29 November 1996

High jinks and a high old time in Edinburgh…

WHAT a fine city Edinburgh is and what a great time we had there staying at the George Intercontinental Hotel.

Members travelled by train and car to enjoy the sights of Scotlands capital. It was such a happy gathering of people from many parts of the UK that by Saturday morning everyone felt as if they had known each other for years.

Well, that is how it seemed because despite the pouring rain we all ventured up to the castle in taxis and thoroughly enjoyed learning the history of this stunning building set high above the city. Actually one of us had to walk, as the taxis would only take five passengers each and I must have some Scottish blood in me that would not allow me to have a taxi just for one.

Luckily the rain eased off by lunchtime and gave everyone a chance to have a wander around the shops, climb the Scott Monument or visit the magnificent art galleries.

It was just getting dark when we were collected by our guide for the ghost walk which was to start at the Mercat Cross on the Royal Mile. She was dressed in a long, black cloak and looked witch-like as we walked from the new town to the old guided by the orange full moon. At the Mercat Cross, Fran, our quietly spoken guide told us spooky stories of days gone by and frightened some of our number by suddenly screaming.

She showed us where men were pinned to the door by their ears if they had been caught doing wrong, before leading us down the Royal Mile. Many of the closes were pointed out to us and the history of the old town explained. The tour ended in the vaults underneath the south bridge, where more ghostly tales were told by candlelight, which finally flickered and died leaving us all ready for another wee dram.

On Sunday morning there was an Academic Service in St Giles Cathedral, which started with a procession of gowned representatives of all the seats of learning within the city. It ended with a magnificent recital of JS Bachs Fugue in Eb played by Herrick Bunney, who was playing for the last time as Master of the Music after 50 years service.

In the afternoon a gang of us almost hijacked an open topped bus for a tour of the city and eventually were welcomed aboard and shown the many splendid sights from the warmth of downstairs.

But the best was yet to come. During the weekend we had already been visited by Liz Niven and Judi MacLean, joint contact leaders of Berwick and North Northumberland FWC, as well as Sue Lowman, editor for the Scottish Borders, who gave us a fine welcome. On Sunday evening West Fife and Kinross FWC came to see us for a cup of tea and ended up staying all evening.

To all of you over the border thank you for making us all so welcome and to those who were in the party, thank you for making it a memorable weekend despite the French spuds.

Jean Howells

A hasty kiss for a castle guard – a wooden man who could not blink or even blush at such audacity.