Travel: the first few days
by little red pen
We’ve been away for six weeks, travelling around the UK and Europe. A little bit exhausting, a lot wonderful. Here’s some snippets.
17-19 April: Dunedin | Hong Kong | Frankfurt | Edinburgh
It’s a long way from Dunedin to Edinburgh. Two 12-hour flights, hyphenated by a day in Hong Kong, and an agonising wait in Frankfurt before the final hop to Scotland. Hong Kong saved it — a sleep in a firm, flat bed, hot showers, a morning swim with the Cat, walking in warm rain through tropical gardens, steel, and glass.
Our first glimpses of the city were at night — just water and light, towers of it, everywhere. And then there’s the ferry and the narrow, twisting streets, the steep Old Peak Road, and the mist rolling in. I could live here, I thought, for a little while.
20 April: Edinburgh
Well, we struck it lucky finding this flat It’s old and clean and bright and spacious, with generous rooms, art, books, rugs, a good kitchen, and central heating, which is wondrous to an Antipodean.
And thank god for this comfort — with Rabbit waking through the nights and the Cat off his nut on an unholy combination of culture shock, exhaustion, jetlag, and aesthetic disturbance (“the buildings all look the same, the only interesting bits are the doors, and there’s no nature”), we’ve been extra grateful for the simple homeliness of this place.
Postscript: Things that can save a seven-year-old grouch: sleep, food, rolling down a hill, gardens, routine, attention, cuddles, a new bird book. Give that boy air is the answer, air and space and light and food.
21 April: Edinburgh
After one of those parenting nights from hell, I was in no shape for the day. But Ian’s aunt, uncle, and cousin came to spend the day with us. We had a cuppa, then went to the Botanic Gardens; the boys ran about looking for squirrels and birds, the Cat fell in the lily pond, and we caught up on each other’s news and the way the year’s been falling out.
I cooked a tagine, with salads and rice. The charms of this city are a little clearer today, easier to see.
22 April: Edinburgh
I saw my sister’s Edinburgh today. We did second-hand clothes and bookshops — perfect, small, quiet bookshops with careful and interesting selections of books. Can’t think of anything similar in Dunedin; we should create one.
23 April: Edinburgh
Date day. Nona, Duncan, and Dad took the boys to the zoo. Ian and I walked around the New and Old Towns, visited bookshops, ate Greek meze for lunch, had an afternoon in the flat on our own. Just lovely. Haggis for dinner. Pretty good.