Friday, 4 July 2014

Ice-Cream and Goosebumps

To mark the end of the first week of the summer holidays I decided to take Junior on a tour of our home town. I’m so painfully aware that time is slipping through my fingers and I want to relish the moments we share as best buddies before he leaps into the realm of high school. So we headed for the bus laden with rucksacks full of picnic goodies, cagoules, sunglasses and umbrellas. I’m quite sure only Scottish people carry something for every season in their bags. 
Up the back of the bus like the cool kids
 One of the things I really wanted to do this year was to go on the open top bus tour which travels around the sights of Edinburgh, old and new. Our favourite was definitely the Old Town as there were far more gruesome tales to be told from that part of the city. As we travelled through the Cowgate we heard the story of Burke and Hare - a definite favourite for gore hungry 10 year old boys. We passed a pub called the Burke and Hare which, rather surprisingly, has very little to do with the murdering Irishmen from 19th century Auld Reekie.

“On the right you will see an establishment named after the infamous Burke and Hare,” explained our friendly tour guide, probably for the umpteenth time this week. 

Heads swung to the right and cameras clicked furiously.
“You may notice that this particular establishment caters for anatomy of a different kind.” 

There were gasps as tourists caught sight of the sign, complete with writhing shadow women advertising lap dancing, pole dancing and stripping.
“What’s pole dancing?” asked Junior as the bus continued its journey through the Grassmarket.
“Erm. Well…” I stammered. “It’s when ladies take their clothes off and swing around a pole for entertainment.”
It took a moment for the penny to drop but when it did Junior’s eyes lit up.
“Is that part of the tour?”

We hopped off the bus at the Museum of Childhood on the Royal Mile, a favourite place from my own childhood. It was nice for Junior to learn about toys and games from a time before consoles and social media. 
We stopped for some fun at the Bubbleparc and Bungeedome which is located on the rooftop of Princes Mall. It all made me feel a little squeamish and I was glad we hadn't chosen to do this just after our enormous picnic! 
The Boy in the Bubble

We took a stroll through Princes Street gardens where we fed some noisy seagulls and played under the tree which inspired me to write about Bree McCready’s first date with Adam Eastbough (you can read the excerpt below if you want to.

Later, we bought Mr Whippy ice-cream and huddled together in the wind to watch a live band play to a gathering crowd on The Mound. 
Children danced and people clapped enthusiastically despite the drizzle. I think that’s one of my favourite things about the Scottish Summer. Where else on earth would you find the perfect combination of ice-cream and goosebumps?

It was a pretty perfect day, right down to our chance meeting with a good friend and her lovely boys at a pedestrian crossing at the West End.

On the way home, both exhausted and windswept, Junior cracked open a can of Irn Bru.
“This is the best invention to come out of Scotland,” he announced proudly before taking a swig.
“Really?!” I replied. “Did you not learn anything from our open top bus tour? What about the telephone, chloroform, Harry Potter? Go on, tell me one more amazing thing to have come from Edinburgh.”
Junior thought about this carefully before his face broke into a wide grin.
“I know!” he said smugly.  “Pole dancing!”

Thanks for a great day, Junior. You are and will always be my best bud X

Excerpt from Chapter 21 of Bree McCready and the Realm of the Lost (Book 3 in the Bree series)

“Bree knew she was dreaming. A snapshot of the happiest day of her life; her first date with Adam. The first flush of spring meant it had been warm enough to wear T-shirts with no coats. They had browsed some gift stalls and then stopped for a picnic in the city gardens. The thunder had been unexpected and they had had just enough time to pack away the food before the rain came, great drops that made everything look fresh and green. Adam had grabbed her hand and they had run together, splashing through puddles and laughing. They sheltered under the lowest branches of a spreading oak tree where the air took on a different quality. Adam’s fingertips had grazed her hand lightly….

Bree's tree. Probably not an Oak.