Social Life

P1020232.JPG There’s no doubting our social life is much improved since we’ve been living in Edinburgh. This has more to do with how isolated we had become in our Highland village, 15 miles from a provincial town that fancied itself a city simply by changing its nomenclature, than with a full diary of glittering events. But by our standards we’ve been pretty busy. We’ve thoroughly enjoyed the weekly meetings of the Lit with its a tremendously diverse programme, recent highlights including Ian Rankin – lovely man, a wonderfully entertaining account of the roots of his writing career as an adolescent in Cardenden – Sir Kenneth Calman on using cartoons to teach medical students, and a beautiful photographic account of the fragile land/seascape of the Western Isles from the air). We’ve also been attending the monthly meetings of the Colinton Garden Club (highlight was Andrew Lear the appletreeman).

P1020239.JPG The programmes of both societies have culminated in Christmas parties (you wait twenty years for a Christmas party then they all come at once …). The Lit’s was a civilised affair with a buffet meal followed by a recital of poems and songs in Scots. The Garden Club night was a bit more raucous, including a pantomime (in rhyming quatrains, set in a Colinton garden) performed by members of the committee, a vaguely horticultural quiz and crossword, a few sandwiches and some cheese (‘you’ll have had your tea’) and quite a lot of wine (which helped a habitually restrained Edinburgh public to engage in traditional pantomime audience behaviour, oh yes it did).

P1020282.JPG We’ve ticked quite a lot off our ‘things to do in Edinburgh’ list. We’ve been up the Scott monument (well almost to the top, it was blowing quite a gale in the last section, which made Dee hesitate just long enough for me to find the cramped dark staircase just all too enclosing to stay another second). We’ve been to the top of Arthur’s Seat (in another gale, but this time we made it to the top, where we jostled with a few dozen students to hold onto the trig point in order to be able to stand up in the wind). We’ve visited the recently reopened National Museum of Scotland where we were much taken by the Millennium Clock, the working steam-powered loom engine and the interactive natural history displays. We loved the Elizabeth Blackadder exhibition at the National Gallery. We also loved popping into the tiny Dundas Street gallery later that day because we were passing and the artists they were showing included George Birrell – with whom I once shared a staffroom at Motherwell College, and who promised me when I bought an early work that I was making a sound investment since one day he’d be famous and would exhibit in Edinburgh galleries. He was right, and I’ve always loved that Standing Stones picture that now hangs in our SPV (salle polyvalente, our guest bedroom cum music room cum sports room cum library cum place where we put everything we can’t fit anywhere else in the flat).

P1020243.JPG We enjoyed a talk by Mark Beaumont on his cycle round the world. I wasn’t able to wear my Mark Beaumont round the world cycle jersey since it’s in Belgium, but Dee got me a signed copy of his book which relates some jaw-droppingly scary experiences (I tweeted him that he was incredibly brave and his mum too) while we plan more leisurely journeys along European waterways. We went to an organ recital one evening and thoroughly enjoyed being (re)familiarised with the organ music of some early 20th century French composers (and Liszt).

We’re really appreciating catching up with old friends. We drove across an eerily deserted Edinburgh in a tremendous gale to have dinner with Clodagh (an occasion which we considered ‘essential’ in the context of the advice of Lothian and Borders police only to travel for events in this category), and had a long catch-up lunch with Fiona. We’ve driven through to the west to see Mum, and had lunch with Jean and her mum in Clyde Valley one day. We look forward to meeting Susan on some of her twice-weekly visits to Edinburgh for her Swedish classes at the University.

P1020247.JPG (WARNING: CONTAINS SPOILERS!) We’re getting ready for a houseful of Adamsons who arrive from various parts of the world on Friday. Making the SPV less of a guddle and more of a guest room. Turning the attic into a cosy sleeping space (it’s sort of a cross between an artist’s garret and a bedouin tent). Filling all the available storage space we have with nice things to eat and drink. Making confiture de noël, scents recalling some of our happier memories of last Christmas in Obernai. Wrapping presents and even making a bit of an effort with a tree (a lovely Korean Fir ‘Silberlocke’, from what in our – reasonably considered – opinion is the best garden centre in Scotland at New Hopetoun, and which will find a place in the garden when the festive bit is over). Almost got into the spirit the other day when the 1 Scots battalion from Dreghorn barracks marched past the house on their way to their annual Christmas service. My mum has wished us both a ‘lovely family Christmas’ and I know what she means.  I am really looking forward to Rose, Sylvain, Wilf and Gelise all being here with us.

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