THANK YOU ALL for your lovely birthday messages, cards and comments.
Edinburgh was grey - sometimes sunny - but mostly grey and
COLD and sometimes
But it was good to be with the old git. And I enjoyed my full Scottish breakfasts every morning. One sausage. one bacon rasher, one tomato half, one spoonful of mushrooms, one perfectly fried egg, two slices of toast and a big steaming, pot of Earl Grey Tea.
Our room, 405, was fancy shmancy, small and perfectly formed. Opposite our window we could see into the changing room for the judges who sat in style at the Magistrates Courts. Each week-day morning two vans turned up a-lock with prisoners. In the front of the building wig-wearing men leaned against the lintels, having a fag... We had to remember to pull down the blind, or drawer the big suedette curtains so the judges couldn't pass sentence on our criminal behaviour.
I was too tired to read. For the first time in my life I could not get it together to open a book. I bought newspapers and didn't get beyond the headlines.
Jim had matinees on Thursday and Saturday so I spent a lot of the time on my own wandering the streets of the granite city. We stayed just up from the Castle. The walk to the Travis was wild and windy.
I spent Wednesday dealing with my emails on my computer in the bar of The Travis Theatre. Went to see THE GREEN ZONE at the cinema. They let me in on faith as I had no proof that I was an old age pensioner, 'But I'm 61 today' I swooned. They didn't believe me, thank God. The film was tiring so it was good to spend my birthday evening with a bunch of actors in an Italian restaurant. We sat down to eat at 11.30. Pizza and pasta, salad and spaghetti all brought to the table with Italian aplomb. I had to kiss the head waiter who thought I was like his mother! And I was sung to by the company. There is nothing better than 'Happy Birthday' when it is sung with gusto by a band of word-spinners.
I had a weep in the shower thinking that Jim had forgotten to get me anything but just as we were about to go out a big bunch of red roses arrived in reception with a card that reminded me he would track me down wherever I was. They are still fabulously blousy and are standing, on a table, in the sitting room here in Battersea. Then JIm bought me a purple corduroy coat with pink rose buttons and pink, silk lining. I feel like Betty Boo in it the trouble is I can't wear it yet because its too damn cold. I opened up all my cards and presents and set them up on the dressing table under the plasma and out of sight of the JUDGES.
I took the train to Glasgow on Thursday, went to the Art Fair, which only cost me a fiver - a Scottish fiver - again they took it on faith that I was an OAP. Saw a play at THE TRON, then took the 9.15 train back to Waverley Station.
I arrived at 10.20 just as the mist descended. By Gum it was murky. I stopped a guard for directions to get out of the station, he was like a character out of 'League of Gentlemen' only with a Morningside accent. He told me to take care as the mist was heavy and the steps slippery up to Cockburn Street. He advised me against the steps of the Fleshmarket, as he leant in close, his breath hissing like a steam train, and his milk bottle glasses magnifying his eyes to the size of gammon steaks. He told me to have a good night and to take care as he disappeared into the smog. I took no notice of his warning and started my ascent, alone, at night, in the swirling fog, and climbed the steps of Fleshmarket Close, which smelt of wee an' whiskey. Possibly the aromatic infusion of the seedy side of the city. Got to the top, breathless but still alive. Bought Jim a fish supper and met him back in room 405. As well as our plasma telly we had a microwave, kettle, fridge and sink. A strange set-up, self-catering with a maid thrown in, not literally she could have sued if we had tried to throw her anywhere.
Friday saw the both of us stepping it out to the Museum of Edinburgh. Wooden, squeaky floors, a sedan chair, loads of ceramics, glasswear, guns and glorious gew-gaws from Edinburgh's history.
Lunch in a pub, where I had a pint of something Scottish with lime, if you don't mind. Then Jim went to work and I went to bed. I watched telly all night culminating in a young scientist who entertained. The thespian returned and ate a pork pie and tomato whilst standing up and watching Johnathan Ross.
