Friday, 14 September 2018
Edinburgh. The Long Walk. A Grail Quest. The Final Part.
It took two local Edinburgh buses to get from Easter Craiglockhart Hill to Corstorphine Hill, the last summit on our seven hills of Edinburgh tour.
"Can you explain to me why on earth are we leaving a perfectly good easy grass path for this jungle hell hole?" Anne inquired, not without good reason as it was hard going through the undergrowth at this point and painful.
"All will be revealed shortly." I explained. "Trust in me." I hissed like the snake in the Jungle Book and increased my eyeball size with a fixed manic stare.
" Typical Australian." I joked. "Happiest behind bars of some description."
I thought about it for a minute. "You know, we are incredibly lucky in this country. It might be cold and wet in summer but we don't get much snow for being this far north, it's green most of the year, and all our insects and animals are harmless. Sleep out on a hillside without a tent in Australia, or anywhere hot for that matter, and the stuff of nightmares will come to find you every night. I've seen it first hand. I've been there. Spiders bigger than apples- poisonous centipedes the size of spaniels- giant lizards that can take a leg off in one quick gulp. Last night was nothing. A few wee friendly British bugs."
"Aye, right enough." She conceded.
" This is brilliant. How did you find this trail."
Just then I noticed a small furry creature crossing the tree canopy above to a position within the enclosure.
"Yep. Himalayan Tree Monkey"
I pointed it out.
"Nope, Himalayan Tree Monkey. It's inside the zoo so it must be an exotic species and I recognize it."
"Do they even have trees in the Himalayas?" She asked smiling, confident it was a squirrel but just a touch uncertain, knowing my knowledge of animals was far better than hers. This is a zoom so it wasn't as obvious a view as this, being further away.
" Yes, they do have forests in the valleys. It's a distant relative of the Yeti, mon cousine, like the difference between Giant Pandas and Red Pandas."
"Your talking bollocks again."
"Wouldn't be the first time. Had you going though. Didn't it. "
" That seems like a full week ago." Anne marveled.
" I'm told I have that effect on some people." I answered dryly.
"We've certainly packed a lot in."
"We have and it's not over yet."
Instead, on an impulse, we boarded the no 26 bus, seen here, which took us direct from the woodland edge at Clermiston down to Portobello Beach instead. Edinburgh's seaside. It's one of my favourite local buses and I knew from the time looking at my watch the tide would be out when we arrived.
" Not far." I promised. " and a walk filled with seven modern wonders.I guarantee it."
" Is that it."
"Yep. The First Wonder. Looks a bit like you. Three fingers and a thumb. Are you sure you've never been spotted on the beach sunbathing?"
"The Second Wonder. As in how come these places are almost invisible to society at large." I elaborated. " A deliberate look away attitude and silent collective agreement to ignore anything going on there as a 'necessary evil'. I've seen them in various countries abroad and they are usually in the worst part of any landscape as a punishment- boiling hot empty deserts- fetid swamplands- remote plains- bleak moorland in our case- really out of the way places deliberately picked so that most people never see or visit. Out of sight- out of mind. The modern version of the old asylum hidden in the woods."
" Mmmm. Never thought about it like that." She conceded. "Hey, how come you know there's seven wonders on this coast if you haven,t been along here before?"
" Yes, I wonder that as well. And behold!. The Third Wonder appears! Thank you. I like your style."
She had to laugh at that.
"Remember I promised you a grail quest as well as a seven summits mystery tour?" I asked.
The remarkable facts in this short link.
On a previous no 26 bus ride I had been intrigued and stunned to get a brief glimpse of this monument looming over the rooftops of a residential district, far away from any of the usual tourist haunts, other monuments, and completely isolated in a cosy suburbia of low bungalows miles from the city centre. No greater oddity exists in Edinburgh.
" Biblical marble story panels. The Red Sea drowning the Pharaoh's troops, horses, and chariots."
"A worthy end to a great walk. Why so many bare breasts in classical sculpture though?" She wondered. "and why did they always use marble for people back then?"
"Ah, that is The Seventh Wonder." I declared. "Humans were actually made of solid marble back in that time and often went about topless because they never felt the cold. Why do you think classical figures are always carved in white stone and half undressed. Always. It's just art imitating real life. Or the ubiquitous saying "They were hard in those days." What do you think they really meant by that? It's a well known fact. Look at the people of Pompeii. Real life ancient humans. Touch them. Stone not skin. Obvious and simple. Ancient history. Fascinating stuff. The Marble Age. ...Just like in the near future we will be half human and half machine combined. It's happening already with the sleepwalkers consent. The Cyborg Age is now upon us."
And so it was told.