All That Jazz–Edinburgh Carnival

To open the Jazz and Blues Festival in July, Edinburgh puts on Carnival Sunday, a parade of performers, musicians, etc. This year, thanks to a friend who was involved in the organising, I was one of the ‘etc’.

Anna needed a bunch of folk to be in the parade, wearing elaborate costumes. Brouhaha, from Liverpool, made the amazing costumes and basically we had to walk and dance around Princes Street for a few hours.

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Scottish Summer? You’d better believe it

Summer has arrived in Scotland for the first time in about seven years. Or something like that. I think it’s been two weeks without rain, replaced by a big yellow ball in the sky. I haven’t worn stockings in ages. And I don’t always have my jumper on (though it is always in my bag, let’s not get carried away). The great thing is how happy everyone is. And how nobody expects it to last. It actually makes for a great attitude for life, living each day like it will be the last sunny one and you’ll be going into hibernation any minute now. Fancy a barbeque tonight? Sure, could be our last chance this summer. How about going to that beer garden? Definitely – how many other Wednesday evenings are we going to be able to enjoy being outside? Picnic for lunch? You don’t have to ask me twice.

Live like tomorrow will rain. It’s wonderful.

The best invitation so far has come from my friend, Sally. Sally has great ideas. Tuesday: ‘How about swimming? Outside?’ So off I went, across the bridge to Fife, met Sally and drove into Glen Sherup. We walked along a forest track until we got to  the, rather lonely, reservoir. We did have a few moments of hesitation. Will the water be freezing? This is Scotland after all. The grey clouds rolled in too. But having bragged about going wild swimming we had to do it. So we shut out minds to the murky water, ignored the two fishermen and plunged right in. A brief moment of chill and we were away. The water was really black. I could just make out my arm and a few bubbles with each stroke. Quite eerie and something from a Hollywood movie, just before you’re grabbed by the creature. But this was no Loch Ness and we survived. In fact thrived. We felt amazing afterwards, inspired and amazingly hungry.

Wild swimming

We went swimming again in Loch Ore on Thursday. Because you just never know when the next cold and rainy day will come.

Race for Life – Edinburgh

I’m running the Race for Life on 16 June. Well, ‘running’ might not be the most accurate description. Perhaps ‘waddling’. Or ‘wiggling’. No, I haven’t gained an enormous amount of weight since you saw me last. I’ll be part of a 10 metre long, pink and yellow Chinese Dragon. That’s right. Dragon. 10 metres. Pink. Very pink.

The Dragonette Group was organised by my amazing friends Dr Michelle and Kerry. These two once danced the Race for Life, all 5 kilometres of the ups and downs of Arthur’s Seat, Edinburgh. They’ve taken it a step (or two-step) further this year.

So last Friday evening five of the seven Dragonette’s convened at Dr Michelle’s for a costume making party. Michelle had dyed some bed sheets (okay, I’ll admit, they were supposed to be red but came out pink), I threw a yellow sheet into the mix and Kerry bought some hula hoops and the dragonhead she’s prepared earlier. Complete with LEDs.

Fuelled with awesome chilli (thanks, Michelle) and red wine (Kez), we happily measured, snipped, pinned and sewed our way to a 10 metre Chinese Dragon.

Fantastic.

The Race for Life is a women only five kilometre run around Arthur’s Seat, Edinburgh (actually they run them all over the UK) and raises money for Cancer Research UK. The focus in on fun rather than competition.

Fancy joining us? It’s £15 to enter and it’s for a good cause. There’s just too much cancer in the world these days. You can run solo or, if you fancy being a Dragonette, we might be able to squeeze you in!

You can also support the Dragonette’s by donating to Cancer Research UK:

www.raceforlifesponsorme.org/dragonettes

Or better yet, come down to Holyrood on 16 June at 11am to see a Chinese Dragon wind its way up the hill!

Emerging from the cave

Sunday, 14 April 2013

After a few weeks of hibernating from the cold, wind and grey skies, things are looking up. (It was still snowing on Easter Sunday and I wimped out of a camping; a completely different experience to the 25 degrees and water skiing my family got.)

The sun came out last Saturday so despite my embarrassing hangover from a girls night out on the Friday, I dragged myself out of bed and to the train station and across the bridge in to Fife for some hill walking with my friend Sally and her pal who would prefer to remain anonymous as she was skiving for the day.

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I was underprepared in the food stakes with only one sandwich, eight cold pancakes and a bag of lollies/sweeties/candy/bon bons/whatever, and two apples (very unlike me). Luckily Sally had cake and thermos of tea. We started near Dollar and wound our way past a castle and into the Ochills. I was hungry within about an hour. And Sally cracked a puddle of ice and nearly fell in. But there was lots of sunshine and no wind, the opposite of Edinburgh’s recent days so we were in good spirits.

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It’s funny how the other side of a mountain can be a completely different story. Still quite a lot of snow where the sun doesn’t shine. We very sensibly changed our route because of it and headed downwards into Tillicoutry. A really nice day to blow the cobwebs away.

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The grey days returned to Edinburgh the very next day which kept me hiding from the world again (that and the sniffles). At least until Thursday when I had to get up for work. That’s right, work. It’s probably been about six weeks since I was last gainfully employed (though I’m not sure two days of minimum wage can really be described as gainful). The pennies will certainly help when Barry and I go to Berlin on Tuesday. Yeah, us barely employed people need a break! Though it’s kind of a working holiday with the intention of creating some online businesses so I might be busier than ever. Watch this space…

Extended Summer to Everlasting Winter

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

I left Melbourne’s hottest March on record last week. In my final days I gloried in the sunshine, the lack of rain and the most consecutive days over 30C ever recorded. Water skiing, swimming and camping on the Murray River, kids running splashing around the backyard, playing in the park,  an evening at the Moonlight Cinema in Melbourne’s Royal Botanical Gardens and a pashmina was all I needed in the night air.

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Then I arrived back in Edinburgh just as the UK was in the throes of it’s coldest March in 50 years. Instead of 7C and clear skies as predicted I was greeted by 2C and snow/rain mix. Luckily Kellie was on hand to collect me from the airport so I didn’t have to trudge from the bus stop to the flat in the wet. It was certainly a bit of a shock and I didn’t leave the flat for days. Perhaps it was the nine months of summer but I’m finding it harder to deal with the weather this time round. I wear at least three layers indoors and five or six outdoors. I don’t have a shoulder from which to hang a handbag. Thanks to the high necked jackets and thick woolly scarves, I no longer have full neck function. I cross the road by turning my whole torso to check for cars.

I did take the opportunity of being unemployed again of going to London to visit my friend Karyn and her new baby and for a ‘once-a-year’ gathering with some university friends, Cassie and Bec. Cassie now lives in Singapore and was coping with the cold and snowy weather about as well as I was. Julie also arrived fresh from Melbourne’s 36C degrees and layered up with the rest of us. Most of the weekend was spent eating and drinking (ready for hibernating for the winter??). Unfortunately the grey skies didn’t do London’s sites justice but we tried.

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I’ve heard that spring will get here sooner or later. Probably not before the clock’s change for British summer time this week though!