I had booked in to see my friends Charlotte and Michael Wemyss in Fife having dropped Nick at the airport and had a quick trip in to Edinburgh. “I thought I would go in on the new tram,” I said to Charlotte on the telephone. She tutted, “That tram's a ridiculous thing!” “Why?” I asked. “Because it isn't necessary and it went £43m over budget,” she said.
|Charlotte in her garden|
I left Baa at the park & ride and set off for Princes Street with my £3 return ticket. It took half an hour to get to Princes Street. I went up to the Castle, walked on the Royal Mile and The Mound and dropped in to the excellent Scottish National Gallery on the way back down. Then I went into House of Fraser to buy a necessary cosmetic. “Is there a tram stop near here?...” I asked, and the assistant took a sharp intake of breath... I went on,“It's a bit controversial, this new tram, isn't it?” “Well.... it's a ridiculous thing,” she said. “We didn't need it, we have the best bus system of any city, and it went £43m over budget!” Ah!
The tram may be unnecessary, and have proved to be a terrible drain on the tax-payers' purse, but I have to say it is also very comfortable and efficient. I then found myself in nose to tail traffic heading for the Forth Road Bridge.
Charlotte and Michael live on the north side of the Firth of Forth, looking south to the Bass Rock with all the gannets. Nick and I had almost passed their house on our way towards Edinburgh the day before. It is such a great part of this trip that I can catch up with old friends who I hardly ever see - and I really loved seeing them!
After we had thrown all my clothes and bed linen into her washing machine Charlotte said “Come and have a look at the garden.” I knew she was a brilliant gardener, and I knew that over the last 20 years she has transformed a huge walled garden into something very special. But I was completely bowled over! She has got, unofficially, a national collection of Montana Clematis - and many other sorts which climb up walls, and through the trees behind the most wonderful borders. They are best from the middle of May and June and I commend anyone to see them. The whole garden is an inspiration. It is open by appointment – see the website – but is closed at weekends.