Halcyon days

Writing this post had me worrying about it being a month since the last but it’s an indicator of a busy time rather than nothing to report. Having made a good start to the PhD with the fevered excitement of access to e-journals which led to excessive downloading but not enough reading, I prepared for the imminent arrival of the very dear sister, brother and respective partners. Accommodation has been upgraded with a shiny, almost new bathroom (resisted temptation to remove tiny bath) and an eco radiator in the loft bedroom to save freezing the Belgians. And then they all arrived and it was big smiles, hugs and cats retreating in the dogged way that they do, to behind the couch. Jane was toasted, very much missed and remembered with poignant warmth and love.

And so the outings began first to Robert Smail’s Printing Works in Innerleithen, a must for the resident printmakers at rosepink, a walk along the Water of Leith to Stockbridge, and then along the canal so Rose could test Jane’s touring bike for size and suitability. It was Horis’s birthday on 24th September which was honoured by a mass visit with suitable, edible gifts (she has no interest in anything else) and a large, sweet pink cake courtesy of Camilla House (which in bygone days would have been received with derision). But she had less to say than at the Christmas visit, didn’t (thankfully) notice we were one less in number, but can still manage the automatic chat that almost convinces you she’s all there.

Wilf & Gélise could only stay for a few days as they are both busy with film and music commitments but we were lucky to receive pre-release cd’s of the sound track for Fat Cat written and mostly performed by Wilf. We did all manage to meet with Katie & Martin in Portobello for dinner at the Espy, preceded by a tour of the local charity shops and a sea side promenade. 

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The pre-planned highlight for Rose & Sly was the excursion to London – two nights in our preferred hotel, The President, travel by train first class and visits to certain pubs and restaurants. We did it all, I walked the legs of them, Sly managed a personal pilgrimage to the British Museum and the British Library, while Rose and I wandered childhood haunts and the BlueJade favourites. Two special places though were the very wonderful artist’s colourmen Cornelissen’s and the roof top garden in the former Derry and Toms building in Kensington, now part of the Branson empire – Rose was too wee when she was taken there as a child to remember it but Wilf and I do. 

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Friday 5th October was Rose’s birthday so we had just had to go to North Berwick for a walk on the beach, lunch at the ever lovely Buttercup Cafe and a wander through the various wee shops. Then back via Musselburgh for an ice cream (oysters for Rose & Sly) at Luca’s and a quick stop in Portobello.

But then all too soon it was the last weekend, no time left to visit Margaret in Glasgow, and hurried visits to various shops and supermarkets for those special wee items you just can’t find in Canada. Packing took on a new layer of complexity as Jane’s touring bike was emigrating as was her wish. We considered various options and settled on the bike bag I had bought as a failed solo experiment in car-assisted bike transport (far too much fuss), and paying for an extra checked bag. The bike had to be dismantled to the extent of wheels and mudguards off, pedals left behind as deemed unsuitable and everything else turned or twisted to fit into the giant bag – very awkward to manoeuvre but only weighing 20kgs despite some additional items that didn’t quite fit in anywhere else …

I busied myself in a birl of washing and quiet, the cats reappeared, the dining table slid back to being square, the research computer rebooted, I buried my head in research papers and took a day to get back on the perch. But we don’t say good bye anymore, it’s see you through the Skype window – then the miles and anguish float away.

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