After three consecutive days of painfully early starts and hours of lectures, I finally ventured out into the city with my three muskevets (pictured below) to do boring adminny stuff. Surprisingly enough, we walked the whole way from our halls to Prince’s Street without a bus. Stepping out onto North Bridge revealed the most wonderful view of the city stretching out to the hills. And my suggestion? “There’s the Scott Monument! We should climb it – all the way to the top!”
This was met with enthusiasm by my compadres, and we marched off to confront the great monument of stone. As we approached, the monument got bigger and bigger (obviously, but I’d forgotten just how big).
But there was no stopping us now. £4 later and we were through the turnstiles and climbing an infinite spiral of steep, narrow stairs hugged by dark stone walls. Metres up, vertical arrowslit windows appeared in the walls. Stupidly, I looked out of one at the street below, “Argh! No! We’re so high, it’s too high!”
But we pressed on as I stared determinedly at the steps and not out the gaps. Soon we arrived at the first level, stepping out onto wide balconies that offered panoramic views across the city. After skirting round the perimeter against the wall, I retreated into the next staircase.
More stairs, and we reached level two. The balconies were narrow, and the drop was mind bending. “Are we at the top yet?” someone said. I looked up, and was met by a dizzying tower that we
had yet to climb… “Nope.”
Having had enough of teetering on the balconies, we continued up the next set of steps. Suddenly, the walls opened out and all that stood between me and the death zone was a metal mesh. “No. No, this is stupid, whose idea was this!?” I was shouting. By this point I was climbing with both hands mashed against the walls, and looking at my feet only gave me a view of the drop inches from them. It was at this point that my loving friend pretended to push me out of the window, and I really don’t know how I kept bowel control. Daylight appeared again at the top of the steps, and I knew I would have to square up to an even bigger height.
Level three was just ridiculous. One tiny balcony that sent my stomach into my socks. Yes, the view was breathtaking, but I looked at it with my back pressed against the walls, literally breathless.
And yet there was more. I wasn’t sure I could actually do this, but my comrades were doing it too, so off we went. Feeling secure in the solid dark stairway was a relief, but it was soon ripped away as giant arrowslit windows sprang up at my feet. At this point I actually stopped on the stairs and said, “No, I’m not happy with this. My foot could go down there, and then my leg, and then the rest of me. Can you see that!? The window is at floor level, my foot could go down there!”
After breathing deeply for a few seconds, I pressed on and emerged from the doorway and onto the top level.
Oh. My. Giddy. Aunt. The balcony was so narrow that to be on it was to have my face pressed out against the railings of the walls so that I was forced to look straight down into the city of tiny people. Almost simultaneously, my friend and I dropped to our haunches behind the low wall.
Ultimately, I mustered the courage to stand up again and enjoy the view for a bit before getting the heck back down those stairs. Do you know how high it is up there? No? I’ll tell you.
It’s two hundred feet. Yeah, two hundred feet and six inches, as in a third taller than the green person on the statue of liberty. Level two was such a relief after that, and the opportunity for a selfie was too much to resist, so I present to you… the four muskevets:
Did I mention that I’m not a big fan of heights?
I am, however, a big fan of animals, and I got my fix with the Veterinary Zoological Society, who organised a trip to Edinburgh Zoo for those vet students wishing to come along. Unfortunately, the special lecture they had organised left the three of us sitting cross-eyed at the back, fighting off sleep for the entire hour in the warm, dimly lit room.
My education was also furthered that day upon learning (the hard way) that Scotland doesn’t sell alcohol after 10pm in the shops. Not that this seemed to do any good for those we passed in the gutters on the way home. So, to the pub it was.
Wise to this local quirk, we bought in advance on Friday night, and attempted a simultaneous game of cider-swigging and ping-pong-playing. Not surprisingly, but to my surprise (and hilarity) at the time, my body refused to do things as quickly as I asked it to, and yet I reigned over the ping-pong-playoffs… that was until two very handsome Italians challenged me and their superior sober reflexes then defeated me.
It’s been all fun and games, but the real stuff begins on Monday, and ‘bright and early’ would be too polite a phrase for it.
See you there!