No, I am not reporting live from Heathrow but remain in Auld Reekie. For the first time in several years, I am visiting Edinburgh away from its famous Festival and Fringe. As a result, the streets are strangely empty of tourists, performers and their provisional, marketing wing: no-one has tried to hand me a flyer all week!
Despite the apparent entertainment vacuum, there is still plenty for a chap to do. For a start, it has been great to catch up with old friends (by which I mean long-standing, rather than antique – though at my age, the two are becoming synonymous concepts) and their new arrivals. And what a charming new arrival… just don’t show her a hat! (I was unable to test her opinion on the fascinator issue – jumped-up alice band or mini hat?).
For the first time ever, I saw the Forth Rail (and road) Bridge: up close and personal. There is always a risk with such an iconic star of page and screen that reality will disappoint – but not in this case. Its sheer physical presence just can’t be captured by an image (though I, in common with many before me, have attempted to do so) – and, for the first time in many years, it is not being painted at the moment and so is scaffold-free.
In the glorious afternoon weather yesterday, I ascended to the summit of Arthur’s Seat to enjoy the stunning views (and obtain a little exercise). As a result, I would like to suggest to Arthur that his seat could do with some work in the upholstery department – even the odd scatter cushion (normally anathema to our hero) would provide a more comfortable sitting experience.
Prior to my ascent in search of a sit-down, I visited Earthy – a splendid eatery in Causewayside – where I was furnished with the finest example of the quiche-maker’s art that has ever passed my lips: aubergine, chilli and feta were the headline ingredients, but I suspect the secret was in the fluffiness of the underlying egg-based substrate. Possibly even more excitingly, I sampled a new vegetable – new not only to me, but also to the world (having been first reported only one year ago – almost to the day!). This was the flower sprout the bastard love-child of kale and the brussel sprout. Apparently, this off-spring was achieved without genetic modification – so I can only assume the “process” required huge patience, subdued lighting and a Barry White CD. Luckily, their efforts were not wasted and the child takes after its father in taste (assuming kale was the daddy) – and is delicious served cold with chilli and sesame seeds (and probably in many other ways too!).
There has been culture too – with the visual arts being complemented by a stunning performance of Schubert’s Winterreise at the Queen’s Hall last night. Not many laughs compared to my traditional Edinburgh cultural fare perhaps, but some of the finest live music it has ever been my pleasure to enjoy (and at a very recession-friendly price too!).
So, if you are looking to escape the depressing winter weather of the home counties, I can thoroughly recommend a mini-break to Scotland!