Last weekend I was in Edinburgh visiting Lou who has been my best friend since we met at school almost 20 years ago now - how time flies! It is funny how you have these close friends, who you don't necessarily see from one year until the next, but when you do finally meet up again, it feels like you only saw them the day before.
So it is with Lou and I, from the moment she picked me up from the airport we were back into that familiar and comforting territory of being with someone who knows you so well! Life has moved on since those school days and now Lou has a husband and two beautiful children, Ronan and Matilda.
We had fun. I was slightly shocked by the exhausting nature of young children and have a renewed respect for anyone with children. I guess it is a little like anything, the more you do it, the more you adapt to it. Still when you lead a busy life without children, you wonder how on earth people cope being busy and looking after children. Much respect!
We went into Edinburgh city centre a few times. It is a stunning city steeped in history, with this incredible sense of space. Edinburgh castle affords a fantastic position, and adds a wonderful energy and grounding nature to the city. I love it. Especially as the weather was incredibly bright and mild on this trip, quite unlike my previous November trips when it has been freezing cold, wet and windy.
We visited the museum and I got to visit the Tibetan section and turn the prayer wheels, sending the energy of "Om Mani Padme Hum" into the air. I always feel a sense of homesickness when I am in such an environment with pictures of the Himalayas reminding me Nepal and the wonderful Tibetan Buddhists. There is just such a calming energy about the Tibetan Buddhist culture with all those prayer flags brightening and indeed defining any landscape.
What particularly blew me away on this trip was visiting East and North Berwick. Again the weather was in our favour, but this part of Scotland is absolutely stunning. We went down to the beach and watched a massive heron sitting on a rock. There were lots of people walking their dogs and making the most of the views of all the small Islands in the distance, one of which was apparently the inspiration for "Treasure Island" written by the Scottish author, Robert Louis Stevenson.
North Berwick is a fantastic little coastal town. We visited the bird sanctuary and I took great delight in finding the remains of this chapel, which had been home to many a pilgrim on a pilgrimage to and from St Andrews. I just adore all that old "spiritual" energy, the fact that the stone in the buildings is still filled with the energy of all those pilgrims and their prayers. I can't help but press the palms of my hands against the stone walls and just feel the vibration. It is incredibly subtle, but I have no doubt that that energy exists.
We visited Lou's parents, who were like my second parents all those years ago, and her sister, Rachel, with whom I went travelling around the world for the first time all those years ago. We managed dinner in Edinburgh one night with a couple of Lou's friends and Rachel, which was lovely as I do enjoy spending time with other women, discussing life through our different eyes and sharing and discussing experiences, so that you can gain a renewed perspective on life.
On my last day we drove out into the countryside from North Berwick so the children could sleep in the car. What a joy. We passed a wonderful castle where Lou and Dave got married, and then this incredible rambling castle on the cliffs around from the town,and these beautiful churches and ruined chapels. And then out into the land, there was just this feeling of expanse and nature all around you, so many birds and even deer and this wonderful Autumnal golden light softening and yet brightening the entire landscape so that I was rather awestruck by the whole experience! I can't wait to visit more of the country!
A huge thank you to Lou, Dave, Ronan and Matilda for making my time with them so special.