The Lockdown Diaries | Edinburgh in the Springtime
Last Friday afternoon, Terry and I headed into Edinburgh for a stroll in the spring sunshine, while Max was at nursery. It was three days before restaurants and shops were allowed to open up again as part of the easing of our current lockdown restrictions, and a full six months since our last trip to the city, in September 2020.
Back then, even though we were still a few months away from a vaccine, everything was open, and there were no restrictions on international travel, which meant that, although Edinburgh wasn’t as crowded as it would normally have been at that time of year, it was still fairly busy: enough so that, if I hadn’t known differently, I might not even have realised we were in the middle of a pandemic.
This time, however, there was absolutely no mistaking the fact that Something was most definitely UP. Princes Street was eerily quiet. Rose Street was totally deserted. The adverts on the phone box outside Waverly Station were still advertising Christmas food. We even got a parking space on George Street right away, without the usual driving around in circles, with Terry becoming more and more irate with every turn of the wheel. (We DID still pay £15 for it, though: some things never change, pandemic or not…)
The cherry blossoms, though, were AMAZING:
I know it seems strange to say this over a year into the pandemic, but I think this little outing, more than anything else, really brought home to me how much the world has changed in the last year. Because Terry spent the first three months shielding, and continued to be super-cautious after that, we completely missed what I assume must have been the most surreal parts of all of this: the days when the world really did seem to stand still, and everything felt different. By the time we started to venture out again, last summer, we stuck mostly to quieter areas: the woodland walks, ruined castles, and other places that didn’t honestly feel TOO different from how they’d been the previous year, because they were the kind of places that never get particularly crowded anyway.
Edinburgh, though, was different. In fact, in an entire lifetime’s worth of visiting the city in all seasons, and at all hours (Plus three years of living there), I don’t think I’ve ever seen it so quiet: and I somehow don’t think I ever will again. Or, at least, I hope not, anyway, because we might’ve got some cool photos, but it wasn’t really worth going through a PANDEMIC for, you know? And, as much as I appreciated the rare privilege of getting to see some of those famous landmarks without the usual crowds, I really can’t wait to be able to go back when the streets are filled with people and noise, and you can’t walk more than a few steps without falling over someone else who’s trying to snap the same cherry blossom trees as you.
I can’t wait for things to be normal again, in other words, and I’m hopeful that we won’t have to wait too much longer before we get at least some semblance of that back. This weekend, I get my second dose of the vaccine; my parents and Terry have already had theirs, and this week Scotland took another step out of lockdown, as restaurants and non-essential retail opened up again. Terry and Max have both had haircuts. I’ve booked an appointment to get my eyebrows done. Best of all, the cherry blossom is in full bloom, AND we’re allowed out to see it. All of which combines to make this April at least 98% better than LAST April. Now, roll on May…