Staying at Mel’s

As anyone who reads Kate’s blog will have discovered, I am currently staying in Edinburgh with Mel, Gordon and Moose.

It was wonderful to see Kate the other day, and today I am hoping she is having a good time in Dublin at This is Knit, and that her recent bout of evil, post-stroke fatigue has lessened in intensity.

Whilst staying here I have completed a job application (fingers crossed!) and 3/4 of a Deco Cardigan; I have baked a couple of tasty tea bracks; and I have visited the fabled Tea Tree coffee house to hang out with the Edinburgh knitters and partake of tasty lattes. I confess that I have been thoroughly lazy. Mel’s house is a haven of knitterly peace and in being here and doing only pleasing and non-taxing activities, I have recovered my energy and my joy. I hadn’t realised how inordinately stressed I was about money and work until I got here, and started unwinding in the healing presences of Mel, Gordon and Moose.

Along with reclining on the sofa knitting Deco, eating fruity tea loaf and quaffing tea, I have had the pleasure of walking outdoors with Gordon who knows much about the Scottish landscape. Gordon designs bespoke, guided walks for visitors in The Highlands which I think is an amazing idea, as even with the finest OS maps and flora/fauna guides – as an outsider – one is never privy to the specific knowledge held by local explorers and residents. It is very rich to gain an insiders’ perspective when visiting a place, especially when one has limited time to explore. I cannot tell you how many countless times Mark and I have puzzled over some detail in the landscape – the shape of a hill; an unusual looking flower; an unfamiliar bird-call – wishing that we could unlock the mysteries and know more deeply the place wherein we find ourselves. If we are ever travelling Northwards to walk in The Highlands again, you must be sure that I shall consult Gordon for ideas on routes, places to stay, and notes on the geology of the area! It adds so much to be able to find the best pathways, and to be able to learn about the creatures, plants and stones which one encounters out in the wild places.

*Apologies for the terrible photographs, which are the result of my forgetting to put the ISO to the right setting. Ferg – my talented photographer brother – will be sad. Sorry, Ferg. x

Yesterday, Gordon took me up Arthur’s Seat, which you may have read about on Kate’s blog. He explained that the distinctive, craggy rocks which comprise this magnificent geological wonderment are the leftovers from an ancient, volcanic plug. What you climb and scramble on are the remaining innards of a volcano whose sides and exterior have long since been eroded by glacial activity. Gordon also explained that we can see in the rocks where – many millions of years ago – the sea was once here.

A clear seam exists between the red layers of sedimentary rock near the bottom of this photo, and the craggier, igneous rocks immediately above it. This means that rock which was laid down by oceans was later displaced and covered with volcanic rock. I also learnt that the difference in cooling times is what differentiates dolerite, basalt and gabbro from one another; these are all volcanic rocks, but a difference in cooling times means that the size of crystals and the texture of each are distinct.

As well as learning about the geology of Arthur’s Seat, I particularly enjoyed the spectacular views afforded by standing on top of it. Here you can see Edinburgh castle, also built on a volcanic plug and rising majestically above the city.

Views of the Forth Bridge were also very pleasing; I remember this being a bridge of legend when I was a young girl, as it is one of the engineering marvels dear to my Pops’s heart, along with The Clifton Suspension Bridge; The Middlesbrough Transporter Bridge; and the Tyne Bridge. Through my talks with Mel and Gordon, I have learnt of a further engineering marvel – The Falkirk Wheel – which I intend to visit next year with my Pops. Behold, The Forth Bridge!

Gordon and I also exchanged plant lore in our wanderings. I told him this is Valerian:

And I learnt that this is called Bird’s Foot Trefoil. Apparently it is locally known as “Bacon and Eggs” because of the reddish tinge it sometimes develops along the edge of its delicate petals.

This one is Viper’s Bugloss.

I loved walking around in the sunshine, anticipating an evening of sleeve-knitting, planning tea, (home-made chips and veggie burgers) and looking forward to the incoming Autumn. I feel super fortunate to have had this lovely time; to have spent so much quality time with Mel; to have learnt a little more about Edinburgh, and… of course… to have had the opportunity to spend time with the superlative feline companion. Seeing Kate was also one of my favourite things, and now all I need to do is find a rich patron in Edinburgh so that it is both necessary and economically viable for me to visit on a regular basis. I HEART EDINBURGH!


Mel’s Latvian Garden Blanket
Gordon’s guided walks in The Highlands
The Falkirk Wheel

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