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:
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