The train ride to Edinburgh is one of the most enjoyable I've experienced in the United Kingdom. It's true that I'm a sucker for the National Express complementary wifi (which enabled me to catbox with people already at the nodermeet even as I was journeying up to meet them) but the East Coast Main Line is scenic as it gets. You take in Newcastle, which I've never been to (or I guess I've never set foot in, technically) and then an elevated view of sunny stone-built Berwick-on-Tweed and then there's a long period where you just have Scotland on your left and the bright, cold, open sea to your right.
Having departed Nottingham as early as I care to on a Saturday (8th November) I arrived in Edinburgh just in time for a late lunch. I did have the option of taking the plane from East Midlands Airport but it wasn't substantially cheaper and it was a whole lot more inconvenient time-wise. Like, my best option was a 7am flight, and I don't even have any way to get to the airport. Another time, perhaps. Edinburgh is, again, one of the most scenic places in Britain. I'd say it has a whole lot more character than the parts of London I've seen, but then I do have a soft spot for huge, imposing grey Georgian brick buildings which look like something out of an alternate future where the Nazis won the war, or Nineteen Eighty-Four, especially when they're eight storeys tall on twisting vertiginous roads and slick with rain. Pics are below, but if you can't wait:
Edinburgh is a surprisingly vertical city. The station sits a good distance below the main plane of the rest of the city and is walled in by hills full of tall buildings on all sides. The main road south from the station is a hefty climb up the hill from there. Being about three miles long it goes through at least five or six names along its length, the first two of which are "North Bridge" and "South Bridge", which seem like faintly strange names until you realise something: Those buildings lining the streets, four storeys high? Every now and then there's a gap between them. Look over the gap. There's a four-storey drop. And more roads running below, perpendicular. Those buildings are twice as tall as you thought they were. So it's a three-dimensional city, a great city for getting around by web-slinging or grappling hook, a great city to film dystopic movies. A lousy city for your pathetic two-dimensional Google Maps, though, and it's a cold city too. Four layers: just about enough. But only just. I haven't specifically mentioned this to those of you who don't know me other than through my text but, like my father before me, I started going bald at twenty (it's a terrible thing and it'll happen to my brother too) and quite frankly I lack insulation up there. And my ears, they need protection! I should invest in a hat but I'm just not a hat man. Maybe I'll just stick to sunnier climes in future.
Wntrmute and his flatmate (the latter of whom I barely saw) live in a collection of gigantic fourth-floor rooms overlooking a busy street corner and Edinburgh generally. It's an ideal
for people-watching (and cleavage-gazing, I was told to my surprise. "This is a cold city," I said, "surely everybody's all wrapped up," but apparently Edinburgh women are made of - well, not steel, because steel is a very good conductor of heat so it gets cold much more easily - but something highly insulating, let's say). I'd recently been flat-hunting and was slightly intimidated by the size of the places which were going to be available to me - having lived in an extremely poky single bedroom for the best part of three years - but this place was twice the size of anything I'd looked at and inhabited by a couple of students. Edinburgh is a lot cheaper than Winchester but still, "?!" So let's say I'm adjusted to the idea now.
Bringing my laptop to the meet was probably among the best ideas I've had in the last six months, because not only was I able to inflict lots of my music on the listening noders but I was able to leave it open to a blank text file, for the purposes of recording a live running commentary. This was a much better way to record events for future generations than my previous efforts, which have involved simply remembering what happened. And that hazily.
What follows is this text file in fixed-width, with commentary in italics.
Noders present: lpm, Deb, Sam512, DTal, Berek, Wntrmute
incense has been lit
cakes have been cooked
burgers being prepared
DTal claimed the honour of having arrived first at the meet, beating even Wntrmute himself, who found the guy waiting at his door. Lpm and Deb had both been here since Friday (which was my original plan also before I realised I had to be flat-hunting in Winchester) and were busily preparing cakes. These two provide catering for most Britnodermeets and are seriously considering starting to charge for their services. Justifiably. Deb, Tal and I visited the off-licence and Tesco to purchase booze, returning with triumphantly with backpacks full of big bottles of Leffe and an even bigger (?!) bottle of Plymouth Gin which instantly went into the freezer.
We're incensed about the incense! We're insensitive because of the incense!
THE CAKE IS IN THE OVEN
Evidently we considered this notable.
Have some lunch, Deb. That's an order.
Deb has had plenty to drink already by this point
Unable to stand it any longer, drinking commences:
Impassioned conversation about cooking. Baked apples!
"Is that a raisin on the floor?"
