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Hijinks Ensue


This past weekend I visited Edinburgh. The journey up went well apart from Fenchurch's speedometer packing in (the needle keeps sticking at random speeds). My first stop was the Bo'ness and Kinniel Railway. I arrived just after the train had left, so I went and had some lunch in the cafe, which was surprisingly good, not too pricey, and served by a gorgeous young waitress. Afterwards I went and looked around the small museum (well, small compared to the York one) until the train was due to return. The reason I went there was that I was invited by Roy from the Morris Minor forum, who is currently training as a locomotive fireman. After meeting him and having a chat about cars, he wangled me a ride on the footplate of Morayshire:

After a trip to the end of the line and back I headed off up to Limekilns to meet my uni friend Mike, who has recently returned from a year in Australia. We chatted for a few hours and I persuaded him to come out with us later on.

My next stop was poisonduk's place in Dunfermline. The plan for Saturday night was to go to a masked ceilidh in Edinburgh that was a fund-raising event for Beltane Fire Society. I won't pretend to know what Beltane is all about but it seems to involve lots of people gathering on a hill and dancing to the sound of drums. I had spent about an hour making a mask (and much longer stressing about what it should look like). This video should give you a rough idea of what I eventually came up with. After all that trouble I forgot to take it to the dance with me! Although to be honest if I had worn one to the dance I would have been in the minority.

The dance was a lot of fun, albeit a bit odd. The fact that it was held at a Steiner School probably should have given us a clue what it was going to be like. The 'organic bar' was serving things like heather ale, seaweed ale, gooseberry ale, and chocolate brownies. It also had free tapwater - I must have drunk about ten pints over the course of the night and sweated most of it back out again. As well as the ceilidh band there was a singer, a drum band (difficult to describe but apparently representative of Beltane itself), and an a cappella choir.

The ceilidh band weren't that brilliant in my opinion. They could play well enough but they picked some very odd songs, many of which weren't that well suited for dancing to. The choices of dances weren't very imaginative, and the caller was hard to understand and not good at noticing when the dancers were going wrong and correcting us. There weren't very many expert dancers there for us novices to follow so several of the dances rapidly turned into a complete shambles as everybody tried to do what they thought the steps were and got out of sync with the rest of the sets on the floor. It didn't help that towards the end of the evening quite a lot of alcohol had been consumed, plus they dimmed the lights way down making it harder to see what was going on. The caller also had a habit of saying basically, "we're just going to play some music now; make up your own steps." I did enjoy myself and got to dance with many different partners, I just think the dancing could have been organised a bit better.

At one point they did a St. Bernard's Waltz. I had never danced this before but I saw it done at Phoenix Ceilidh and had memorised the steps because I had a feeling they might come in handy. Since almost nobody could work out what the caller was talking about when he tried to describe it, this made me an expert by default and we had other couples following us!

On Sunday I paid a visit to the National Museum of Flight at East Fortune. It was pretty good - they have a decent collection of historically significant aircraft, including a Lightning, a Tornado, a Harrier, a Spitfire, a MiG, a Meteor, a Phantom, a Vulcan, and even a Black Knight rocket! Plus of course their star exhibit, the first British Airways Concorde:


I did...

I don't drink but Mike said the heather ale was quite good. He wasn't quite adventurous enough to try the seaweed stuff!
What's that? it doesn't look like a Gresley... Furthermore, what's a London North Eastern doing all the way up there? We're on LNER turf here.

In fact, looking again, it looks more like a 'schools' class without deflectors, but I'm a bit rusty on my loco recognition these days.
It's a Gresley D49. This page explains it: http://www.lner.info/locos/D/d49.shtml

I think they were only using a fraction of its capacity - they had it pulling about six carriages at a maximum of about 30 MPH.