We did really love the walk

It’s time.

It’s unexpected election season! On Wednesday, at 12.18, Randi messaged me with “okay ppl are saying an electin is going to be called” and from then on the nervous atmosphere inside our flat grew and grew until Sunak’s rainy announcement outside Downing Street made it official that evening. (Dear Americans: you have no idea what kind of emotional rollercoaster you’re sacrificing by sticking with fixed election dates.) Now we’re off! Obviously this election is about the country, but it’s also the unexpectedly early culmination of a major subplot of our lives over the past year. In short, Randi will be in Scotland for the rest of the campaign and I’m going to include “REMEMBER TO WATER RANDI’S PLANT” in capital letters in this opening paragraph in a desperate attempt to remember it.

Back in the misty pre-election days of early May, the big family news was that Tash and Cormac had returned from their world travels! So I had a lovely Early May Bank Holiday afternoon catching up with Tash, starting with a haggis toastie lunch (just to further the Scottish theme, albeit at Deeney’s café in Leyton) before continuing at the pub opposite. That Saturday, my mum gathered the whole family for her newly-traditional ‘Birthday Season Kickoff Meal’ which – following a ranked choice voting mechanism which some of us slightly gamed – was held around a lazy Susan at Pearl Liang in Paddington.

The cast of 2024’s birthday season
The cast of 2024’s birthday season

That evening, Katie and James stayed at ours for a bumper evening of Doctor Who and Eurovision, the latter accompanied by Randi’s incredibly tasty halloumi fajitas which were a big hit. To start with Eurovision: as usual, the semi-finals had inexplicably booted out some of the best songs, but nothing compares with Europe’s desultory reaction to Finland’s Windows95man. Sadly, I guess people simply don’t share my nostalgia for old operating systems. On the other hand, this was the first time in a while where I thought the actual winner deserved it. Switzerland wasn’t my favourite, but it was a good song and a good performance.

More importantly – Doctor Who is back! Yes, the space babies in the opener were creepy, but the second episode was much better and Steven Moffat’s Boom was exceptional. It always takes a little while in my brain for any new Doctor to mentally click into place as The Doctor, but this time around – without doubt – the definitive moment came as Ncuti Gatwa perched precariously atop a landmine on Kastarion 3. I’ll remember this one for a while.

Randi checks up on Labour's 1945 campaign
Randi checks up on Labour’s 1945 campaign

Last week was Randi’s birthday, but (fun fact) one year + one week ago it was also Randi’s birthday, and that’s when Reema had gifted us a voucher for cocktails and cake at Cahoots London with a one year expiry date. Due to all of the London/Scotland hopping we’d struggled to book a lot, but thankfully Randi remembered just in time and we enjoyed a great afternoon at this meticulously WW2/London Underground-themed bar. (To demonstrate the power of psychological expectation: I was genuinely thrown into confusion when my cocktail served in a tea cup wasn’t hot.) Thanks, Reema!

At the start of the Penicuik-Dalkeith Walkway
At the start of the Penicuik-Dalkeith Walkway
I repeat: this used to be a railway!
I repeat: this used to be a railway!

For Randi’s latest birthday, I travelled up to Midlothian so that we could walk part of the bittersweet Penicuik-Dalkeith Walkway together. The route is a beautiful nature reserve, but at the same time it’s yet another example of a former railway killed by the Beeching cuts, and by rights this should still be a railway. The 1960s robbed us of a lot! Still, it is a very nice walk, from which we eventually veered off to visit Rosslyn Chapel.

Built in the 15th century and now a bona fide tourist attraction (probably because The Da Vinci Code filmed scenes here), Rosslyn Chapel was on our list because Kirsty gifted us a voucher for tea and cake here. (We’re very easy to buy presents for, clearly.) But after enjoying our afternoon treats on the visitor centre’s sunny balcony we did appreciate our visit to the actual chapel, in large part because of the entertaining stories about its deranged stonemason. According to legend, this guy was so enraged by his apprentice’s superior stonework that he smashed his skull with a mallet.

While this story might not actually be true – in the sense that there’s no evidence whatsoever that it happened and it’s almost certainly made up – it is true that one of the columns is significantly more impressive than the other one. So, draw your own conclusions. And talking of murder: during this trip we were also made encouraged to watch Channel 5’s documentary Murder in a Small Town on the horrific killing of a Scottish teenager in 2003, for which her boyfriend was convicted under somewhat ambiguous evidence. Frustratingly, however, the documentary also simply ignored a lot of obviously pertinent facts, casting some doubt on the idea that the My5 streaming service (which is terrible, btw) is really the best way to uncover miscarriages of justice.

We did really love the walk
We did really love the walk
Outside Rosslyn Chapel
Outside Rosslyn Chapel

The following evening, Kirsty and Roger very generously took us to dinner in Edinburgh to celebrate Randi’s birthday, followed by drinks at the bar of The Scotsman Hotel. This is a beautiful Edwardian building formerly occupied by the newspaper back in the days when newspapers could afford beautiful Edwardian buildings. Oh, and after much cajoling encouragement we also finally spat on the Heart of Midlothian too. It was a wonderful night. Finally – as usual – on Sunday I slipped away from this world to go watch classic Doctor Who with Katie and James. This time it was the turn of 1979’s The Power of Kroll, which has an abysmal reputation amongst Doctor Who fans but was actually not terrible. And now Katie and I have an excuse to chant “Kroll! Kroll! Kroll!” at each other.

Back in London, I’m very excited that after years of procrastinating, Randi and I finally got our act together to fix our garden. And sure, by ‘fix’ I mean we asked Angela’s incredible friend Pierre to de-weed everything, followed by a not-very-subtle “so, how difficult would it be for you to lay turf as well…?” and before you know it we have an actual lawn! I will save the triumphant photo until the next post – once it grows in a bit – but we’re already looking forward to cosy post-election lunchtime picnics.

Happy birthday mum!
Happy birthday mum!

Finally, after parting drinks in central London on Thursday night, she went up to Scotland while I headed down to Devon to spend the long weekend with my mum for her birthday. (In fact, I’ve commandeered her desk to write this very blog. It’s a great desk!)

Yesterday we celebrated her birthday with a long walk along the coast from Sidmouth towards Exmouth, although it should be noted that neither of us have a stunning sense of direction and spent part of the walk going the wrong way along a road away from any coastline. Still, it was a stunning day, and in the evening we toasted getting back to Exmouth eventually with a delicious dinner at The Chronicle.

Once we found our way back to the clifftop walk, the views were lovely
Once we found our way back to the clifftop walk, the views were lovely

The next six weeks are going to be hectic, even at a distance. But we’re on our way. Let’s go!

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One Comment on :
It’s time.

  1. Beth says:

    Busy month! Hang in there Dom during this crazy time.

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