My birthday and more

I’ve been away from Australia for Easter and Christmas before, but 2016 is the first year I’ve been away for my birthday. I had a lovely day, starting at midnight with a call from my friend Flick and her kids back in Melbourne. Being serenaded by two toddlers is the cutest thing in the world! Lovely Sean is giving me Edinburgh Book Festival tickets for my birthday, but also presented me with this:

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It’s a Matilda cushion!!! I Skyped with my lovely parents and grandmother, who posted me some Peter Pan pencils and a beautiful notebook, as well as a voucher for dinner at Roseleaf, a restaurant in Leith. Then we Skyped with Sean’s sister, Claire, and went for an utterly delicious breakfast of French toast at Mimi’s Bakehouse. I had my favourite – the savoury bacon toast – but this time it was drenched in maple syrup and I was BUZZING all day from the sugar. Yolo, it’s my birthday.

Sean had to work in the afternoon and I spent my day on the couch watching television, which is more or less exactly what I felt like doing! It was my only day off for the week, and though I adore my new jobs, it is somewhat tiring after being a tourist for half a year…

In the evening I went to Boda Bar, just down the street from our place, and met up with mates from Edinburgh. Such a relief to have friends here! It’s so strange to move to a different country and have to build your friendship circle from scratch. I’ve never changed schools or moved to a new city or anything, so my friendships in Australia evolved pretty organically in school and jobs and theatre. Here, I’ve had to arrange friend dates with people specifically to get to know them and, after being initially daunted, I have loved it. This place is full of lovely people. I had gin and tonic after gin and tonic purchased for me, and the staff gave me a birthday shot and I had a really fantastic night in general. We headed home at midnight and Sean made me delicious cheese and toast and the next morning when I woke up for work, I felt surprisingly good!

Apart from my birthday, I’ve had a good month so far. Working for the Scottish Poetry Library has inspired me immensely, and I’ve been reading lots of Scottish poets. I’m currently in the middle of a collection by the new Makar, Jackie Kay, and it’s such a pleasure to read. I’ve been to an event with the previous Makar, Liz Lochhead, and two nights ago a group of us went to the final Edinburgh performance of Rally & Broad, a literary cabaret evening that’s been running for the past four years. It was BRILLIANT, and I’m so disappointed that I’ve only just discovered this as it’s ending!

We also had the opportunity to indulge in some serious culinary nostalgia. One of our Australian friends here went on a trip home and brought back Tim Tams, Twisties, Caramello Koalas, and Cherry Ripes! This, clearly, necessitated a group catch up where we made the token Scottish attendee sample everything. The Tim Tams came out on top, obviously.

And finally, it’s the Edinburgh International Film Festival!! Yesterday I saw two films (for freeeeeee), both documentaries followed by a Q & A with the directors. The first was The Lovers and the Despot, which is a true story that seems almost impossible. A South Korean director and the actress he was once married to kidnapped by Kim Jong-il and forced to make films for North Korea. I first heard of the story when I visited South Korea, but this documentary has interviews with Choi Eun-Hee, the actress involved. It was utterly compelling. The second film was Bolesno, a Croatian film about Ana Dragicevic who was imprisoned in a psychiatric ward in order to cure her of homosexuality. After she was finally released, she became obsessed with justice, trying to get the doctor who ‘treated’ her imprisoned. This was a really bleak film, constructed to emulate the crippling depression Ana was experiencing. The ending was incredibly moving. Ana begins to embark on a journey of healing, seeking peace instead of vengeance, and it’s beautiful to witness.

And tonight, Harry Potter trivia! I have to spend the day revising Goblet of Fire.

Until then xx

 

 

 

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More #Edinburghlyf

Our friend from Australia, Bec, is here! She has made the move, probably permanently because she has a British passport and is CRAZY LUCKY. But despite my insane jealousy it’s been delightful to catch up with her, and the two of us even went clothes shopping together, which is a huge deal for me because I hate clothes shopping with the fiery passion of a thousand suns. But now I have summery clothes and will hopefully never have to shop again!

I’ve been to a few services at the local Church of Scotland. It’s quite similar to the Uniting Church that I grew up in and the familiarity is very comforting. The people are nice and it’s good soul food for me to go and sit and listen and pray in welcoming surroundings.

I’ve also been watching movies – the new Jane Austen flick, ‘Love and Friendship’ (based on Lady Susan and not actually Love and Freindship) is brilliant – witty and clever and brilliantly acted. It’s an excellent portrayal of Jane’s work and I think will hold up to critics and fans alike. I’ve seen it once but I get to see it again this weekend! Huzzah! I’ve also watched two films based in Edinburgh to spot locations – ‘Trainspotting’ and ‘Sunshine on Leith’. I’ve seen ‘Trainspotting’ before, but not for years and it was just as weird and depressing as I remember!! Good film though, even though most of it was filmed in Glasgow masquerading as Edinburgh. Sunshine on Leith was a DELIGHT. The cheesiest of cheesy jukebox musicals, celebrating the music of The Proclaimers. Such a feel-good hug of a film. And of course, we’ve been keeping up-to-date with ‘Game of Thrones’. That show is an emotional rollercoaster and I can’t get enough of it. HODOR 4EVA.

The weather has stayed beautiful, and I’ve witnessed this amazing weather phenomenon that occurs at night after a nice day. It’s something to do with the warm day and the cold sea air that rolls in over the east coast of Scotland and Northern England. It’s called ‘the haar’ and it’s a very dense, fast-moving fog that creeps in and makes everything look super spooky. But during the day I’ve been getting sunburnt. Such a land of contrasts. The other day I went for a longgggg walk through the Princes St Gardens. The lawns were covered in people sunbathing and I was listening to Harry Potter and it was perfect. Then I went to the cafe in Waterstones and had tea and cake while I looked at the view of the castle. It is wonderful to have the time to enjoy these moments.

I’ve been busy though, and getting busier. I’ve been getting super organised with my writing projects (spreadsheets, guys!), as well as doing another free online course, this time on mindfulness. It helps to balance out the busyness with remembering to slow down and be in the present as much as possible. I’m working on it. I’ve Skyped with my parents and have been collating a list of places to show them around when they are here in December, including the absolutely epic savoury French toast at Mimi’s Bakehouse which I would eat every day if I had the money. I’ve also picked up two more days of work – at my favourite place, the Scottish Poetry Library! I’ll be getting some temporary shifts over the summer there and be getting paid for it! Everything’s coming up Milhouse.

I’ve been catching up with friends for dinner, cake dates, films and, hopefully, next week for my birthday. I’ve also been to Linlithgow Palace (birthplace of Mary, Queen of Scots) with the Jane Austen Society Scottish branch and we had a delicious strawberry tea afterwards. The ruin is brilliantly preserved and you can walk all over it. It’s crazy atmospheric, and the peel and loch surrounding it are beautiful. Also apparently appears in ‘Outlander’ so I will simply have to rewatch the entire thing and look out for it…