On Thursday I got up at half past four in the morning, finished packing, drove to Southampton, had breakfast (“would you like jam or marmalade with your toast?” I took the jam but not for the toast) and then looked at my watch and found I still had nearly two and a half hours before my plane departed.
I did not actually need to get up at 4.30am.
I got to Edinburgh, took the tram into the city centre, ignored the weird man sitting at the front narrating the journey (I wasn’t the only one who thought he was weird; a woman got on at the second stop and sat next to him and then moved at the third stop, pulling faces in my direction about him and then the ticket collector came up the front to talk to his friend sitting there about how weird he is and what a regular he is) and walked down to the hostel. Only it was full of construction vans and men and tools and planks. I was utterly bewildered. Was the place closed? Had I missed an email? Was I homeless for the next six days? Then I spied the hostel reception on the other side of the road, where it definitely wasn’t last time I stayed. I went in. They told me I was at their other hostel, ten minutes away. After walking halfway across Edinburgh with a bag that Julie Airlines wouldn’t have allowed as hand luggage but Flybe do, I didn’t want to go another ten minutes. I’d planned for being right here by Cowgate.
The other hostel isn’t so bad. It’s by the Pleasance Courtyard and its two main problems are that I can never figure out which key opens which door and that the metal walkways that join the building to the courtyard literally make a noise like a bomb going off if someone wheels a suitcase across them at night.
I went off into Edinburgh with my luggage stored safely behind reception, 11am being far too early to check in. I collected my tickets, had a good look around, reminded myself how the streets and bridges and everything works and then went to find something to watch while I waited for Tom to arrive.
I was given a flyer by Jaz Watts and I planned to go and watch that but when I got there, two queues of people turned up, looked at the room, decided it was too small and ran away and I’m not brave enough to be the only audient so I also ran away.
I sat in the Cowshed, on a pile of straw, and watched a nice man called Liam singing for a while. I sat in Princes Street Gardens and read for a while. I sat in the station and read for a while. Because of a broken-down freight train, the Manchester Airport and Euston trains were delayed and Tom finally turned up nearly an hour late. We went back to the hostel, checked in and then went out into Edinburgh.
We started with food just off the Royal Mile (cheesey garlic bread & penne a la chef) and then went up the Royal Mile, with a soundtrack of “what’s that?” “let’s stop and listen to this”, “what’s down here?” “ooh, whiskey!” and so on, made our way up to the Assembly Hall and crossed Princes Street Gardens by the Mound, stopping outside the Half Price Hut for ginger cider and to watch a busker called Alx Green (I think it was Green. It definitely Alx). Then I left Tom to head up to Rose Street to see Jay Lafferty while I went on to the EICC for the Barnardo’s fundraiser – lineup Tom Lucy, Katy Brand, The Boy With Tape On His Face, Sara Pascoe, Patrick Monahan, Jo Caulfield, Ed Byrne and Milton Jones – quite a lot of my favourites and why have I never seen The Boy With Tape On His Face before???
When it finished, I went over to the Gilded Balloon to meet Tom, who had just seen and very much enjoyed Scott Agnew and was getting a cheese toastie and we went in search of cider, which we found at Holyrood 9A, just round the corner from home.
And that was it for the day – 20 hours, 28,000 steps, no phone battery left and multiple sore patches on my feet