It was a shorter trip to Edinburgh than last time. I was pleased at how many meetups fitted in to the time. On Friday, Shane managed a very efficient set of appointments in one morning (three scans, dropping into a lawyers office to pick up documents and a shingles jab done early) and was able to join me and two of my sisters for chat and coffee, before he swept off to another social engagement and we had a fun time playing petanque. There was a lot of laughter and a fair mix of “Superbe!” and “Zut alors!” (That’s the clean version!) What a lovely sunny day in great company!

The ‘hello fresh’ meals had kept us going through the week. There was one left for Friday. Mary had decided on a day trip rather than an overnight and I was glad to hear she wasn’t a fan of goat cheese as the only remaining recipe was with that and she was not joining us for tea. To our surprise however, our friend Gandolf swung by and he does like goat cheese so was happy to have the meal. I was relieved it was a mild cheese so not overly goaty anyway. A slight tweak was required as he doesn’t eat garlic, but all went well. I was amazed he had hit the short window we were there, but he revealed that he had visited another day and Nye had let him know the dates of our visit, so it was no accidental drop by.

Nye and I had a trip to collect books he had ordered at an independent bookshop. He hadn’t expected them to come in so soon. He had been given a free copy of a book by the author who was the guest speaker at a school reunion event. He had enjoyed the extract she read of her book, but hadn’t cash. She suggested ordering from small independent bookshops and having loved the first book he had ordered the rest of the series. When we got there it had a sign up saying it was closed but they would be back soon. We popped into the shop next door, Digger, to browse for a few minutes. This was a shop I had gone to often as a student and it seemed just the same. Amazingly it even seemed to be run by the same woman. I remain unsure as to whether she is still the owner or has a daughter that looks the very same who has taken it over. I bought some hair bands, but didn’t pluck up the courage to ask her if she really had been running this shop for over 40 years. The book shop was now open, Nye collected his books and I picked up a book called “Am I Normal?” I think I know the answer already. The front cover seems to have a spoiler on it. The person at the checkout commented on liking the way there was a mirror on it like on a children’s book.

Am I Normal? By Sarah Chaney.

All three of us enjoyed an evening with Kenny and Helena’s with her signature paella. She had chosen a hotter chorizo than usual which unfortunately for her was too spicy, but everyone else at the table enjoyed it and Nye wanted to know where she got it from so he could stock up.

On Sunday I was on an outing to Colinton, with more relations catch-ups and had a great walk in the Pentlands, with my niece Sandra and saw the alpaca herd on the way. I bumped into an ex work colleague on the way home. I got back not long before our friend Peter was coming for tea. Leftover garlic sauce, that Gandolf can’t eat, came in handy, to whip up something from whatever was in.

I had thought I might miss Peter, as he was away much of the time we were here, so was pleased to squeeze him in. However, I was now feeling that I was running out of time to get my knitting finished. I had been making a hat for my niece who has invited me for lunch the next day, but with the surprise Gandolf visit, and inviting Peter round, my early evening knitting time was reduced, so I had been knitting on the bus to and from Colinton. I was nearly there though and had only the crown decrease left and really wanted it done. The wool dye is called Salt breeze (but in German) and the pattern is called stones on the beach and Lorna lives in Portobello, so seemed just right.The wool was from Riverknits in Weedon Bec so I had brought it with me from the boat, having got Shane to help winding the ball the day before travel. I got the brim done in the train. Now I had met too many people to have long times knitting and the pattern is too lacy to chat and knit, mostly. At one in the morning I managed to finish it and set it blocking. It is the same pattern as the previous hat but with different wools it looks quite different, in shape and how the pattern shows. In llama dear universe it is soft and floppy but not springy, like the sheep wool.

I was very relieved it was dry by morning and I could set off for lunch at Lorna’s. I was dressed warmly as there had been a lot of coastal haar, but it was sunny. She set up a table and chairs in the garden. Before eating she trimmed my hair, which has been a job I have been wanting done for a long time. Lorna has cut my hair many times in years gone by, probably before children. She made a quick and neat job of it and my hair feels much lighter even though it was only a trim of the thin ends, it feels so much smoother too. Sitting outside was ideal and the hair just blows away. She seems happy with her hats but it wasn’t a day to get the immediate benefit.

As usual Lorna whipped up something tasty in no time for a delicious lunch. We went to have a stroll on the prom. Lorna took plants for a friend who was sharing some seedling puchases. Some fitted in her pannier, I carried a tray (2 varieties of spinach, courgettes, broad beans and leeks) and in her front basket some sugarsnap peas.

Sugarsnap pea delivery, pretty and delicious

Antonio invited us to sit in his garden, sheltered from the wind. It was very nice to meet him, an interesting and interested man. Lorna was telling him our boat was very nice. I hadn’t expected canalboat chat.

Lorna had a class to go to and I had managed to make contact with someone else in Portobello, so it was a short walk to reach Yvonne and Howard. It is a while since we caught up. Their son is getting married this month and she has made two dresses for herself. I am in awe!

I hadn’t even known Howard would be there. He did an excellent barista service! On the way back, I was using different buses and it involved a change. Rather than stand in the shady bus stop, I walked in the sunshine to while away the time. We had missed the giraffes at the zoo, but here they are at the top of Leith Walk.

Giraffes on Leith Walk

It has been very hard to decide what to wear with quite a lot of cold wind and haar around, and in the shade it was very cool. I soaked in my time in the sun, admiring the cloudless sky. I could have done with shorts.

I hadn’t been back long, just time to discuss dinner options with Nye, when Beata (and Alfie) arrived for our planned walk. It was sunny enough still without jackets. We had a good chat catching up on news on both sides and Alfie had a good explore round the Meadows meeting other dogs. Some really didn’t want to meet and Beata held on tight to keep them apart. Going down a lane we noticed some flowers we didn’t know, which were very striking. Nye had used to name a plant in the garden earlier in the week (St John’s Wort). I remembered I had the app and it worked a treat.

Chinese snowball

It has been a very effective visit for objectives achieved and meeting a lot of people in a very short time, without attending any parties or going to any coffee shops. I was pleased to have spent some time with Nye and he was pleased to be reunited with his tweezers that I had accidentally packed in my toilet bag at the end of the previous visit.

Nye and I prepared a delicious meal from the new food delivery. Shane and I watched the last episode of a series and I left my packing to the morning. We had a smooth journey but to my surprise, travelling in shorts, we found the southern climes were not as sunny as Scotland. It was raining at the Milton Keynes change. We were in luck at Bugbrooke that the farm shop was open. Back at the boatyard we found Bartimaeus moved to a jaunty angle and a swan and cygnet (on her back) welcoming committee.

Bartimaeus has been moved back in the boatyard

The ropes were long but it was still possible to board and untie and we moved to the side of the canal since sleeping on the slipway is not allowed. We were pleased with the improvements we could see and the sight of swallows at the marina entrance and even happier to complete the manoeuvres before the very, very heavy rain. Two boats appeared in the light rain passing as we moored. I fear they will not have got moored before the torrential downpour arrived.

One swallow doesn’t make a summer and two swallows weren’t helping. We settled in and enjoyed being dry. Unpacking I was pleased that the lone sock I had taken from Edinburgh really did have a pair in the boat as I had hoped. They are each pretty useless in separate countries. I am not sure how long they have been apart but I am glad they are reunited.