It is exactly 2 weeks from today when we will be saying goodbye to UK and heading home to India. And while we should have started packing our bags and selling off & donating our stuff which we will not be able to take back with us, we had this impulsive exploratory trip to Edinburgh yesterday.
On Friday morning, I was informed about a blunder committed at the hands of daddy dearest on Thursday night that he had booked his train tickets to Edinburgh for Saturday with return tickets on Sunday to meet one of his friend there to honour this friend’s invitation which he had been sending out for the past 6 months. After the bookings were made, daddy messaged his friend to communicate his pleasure of meeting him. The friend, however, had another plans for this extended weekend and he immediately communicated back about his plans to visit Isle of Skye and his unavailability in Edinburgh during these 3 days.
The question which loomed large in this situation was ‘What to do next?’. The tickets were noncancelable which meant either daddy should go and be the lonesome tourist or to forget the amount spent on the tickets. After due assessment of this situation and considering all the facts and fiction about roaming all alone on the streets of Edinburgh or to incur some more expenditure and book my tickets as well so as to have the company of 2 more people including one over-enthusiastic kid, we happily settled for the latter. After all nothing can substitute an experience. For economising the trip, the return trip was preponed and scheduled for Saturday evening, the same day.
Since this was a sudden plan, we did not have much time to find out more about the city given that it was Friday, a working day and we had less than 24 hours at our disposal before leaving for it. The only 2 things we knew were – it is in Scotland and it housed a castle on top of a hill (the model of which we had seen at Legoland in Windsor).
As a kid, I used to marvel at the depth of my General Knowledge but after embracing motherhood, particularly, I struggle to memorize and remember a lot of things. Somedays I even forget my name on waking up in the morning and rake my head hard in an attempt to retrieve it but the software installed in my brain churns out ‘Mission Failed’. Any more attempts to reboot the software, bump the hardware on the pillow or the wall would only divulge ‘Latest update found – The name is Mummy’. Thankfully, I can still recall my address and the bus number which caters to my route but to know, to memorize, to remember, to recall Edinburgh to be the capital of Scotland was a far deal for me.
Well, ignorance can never overpower our enthusiasm for holidays. A holiday is a holiday is a holiday and a big enough reason for our sustained happiness in life.
On Saturday morning, we were on the train. Yes the Virgin Train for Dhruv. A train is never just a train for him, it is known by its name – Virgin Train, Trans Pennine Express or Northern Rail. I had never seen the train so full on any of our train excursions untill now. The only reason we could think of was the extended weekend but there was something more why so many people were travelling to Edinburgh which we discovered upon reaching there. There is a month long Edinburgh Festival going on there.
So, we were on the train and clearly the most noisy because we were accompanied by the twinkle of our eye whose middle name these days is ‘Chatterbox’. First he insisted on having a seat all for himself which we could not fulfill obviously since the policy of the train companies is to allow children below 5 years of age to travel free and without a seat if the train is running full. This was a revelation for Dhruv that he did not have a ticket. Sacrilegious. Then as soon as the Ticket Conductor appeared in the coach, he was met with a request ‘Ticket please, Dhruv needs a ticket’. But Ticket Conductors don’t give out tickets on the train, they check tickets.
Secondly, if the child knows the trip’s itinerary and is excited about what to expect, every train stoppage is the destination and there will be a shriek and a scream to get down everytime. Therefore, Lancaster was Edinburgh, Oxenholme Lake District was Edinburgh, Carlisle was Edinburgh and there was a castle, invisibly visible, at every location.
I have derived this equation where what you demand of a 3 yr old is inversely proportional to what they will do to your request. On previous journeys we used to try to keep him engaged by asking him to sing rhymes which he always turned down by his ‘Aeo’. And here we just wanted him to hush up since he was already very noisy to which he told us he wants to sing rhymes. We talked to him about singing softly and instantly the decibels soared high. After 1 and a half hours of the journey he got too tired to stay awake and thus the other passengers or the customers as per the train company found themselves in peace for the rest of the 1 hour journey. With a sleepy Dhruv tugged in my lap I also tried to shut my eyes.
On reaching Edinburgh we alighted from the train and took the exit from the Market street spending some time to get the GPS navigation started on the phone. It was rainy and we could feel the chill in the air sending shivers down our spine. It was an old world feel all around. While the navigation tool took its time we discovered this place is not flat but hilly far moved from the cities of London, Birmingham and Manchester and as a human tendency to compare the unknown with the known Edinburgh felt like Shimla to us. We fixed up Dhruv in the stroller who was awake by now.
We took a stroll on the South Bridge back and forth and then began our walk up hill to get to the Edinburgh Castle.
Something in our heart said we like this place and thus our exploration began.
The exploration continues in the next blog post through the medium of photographs.