Homecoming

Our last day 😦 we spent ages packing our bags as we seemed to have accumulated more stuff than we came with, despite our bag only weighing 13 KG as opposed to the 15 KG at the start. It might have had something to do with the free newspapers we’d swiped to take home for the rabbits. Neen and Elaine headed to the City Cafe on Blair Street for breakfast while we took Ketch to Parliament Square to do some filming. We stood in car park space 23, where John Knox is buried. And nearly got run over.

National Museum of Scotland

ooh shinies

Our first visit of the day was to the National Museum of Scotland. When we’d visited on Wednesday, we were so intent on Burke’s skeleton that we forgot about our other reason for visiting – the miniature coffins. 17 miniature coffins with carved corpses were found in a cave on Arthur’s Seat in 1836. To this day, nobody knows why there were there – paying homage to Burke and Hare’s victims? Witchcraft? We assured Neen our visit would be quick as we would ask where the coffins were and go straight there. Neen “you’ll get distracted by the shinies.” Us “no we won’t, we’ve seen the shinies.” We got into the museum, asked where the coffins were (4th floor en route to the Industry section) and…got distracted by the shinies. In this case, swords. We scuttled off, scattering in different directions and swiftly losing Neen and Elaine.

National Museum of Scotland

horse-drawn hearse

We eventually regrouped and resumed our search for the coffins. Then we found the greatest corridor of all time – Daith Comes In. Yes, a corridor dedicated to death customs. We tingled. There was a beautiful horse drawn hearse pride of place. We sat Ketch on it for his photo. We want the hearse. We have no practical use for it, nowhere to store it, no horses to pull it but damn it, we want it. National Museum of ScotlandIt’s black with a picture of a skull with ‘memento mori’ on it, which is Latin for ‘remember you must die’. What’s not to love about it? We found a display with an old velvet Mortcloth. These were used to cover the coffins for funerals. Surgeons used to have one between them and it would be loaned out for each funeral. There was even a scrap from George MacKenzie’s shroud.

National Museum of Scotland

mourning jewellery. Only available in black.

Next was a display of mourning jewellery. The Victorians were big on death and when they weren’t taking photos of their relatives’ corpses and posing them, often with the use of rods and costumes, women’s magazines used to give advice on what mourning clothes and jewellery to wear. They had to be black. Dear god, why can’t women’s magazines be like that today? It’s a damn sight better than ‘get a bikini body in so many days’, or ‘some celebrity you’ve never heard of is single/pregnant/fat/thin/covered in cellulite’. Queen Victoria wore her mourning clothes for 40 years after Albert died, right up until she died. She was clearly the original Goth. We actually have our own piece of mourning jewellery. The keen-eyed of you might notice the headstone necklaces we always wear. They’re actually lockets with photos of our dogs and our sister’s dog in there, which we got after the first of our 2 dogs died.

National Museum of Scotland

the tiny coffins

There was also an iron mortsafe that coffins used to be placed in to deter bodysnatchers. Then we found the coffins. Only 7 remain but the detail that went into making them is incredible. They have little hinges and the carved corpses have individual outfits. We love the mystery behind the coffins and part of us hopes it never gets solved. The truth will be never be as intriguing as the mystery. We spent longer in this corridor than anywhere else in the museum.National Museum of Scotland

We moved on to medical practises. The Malignant Dead has sparked an interest in 17th century surgical procedures. Before we wrote it, we were only interested in the fact surgery was gory and they did it without anaesthetic. We wandered off, again in different directions, losing each other and Neen and Elaine. When Neen finally tracked us down by the sackcloth of shame and stool of repentance (they exist) she remarked being out with us is like “herding kittens.” We would have to agree. This is why our poor mum had us on reins as children. That and we used to run into the traffic. Our road safety has not improved.

sackcloth of shame and stool of repentance. See? They exist.

sackcloth of shame and stool of repentance. See? They exist.

