March 21, 2003
I had to check my watch to
see what today’s date is. I believe it’s now Friday, and it is the 21st.
I was so tired last night I didn’t have energy to write, so I read my book
– easy reading and informative as though I were listening to the author
telling tales with a mix of respect and affectionate disregard for the
Stuart royal line, called "Dynasty" – whilst I was watching TV news about
the just begun war in Iraq. The children went out to eat and Stephanie,
knowing I’m on a taster tour of steak pie, brought me back "another
offering" for my supper when they returned.
I might be coming down with
a wee cold from sitting in the open top bus yesterday. I’m feeling a
little rasp in my throat and have a touch of the sniffles. "Not to worry,"
as my mother used to say, I’ll just stop in at a nearby chemist and get
the Scottish equivelant of non drowsy Contact and all will be well.
My family left this morning
in a taxi "for six" that Min Sue had arranged. When you consider this taxi
"for six" seemed to be a mini min-van and my children between them had at
least eight suitcases, plus backpacks, and purses of various shapes and
sizes I was amazed to see the driver fit bodies, bags and baggages in by
dint of heft and shove. I gave him a hearty round of applause as I sit
there at Mingalar’s gate in my jimmies and jacket, as he squeezed himself
into the remaining small space behind the steering wheel.
So, here I am at the
launderette having a solo adventure while I wait for mother and daughter
friends (Robbie and Nickie) and me e-mail pal and her two companions (Lia,
Suzanne, Kathie) to join me for our girls’ road trip around Scotland and
the Isles. My dialysis co-worker and her chum (Belinda and Kari) will show
up tomorrow and we’ll be all together for our adventure.
My first impressions of the
launderette attendant were less than favourable. In my mind, I’ve named
her my little ray of sunshine since she’s the first ill tempered and
unfriendly person I’ve encountered on this trip – apart from the
Englishman who bounded up behind me at breakfast at Mingalar and nabbed my
toast from toaster to his plate with the speed of lightning, a cry of
"That’s my toast" as though he were Edmund Hillary and had just reached
the summit of Mt Everest, and not even an "excuse me" to my sherpa Tensing
– you know, the guy who did all the work!
But now, as I observe her
interactions with obviously frequent customers and delivery men, I
understand that she’s having an unusually bad day. Punctuated by several "blodies"
and bangs and slams of washer and drier doors, trolleys and baskets, and a
ditty unfamiliar to me that she’s singing, it appears this poor woman has
"been here since twenty to eight, never seen it sae busy, and wi’ a’ the
fowk comin’ and gaein’ I havena’ had time to dae the loads o’ waash needin’
Maybe she just needs to
take advantage of some of the Reiki services that are advertised on
brochures and fliers in front of where I’m sitting writing this.
Yesterday was another
Like every recent morning,
but not today which is clear, sunny and quite warm (for Scotland, I think)
the day began misty and cool. Nevertheless, our plan was to take our open
top bus tour around the Old and New towns of Edinburgh. We elected the
Green Bus for value and variety, and because there was a live guide.
She sat on top where we
were, which gave me a chance for off the microphone chats with her about
my memories and knowledge of Edinburgh. When we left the bus, she told me
she was from Stanley, where my great, great, great grandfather lived, and
that she had had a teacher in Primary School named Mrs McIntosh whose
family had lived in Stanley for generations. Another welcome feeling about
coming home with my family filled my heart.
(Our poor launderette lady
has a helper now and is cheerily laughing as she goes about her business.
That’s a good thing. On an aside, we’re quite international here – an
Englishman just dropped off his dry cleaning, and a young Australian
couple on honeymoon appear just as lost as I am with the money, machines,
and madness of this morning.)
But, back to
yesterday – I really enjoyed the bus tour past Edinburgh’s seemingly equal
number of magnificent churches and welcoming pubs – one of each on every
corner almost. Judith, our guide was very informative as we circled the
Castle and roamed Old Town – the Grassmarket, Greyfriears and "wee Bobby,"
the Royal Mile, St Giles and the current as well as the under construction
Scottish Parliament sites, views of Arthur’s Seat and the Pentlands, along
Carlton Hill and into New Town with its shops, parks, monuments, fine
homes and businesses. Truly the historic center of our country and the
"Athens of the North."
