Unusually, HunterGatherer was working close to home last week, so between proofreading and tutoring missions I grabbed the opportunity to get some fresh air into my lungs and strolled along to the field where he was putting up a fence for our new neighbours-to-be. As you'll see, he had dressed for the part and was ready to face just about every climatic contingency that Scotland could throw at him!
At the time when both DD1 and DD2 were born, HunterGatherer was working on a stock farm in Fife (or 'The Kingdom of Fife', as it's often called), looking after a herd of pedigree Hereford cattle.
Those were halcyon days, and I remember with pleasure being blasted on the beach at Elie by a blustery November breeze or heading into Anstruther on a balmy summer's evening to treat ourselves to a golden, crispy fish supper from the world-renowned Anstruther Fish Bar. It was thus with slight nostalgia that I headed recently with my long-suffering gym buddy, P., back to the East Neuk of Fife for a morning of coastal walking followed by a well-earned rest (euphemism for lunch!).
We were extremely fortunate with the weather. The rain that had threatened during our hour-long drive East from Kinross to Crail was considerate enough to restrain itself for the duration of our stroll along the glorious coastal path, and the clouds and sunshine took it in turn to prevail, which made for some tempting photo opportunities.
Of course, the main benefit of going for a nice long walk is that one can then 'refuel the tank' without (too much of) a guilty conscience, so on our return to the picturesque fishing village we rapidly repaired to the Crail Harbour Gallery and Tearoom to replenish our energy levels.
Being tough country girls, we elected to sit in the tiny patio behind the Tearoom so we could overlook the sea while discussing life, the universe and which cake to choose for pudding! The only slight risk factor (as the waitress warned us, with a twinkle in her eye) was that the cream on top of their hot chocolate had been known to fly into the face of its consumers under similarly windy conditions. All the more reason to down the delicious chocolatey concoction at speed, we thought!
Our visit to the Gallery Tearoom proved a perfect way to finish our micro-visit to Fife, and we've already resolved to return next year and walk another part of the Fife coastal path. In the meantime, our photos will serve as a welcome reminder of our 2016 visit to the beautiful East Neuk.
Last summer HunterGatherer mentioned in mournful tones that he'd never been to the Edinburgh Tattoo and had always yearned to see it, so for his birthday this year I bought him a ticket (and one for myself, boldly assuming that he'd appreciate having company on the night!).
Knowing that HG loves fireworks, I'd opted for the later performance of the Tattoo, so 9.30pm last Saturday night saw us queuing patiently (some of us more patiently than others...) on the Royal Mile, waiting to have our rucksacks searched en route to the Castle. As I'd not been to the Tattoo since I was 22 years old (to my horror, I realise that's now three decades ago!), I have to confess that I was quite looking forward to the experience myself, and we were both buzzing as we took our seats quite close to the facade of the castle.
It's safe to say that we were not in the least disappointed with any aspect of the evening's entertainment that followed – with the possible exception of the thoughtless people who insisted on departing before the end to avoid the crowds, thereby obscuring other people's view of proceedings as they pushed their way smugly to the end of the rows of seats. It was their loss, as it transpired, as they missed the poignant lone piper playing from the turret of the castle and the joint rendition of Auld Lang Syne by the cast and audience that formed a suitably rousing conclusion to the night.
Anyway, apart from the behaviour of the selfish few, the whole evening was amazing, with a wide variety of impressive acts including entertaining songs and music from the US Army Europe Band, breathtakingly deft footwork from both the Lochiel Marching Drill Team and the Tattoo Highland Dancers, slick drills from military teams including the Royal Jordanian Armed Forces Band and Drill Team, and daring antics by the Imps Motorcycle Display team.
Without a shadow of doubt (no pun intended), the whole performance was enhanced by the spectacular light effects projected on to the historic stone walls of Edinburgh Castle. These ranged from snow on Everest (accompanied by 'real' snow falling simultaneously on to the audience in the stands ) to colourful national flags, and from Star Wars battleships to the profile of Her Majesty the Queen.
All in all, it was a truly memorable experience, and the familiar skirl of the pipes rang in our ears long after we had filed in an orderly fashion out of the Castle Esplanade and made our way back down the Royal Mile to find our car. To give you an idea of the variety on offer, there's a quick photomontage below. The Edinburgh Tattoo is definitely an experience worth having several times in one's life – in fact, we're already planning on going again in five years' time.
PS: As it's almost impossible for Yours Truly not to find a way of engineering food into any of these posts, may I just tell you that The burgers we dined on at Grand Cru before the show were very good, too! Moreover, walking up the Royal Mile to get to the tattoo reminded us of our magical meal three summers ago at The Witchery to mark my 50th birthday! Where has the time gone?