Irn Man and the land north of the border

I have been on a brief holiday. Contrary to my usual criterion for holidays, I deliberately visited a city I knew full well to be made out of rain, hills, wind, and friendly people, all of which are anathema to me. I am more in the field of hot weather, cloudless skies, flat places, and people who fail to acknowledge my existence unless I am drowning or threatening them with a gun.

No you do really want to know what I did on my holidays, and if you don’t, bear in mind that the only news I have outside of this is that I went to Vauxhall City Farm last week and touched a pig.

I wasn’t joking.

Because both myself and the certifiable lunatic who wanted to go on holiday to “Scotland” in the first place (I wrestled her down from “Scotland” to merely “Edinburgh”: she is from Australia and doesn’t understand that inhaling lungfuls of midges and getting hypothermia are Scottish Summer Activities) are somewhat deficient in drive, we did not end up doing most of the things we vainly insisted we were going to. My friends in Edinburgh, who are all terrible people who should be ashamed of themselves, did not help with our loosely-held determination to experience culture and the zoo:

  • “We’re just going to walk to this bar…”
  • “It’s not far…”
  • “I thought we could probably get a little bit drunk.”
  • “Oh, don’t bother going inside the castle, it’s expensive.”
  • “THERE’S THIS PLACE THAT DOES A REALLY NICE [insert food here]”.

Things we did succeed in doing:

  • Cocktails, at Bramble (corner of Queens Street aaaaaaand one of the other streets. I’m good at directions), and at the Rose Leaf. These are a certain distance apart which, for some reason, we walked in a significant amount of rain. On the plus side the cocktails at both were enough to make the middle bit less traumatic. I forget what I had, but one of them was purple and one of the others had rose and chilli in it…
  • Getting to Illegal Jacks on Lothian Road in time to meet some friends for lunch, where we mostly talked about food, statistics, and Lego.
  • Walking alllll the way up to the castle and then deciding that, owing to having a head like a struck bell, we weren’t bothering with going in…
  • … in favour of stumbling down the Royal Mile to the National Museum and prodding some DYNAMIC TAXIDERMY.
  • There were also some, you know, some remains. Of pre-Roman peoples. Possibly. And some kind of suggestion that civilisation existed before the aforementioned Romans came and introduced the peoples of this fine archipelago to things like (the signs assured us): central heating, straight roads, and cats.
  • Cringing with embarrassment on passing some hideously posh English tourists haw-haaawing about Trainspotting and making me want to fling myself down the remainder of the steps in an attempt to distance myself from my eternally-embarrassing countrymen.
  • Falling asleep in front of hotel TV while inhaling Pizza Hut because holidays are also holidays from eating like a responsible adult (see also: consuming close to own bodyweight in tablet and then crying hysterically). Accidentally inventing the hotel room cocktail of “rose and elderflower presse and raspberry vodka”.
  • Taking in most of the National Portrait Gallery, which is astonishingly beautiful, and much nicer than the National Portrait Gallery for England. It also has fun things you can do, and Billy Connolly singing things, and currently has Annie Lennox singing things, and really, the one in London does not have anyone singing anything at all and it also doesn’t have phrenological plaster casts of people described as “female idiot” (or portraits of [insert female hate figure here and chortle to yourself at your own wit]), so frankly: advantage Edinburgh.
  • Attending very briefly a trilingual (English, Polish, and Latin) Catholic Mass, from which my heathen companion (whose experience of organised religion is almost non-existent) almost ran screaming and foaming. Apparently mass bears a rather closer resemblance to impending death, which I suppose is appropriate considering most religions exist to help humanity to deal with the reality of our inevitable mortality. I intend to spend the rest of the Heathen Australian’s visit casually informing her you’re going to die at the least appropriate junctures.
  • Most important: causing accidental noisy delight in some passing young men as we struggled to break into a plastic bag full of soor plooms on a bench in St Andrew’s Square. The yelp of awwwch, soor plooms was an unexpected response, to be honest. Being nominally “from” London (I’ve lived here since 2001) I tend to assume that the response of anyone not from London to my actual existence in their home is liable to be somewhere between contempt and violence…
  • Speaking of contempt, we ended our stay with a truly contemptible meal at some pub which served food made of lies. I have erased the name of the place from my memory, but stand ye warned: it was on Rose Street, and it had root vegetables farmed in the Paleolithic Era and a rabbit pie made of of the kind of rabbit that goes “cluck” and lays eggs.

My review of Edinburgh is that it is a fine, fascinating waterlogged mountain to which I will no doubt return: my review of the intervening landscape between the capital of England and the capital of Scotland is that there is far too much of it and that most of it is entirely unnecessary.

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2 thoughts on “Irn Man and the land north of the border

    1. I almost certainly will! And I will have my Australian in tow still, if you’ve no objections to being introduced to a sleepy bear?

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