My Ding-a-ling

While in lockdown in 2020, I was less locked down than I am at the moment. I was still going into an office to work, and meeting colleagues, though schools were closed. Bryn was also at home so there were often 3 of us on our daily walks and we also went on regular rides on the quiet roads on the tandem. The tandem is still in Bartimaeus so it is mainly walks and social media for me.

This week I contacted 3 people I often walk with to find they were out of town or in one case had a sniffle so we didn’t meet up. We did have a long chat on the phone though. The phone doesn’t ring often and when it does it is usually a sales call or scam. One man was very insistent I should check my router and didn’t seem to believe I couldn’t reach it while holding the phone – it is in the cellar – and another lady wanted to insulate my loft and I do not have a loft but she was good enough to say that our number would be removed. While on the phone to my friend, the doorbell rang another rarity, and I was pleased to receive a parcel that I had ordered. Now that I am not floating around of no fixed abode, I can receive post!

As Shane was out cycling I decided to go on a walk myself. I tried going on slightly different routes to normal. I passed some tubs of flowers and then down a nearby road that has a green strip along the side of a curved road. It reminded me that I had taken a group of children there to plant some plants with one of the volunteers who looked after it.

Gardening can be done anywhere.

The name took me back in time to student days when the student union had a Wednesday disco night with free entry called the Green Banana Club. I was a regular and the memory of it had recently featured in one of my poems.

There was an event on the Meadows so I had a look but didn’t go up to any crowded stalls and left hearing the tannoy announcement to people to move their cars as they were illegally parked and telling them where it was allowed. Quite a surprise to see wardens out on a Sunday afternoon. The entire cycle lane was blocked for the whole length of the road.

It was a warm enough day to get ice cream from a new shop near the Meadows and then I ventured to the grounds where the student halls of residence are. Although I was a student of Edinburgh university I was never in the halls so I was only recently introduced to the lovely garden of Abden house, once the principal’s residence ( as I found out when we returned next day and there was someone going in who gave us a potted history) but now it is something quite different.


A land far away yet very near

I read the plaque opposite honouring the first Chinese graduate. I was surprised at the date and thought that women were probably not accepted at the university until later. I checked when at home and indeed it was nearly 40 years until women were allowed to graduate. Indeed only recently 6 women were posthumously awarded their degrees in medicine 150 years after completing the course but not being allowed to graduate and being pelted with mud by fellow male students when they arrived at the graduation. Dr Elizabeth Garret Anderson was the first woman doctor to graduate in Britain in 1865 but women doctors were not allowed in hospitals so she had to setup her own practice.

Edinburgh the home of the first European Chinese graduate

I find though I am not travelling, I am still seeing new places and learning. The gardens are beautiful and a rhododendron bush was covered in different kinds of bee and butterfly. I got an excellent view of the pale pinkish underbelly of a long-tailed tit tweeting above me in a tree.

We didn’t manage to see it again on our return the next day, but we did come across a new bike shop which took our interest and it also had a second hand folding bike outside. Shane has been fancying a folding bike for on board the boat. He decided he would not pursue it when he was avoiding going inside shops. We admired the bell display, reminiscent of Dutch cycle shops, and the notice about opening hours.


Shane reflecting on the bike shop opening hours on a Sunday
An expansive ding-a-ling array

At home I have not done any knitting but have continued with daily poems and have resumed Arabic lessons on Duolingo. Shane has been on a 60 and 70 mile bike ride on consecutive days.

I have stayed closer to home but let my mind wander in time, topic and place with poetry and the exciting arrival of a book from my sister Anne, written by a woman who lives on a barge in France. I like that her recipes allow for replacing ingredients if the recommended one is not to hand and I have already cooked a mishmash of a couple of recipes using what I already had in. That suits me down to the ground, or down to the water. I shared this photo on the Women on Barges group, of which the author, Di, is a member.


A Foodie Afloat by Di Murrell