Saturday morning was spent wandering up and down PRINCES Street trying to buy a harness for my Blackberry, which I had lost. We couldn't get one anywhere so we abandoned our trek and took to an armchair in Waterstones book shop for coffee and cake. Good job really as the holster had fallen into the boot of Jim's car, still in tact with two little cloths to polish the Blackberry 's screen. Bloody waste of time if you ask me, they're more trouble than their worth....
Jim went to do his matinee whilst I went to bed and got stuck into the 'Magnificent Seven'. The old git opened the door of 405 just before Yul Brynner finished his cigar, the continuity girl clearly took her eye of the ball as Yul's cheroot grew and shrunk without any rhyme or reason. The actor and I set off down the hill for the last night of his tour. The Three Sisters, had left me unmoved in Hammersmith, on the first night, but after four months of playing it around the country, it was perfectly honed. My last night in Edinburgh was a joy. Watching a good play, then carousing in the bar until at least 2.00 a.m
We set off quite early on Sunday morning. No help from British summertime as we lost an hour and most of our sleep. But I had taken two delicious Danish Pastries from the buffet to ingest on the journey.
After ten hours on the road, stopping off for various types of refreshments, we arrived back at the flat by 7.30. The daughter turned up with her birthday gift of a Ghanaian throw and a beautiful, laminated, Victorian card, hand written by Nell, to her 'Dear Mam'. It will stay with me until I die. Well it stayed with Nell's mum till she popped her clogs. By 10.00 o'clock I was too weary to stay up. Fell into bed, couldn't sleep, got up, made a milky drink with cinnamon, nutmeg, chile and honey then went to bed to read. At 2.20 I turned the light off and my birthday week was over.
Now I need another week off to recover.
Night night duty calls as does the old git. He's back in Sussex, snoozing with the moggy, I'm here alone, with peace and quiet and three books which I have to read by next week.
Maybe that's why I couldn't read in my week off. I was rebelling. Not tonight though the three books I have got on the go are terrific. More will be revealed when I've finished them.
Nice to be back, have a good night and speak soon.
Jeni Barnett tells of her scrumptious time at Good Food Live in her first audiobook! Download NOW from iTunes
A belated happy birthday to you, Jeni.
What a lovely and bling-less birthday week you have had! This was a particularly good blog, and you clearly enjoyed your time well.
How do you keep the energy going? Rushing from one thing to another, it never seems to stop!
How also do you keep in touch with each other? David and I moved from Johannesburg to Toronto in August last year, and then unexpectedly in February he was asked to head up a project back in the UK so now he is in London and I am in Canada. I'm here cat-sitting our beautiful 19 year old Heinz 57 cat Gin until we can return to the UK without quarantine at the end July (quarantine for her, rather than me, of course!).
How do you and Jim cope with the separation? Skype helps of course, but for us it's 5 months, and 5000 miles, apart - not easy...
I mustn't go on - very best wishes on your birthday.
Martin (and David) xxx
Good to have you back Jeni, and to hear from Martin (and David) - odd how people we have never met can feel like old friends!
Sounds like a perfect birthday week. Good to have you back though.
Happy belated birthday, Jeni!! Scotland sounds chilly. You really do have a great gift for bringing places alive through your words. I could almost feel the mists cold, clammy fingers reaching out! It all sounded very Victorian.
You're right, Pauline, it's lovely to hear from Martin. We're a loyal bunch, on the quiet, don't you think?
How are you, Kirsten? Hows life?
Off the subject, again, I know, but Happy Easter to you all, whatever your beliefs.
A bit late but happy birthday to you, hope you have a great Easter too.
Belated happy birthday Jeni. Rhianon, Scotland has been freezing, you wouldn't believe it's spring! Jeni does have a wonderful way of painting pictures with her words!
Personally I don't quite agree, yet it's still a worthwhile topic and worth discussing.
You're right on the money with this post, keep it up!