Sunday, April 28, 2013

High Adventure in Edinburgh!

CN Homeboy is a great guy, but he gives lousy advice.

Back in January, I was planning to make a quick run down to Edinburgh to visit an "army navy store" - what we Yanks would call a surplus store - to buy a service sweater - or, as my Marine colleagues would call it, a "wooly pully". It's one of a handful of uniform items the Americans and Brits have in common, and they're fantastic. They're lightweight, warm, durable, go great with a pair of Carhartts, and can be worn under a light or heavy jacket. I had decided that, given my relative lack of intermediate warm clothing, I ought to get a service sweater.

I mentioned this to several of my classmates, and CN Homeboy informed me that instead of going all the way down to Edinburgh, I could go to McKay's in Aberdeen and save myself the trip. Unfortunately, McKay's didn't have a green or black service sweater - they only had light grey. I ended up getting one, but in all honesty, the thing's way too light in color, doesn't match any of my existing kit, and never gets worn. This was the third-worst advice that CN Homeboy has ever provided, following:

Second worst: "This cab stand's got a shorter queue than the one down the other way, and it's only a two minute walk." In fact, the queue was just as long, and it was at least a ten minute walk, uphill, at 2:00 AM.

Worst: "Scotland should secede." I've discussed this one at length.

Anyway, in need of at least one more sweater ("jumper") to give me some options as the weather gets warmer, I decided a couple of weeks ago that the time had come to visit Leith Army Stores/LAS Outdoors on Leith Walk in Edinburgh. On a Friday, on a whim, I decided that I had nothing I needed to accomplish, and gave them a ring to make sure they had them in stock, then had them put one on hold for me. I caught the bus down to the Aberdeen city center, got the noon train to Edinburgh, and was on my way. Once I arrived, I walked downhill, and eventually found the shop. I browsed a bit, then paid for my service sweater and was on my way back up the hill. I enjoyed lunch at the KFC in the Princes Mall in Edinburgh, mainly on account of the Pepsi that came with my meal - for some reason, I've been jonesin' for some Pepsi for a while now - and then decided to kill some time with a couple of drams in the Balmoral Bar, where I'd enjoyed some fine spirits when Gus visited last year. As I drank, I read from Imperial Grunts on my Kindle.

Edinburgh had one more afternoon surprise in store. I decided to use the loo - thirty pence, highway robbery! - before getting on the train to head back to Aberdeen. As I was washing my hands, I saw a guy walk in dressed as Waldo. I figured it was some promotion for a shop or something. When I walked back out into the main concourse, I saw four guys standing together, all of them dressed as Waldo. Then, in the distance, I saw a giant gaggle of them. So, I approached the small group, and asked: "Okay, I'll bite. Why are you guys all dressed up like Waldo?" One of them looked furious, then calmed down and explained that in the United Kingdom, "Waldo" is "Wally". Of course, I had to get my picture taken with these guys, who were getting ready to board a train from Waverley to Haymarket - Edinburgh's other station - for the beginning of a stag weekend (bachelor party in the American vernacular). Unfortunately, a couple of them - including the enthusiastic chap in the glasses who's standing right next to me in the picture - actually missed their stop, and had to stay on the train until the next stop, which was nearly an hour later.

With my high adventures in Edinburgh (which is normally about the most boring city in Scotland) complete for the day, I was glad to get back to Aberdeen. In CN Homeboy's defense, if he'd kept his mouth shut in the first place, I might never have gotten my picture taken with twenty guys dressed up like Waldo/Wally.

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