Auld Reekie

We did what we swore we’d do since last year: we went back to Edinburgh. Neen was travelling up by train from Durham, where she and her family were staying so we flew up to meet her, accompanied by her mum, Elaine. Yes, we had adult supervision. Got to Edinburgh about 6:30 p.m., arriving on match day. We time our trips so perfectly. Neen was stuck in Newcastle waiting for her train so we were posting travelling selfies to each other on Facebook to pass the time. Our Travelodge was lovely and they even let us stash our soya milk in the fridge. Now we wished we’d brought Red Bull with us to save our daily game of ‘find the newsagents’. (On Friday that nearly resulted in an epic meltdown on the Canongate). One of the Travelodge workers was a fellow vegan and also not bad on the eyes. Actually, the number of pleasant-looking gentlemen spotted during the trip was record-breaking. We did a different sort of sight seeing this week 😉

On our way to get something to eat, we passed the Museum of Childhood and saw a penguin race game our nan and grampy gave us when we were kids. It was one of our favourite games. We were so excited that as we rushed over, Cat’s IR light mysteriously fell off the bracket, breaking the battery cover. So after we had been served in Nando’s, Cat asked what is possibly the strangest request they’ve ever had: did they have any gaffer tape. At first the man looked bemused and possibly scared, perhaps wondering whether the innocent question would lead to someone being taped kidnap-style to a chair, but when she explained, he went off to find some, no longer fearful of being complicit in a crime. Fifteen minutes passed and we assumed he’d forgotten all about it. But then he returned and said he’d been hunting for it the whole time but couldn’t find any. That’s customer service for you!

Frankenstein's pubWe headed for our favourite pub – Frankenstein’s. We ventured here every day during our trip.  We reckon they have a higher than average rate of good looking bar staff 😀 The gothic themed pubs in Edinburgh are incredible. This is something Cardiff is seriously lacking. But then Cardiff doesn’t have Edinburgh’s gothic literature past. We made a barmaid buddy, Bec, from Melbourne who was really cool and even introduced us to the combination of chips in ice cream. And she must be the first person who doesn’t find the idea of chips in Slush Puppy disgusting. For that she has earned our everlasting respect and deserves a pay rise, especially since we got her into trouble by hogging her attention. Frankenstein’s, it’s staff like her who keep people like us coming back. We spent some time playing in an electric chair, pretending to be electrocuted and amusing the guy sitting at the table next to it. In our defence, it wasn’t there last year.

As we left Frankenstein’s, Lynx saw a newsagent’s across the road. While wondering if it sold sellotape, she didn’t look where she was going. SPLAT! Straight into a concrete bollard. She somehow managed not to face plant, but she did graze both knees. Weirdly, although she did it in front of everyone who was sitting outside the restaurant right by her, the only people in hysterics were our group. Unfortunately, nobody was filming at the time, so the most epic fall on Calamityville has gone unrecorded.

Mercat tours blair street vaultsThen we headed for our first tour – the Blair Street vaults with Mercat Tours. We’d visited Auld Reekie’s and City of the Dead’s vaults last year. The vaults were amazing. Really atmospheric. We wish we could’ve spent the night there alone but writing doesn’t pay enough! When we were in the ‘safe’ vault, we stood in the corner where the cobbler is heard. Cat started feeling dizzy but it may have been the wobbly board she was standing on. Pregnant women tend to get pushed in these vaults but sadly there were no pregnant women there for us to test this theory. Even if there was, people get scared when you use the term ‘ghost bait’. We moved into Mr Boots’s vault, so called because of the heavy boots he wears. We stood right at the back in the most active area. The K2 meter, which had been registering 0 all the way around, rose to 1.5 in this vault, then dropped to 1 before rising back to 1.5.

Mercat tours Blair Street vaultsThis is where the tour ended so we loitered while everyone else left so we could take photos and spend some time in the vaults alone. Lynx had gone on a bit ahead while Cat stayed back to photograph the creepy corridors. She heard a scraping sound, almost like sawing and thought it might have been her Dungeons keyring rubbing her bag, so she stood still. The noise was still there. By now, she was the only person in this part of the vaults. She caught up with Lynx then we were standing near a skeleton in the cage when we both heard footsteps, really loudly, like cowboy boots marching through the vaults. We turned around, thinking a member of staff was coming up behind us to throw us out.

Mercat tours, Blair Street vaultsThere was no one there.

Neen came down to look for us as the guide, Lia, wanted to lock up. When we got upstairs, we asked her if there was anyone else in the vaults. She said no. Apparently there was someone else in the shop upstairs, but not in the vaults. We wondered if maybe someone had gone down to blow out the candles or check to make sure everyone (us) had left. Nobody had passed us, but the vaults have a lot of chambers, so it’s possible someone came down when we were in the vaults towards the back. In hindsight we wish we’d gone back down to check, but we were already pushing our luck by staying behind. As far as Lia knew, we were alone down there, but we can’t be sure.

Was Mr Boots trying to force us out of the vaults?Mercat tours, Blair Street vaults

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