Saturday, 5 January 2008

In Which Everyone Needs A Holiday To Recover From The Holidays

They nearly got themselves arrested a mere six hours after arriving in London (tip: do not take pictures of “sensitive” buildings in the nation’s capital or official Stop and Search procedures will be carried out upon your person). They nearly got lost in Edinburgh trying to find the Wally Abode (tip: Alien Wally and Mags do not live in Leith. Near to Leith, in the sense that Edinburgh is a small city and many places are near to other places. But they do not live in Leith itself, per se). But Maw and Paw Wally (aka The GrandHumans to the MacNoodle) eventually arrived for The Holidays.

A Meepy Catmas To Everyone!

What a day! The MacNoodle tried to eat the Christmas tree. The pink blobs ate more than an elegant sufficiency of vegetarian victuals (a decision having been made to forego the (un)usual practice of celebrating the season of love and peace by chopping off a turkey’s head). Many drams were consumed, single malts as well as some blended (Jingle) Bells. There was bubbly and there was non-bubbly. Crackers were cracked, hats were hatted, presents were presented. The Christmas pudding was set on fire (uh, deliberately, that is). The Christmas pudding was consumed (uh, after the fire was out, that is). Eventually, copious amounts of coffee were drunk. Wait, that’s not quite right – it was the pink blobs who were drunk… the coffee would like you to know that it was completely sober and maintained decorum throughout. What a day!

The Sozzling
If Alien Wally and Mags hadn’t been right there and heard it with their own two ears (or should that be four ears if there are two of them?), they would never have believed it. But it happened. She said it, she really did. It went something like this…:

Paw Wally (to the room in general): “Maybe we should catch a taxi sometime, see what it’s like.”
Maw Wally (with completely serious demeanour): “Yes, that’s a good idea. Maybe we should go and get sozzled on Saturday night so that we have to take a taxi home.”

Ah, the UK’s binge-drinking culture is insidious it seems, dragging down poor innocent tourists, none of whom are more innocent than Maw Wally. At least, she was innocent before the sozzling incident. Because it happened. They did it, they really did. It went something like this:

Pre-pre-prandials: The Wally Abode, near Leith.
Pre-prandials: The Auld Hundred Pub, Rose Street.
Dinner and prandials: The Auld Hundred Pub, Rose Street.
Post-prandials: Dirty Dicks Pub, Rose Street.
Post-post-prandials: The Wally Abode, still near Leith.

Yip, Maw Wally did a pub crawl of sorts up Rose Street. Although she is to be commended that she did not actually ever have to crawl at any point in the evening. Not even into the taxi. Because, yes, there was one at the end of the evening. That was the whole point of the sozzling, after all.

Arthur’s Seat
Lest ye all think that the Wallys did nothing but empty bottles for recycling purposes these holidays, they would like you to know that they did other activities inbetween, such as walking up Arthur’s Seat.

Then they walked back down the other side. Where Duddingston’s Sheep Heid Inn, the oldest pub in Scotland (since 1360), provides a handy stop for weary walkers…. Oh dear, Mags can see where this is going. Again.


Despite being cancelled twice in the last four years as a result of inclement weather (read: gale force winds and horizontal rain), Edinburgh’s Hogmanay remains a popular event on the city’s social calendar. Although the MacNoodle elected to stay at home for Hogmanay, the rest of the Wallys ensured that they had tickets for this esteemed event. Having lived in Cape Town for many years, however, Alien Wally and Mags have learned a thing or two about fashionable lateness, and so planned a pre-party party at Hamiltons, one of their favourite restaurants.

Hamiltons lived up to its excellent reputation, and provided a fantastic start to the evening. So fantastic that by the time the meal was over, the Wallys were a tad reluctant to leave. But leave they did, as they had decided to experience the street party on Princes Street at least once in their lives.

In the streets outside, there was a very definite directional trend. All roads lead to Princes Street, it seems. The Wallys joined the throngs, and made it into the party just before “doors” were closed at 11pm. They pushed their way through the 100 000 strong crowd to get into Princes Street itself, but then beat a hasty retreat as the crush of the crowds became too much.

They managed to find a wee spot in Frederick Street with a good clear view of the castle, the launching pad of the fireworks which were to be let off at the bells. And what fireworks these were! According to the Scotsman newspaper, there were £1.3 million worth of fireworks set off at midnight. What do £1.3 million worth of fireworks look like? Big, bold, and beautiful, for one. Very smoky, for another…. After a while, the castle disappeared behind the smoke cloud generated from said fireworks, and the sky was as bright as day.

Everyone was entranced, heads angled upwards, taking in the display. Once it had finished, people started looking around with dazed and glazed looks on their faces until they figured out why they had just witnessed such a spectacular thing. Oh yes, New Year! And then the hugs and kisses and greetings started rolling through the crowds as everyone welcomed in 2008.

The Wallys then began the trek homewards, fully expecting to have to walk all the way (about 40 minutes from city centre to the Wally Abode by foot) on an evening of few taxis and even fewer buses. But then, lo, a taxi did appear. And, lo again, Alien Wally made a magical hand gesture and it stopped. Feeling very privileged (even though one has to pay for this privilege, of course), the Wallys were whisked quickly and efficiently back to the Wally Abode, where they continued the party with the MacNoodle until the wee hours of the morning. Needless to say, they woke up very late the next later that same morning.

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