I have had a return visit to Dr Neil’s Garden with the friend who gave name me plums for the jam. While I had suggested it as a venue I was still surprised to arrive there as my friend led me another route entirely. On the way I got a phonecall from an ex-colleague who is still working and I had planned to meet her that afternoon but she looks after her granddaughter who was not well. She suggested Saturday for lunch in stead. I was sorry to have to decline as I had already arranged to go to Perth. Later we met another ex colleague, passing us on her bike and at the gardens we met the parent of a child I used to work with. My friend was sure I knew half of Edinburgh. You can’t work for over 20 years in lots of different schools and clinics, without meeting an awful lot of people.
The gardens are near water and I saw a sight that I am more familiar with on canals. I got much closer than usual. It is less common to see damselflies in Scotland but perhaps there are more than there were with the temperatures rising.
The gardens were gorgeous as ever with many little seats which we tried out. I was pleased to introduce her to the Merlin bird app and we identified a few. As we were leaving at last we saw they also had vegetables. I am not sure if the nearby nasturtium is grown as a flower or a salad ingredient.
We had been lucky to avoid much rain as there was some very heavy storms in the afternoon. The next day I went with my sister to an exhibition in the George Square library – Shane and I had seen it already but thought she might like it. The photographer, Robert Blomfield, uses light really well and he was in Edinburgh as a medical student and took a lot of photos then. My sister had studied medicine around the same time. It finishes at the end of the month so catch it while you can. We didn’t just catch the exhibition but also the heavy rain on the way out. Despite a rain jacket and an umbrella, we got soaked running for the bus. She was wringing out her trousers on the bus!
On Thursday night the news broke that The Queen had died. Some people seemed very surprised, but when I had heard of the family gathering in Balmoral it seemed likely that would be the news soon. It is very common for a widow or widower to die within two years of their spouse. I remember when my father died, my mum waved as the undertakers carried him out and said , “Good bye darling, see you soon”. Indeed though she had been fit then, with the nurses marvelling at how she managed to care for him on her own, the following year she died. Between floods in Perth with more rain forecast and the Queen dying in Scotland, and being moved to Edinburgh, I thought my trip to Perth and long awaited meet up might have to be cancelled.
I had brought on my walk the day before, two plum containers to return to her but as we parted at the end of her walk, we both forgot, so I invited her and another friend to tea on Friday. That turned out to be a busy day since I accompanied Nye to a shoe shop in the morning ( success third time lucky!) and had arranged to meet a friend for coffee in the afternoon. It is over a year since I’ve seen her. I can recommend The Red Cockerel. I hadn’t tried it before but will go again.
On the way back I noticed a sign saying a church was open for prior, peaceful reflection and visitors. I peeped in. I had heard churches were opening for people because of the Queen dying, but perhaps it always was open. Outside there was something we had seen often in little villages and here it was in the centre of the city and I had not noticed it before. With libraries closed and gatherings prohibited people provided their own solutions. The man at it said you didn’t actually have to bring a book to take a book, “It’s not a ‘one in, one out’ system” he told me.
My curries I made turned out tasty despite some last minute ingredient changes and a rush to the shops for cumin seeds (thanks Nye)…there is plenty of it on the boat!
The floods had cleared and the trains were running. I haven’t set an alarm since lockdown started but I was heading early to catch a train and hoping to change at Stirling to share the last part of the journey with a friend from Glasgow, then we would meet another friend from Aberdeen. We are all keen knitters. We had met together last September to work on our Stitches for Survival Panels. We were really looking forward to getting together again. I was at the station early. The advertising boards had been replaced with a different display. My Glasgow friend noticed the same at Queen Street Station. She sent an older but more topical picture of the Queen, that she had found, perhaps encouraging knitters for servicemen during the war.
We all met up successfully and had such a good day surrounded by friendly like-minded people. I had seen someone on the platform at Stirling with a knitted scarf…I knew where she was going. We walked with her to the building and when we met her at any time through the day we caught up on how she was doing, like she was a long lost friend. As we ate lunch we spoke with a group of Danish women. One really liked Rhona’s scarf. While we were sitting having lunch, a woman I hadn’t met before came over to ask if I knew the pattern name of the top I was wearing as she had bought some wool a similar colour and wanted to make it. It is called Special Moment. I showed her the pattern on my phone and where she could find it but warned her I had adapted it to make it longer, and that is what she wants too.
We met stall holders we had met before and bought some more from them. We went for fresh air and coffee in the afternoon and Rhona checked out the pattern and we heard the bells at the nearby church. We shared what we were doing throughout the day with a friend (a student with me and Rhona) who lives in St Louis Missouri.
The canal was not forgotten though. At one stall the stallholder had a new design pattern called “All the way to Perth” especially for this event . Pattern free if you bought wool from her stall. I took a liking to wool in the colour ‘kingfisher’, and she found a coordinating colour. She showed me a pattern (probably made for another Woolfest in Birmingham) which needs less wool, there are many more canals in Birmingham than Venice. I have replaced the wool shade ‘Romance’ with ‘Kingfisher’……
It may be some time before I make it though. Many projects ahead. I walked back from Haymarket past the end of the Edinburgh Canal. It is farewell to this canal and back to the English canals in the morning.
Nye got up early to say goodbye to us. He might not be here when we next come back but we expect to see him again in the not too distant future. We had to avoid our planned route to Waverley, as the road was cordoned off and full of police in preparation for the the Queen being moved to Holyrood and St Giles.
Our journey went smoothly and we have returned to the canal at Nuneaton. We had such a warm reception (and delicious food) from the nearby Prince’s Street snack vendors, Durga, vegetarian Indian street food that we ordered them again, but one item was not available today, but will be tomorrow. They told me, if we are coming by again to ring a day ahead they will make whatever we ask for, especially for us and parted with ” nice to see you again”. We really need to try to go there again.