We’re not proud of what happened next. Many of you have witnessed our meltdowns when we get lost trying to find Calamityville locations. You have never witnessed a meltdown when we fail to find our morning Red Bull. We spent so much time in pubs that our liquid intake for the holiday mostly consisted of Smirnoff Ice or vodka and lemonade. As such, Cat had a horrible headache for the 4 days (no, it wasn’t a hangover). But we absolutely CANNOT miss our morning Red Bull, because that creates a headache of epic proportions that lasts all day. But all the newsagents are off High Street or Cockburn Street. There is one on Cowgate. We scampered to it, all excited and snatched a biggie Red Bull from the fridge. This is where the horror began. The fridge was off. Muttering, we stomped out and continued down Cowgate. We headed up to venture down Canongate, only to discover there were no newsagents on Canongate. We ran across the road to a shop. No Red Bull. We darted back across and walked further, finally finding a sandwich shop. No Red Bull. “Oh, they sell the utter crap that is Coke but no Red Bull?” Cat growled as she and Neen inspected the fridge. Cat left in disgust. Neen laughed and said “you can’t go into a shop and tell them they sell crap.” Cat “well they do.” Neen “I love how ratty you get when you don’t get your Red Bull.” We were reaching crisis point. Cat’s headache was worsening. Neen “you can take pills for that.” Cat “I need a Red Bull to wash them down.” Neen “try water.” Stony silence descended. The only time we can stomach water is when we’re about to pass out and it’s so horrible it revives us.

Finally, at the bottom of Canongate, we spied a newsagents. We sprinted across the road, ignoring the traffic. We scuttled to the fridge, grabbed a biggie and…it was warm. “Why don’t any of these places switch their bloody fridges on?” Cat raged. The assistant came over. “There’s a cold one right at the back,” he said. Cat started moving cans aside. He insisted on doing it, probably worried we were going to start hurling cans everywhere in a bid to reach the cold Precious at the back. Then he handed us the cold can. We paid, avoiding eye contact. You know how it is when you have a meltdown in public then have to deal with witnesses after the situation gets resolved. Made worse by the fact we are the nicest, most polite people you will ever meet. We’re even polite to people who don’t deserve it. Except when we’re in a rage. We barely got out of the shop before opening the can and drinking it. Neen came out and said “I don’t think that poor man had ever seen someone have a Red Bull related meldown before.” Needless to say, we will not be returning to that shop.

Museum of Edinburgh

model of 16th century Edinburgh

Tempers cooled, we headed for the Museum of Edinburgh. And realised we had a half full can of Red Bull. We cursed our decision to buy a biggie. We emptied the side pocket of the rucksack and stashed Precious safely inside. As long as Cat didn’t lean forwards, Biggie would be safe. The museum was really cool. We found a 16th century model of Old Town and spent ages studying it, as this was how our Edinburgh would’ve looked in The Malignant Dead. A volunteer came over to us so we explained why we were so interested in the model. She was able to tell us so much about the city back then, things we’ve now started including in our book. She told us to head to Gladstone Land to speak to a man there, but sadly, we didn’t have time. Since returning from Edinburgh on Friday night, we’ve been desperate to edit the book again. But it’s with a publisher and in a competition. On Monday we caved. We’re weak people.

Museum of EdinburghWe checked out the rest of the museum then went downstairs. And found period clothing for children to dress up in. Blowing raspberries, we shed our bags and circled the room excitedly, trying to pick outfits. They were actually too big for us, so we did look like children playing dress up. We returned to Travelodge for our bags then at 2, our mum texted. Our guinea pig, Pirate was really ill and she was taking him to the vets. After that we didn’t want to be Edinburgh any more. We headed to Frankenstein’s one last time for lunch then made our way to Shake Away for our customary last day milkshake. We had a vegan Red Bull milkshake – Red Bull mixed with soya ice cream. It’s as heavenly as it sounds. The girl behind the counter had to ask the manager how to make a vegan Red Bull milkshake. Lynx stared at her, stunned. Had nobody but us last year ordered this amber nectar? It’s Red Bull and soya ice cream. Two of the best things in the world. It’s a winning combination.Museum of Edinburgh

On our way in, we’d noticed 2 Border Collies tied up outside a shop in the sun. It was a boiling day and the dogs were panting. People were starting to stop and watch them. When we came out of Shake Away to sit outside, the dogs were still in the sun. So us and Neen went over. As we were preparing to untie them and moved them across the street to the shade, we noticed a woman standing by them. They were her dogs. And she barely spoke English. Her husband was in the shop trying on shoes. Neen explained we were worried about the dogs being in the heat as they should be in the shade. The Russian newsagent next door had come out with a bowl of water for them before we headed over and he came out again to refill it. He told the woman the dogs needed to drink a lot in this weather. He also owned a Border Collie. They were lovely. The white one was called Nelson and the black one was Lutz. Nelson kept rolling over for tummy tickles while Lutz was helping herself to the water. The woman must’ve understood part of what we said, because when we next saw the dogs, they were in the shade.

