of Farage.

When we go to our hotel, having contributed to our taxi driver’s next crypto currency purchase, a lovely girl checked us in. She wouldn’t have voted Brexit even if she was allowed to. As a Moldovan, she was working hard in our service industry and providing an excellent service. A Moldovan accent with a Scottish twang overlaid is really rather nice although not so easy to understand.

Wednesday, 19th September, 2018

Pauline with Bjorn & Anne-Mari

What a day to choose to explore Edinburgh. Gale force winds and torrential rain. Actually, we had a wonderful day which began with a lovely, hotel breakfast and then a taxi into the city centre because of the inclement weather. We were dropped at a previously agreed coffee shop and, within a few minutes, 40 years were rolled back and in walked Bjorn and Anne-Mari. We last saw them in 1978.

Bjorn is Norwegian and Anne-Mari was born in Africa. All those years ago when we met them, they were living in our (then) home village of Meltham in West Yorkshire. Bjorn is a potter who taught in our school. Anne-Mari is a jewellery designer. In 1978, they both left for posts in Edinburgh University and remained there until they retired. For years, we have been promising to visit them and exchanging Christmas cards. The same two cards with infill newsletters have been shuttling between us for 40 years. Today, Pauline fulfilled her promise of seeing them again. In spite of the weather, it was a lovely day which ended in a meal back at their big, old Edinburgh stone house.

The photograph above, shows us in a bookshop where we found a copy of Anne-Mari’s book on jewellery design. At their home, they introduced us to 3D printing which I knew about but had never actually seen in reality. They were using a 3D printer to produce prototype items of jewellery. It was an interesting experience.

Thursday, 20th September, 2018

A totally different day with the morning opening on clear blue sky although still a little breezy. My phone shows me that the temperature at home on the Sussex coast at 7.00 am is 17C/63F but only 9C/48F here in Edinburgh. We are going to do one of my least favourite activities today – shopping. Pauline gets so few chances to indulge herself in actual (as opposed to virtual) clothes shopping that it is time for me to indulge her and just take the pain.

Walking on Princes Street, Edinburgh

After breakfast this morning, we had the day to ourselves so we sat with coffee and our digital newspapers. At 10.00 am, we set off to walk from our hotel up Queensferry Road with views of Fettes School (alma mater of Brown & Blair) in the distance, into Queensferry Street and then Princes Street. The weather was brilliantly blue sky and strong sunshine but with a cold, blustery wind – a hangover from yesterday’s gales. In the Orchard Park as we walked past, huge branches torn off in the wind lay strewn across the grass, debris blown from roofs littered the gardens and the pavements. The temperature at this time in the morning was 9C/48F compared with a reading of 17C/63 F in our home village in Sussex.

Closing Down

As we turned in to Princes Street, we enter House of Fraser department store. I hate those sorts of places at the best of times but today it was more depressing than ever. As I so often do in these situations, I found a chair to sit and browse and watch the world go by while Pauline set off across the store to look at clothes. Today, the store was being plastered with ‘Closing Down – 20% off marked price’ posters by the very staff who now knew they were losing their jobs. I found the scene profoundly depressing and I felt so sorry for all those loyal workers who were still doing their best for the Management.

We are notoriously bad at this shopping process and Pauline’s heart really wasn’t in it. We did some window shopping, a bit of seeing the sights and then set off back on the 2 mile walk to our hotel to catch the Daily Politics. and the One o’Clock News  followed by Scottish News which was nice to see although difficult to understand. Isn’t town walking tiring? Hard pavements and lots of noise and people. Who can cope with people? They constantly get in one’s way, take specific lines of walking and refuse to budge unless I barge them. They smell of sweat, cheap perfume, cigarette smoke, stale coffee and all sorts of unspeakable other things. Give me a solitary life by the sea!

Friday, 21st September, 2018

Woke to a pleasant but greyish morning – at 7.00 am, Edinburgh 7C/45F – West Sussex 14C/57F. Ate a third, consecutive hotel breakfast and vowed never to eat again … for life. The morning was spent packing up, charging phones and tablets, doing emails and reading the newspapers. An email came in from Easyjet to warn us that our flight was delayed by 15 mins. Not a problem.

Our taxi arrived on time and we were at the airport 30 mins later. Edinburgh Airport was absolutely packed. Looked busier than Gatwick. We thought we would be ok by going to one of the two private lounges airside and relaxing with a glass of wine. That’s when the day took a bit of a down turn. Arriving at No1 Lounge, we were told that it was absolutely full and had a waiting list that would take 2 hrs to clear. We went on to Aspire lounge to find a notice on the door saying ‘Currently Full’. On inquiry, we were told that there would be a wait so we sat in the foyer for 30 mins aspiring to get in before finally finding to a comfortable chair and table with charging points, strong wi-fi and some refreshments.

As we settled back, we checked the Easyjet app to find that our delay had been extended to an hour. By this stage, we just hunkered down with another glass of red wine and watched other people come and go. Eventually, we were called to gate and then to board a newish and very comfortable plane. It was a good flight but, because of our delayed take-off in Edinburgh, we had to wait for a landing slot by circling the airport for about 20 mins. Eventually, we landed about 90 mins later than timetabled.

Fortunately, our bag was off first from the carousel, the bus back to Long Stay carpark was waiting outside and we were soon in our car on the road home. It really doesn’t matter where we go, how long we stay for, how much we enjoy it – coming home is wonderful! And so it was.

Saturday, 22nd September, 2018

The thing that strikes one immediately is the difference in temperature. It is really noticeable. Back home, the house feels almost uncomfortably hot even though we haven’t had the heating on since last March/April. I have gone to do the supermarket shop in shorts and short-sleeved tee-shirt. I don’t feel out of place because half the men there are doing the same.

Our shopping today really reflects our current dietary patterns. I am still a real pain. I always need to follow a low-ish calorie content regime. I am constantly searching for food elements which are full of flavour, and stomach-filling texture but low in calories. Unfortunately, I am not able to use green vegetables like lettuce, broccoli or cabbage because they contain high levels of Vitamin K which militates against the Anti-coagulant drug, Warfarin which I take for Atrial Fibrillation.

Latterly, I have been majoring on tomatoes – virtually every day as a side salad – and cauliflower which I also eat cold and dressed with olive oil and lemon as a salad. These two have become staples and are combined with a central component of protein such as fish or chicken. Recently, we have also been turning to pulses and a mixed-bean salad. This is just simply dressed with olive oil, garlic, and lemon. Everything is dressed with herbs and rough, black pepper to replace salt. We do use flakes of sea salt but sparingly.

Today, we had roasted loin of cod with tail-on prawns and roasted cherry tomatoes in garlic and oregano. The depth of flavour is extraordinary and lingers for quite some time after we have finished eating. It is of a quality that one would rarely expect to receive in a restaurant at home or abroad and leaves one feeling better about one’s self than before it was consumed.

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