KPR's Blog

U K Experience – Part I

Posted in Uncategorized by K P Ramachandran on November 28, 2020

The year was 2017.October was packing up before the onset of the biting Northern winter. Hema was on the last lap of her master’s at the university of Edinburgh. She had long been urging on us to spend a few days with her before she finished her programme. And we had been resisting since it would mean a drastic realignment of life to suit a foreign protocol.  But when it became a now or never question, we relented and said yes. Once decided things gained a lightening speed. A 15-day visit was scheduled, urgent category visa was obtained, flight was flocked and on a sunny day in the last week of October 2017 we took off to Edinburgh on the hospitable wings of the elite British Airways.

Winter was at the doorstep in UK. Temperature at the airport read 10-degree C. We took early defence and got into our warm fits before we disembarked. A beaming Hema was waiting at the airport with a warm Indian hug. She had thoughtfully arranged for a comfortable sojourn under the northern skies for two weeks and we went straight into a lavishly furnished cosy living space in the Huntley street Apartments. There was everything that would make a family feel at home. Having been booked online the landlord had kept the keys in a small closet outside the gate with the number messaged to Hema. We tasted his hospitality in the abundant stock of tea/coffee/breakfast cereals in the cupboard.

There was everything within a stone’s throw – a TESCO Super store for all everyday needs, a pub to wet the lips with the choicest spirits tasting of the   crystalline Scottish springs and smelling of Oak barrels matured in the deep delved earth, and a metro stop to avail of the user-friendly state transport services.

We settled smoothly into the new environment. After fresh up discussed the itinerary for the days ahead. Here we are in Edinburgh, the Athens of the North, in the land of fables and folklore, myths and mysteries, clans and clashes, where everything carries a vintage tag.

First step from the Royal Mile which stretches from the historic Edinburgh castle to the Queen’s palace at the other end, the Palace of Holy Roodhouse. Edinburgh castle sits atop a volcano dead epoch ago. The castle commands a breath-taking view from its height of 250 feet above the surrounding landscape. Here is the most besieged fortress in history right from the fabled Scottish king Robert Bruce.  Strolling leisurely down the Royal Mile we came by the 12th century St. Giles Cathedral, the Mother church of the Church of Scotland.

Here we take a short break to step into Scottish Whiskey experience, just to beat the cold and boost the spirit. And for the first time get the real cask fresh Scotch experience. They suggest taking it neat. Scotch tells it is exclusive taste only when taken neat.

We take a detour to Hema’s guest accommodation. It is not far from Portobello – an exotic sandy beach on the shore of the North Sea. Ideal for water sports like kayaking or sailing. A seaside place not far from the old town but one of the farthest outdoor places before the polar wilderness.

Visiting the Royal Yacht Britannia was an incredible experience. This 133 footed, three masted yacht was a floating palace in the exclusive service of British Royalty for more than four decades. The 83rd and the last vessel in the British royal service. Decommissioned in 1997 it has been permanently berthed in the port of Leith, Edinburgh. It is one of the star attractions of the city from where one can catch glimpses of royal luxuries. It has hosted four royal honeymoons including that of Diana and Charles in 1981.

The next day we took a break and hung out in the Huntly street Apartment for a real feel of the everyday Scottish life. Visited the TESCO store, bought our choices and customized the kitchen to suit our tastes and preferences. We made use of the utensils and cutlery and cooked our familiar dishes. In the free hours of the afternoon visited the Royal Botanic garden of Edinburgh, a few minutes from the Apartment. A world class plant kingdom in 70 acres, nursed and nurtured over 200 years. The palm house, herbarium, Glasshouse, and the library are like goldmine for the students and researchers in the field. The rest of the evening we spent on the Princess street watching the urban life and occasionally going into shops. Among other things I collected Glenfiddich single malt scotch whiskies for our check-in luggage.


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