It was time to head home. We accompanied Neen to the train station then us and Elaine got on the bus to head to the airport. We took off our jewellery on the bus so we wouldn’t set off the bleepers. Cat set off the bleepers. Her dress was covered in D rings, eyelets and safety pins. She was taken to one side and assumed the position while security woman patted her down. The security man laughed and said “what did you expect?” Cat replied “I even took my jewellery off.” She then got scanned. Then she got scanned and patted down again. She was there much longer than anybody else. When she joined Lynx and Elaine, she noticed her rucksack was in the middle. The security held it up. “Whose is the skull rucksack?” Cat guiltily raised her hand. “It’s just a random search,” the man explained. It didn’t feel random. “I’m not getting out of this airport am I?” Cat asked. We were glad we hadn’t gone through with our earlier plan of buying herbs from a new age shop and removing the labels. We thought it would be funny but after four hours in customs, even we might have stopped seeing the humour in it. After we got through, we put our jewellery back on and went to find seats. A teenage boy came over and said “I have to ask – how did you get through security?” Cat “I didn’t.”

We texted mum to see how Pirate was. He’d lost a lot of weight over a short period of time. The vet wasn’t sure if he’d make it through the weekend. We just wanted to get home. Cardiff had never seemed so far away. Then our 7:35 p.m. flight was delayed for an hour and a half. We spent our time stealing newspapers and hanging out on Facebook while our mum tagged us in photos of Pirate. She liquidized food for him and he seemed to be enjoying it. When we finally got on the plane at 9 p.m., they were delayed again because the ground crew ran out of equipment and we were in a queue. We finally got home at midnight. The cats flocked to us, telling us woeful tales of starvation. We fetched Pirate from his cage and gave him his syringe food.

Since we got back, the cats have barely left our sides, even sleeping on our beds and Warlock is found sprawled on the pavement whenever we go out and cries when we return. He quit his hunger strike the moment we got back. We syringe fed Pirate every 2 hours and by Monday he’d regained enough strength to be put under general anaesthetic. His back teeth were starting to over grow. Apparently his mouth is the wrong shape for his teeth. He came through the operation really well and is back to singing and climbing his bars for breakfast and he’s even now wanting solid food 🙂

We’ve only been home 5 days but already we can feel Edinburgh and Burke’s skeleton calling us back…

4 Comments

  1. Okay so my question about The Malignant Dead on your Day 3 post has been answered! 🙂

    I love your story of the hunt for red bull! As it has caffeine, it is hardly surprising headaches ensue without it. I get like that if I don’t have a coffee first thing. Honestly, terrible headache and grumpiness like I never usually have! And I only have 2/3 cups a day. I’m not even a massive coffee monster.

    The stuff about the coffins is fascinating. Again, I had no idea about that. I guess when I go to Edinburgh, I go for different reasons, which goes to show why it is my favourite UK city. I just think its diversity means there is always something for everyone and something new to discover every time you go.

    Glad Pirate is okay too now! 🙂

    • we’re glad someone understands the caffeine fix! It was so hard trying to keep calm when we were thwarted at every turn. That poor guy in the final newsagent’s must have wondered what was going on 😀 We can go without Red Bull for the rest of the day, but we have to have the morning one, or we suffer.

      We first heard about the coffins in Ian Rankin’s first Rebus book and when we found out they were real, we wanted to see them. We can’t believe we forgot the first time we went to the museum. We only went to see Burke’s skeleton and the coffins and we missed them!

      Sadly Pirate died on Thursday 😥 but we’re glad we were able to have a good few days with him when we got back.

      • 😦 Oh no. I’m sorry. RIP Pirate. (That is one of the best names for a pet I’ve heard btw 🙂

      • thanks 🙂 it’s due to the fact he was white with a black eye patch over his right eye. He was such a character. Didn’t move a lot, but he was one of the best guinea pigs we’ve had.


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