We had returned from nearly a month away (skiing in Austria, since you ask) and this was our first Saturday back. The Edinburgh farmers market was calling, wandering across The Meadows we were surprised to see the numbers of fallen trees, we had been told there had been a big storm while we were away with a gust of 102 mph (164 Km/h) being recorded at the Observatory on Blackford Hill, but even so this was more damage than we had expected. I also noted that the Council have planted a number of new trees in The Meadows to replace previous losses. Some of these new trees include exotic conifers, which I feel are inappropriate to an urban park.
Arriving at the market we set about buying the necessary provision, butter from Stichill Jerseys (finalist in the BBC Food and Farming Awards 2011), Bacon from Puddledub Pork, game from Border County Foods, fish from A & D Patterson, etc. Just as well that Gartmorn weren’t there this week as we don’t have the space in the freezer for a chicken, chatting with the stall holders with like old friends, the sort of thing you just don’t get shopping at the supermarket.
Shopping done, we decided to make use of the membership of Historic Scotland we had been given for Christmas. The nearest Historic Scotland property was obvious, the Castle! Walking on to the Castle Esplanade, I was surprised to see a tour bus disgorging a large group of tourists. I had naively thought that in January tourists would be thin on the ground, how wrong I was, it was busy, but fortunately not crowded. We wandered up to the guy wielding a barcode reader to check tickets and flashed our membership cards, only to be told that we should have picked up free paper tickets at the ticket office (there is a separate window for members). We explained that this was our first visit as members and we were simply waved through in a friendly way.
Once inside, we headed up on to the ramparts to take a few photos of the city and were bemused to be approached by one of the “official photographers” offering to take our photo. We polity declined, but with hindsight, it would have been fun to agree and watch her face when we replied to her next question which would have been “where do you come from”. There are times in Edinburgh when I could wish for a badge saying “I am not a tourist, I live here”, although not usually in January. You don’t have to be a tourist to visit your own heritage. On this occasion we didn’t go to see the Honours of Scotland (also known as Scotland’s crown jewels or the Scottish regalia), the oldest royal regalia in the United Kingdom. Now that we have membership cards, we can go back any day.