This gentleman was playing his bagpipe on the corner as I hopped off the bus downtown Edinburgh for the very first time - what a wonderful welcome!
I had been booked for a 2 1/2 week housesit in a beautiful home in the area of Morningside, a short bus ride to the center of this ancient city. With the mighty castle dominating the city center, overlooking both the Old and New towns, it is always in photos - no matter which direction you are pointing your camera.
A wee bit about my housesit - interesting. It began with my being asked to sit for 2 Jack Russells and 1 miniature chihuahua. Things changed when I received an email saying that I would be sharing the house and the sit with a woman from New Zealand as the homeowner did not want the tiny little dog ever left alone - day or night. Elizabeth and I exchanged emails - she is a retired teacher, in Edinburgh to visit her son and new granddaughter and we agreed we could easily handle the house care, 2 terriers, and one tiny chihuahua.
But about 2 weeks before the sit was to begin, Elizabeth and I each received another email from the homeowner stating that she had decided to put the terriers into the kennel and had asked a mother and daughter to also stay at the house (thank goodness, it was a big house!) with the 18-year old daughter's only job being to stay with the chihuahua full-time. The mother would go to work during the day and Elizabeth and I could then take full advantage of literally over a 1000 events that the 3 big festivals were offering daily throughout the city - The International Classical Music & Theater Festival, the International Book Festival, and The Fringe Festival. OK!
Just so you have the picture, there are now 4 women (complete strangers except for the mother/daughter) in a huge house to oversee the care of one tiny dog that weighs less than 2 lbs, yips and barks at any and everything that moves and has been trained to pee and poop in any of the houses 4 showers (including those in the guest rooms) instead of using the lovely garden out the back door. As I said, interesting. The daughter was quite lovely, and the mother was a well, but she had such a heavy Scottish accent we could barely understand her when she would actually talk to Elizabeth and me, which was rarely There is one TV in the house which the 18-year old commandeered immediately.
Elizabeth and I decided the best way to handle this very interesting situation was to go out the door the first thing every morning and cram as many of events and performances we could into each and every day - from musicals (I saw the Cambridge University Players production of Pippin), comedy shows, Breakfast with Shakespeare (Hamlet 3-D), book readings, discussions by famous authors on numerous topics, street performers, walking tour of the city, etc., etc.
|Fringe street performers on the Royal Mile drumming up business for their daily theater production|
|Rubbing Bobby the dog's nose brings good luck!|
We did try and made up an evening cooking schedule - I think I cooked 3 meals during the 2 weeks. The homeowners were quite good about having the fridge totally stocked before they left and had a 2nd delivery arranged for the 2nd week, so we had everything we needed to cook and eat 3 meals a day. The mother and daughter were good cooks and they did several evening meals, as well, but as you might imagine, time around the dinner table conversation was rather difficult.
The highlight of my first week in Edinburgh was attending the Royal Military Tattoo held on the Castle grounds. Over 1400 cast members from countries as far away as China, Australia and U.S. (the Citadel's Bagpipper's Band and the US Air Force precision rifle corps) played, danced and performed to sell-out crowds of thousands twice a night, every night for 2 weeks. I had gotten my tickets before I left the States and had excellent seats as well as attending a fabulous Whiskey Dinner before the show at a lovely restaurant - while sitting next to a family from Kansas! The photos don't begin to do justice to the evening - but here are just a few! I've made them as small size but if you click on them individually, you can see the full-sized photo. I even managed to upload the video I took during the finale - hope it works!
But the most wonderful thing that happened during my stay was getting to know members of the International Women's Club of Edinburgh. This is one of the Open Door sister clubs of Chicago's IWA. These wonderful women went way out of their way to make me feel welcome and to include me in many of their ongoing events. I met the lovely Monica for coffee at the National Portrait Gallery on almost my 2nd day in the City. She gave me so much information, about the club and what to do and see while in her city. She even treated me to coffee and a delicious scone and invited me to attend me first Fringe event! Next I meet with Grace, the Club's current President, her husband John and Monica for lunch at the infamous Canny Man pub - what a delightful time we had. Then Ann opened the door of her home - one of the most beautiful I have seen - to host a coffee in my honor.
The ladies and I all enjoyed a yummy lunch (mussels) at the Cafe Royal where we got to know each other even better. But there is even more....
Grace and John belong to the Scottish Chapter of a wonderful organization called La Confrérie de la Chaîne des Rôtisseurs. This is an international gastronomic society founded in Paris in 1950. The Chaîne is based on the traditions and practices of the old French royal guild of goose roasters, whose authority gradually expanded to the roasting all poultry, meat and game.
It is dedicated to fine cuisine and promoting and developing the gastronomic values while at the same time widening its focus to table art.
They invited me to attend their Chapter dinner held on the evening of the Closing Festival Festivities with the Scottish National Orchestra performing a 45-minute classical music program coordinated to the fireworks display shot off from the Castle!!! The dinner was held at the Royal Overseas Club with an outdoor balcony where we stood, directly opposite the orchestra in the park and the Castle perched on the hill above us! What an amazing view!
This was a formal, black-tie (dress kilt) event, so you might ask what did I have in my tiny suitcase that would fit such an occasion, because as you might guess, I certainly hadn't packed anything close to 'formal attire'!
I had packed a calf-length, sleeveless, black Chicos Traveller dress. With that as a base and at the suggestion of Monica, I hit the 'charity shops' (resale to us) that were up and down Morningside Road. I was able to find a lovely lavender sequined jacket, necklace, earrings, heels and black satin evening bag for the grand total of £34! And what's great is I will wear it all again when I attend my friend's birthday celebration in Ireland in mid-September. Then I will donate it to a local charity shop for the next person in need of 'formal attire.'
Again, photos do not begin to do justice to the event but I love my new camera with it's 'fireworks' setting and I adore a man in kilts! The dinner, as you can imagine - all 8 courses - was delicious, the conversation wide-ranging and the music and fireworks display were an unbelievable perfect conclusion to my stay in Edinburgh.
|Our beautiful table w/view|
|Handsome Scottish Men!|
Edinburgh with the sun setting is magical! And then there were fireworks!
A spectacular way to end this blog post! There is a wee possibility I may return to Edinburgh for 3 months beginning in February, but you'll have to wait, along with me, until I learn for sure at the end of September.
Until next time......