It’s been quite a summer. As the curate of Punch’s 1895 cartoon said of the stale egg he had been served by the bishop, parts of it have been excellent.
During the last few weeks, there have been days which have been among the nicest I’ve ever known in Scotland. But when it hasn’t been excellent, the rain has been apocalyptic.
At the end of June I travelled down to London to watch the Red Sox play the Yankees. I was excited about this. It would be the first time Major League Baseball had played a proper game (ie not an exhibition game – one that mattered) in Europe. Two games were scheduled – on Saturday and Sunday.
I watched Saturday’s game on a giant screen in a sun-soaked beer garden in East London. The Yankees were in front most of the game, and despite an 8th inning rally from the Sox, New York prevailed.
Sunday, nephew Sebastian in tow, we made our way to the stadium – London Stadium, which had been converted to a baseball field for the occasion. The sun shone again.
I disappeared to get a couple of Cokes for Sebastian and myself, and came back £9 lighter.
Our neighbours in Row 37 were Violet and Joe, and their son Eddie, all the way from Boston. Eddie had trained as a vet at Edinburgh University.
Sebastian, meanwhile, was hungry. I got him a burger, averting my eyes and handing over my debit card, wincing slightly.
We returned to the game. The Sox were winning. Sebastian was still hungry. He seemed to be treating London Stadium as a huge open-air restaurant with some baseball happening as in-meal entertainment. I fed him some of my chips.
The Yankees had a massive 7th inning, and from then on the Sox were always chasing the game.
Sebastian, meanwhile, was still hungry, so we got doughnuts. Six of them, just in case.
The Red Sox lost again, despite threatening with another 8th inning rally. The game over, I bid goodbye to my new Boston friends, and promised to say hi to Edinburgh for Eddie.
It’s been a curate’s egg of a summer for the Red Sox too. There have been flashes of last season’s excellence, but no consistency. Following the inaugural London Series their record against the Yankees reads won 1, lost 6.
It’s now late July. It’s another sodden Saturday in Edinburgh, and I’m back in the Hideout. Cricket has been rained off again (third Saturday in a row). Boris has just been made Prime Minister. The country is unsure of what lies ahead, as it always is, but probably more so now than ever.
Tuesday this week, it was swelteringly hot. SCORCHIO! As the red-tops used to scream on days like this. Perhaps they still do.
I spent the morning paddling in the shallows at the beach, before meeting a friend in town. We lunched in the sunshine on Victoria Terrace. The Terrace overlooks Victoria Street, which was reputedly the inspiration for JK Rowling’s Diagon Alley. There is meagre evidence for this beyond Victoria St’s proximity to the Elephant House – the self-proclaimed ‘home of Harry Potter’ – but the tour parties come by, one by one, complete with excitable HP superfan tour guide.
It is, however, a pretty magical street, Victoria Street.
I had the Eggs Benedict, which was excellent. I managed to spill a quantity of hollandaise sauce down the front of my t-shirt, ensuring I (and everyone I met) had a visual reminder of the excellence of my lunch for the rest of the day, which was pleasing.
In the still-warm early evening, Ickle Bef and I sat on a rock in Holyrood Park, looking out over Holyrood Palace, the National Monument and a forest of giant cranes putting together the new St James Centre. We discussed our camping plans for Openskies, so that – this year – there wouldn’t be any unnecessary duplication of the important provisions. Not that Ickle actually brought any pine nuts last year, to my memory.
On Wednesday, apart from Boris becoming PM, the other main news was that the milk Ryan and Katie kindly bought for me to use while I was in Tennessee – in early May – went past its sell-by date. These dates are always conservative, as we know, so there’s a chance it may still be usable.
Thursday night the Red Sox finally got to play the Yankees again for the first time since London, and the first time at Fenway Park this season.
They thumped them 19-3. They thumped them again last night. The summer is looking up…