Note: This was published after my trip. I am, unfortunately, not currently in Edinburgh! I am publishing my Edinburgh blogs this week because a friend booked a trip to Scotland after noting that my UK Tour poster said I would be playing there on 4/2. And silly me forgot to explain to Americans that in the UK the month comes first! OOPS!!! But really, that just means she will have better weather and will not be restrained by the times of my gig. So today's blog (and tomorrow's, and again the day after!) I give you EDINBURGH! This is a walking tour we did. ***Note: if, perchance I were starting from a hotel in Shandwick Place, I would do this walk on a Sunday and begin by making my way to Dean Village, then walk along the Water of Leith, popping up just after St. Bernard's Well to appear at the Stockbridge Market.
I cannot contain my joy at being in this most magical of cities. Steve hasn’t been here before, and our tagalong, Alan, only spent a couple of afternoons here as a child taking day trips from Paisley. We left North Berwick mid-morning and arrived in Leith around 11am, being immediately greeted with a strong cuppa from our hosts Marianne and John. They have a fantastic flat near the harbour, and they fed our tummies and hearts with food and stories.
I immediately dragged Steve on a long walkabout, beginning by the Stockbridge Market (only open on Sundays!), where we meandered and inhaled the festive atmosphere and shared a vegetarian scotch egg. We walked to the Stockbridge Colonies, so I could show Steve our little cottage flat at 12 Hugh Miller Place, where we lived for the last year of our Scottish adventure. The Colonies were some of the first affordable housing built, but now they are very posh and rarely come up on the market. They are small, but adorable, and each flat has the cutest wee garden. If you go this way, you could easily walk to the Royal Botanical Gardens, which are free and also have a cafe where you can buy lunch or tea. Back the other direction, however, is...
Lunch was soup and chips and a pint at The Bailie Bar, my favorite local pub, and then UP WE WALKED Up Circus Place, up Howe Street, up Frederick Street! It’s a big hill, then back down again, across "the mound," then up an even more serious hill and some steep steps (Milne's Court!), but the walk delivers you to the heart of the Royal Mile, where we easily (well, we may have huffed and puffed a little) sauntered up to Edinburgh Castle for a city view. (If you have a couple of hours and £17 then go ahead and visit the castle! If not, at least enter the gates and walk in as far as you can go with out a ticket. It's still pretty impressive.)
Then we popped down the steps to the Grassmarket and around Candlemaker Row to Greyfriar’s Kirkyard (try to find Tom Riddle's grave! and put a stick at the grave of Bobby the dog) and The Elephant House (where JK Rowling wrote much of Harry Potter in the early day) — all the while I was trying to find out which Hogwarts House Steve is in and make sure that the purchased appropriate souvenirs for his daughter. Steve was not amused, but he played nice.
We paused at a french cafe next to The Elephant House for a sweet treat (the line was too long at the Elephant House and this cafe had nicer desserts). If we had more time (or if the weather had been bad), I would have popped into the National Museum, always free, for either a treat from the cafe or just to see Dolly the Sheep -- yes, actually the real Dolly, the first cloned animal who is stuffed and forever spinning in a glass case, complete with fake poop on the straw floor. Then we meandered back over to the Royal Mile walking down to the very bottom by Holyrood Palace before hopping in a taxi back to Leith.
Pausing here to express deep gratitude and admiration for STEVE COOLEY, this time not for his pickin’ skills, but for his general good attitude and willingness to walk miles and miles up and down while listening to me jabber on about Mary Queen of Scots and geology and how the Scots invented everything (truly, though, they did) and pub fiction and stories about that time I fainted while waiting for the Olympic torch to run by. Not only did Steve walk every mile without complaint, but I actually had to ask him to slow down his pace. He walks as fast as he picks, people.
The gig at the Royal Oak was a completely packed house in the most adorable basement room. My pals Alex Hunter and Adam Holmes attended the gig, for which I am grateful (thank you, guys!). They are a bit of a big deal these days, so I wasn’t sure they’d make it out for l’il’ ol’ me, but yay for lasting friendships, right? I played and toured with Adam during my time in Edinburgh. He’s been doing quite well for himself the past few years, with significant credit due to Alex, his behind-the-scenes genius. (Would that the rest of us had an Alex!)
Also in the crowd was CANDYTHIEF aka Diana de Cabarrus, who has a wonderful new album finished and soon-to-be-released. She’s been getting some great radio play and reviews, and it was also wonderful to see her. And since I'm publishing this the week of her album launch, you could even go see her CD release party on Friday, March 30 at the Voodoo Rooms.
Lots of faces, old and new, graced the Wee Folk Club, and I was thankful to be there — this gig was totally acoustic and good fun. Steve impressed all, and I think I sang pretty well.