'And finally, not everyone’s being doing topical. In fact, here’s the rather lovely 6 Oxgangs Avenue devoted to the history of the development of the area, this week highlighting how the block of flats came into being. Could have been prompted by Who do you think you are? Or just a timely reminder that not everything worth blogging about is in the here and now.'

Kate Higgins, Scottish Roundup 26/08/2012

Friday, 6 March 2020

Spring 1971 An Edinburgh Adventure

On Saturday, 6 March, 1971 five of us took off on a spring adventure - Ali Douglas; Les Ramage; Boo-Boo Hanlon; Iain and Peter Hoffmann..

  Ali Douglas; Iain Hoffmann; the Authorand ‘Boo-Boo Hanlon in front of
Mons Meg, Edinburgh Castle, 1971
We took the number 27 bus to Edinburgh Castle to explore our heritage. It was always good fun going out together, great company with many laughs. Although we had a rough outline of the day ahead, we never quite knew what would happen or who we might meet along the way.

Iain Hoffmann; the Author; and Boo-Boo Hanlon - Soldier unknown


Iain Hoffmann; Boo-Boo Hanlon; and the Author 43 years later at
Swanston Golf Club, Edinburgh

From the castle we walked all the way down the Royal Mile and then up and over Arthur's Seat. We were in no hurry and walked at an easy pace, calling in at one or two of the shops along the way. There were fewer tourists around then and the Old Town still had a significant population, so it was local people and workers who were in the area.

Iain Hoffmann and Ali Douglas Boo-Boo Hanlon and Les Ramage Arthurs Sea

Although we were young and fit the climb up Arthur's Seat was a stiff one and we quickly built up a sweat and the beginning of a sound appetite. At one stage, whilst running through the long grass, we unknowingly came to the edge of a sharp precipice which would have been all too easy to have fallen over.

 Ali Douglas and either Les Ramage or  Boo-Boo dangerously close to the edge above Holyrood Palace

We had a general sense of direction now. Once we had reached the summit and taken in the 360 degree panoramic view of Edinburgh, we traversed Arthur's Seat and got sight of Duddingston Loch in the valley below; we'd found our bearings. It was downhill now. We leapt like hares and galloped like horses, occasionally crashing, rolling and laughing, as we ran and tumbled down the hill.

No matter the weather, Holyrood Park and Duddingston Loch are quite magical with quiet  parts where you can completely escape the city.
Duddingston Loch, Charles Lee, 1853

A century before, Robert Louis Stevenson enjoyed it in all the seasons too. He writes in the winter of 1874, of looking down on the frozen loch, at the skaters flitting around, under the light from the moon and lit torches.

Skaters, Duddingston Loch, Charles Lee, 1857

A fantasy in dull school lessons was to visit Duddingston Loch on a spring or autumn Saturday afternoon with a rubber dinghy and gently float around the loch, whilst listening to a football commentary on my miniature radio.             

Duddingston Loch

After the excitement of Edinburgh Castle, the Royal Mile and Arthur's Seat, the long road through Duddingston to Durham Road was the least enjoyable part of the journey, particularly because by then, we were hungry.

 Boo-Boo Hanlon, Duddingston Golf Course, 1971 the end in sight

Afternoon tea awaits for five hungry boys

We hadn't planned ahead or notified our grandparents, but we knew from old, that there was no trouble turning up announced on their doorstep. There was a warm welcome and a massive tea soon followed bacon and eggs and scones and buns were soon drummed up for us to enjoy.
Grandfather (Gaga), buying the Ford Zephyr, Hawick with the Author

After tea, we got a lift back home from Portobello to Oxgangs in our grandfather's large stylish Ford Zephyr car with its American styled tail fins. It easily accommodated three in the front and three in the back. I suppose we were cheeky in requesting a lift back by 6.30 pm, but Ali had to get home to see an Aunt and Uncle. Even after the day’s adventures, we still had the energy to play a game of singles and dodgy ball well into the evening.

Happy, timeless and seemingly endless days of friendship and companionship.

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