Writing to you all is the last thing on our list to do before “pack”. Our time in Edinburgh is drawing to a close, but that does not mean that these emails will stop. The adventure continues for another six months yet so watch this space!
This has been a wonderful people month. Yes, that is both “wonderful people” and “wonderful month”.
First, there were the family and friends of Louise Scott, who gathered in the Pentland foothills on ANZAC Day for the scattering of Louise’s ashes in the grounds of her grandmother’s old house. Chris had the honour of leading the simple ceremony. Louise’s brothers hosted a slap-up afternoon tea in a local pub at Carnwath afterwards. It was a fitting farewell to a wonderful friend whose journey intersected with ours in Hong Kong, Australia and now Scotland. We glimpsed Louise in the family features and expressions on the faces around us.
People gathering to scatter Louise's ashes and plant a rowan tree
Soon after the Scott family dispersed, some itinerant Australians arrived. Keith and Cynthia popped by for less than twelve hours to collect their thoughts and a last night’s sleep before jumping on a plane back to Canberra. Next came Jazz and Hannah, two students on an amazing pilgrimage that has included el Camino de Santiago de Compostela and Palestine who were able to stay long enough to enjoy the familiarity of an Aussie household.
Chris kept up the people theme in her research by shifting her main focus from writing to having coffee with some key people with common interests. These included the minister of Greyfriar’s Church, who shares her interest in the “the culture of the table”, and the new policy officer of the Society, Religion and Technology Project of the Church of Scotland. Writing did continue in the form of a sermon for Trinity Sunday at St Peter’s.
People didn’t squeeze birds out entirely. A walk with friends from St Peter’s Church around the cliffs of St Abb’s Head had the added bonus of spotting guillemots and razorbills, in their thousands, nesting. We also met the “haar” for the first time as fog started to roll in from the North Sea. Over the next couple of weeks, we got to know the haar even more intimately as Arthur’s Seat was obliterated for whole days.
Spring has definitely sprung. Old familiar walks are now clothed in green leaves and bluebells. Local folk took to the beach and made sandcastles (while we stayed wrapped in our jumpers). Even the birds went into a torpor sunning themselves in the garden. Finally the mercury rose to the point where we shed our trusty coats and noted with glee that it is now warmer here than in Canberra. However, on quite a few days, the haar kept the summery weather enjoyed “down south” at bay.
Well, the Scots think it is warm ...
The ninth anniversary of our formal engagement (as distinct from the hypothetical one) gave us an excuse to enjoy a magnificent day walking along the coast from Cramond, finishing up at the Royal Yacht Brittania, now retired and moored at Leith Docks. Other walks of note have been the Water of Leith following the old canal system and the wooded river and the grounds of the stately home of Newhailles.
Looking across to Cramond Island before the causeway is submerged by high tide
On “ordinary days” we sit at our laptops, Chris working on her research and the WSCF conference planning and Geoff mucking around, as he puts it. The internet and travel planning is another way of describing it.
The people theme returned with a round of farewells with friends from New College, Louise’s friends and yesterday afternoon we hosted afternoon tea for neighbours and friends from the two churches we’ve been going to. This brought home to us how warmly we have been welcomed here and what a wonderful gift this house has been to us. Thank you, Anne and Robin!
So, to the packing. We leave this Thursday, 22 May, a matter of hours before Anne and Robin return to their home. We won’t tell where we are off to. You’ll have to read the next instalment!
Spring arrives at the River Esk