To Newtongrange! Home of the national mining museum, a rather awesome public park, quaint brick terraces with communal greens, and, er, my bike. The hastily abandoned puncture magnet is repaired, after which I repair to the museum café for a pre-ride espresso. I sadly don’t have time to look round the exhibition but I will go back one day in a less chaotic state. To compensate for missing out on a tour of a bygone era (although a million tonne coal mine does have planning permission along the road) I make the Bairn semolina for pudding. Wife-features has her doubts but it’s a bit hit with the wee person and with me. Why so palatable? I have no idea. I’m sure the high ratio of jam to semolina has nothing to do with it.
The economic recovery continues. One of the local high street card shops closed down but a new business has quickly filled the gap. It’s vapour outlet, catering for all your electronic tobacco liquid gadget needs. The line up of shops on this section of the street now goes as follows: Greggs, Vapour place, bookies, pub, chippie, Cancer Research. I shall continue to dream of delis.
Cycling into Edinburgh via old railway lines proves a pungent experience. No, they’re not spreading the fields. Wild garlic overload! Okay, nature, I get the message.
The headline on the newsstand is pretty scary. 500 kids in East Lothian have been helped by the local food bank in the past year. UK OK?
On a happier note I spend the evening at a pub quiz. And not just any pub. Staggs! They haven’t had a quiz in the two years I’ve been in the Honest Toun so it’s actually more exciting than it sounds. As I head out the door to the pub the Bairn says You’re Like An Old Man. Charming! It then occurs to me I’m wearing a tweed jacket, a checked shirt and, well, I’m away to the pub to drink real ale. Oh well.
A work colleague joins me and between my knowledge of Alec Douglas-Home’s premiership and his knowledge of okra we come mid-table. Ach well, at least the Fyne and Tempest beers were good, and my Green Yes badge got at least one thumbs-up. We exit after marvelling at the post-quiz band, their matching shiny shirts and vibrant renditions of Kelty Clippie and Falls o’ Killiecrankie-o. Hee-yooch! Musselburgh. Culture. Y’ken?
Election fever grips the town. The annual Honest Lad and Lass vote is decided. One of the Bairn’s pals’ neighbours loses out in the Honest Lass vote. The winners are hoisted up and carried to a buggy pulled by the boys’ brigade down the main street. It’s a great tradition and hints at summer being just round the corner. There’s drizzle. I hope that’s not a hint of the kind of summer we can expect.
To the barbers! The woman who wields the scissors remembers me from last time. Later, on a walk with the Bairn across town we meet someone we know in the park, another couple of folk we know at the community garden where we impart the Honest Lass news and get a bunch of purple sprouting broccoli in return, and another couple of chums on the bridge over the river. It dawns on me, after living here for two years, I’m starting to feel at home. Only starting, mind you!
Oh, also, I find myself in a shop excited that they stock a particular type of cracker for cheese. The Bairn looks at me. Before she can say You’re Like An Old Man again I hustle us to the checkout.
The Bairn has a pretty bad cough. There‘s not much to be done other than dish out sympathy and mix up warm drinks involving lemon and syrup. I think we‘re all feeling a bit knackered as the coughing has been breaking our sleep for the last few nights. Somehow I summon the energy to take the Bairn on a scooter adventure. We end up going a fair distance and I feel all the better for it. Much of the route we scoot is away from main roads. Maybe that’s what’s needed. A map of safe scooter routes around our town. At the moment there’s no way I’d feel comfortable with her taking her bike on the roads, not even to school. But for another year or so I reckon I’m on to a winner with the scooter. Do old men do scooters? I don’t think so. Mind you, my project does involve looking at maps…