I enjoyed best seeing
Robert Louis Stevenson’s childhood home and reminding Nathan of our recent
grandmother and grandson adventures around Thanksgiving lst year when I
took him to see "Treasure Planet," then on the same day rented the video
of Disney’s original "Treasure Island" and we went to the library (same
day again) and borrowed, then read together Stevenson’s book.
I asked our guide if it
were possible that the street lamp by the red door of Stevenson’s home
could have been the lamp the leerie lit and Stevenson memorialized in his
collection "A Child’s Garden of Verses." Indeed, it was, Judith told me. I
thought then of Stevenson writing his memories of that home and childhood
for children to enjoy right up to this day – Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star;
I have a little shadow; Bed in Summer; My Counterpane, etc.
When we finished our bus
tour I took the family over to Greyfriar’s Bobby’s Bar for a very
enjoyable lunch – with an extra of steamed treacle pudding with custard,
for me. I’m still looking for clootie dumpling, without any luck so far,
but maybe in the Highlands I’ll find some. There’s been plenty of haggis
and neeps and tatties on the pub menus, but I’d rather order that while on
our girls road trip.
Mingalar, 12:30 p.m.
Well, I left the
launderette lady much happier than I found her and I’m now back at
Mingalar having gone up to the Chemist for some Contact.
It was almost like going to
the doctor and very much as I remember my childhood life, with the
difference that I left the shop with Contac capsules instead of "powders"
for my predicament.
Like days gone by, I
received individual attention, many medications being "behind the
counter." I told the chemist, or pharmacist, about my slight ailment and
was asked if I were taking any medications and what for. I gave up the
info on the two meds I take daily, forgetting to include my herbal
potassium supplement of Km and my twice daily glucosamine condroiten.
Approving this mix, the chemist gave me my nondrowsy, 12 hour Contac,
which I have dutifully dosed myself with, and here I am back at our bed
Not all my laundry is quite
dry, and I’m thinking my granny’s "horse" would be quite handy right now.
But, it’s a sunny, warm day and I’ve draped my still damp jeans and socks
over chairs in front of my sunny bedroom windows.
All I need are some "soor
plooms" (which I’ve seen available as souverinirs of past days in little
gift jars) to "sook" on and, sitting by my laundry, turning it to catch
the drying heat, I’d really be filling my granny role, or, since I’ve been
widowed so long, not quite, but close enough, to be able to sing "What’ll
I dae if I dee an auld maid in a garrett?"
In fact, as I carted my
laundry to the laundrett earlier in my little wheeled suitcase, I didn’t
feel so far removed from my mother and her Hilltown "sisters" pushing
"auld prams" filled no longwe withy offspring, but with their washing on
their way to the Steamie in Caldrum Street to boil and wash and wring and
dry on steel railed racks in hot steaming cabinets. I truly felt grown up
when I reached eleven or so and was permitted to come in to the "steamie"
instead of "biding" in the waiting room with other "bairns." These women,
because I can’t recall seeing any men or boys there, worked very hard and
the work must have been exhausting – pushing, pulling, pounding, wringing,
rolling and racking their family washing, then pushing it home, up braes,
still damp in the prams, to hang on horses and pull them up to the living
room or kitchen ceilings to dry.
And I feel inconvenienced
when my drier or washer go out on me temporarily and I have to wait for a
Well, I still haven’t
finished reporting on yesterday’s fun and games. Clive, our host at
Mingalar, has just come upstairs to me as I write this while waiting for
my first friends to join me, to tell me he has received an e-mail from one
of our group canceling her trip. Apparently, our Rochester group got
separated. Two have been rerouted through Ontario, and one couldn’t get on
a plane at all, and has surrendered to circumstances and has decided not
to join us.
