So the walking didn’t go so well last week, partly because the weather wasn’t very good. I did walk home a couple of times, but not every day. It was a busy week: my brother-in-law came to visit at the weekend, and although he is the easiest guest you could wish for, we didn’t actually have anywhere for him to sleep. So we made a gargantuan effort and got rid of all the empty boxes that were sitting about, and tidied the spare room for him, and put things up in the attic. The house looked beautiful for twenty-four hours, twenty minutes of which were after his arrival. At that point he volunteered that he had a few things belonging to my other half in the back seat of his car.
These things included at least one computer (a vintage Amiga) and a big box of disks for it, a reel-to-reel tape recorder, lots of reels, some boxes of papers and some other stuff, as yet uninvestigated. But it’s now all on the living-room floor. The boys had a happy time firing up the Amiga and playing various computer games. (I had a go, but I was rubbish.)
The weekend did contain a fair amount of walking: we drove out to Gifford in East Lothian and went for a dampish stroll in the woods, and on Sunday we went up to Craigmillar Castle, where none of us had ever been. We’ve often seen it poking up over the trees; it looked quite small and ruinous. We thought we would pop up and have a quick look round while we were having a walk in the park that surrounds it.
It’s actually pretty big, and you have to pay to get in, which we hadn’t entirely expected; but it’s entirely worth it. The place is like a maze inside, with a series of courtyards surrounding a smaller, higher tower, which has spiral staircases and mysterious passages going off in every direction. It took us about an hour and a half to see it all. It isn’t totally ruined; you can go up on the roofs, and there are quite a few chambers which are intact, and which have had their doors and windows restored so that you can imagine what it might be like to live there. It would have been very romantic, were it not for the pigeons.
These are totally barmy. There’s a small tower chamber just off the Great Hall, which we walked into, only to back out quickly as two young pigeons panicked as they noticed us and flapped wildly around the small chamber. None of us is particularly scared of birds, but it’s a small space and we didn’t want them to hurt themselves, so we backed out quickly. Moving on to another room, we warned a couple with a little girl about them – and then heard yelling and wildly beating wings…
From then on, we kept encountering pigeons at every turn. Evidently they think it’s their castle, and why not?
The next big event is the start of my MLitt course in Archives and Records Management. I’ll be away in Dundee for the next few days doing the introductory programme. I’m actually quite nervous about this; it’s about three years since I’ve been a student – what if my brain has atrophied in the interim? It’s not as if I’ve been making great demands of it lately…
But on the whole, I’ll be happy to be a student again. Wish me luck!
Comments roundup: thanks for the "Hire K vibes", Beth! Quixotic and Jeni - yes, I will try to post more often... PQ - I wish we had a basement. When I said "downstairs" I just meant the ground floor. But yes, it was quite strenuous painting it. As for the reading while walking along the street... I have years and years of practice, and Edinburgh is relatively pedestrian-friendly. I wouldn't be able to do it if I didn't know my route, though.