"Must have been a trick of the light."
Beer, gin, tonic
"We did gin soaked because we like teaching people to cook. Not because we like gin, and..."
"...soaking in it?"
"But you do."
The above conversation between myself and The Debutante
Pavlovna is another Scotnoder, a chirpy fresh-faced Pole whom I'd not met. I think this was her first time but she seemed at home among fellow noders. A quick visit to her writeup list reveals a noding career spent writing up Gaelic.
"I'm not as thick as I look, honest!"
DTal had been attempting to locate a fault in the gas lighter, by holding it up to his ear while clicking it. Next to his hair.
This claim is disputed by some observers, but seriously, Tal, we all saw you do it.
Oolong is my hero. If you were in edev he'd be your hero too.
peppery smell from the kitchen. Pizza incoming?
discussion of religion and lack thereof. "Who would WANT to be Jewish??"
"Abraham was schizophrenic."
"Joan of Arc was schizophrenic."
"Revelation was a mushroom-induced haze."
I misheard diotina as being ten years younger than she actually is and I would have believed it.
To Berek and DTal: 'The first rule of pillow fight club is you do not talk about pillow fight club'
enter snarl, with chairs.
I never actually got a good look at gnarl, who is apparently referred to as "snarl" by everybody up to and including his wife, let alone spoke to him.
By this time (finger) food has also been served in the form of intricate micro-pizzas designed for a variety, a clutch, a swarm of different diets, and Breakfast Canapes, being bite-sized slices of potato with smoked salmon, egg and spinach
Six of us go and watch Wntrmute's robot crawl up to Berek's feet
Wntrmute's building a robot. Currently in development: ankle recognition software
Wntrmute is remarkably casual about cake-cutting:
Wntrmute, stop twirling that knife! (He drops it) You're not even wearing SHOES! You might have just lost a toe! If you lose a toe we're not taking you to hospital! You'll have to limp your way there yourself! (DTal: "I 'hop' you make it!")
In my new world order, puns like that will be a capital crime.
Cake has been served. Wntrmute cuts it one-handed, with a wine glass of Ribena in the other, as if he does this every other day.
General merriment and babble: good atmosphere
Also: Oolong, gnarl and la petite mort restock at the local up-scale offy
Pavlovna says 'it's not too bad... it could be better...'
Historians' note: the context for Pavlovna's comment is uncertain.
Ela still upright
Apparently this was considered noteworthy at the time.
dRUNK, TURNING IN - Sam
What on EAERTH IS THIS MUSIC, TAL?! - (Amorphous Androgynous, apparently)
There is a nine-hour gap in the record here, containing one very cold night
Ninjagirls admit use for boys: keeping feet warm
Deb has lost her socks. LPM produces two pairs of her own, one small and multicoloured and one long and stripey. Look into Deb's eyes: you KNOW she wants one of each
is the oven dead? oh noes we killed it
tea, oolong tea
And I guess the textual record ends there and the photographic one picks back up again.
Berek and Pavlovna, who'd stayed the night, hit the road. Lpm and Deb (ditto) were escorted to their airport shuttle bus connection stop thing, after which Oolong and Wntrmute gladly led myself and DTal (ditto again) on a picturesque touristy route through Edinburgh.
- Wntrmute on the "Halfenon" - a half-Parthenon built but never finished...
- Oolong and Wntrmute - ...when Edinburgh was known as the "Athens of the North".
- DTal - The Halfenon now stands as a monument to Scottish budgeting prowess...
- DTal leaps - ...and it's also surprisingly difficult to scale!
- Halfenon from below
After completing our ramblings we hauled back to Wntrmute's for hot drinks and foods. Some food which had been cooked by gin soaked the previous day - marketed as "burgers" but more accurately described as meatballs - was served. In burger buns. Delicious as ever. Oolong left soon after and DTal caught the final train home that night while I appeared to be the only guy to hang around and pester Wntrmute for Sunday night, drinking the remaining beer and generally mucking about on the internet with amusing diversions such as the online Flash game "You Have To Burn The Rope". On Monday morning I got up relatively early and I was able to work wirelessly on the train home-- and as far as my employers are concerned, I didn't miss any hours. Subterfuge complete!
CONCLUSION: Edinburgh is the furthest north I have ever been - I believe DTal was able to say the same - and while the temperature in mid-November is one you need to prepare for it is a beautiful city to take in. It was great to meet the Scottish noder contingent and of course all the Britnoder regulars already know how awesome they are. Until next time? No. There will never be a next time. I can't guilt Wntrmute like that a second time.