We are beginning to feel like Edinburgh locals now but as soon as we open our mouths that illusion is shattered. The first question is often, “Where are you from?” When we answer “Canberra” people actually know where Canberra is and that Canberra is the capital of Australia. This is usually followed by, “I have a niece in Adelaide (or Bathurst or Melbourne ...),” or, “I have just come back from visiting my brother in Sydney.” The ties between Scotland and Australia are very strong so it really does feel like a home away from home here.
The day we felt the distance from Canberra most keenly was 13 February, when Kevin Rudd made the long-awaited apology there to the Stolen Generations. We followed as best we could on the internet and captured some of the emotion and relief of that historic moment.
So, now that we are sort-of locals, Chris has settled into her writing and conference organising for WSCF and is enjoying both. She makes sorties to New College for visits to the library and the occasional seminar. The college put on a reception for the visiting fellows and continues to be a welcoming place. A weekend seminar at Scottish Churches House, an ecumenical centre in Dunblane, also stimulated her thinking.
Meanwhile, in his separate home office (we tried to share but it didn’t work) Geoff hones his travel agent skills doing the forward planning and bookings for our adventures. His computer skills have been put to good use in helping to solve a neighbour’s computer problems. He is also enjoying keeping our website and blog up to date. A broken toenail curbed his exploratory expeditions for a while but an NHS podiatrist came to the rescue.
February has brought more frost, fog, wind, sun, snowdrops and crocuses. Arthur’s Seat disappeared from view on occasions but then there have been bright sunny days as well. Sometimes we lie in bed at night listening to gale-force winds wondering if the rubbish bins have blown away. (We once lost our red recycling box to the wind but then ended up with three. It’s a long story ...) The days are rapidly lengthening so we now have breakfast in sunlight and have lost our excuse to sleep in.
Geoff creeping through the crocuses
Chris bird list continues to grow. You can see it on this website along with her photo album of animal shots, some quirky. A pair of redpolls spent a week or so feeding just outside her window, which was a treat but not conducive to writing. Geoff spotted the fox in the garden one morning and squirrels and robins are regular visitors. A day trip to the Scottish Seabird Centre at North Berwick expanded the list considerably. We hope to go back when the puffins and gannets arrive. While we were in the district we caught the local bus to Tantallon Castle on the windswept cliffs and enjoyed having the place to ourselves. There are advantages in being tourists in winter ...
Our first house guests have come and gone. We walked David Scott around some of our favourite haunts, the Innocent Railway and Craigmillar Castle, and hitched a ride with Cynthia and Keith Groundwater for day trips to Peebles and along the Firth of Forth to Dunbar. As spring approaches, so does the promise of more visitors to inflict our rudimentary B&B skills upon.
So, that’s your lot.
Until our next instalment, lots of love from Chris and Geoff. We enjoy hearing from you, whether it be by email, Skype or in person.