As with my last trip to the land of lochs and Mac’s, my return was more about spending time with my Scottish Best Friend, SBF, than actually touring around. She had two weeks off and I spent this usurping as much of her presence as possible. This was us just sitting, being, drinking cups of tea, eating over-sized pieces of duty-free Toblerone, and laughing until I was foetal on the floor in my giraffe onesie.
I treasure these moments because as much as I love exploring the world, nothing feels warmer than a smile shared and our newly implemented ‘hugs at breakfast time’ rule. Not just those awkward tap the other persons’ back so they know that you’ve made an effort to reach your arms around to the other side, more of the sincerely squeezing affection between each other so that you can actually feel the love circulating. Honestly, it’s a new awesome way to start the day.
In the greyness of the days we went for walks into her small town, after dropping her daughter off at school; talking about anything and everything, or sitting in comforting silence when we sipped on hot coffee and ate cake. Even though it was ‘spring’, Scotland can be brutally colder than my winter in NZ.
One day I took SBF into the local charity shops in town. She had never been before and I had a penchant for sifting through treasures. In one of them there was a cute wee old woman with her stall of knick knacks on special. I started talking to her, revealing that she was the Scottish version of my late nana. She spoke with a zest for life, a cheeky grin and a twinkle in her eye… insisting that I had to see the pipes in the glen on Saturday. She gripped my hand to show the importance of this and wouldn’t release it until I had agreed to attend the event of Dunfermline’s year. I left with a book on clans and kilts that she’d gifted me, but I’d exchanged it for a NZ 20 cent piece. Her face lit up like I’d given her the crown jewels. She’d be able to make this into a special piece of jewellery.
We didn’t tell Scottish nana but we actually went to Edinburgh instead, while it pissed down on the pipes in the glen. SBF, her daughter and I dressed up for a lovely day out. We walked where our instincts lead us; to delicious soup, fabulous shops on George Street, a pit stop for amazing coffee at Fredrick’s, on random idles into second-hand book stores, to the golden triangle and to the accidental discovery of the writer’s quote walk, which we’d been trying to find all along. We walked until our legs fell off and then took the train to her friend’s in Rosyth, where we got lost but I found the best named street in the world ‘Dick Place’.
We were daughterless and that meant that we could have a night out, which is kind of surreal in a small Scottish town. The last time, there were two random Polish friends trying to compete for my attention, by dancing on either side of me. The more that I disappeared into the crowd, the more they had followed me and upped their leg swinging moves. This was when I wished there was a giant life keyboard and an ESC button to press.
That night I managed to convince some dude that I was a comedian who’d come over for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. I’d given SBF so much whiskey that I think I broke her, because she was still a wee bit inebriated the next day. It’s not the first time I’ve broken someone. A couple of years ago I introduced my ‘big’ little brother to Long Island Iced Tea. I won that round.
During my two week stay, I helped her clean out the cupboard under the stairs. Well, I didn’t offer to help. I just went in and pulled everything out, saying “we need to do something with this”. It was one of those cupboards where you have a tidy home, but hide the mess by chucking stuff in there. She kinda wanted to punch me in the face at the time, but the house felt so much lighter afterwards… and she’s glad that I did start this fully fledged attack.
We also did cool stuff like visit the Andrew Carnegie Museum and had one of those days where you just walk around smiling at people. Not forced smiles, but genuinely happy smiles, just because you want to share. For the most part it worked, except for the odd few that looked at us like we’d just escaped some institution.
We made our last day a special one. I was catching the night bus to London from Edinburgh, so we locked up The Beast and went wherever our legs carried us, and it was definitely to some cool places! After hot pulled pork sammies for lunch, I stood admiring the box of chocolates style window display outside Louis Vuitton. A couple of toothless workers on their lunch break stopped and queried why women in general, were into handbags? The conversation ended with decline of their offer to “Come back to mine and we’ll make it a better day.”
From the top of Harvey Nichols we had lunchtime cocktails, the fancy kind that make you giggle at nothing in particular. With that and shopping for random things on Princes Street and more make us happy, happy hour cocktails, it was a little bit of a perfect send-off for us, as we hugged and parted ways.
I’m not sure when I’ll see her again, but I hope it’s soon. Next stop’s Bournemouth; where I eat at a Michelin starred restaurant, meet some wild horses and discover that marmite fudge should never have been invented.