It’s probably a good thing I walked over 28 km yesterday. I slept like a log, and didn’t wake till seven.
After my solo wandering yesterday morning I met up with Gillian at her flat in the Stockbridge neighbourhood. Fantastic but spendy area. Lots of cool little shops, pubs and cafes; a Sunday market in a public garden; old, winding, narrow cobblestone streets. The sidewalks were buzzing with people.
We set out first to Dean Park, and walked past Saint Brendan’s Well, and along the towpath by the Leith until we reached the section the Council (pronounce it coontsul) closed down for repairs five years ago, and hasn’t worked on since.
We wound our way past churches and monuments, through an old graveyard, and stopped in at the National Gallery of Scotland. I really enjoyed the sculpture garden outside, the modern masterpieces inside. After a while we were feeling hungry. As luck would have it, the gallery has an excellent cafe. A sandwich with two salads, americano and a slice of cake layered with marscarpone and pistachios for me. Two salads, black velvet cake and coffee for Gillian. We left stuffed.
We headed back to one of Gillian’s locals and had a pint before exploring further. Then we made our way to one of the better viewpoints in the city.
We walked to the top of Calton Hill, where the 18th century philosopher David Hume is buried. He left instructions for it in his will, including a stipulation that it not cost more than £100. “Typical Scot,” Gillian said.
We descended the hill, and walked round toward the Royal Mile, which was thick with tourists, and then down past the one-time house of John Knox, the father of Scottish Protestantism. Looking at the plaque outside, I noted a striking similarity to a friend of mine, and sent him a picture of the dour old bastard. “He didn’t like women much,” Gillian said. “I’m sure it was mutual,” I added.
It started raining, and we stopped in at a pub to get out of the rain. We timed our wait with a pint. As you do.
We walked down to the Scottish parliament at Holyrood. It’s a spectacularly modern building, designed by a Spaniard who has since died, and decorated in places with quotes from Scottish poets, from Burns to Hugh MacDiarmid. Across the street is the Queen’s residence in Edinburgh. I looked, but couldn’t spot the MI5 watchers. Maybe it’s all done remotely now
It was getting on, so we started back toward the west end of the city, ultimately finding ourselves at the Cambridge Pub (just a few doors down from the Oxford, where we’d been the night before). Gillian said they have the best burgers in Edinburgh, and based the venison burger I had that seems like a credible assertion. This was accompanied by another pint. And one more for good measure.
Afterward, we said goodbye for who knows how long. I’m hoping Adele and I get over again sometime soon, but who can say? I told Gillian she’s welcome to crash at our place if she comes back to visit Vancouver.
This morning I discovered some enormous and possibly prehistoric bird shat all over the Tiger’s gas tank, and I spent about twenty minutes cleaning it off, and another five minutes oiling the bike’s chain. I’ve put more than 1,500 miles on the bike since picking it up what seems like a lifetime ago, but is really just over two weeks.
I rode south , once bike was cleaned, along the dull and efficient A1 for most of the way. I’m in Scarborough now, and the weather is… fair. Okay, fine, that was a bad pun. Anyway, tomorrow I’ll be off again, this time down to Bath, before exploring Wales.
The end of my journey is approaching quickly now. I’ll be flying home again in just over a week. But I have many miles to go before then.