I’ve written an e-mail to
her encouraging her to reconsider because there are still two or three
days until we start tripping around Scotland. Today is Friday, if she were
to leave tomorrow she should be able to get into Edinburgh by Sunday and
come up to Dundee with us and still enjoy at least the road trip. I feel
so sad. It’s too late to refund her share of the road travel, and I’m not
sure I can get refunds on the bed and breakfasts because we’ve set them up
as family or double room arrangements in Dundee, Skye, Inverness, Aberdeen
and Glasgow. I got special rates at the Hilton in Aberdeen and Holiday Inn
in Glasgow and I’m afraid these are set in stone under room, rather than
per person rates. That financial loss is going to be quite significant and
that’s really a shame. I hope she has travel insurance which may take the
bite out of some of the costs. Perhaps this whole war situation and the
iffy-ness of air travel is causing her some concern. I do hope she decides
to try again and come with us. What a heartbreak.
It’s 1:15 in the afternoon
now, and hopefully some of my friends have survived their flights and are
somewhere near Edinburgh.
So, where was I about
yesterday? Ah, yes – the happy launderette lady – when I left her she had
moved on to dreaming about winning this weeks’s £9 million lottery and
proclaiming "This joab was be the furst tae go. I would nae work oot my
noice – no’ efter a day like the day."
Makes me wonder what I
would do – certainly almost tempts me to buy a ticket.
But, going back to
yesterday, the children (including the grand ones) were more of a mind to
visit "Underground Edinburgh" than join me in exploring the Museum of
Scotland. So we separated to follow our own interests. They later told me,
Stephanie especially, that it was just as well I didn’t go with them. I’m
the one who jumps and screams in scarey movies – even videos at home. The
last theater movie I was at to see a scarey movie was "The Others" with
Nicole Kidman, and I acted true to form. No one will go with me to these
kind of shows. So, I’ll take their word for it that Underground Edinburgh
is worth the visit.
But I had a wonderful time
reviewing Scottish history from Pictish to the Present – exhibits showing
the land, the people, the environment, industry, survival, spiritual
beliefs and religious practices, etc. I was the only participant in the
announced invitation to join an "introduction to Scotland" tour and had a
one on one tour, accompanied by a very gracious and informative guide with
whom I was able to share my reconstruction of my four years of history at
Harris Academy in Dundee – and found I’d retained more than I thought I
Maybe Miss Spaulding’s
efforts weren’t all in vain, after all – even though I spent my share of
time thrown out of class for being "cheeky" and I think I got strapped at
least three times by her every year. I was a rascal. Loved history, Must
have been bored and not challenged enough in her class. Interesting, I
have a boss who told me that she’s noticed that when I’m challenged and
maybe have an interesting project or two to work on I do my best work.
Things haven’t changed much, I suppose.
I loved my time in
Edinburgh and in the museum so much that maybe I will follow my family’s
recommendation and come back to Scotland as a tour guide for all who care,
or dare, to join me through Bonnie Dundee and beyond.
seem to be enjoying two days of what we used to call "plunking" or playing
hookey about the war in Iraq – I did it once, got caught and taken to
school in the Black Maria, came home after school and found the local
bobby having tea with my mum and gran and never did that again!
Strolling home to Mingalar
I bumped into the gathering place for another march. This time it was at
St Giles and the Tolbooth after school. Policemen were out in force,
including two rented (one from Enterprise) mini-vans holding about a dozen
bobbies each, as well as motor cycle and mounted police. A piper was
playing, anti war literature was being handed out, Scottish Socialist
Party and Amnesty International people had banners waving. I staying long
enough to take some pictures and refuse literature.
Since my children had told
me "don’t talk to anybody" I only made one comment along the lines of "No,
thanks. I support the President and our troops." Mellow for me. Then I
And that was my day
It’s now almost warm.
Mingalar is all mine. Warm sun is streaming through the floor to ceiling
windows into this beautifully high ceilinged guest room with its marble
fireplace and ensuite facilities. Just lovely. The weatherman just its 15
degrees Celsius, about 63 Fahrenheit here in Edinburgh on "this Spring
equinox." Sun is forecast for Edinburgh and Dundee "now that we are into
Spring," says the weatherman.
I hope we all join up
together to enjoy this great weather – and I hope my children are having
an equally beautiful day on their London adventure today.
here to see photos of the day