Arriving on the 30th December, first stop was a quick check in to Soph + Shand’s (a couple i had lived with in New Plymouth) place to ditch excess stuff before a quick catch up with the Youngs, Kevany and Hornstein for Al’s birthday. Then it was onto a train to Edinburgh to for New Year celebrations at the Hogmanay street festival in the streets lying in the shadow of Edinburgh castle. The world being the small place that it is, meant other Aussie mates from Med school conference days were also there, so with accommodation sorted with them about 3 doors from where JK Rowling wrote some books, exploration of the city and partaking in festivities began. Although I had seen quite of bit of the UK and Western Europe 15 years earlier on a family holiday, it was still great to see the castle, the underground sewer-like dwellings that people used to reside in, and the old time, most of it with street name familiarity from their namesakes, which were our old haunts in Dunedin. Not many keg parties happening on Leith Street though which was a shame. It wouldn’t be a visit to Europe without seeing some good museums so first on the list was the National Museum of Scotland and a great exhibit on David Livingstone adventures from his small village in Scotland to his eventual death not far from where I will be working in Zambia.
After my sojourn in Scotland, it was onto Oxford to catch up with Hillsy and see some of Oxford. Whilst Tom was at the lab during the day, I saw the fancy dining halls and colleges, with reference to the who’s who of world famous alumni from each college, all delivered by a chap who seems to have taken extra dashings of Oxford toff. A couple of warm english ales at pubs with roofs so low you have to stoop were in order once Tom finished up. Next day, it was on to London to get ready for going back to school.