Saturday was sunny. Very sunny. Thus it was the perfect day to chill out in the sun and ignore everything else that needed doing. Town seemed a popular destination, with Princes Street Gardens being a very popular idea indeed. Hardly surprising, when you think about it, with the lush grass, sun-traps and areas of shade all with the castle as the back drop. And surprisingly relaxing, despite the buses rumbling along above on the street.
Yup, the sun decided to a special headline appearance in the weekend’s weather. In fact it took up almost the entire bill. So it was time to take advantage of being able to go out without ending up drenched through. It was summer, no sheltering in a coffee shop window watching the rain roll down the streets turning them into large canals or other mid winter activities. Oh wait, that was a fornight ago, wasn’t it…
As Saturday afternoon was going to be spent catching up with Mel it seemed perfectly reasonable to meet in Princes Street Gardens. This of course could only mean one thing – a picnic. However, to make it a little bit more interesting we decided to have a G&T picnic!
This of course threw up the perennial problem: how to keep the G&T cool until I could get it into town? If being a student has taught me anything it is that there are always solutions to these little problems in life; however big the issue there is usually a fairly simple answer (well, to the gin based sort, that is).
If you’re saying that ice could work you would be wrong. A) it would probably melt by the time the bus decided to show up (don’t get me started on Edinburgh buses) and got itself into town, and B) that would dilute the gin. No, the solution is similar, but without the dilution issue: Tonic Cubes! However, the flaw (as I’m sure you’ll have noticed) is that ice/tonic cubes do not fit in bottles of G, nor in fact T. And we still haven’t resolved problem A). Whilst giving the grey matter a little bit of a workout on this problem I was struck by a previous gin drinking memory and how funny it had been to have a casual G&T in the library… It was around this point that the idea struck me. Or rather I was struck by how dim I was being, having conquered a very similar predicament before. The trusty thermous flask. Suitable for containing G, T and TCs (and of course lime, or in this case cucumber), with the added bonus of keeping it all cool – after all ‘vacuum flasks’ were originally invented to keep things cool, not hot (fun fact).
I’m afraid I totally forgot to get photos of this touch of genius* (*ropey definition of the word ‘genius’ being used here) as I was running slightly late – as always – so you’ll just have to visualise it for yourself. Slightly later than planned I reached the (very busy) gardens, met Mel (who happened to have a delicious chocolate, apricot and ginger loaf with her – conveniently enough) and we sat down for our gin-dominated picnic.
For those who don’t know Edinburgh, I should probably describe the gardens a little. The West gardens (where we were) are flanked down one side by several statues – such as The Royal Scots Grey’s, to remember those in the regiment who died in the Boer war; below and in the header above – and Princes Street (oddly enough) and on the other side they nestle into the base of Castle Rock (which, surprisingly enough, has the castle perched on top of it) and – combined with the East Gardens – formed the majority of the Nor Loch of the middle ages. This is where all the sewage and rubbish of the Old Town was drained/thrown into, unsurprisingly leading to it being ever so slightly polluted. It was also used for witching trials (during which suspected witches were dunked int the water in the belief that only a witch would be able to survive it – if you drowned you were acquitted). These days the grounds have been partially filled in and have been lush, fertile gardens (rumour has it without much need for fertiliser…)
There was only one slight technical hitch with our plan. Whilst it had been brilliantly sunny all day (and continued to be so whilst we were there) it had been quite wet the night before. Initially the grass seemed perfectly dry, but after a while we both started to have those nagging doubts. By the time we had indeed established that the grass was slightly damp we’d had our cake (and eaten it) and drunk the contents of the flask. There was of course not a lot we could then do, so we ignored it. It was then only as we were getting up to leave that the slightly damp, slightly muddy grass revealed it’s slightly cruel/hilarious trick – or rather my stupidity – as I realised I was in fact wearing cream shorts. Now adorned with beautiful wet, muddy butt cheek marks. Wonderful. And not at all embarrassing.