One of the greatest places to see in the New Year is Edinburgh in Scotland. Each year the city hosts a giant street party attended by over 148,000 revellers from across the globe. Just before we began our worldwide adventures in February 2014, we were lucky enough to be able to experience the Hogmanay celebrations in Edinburgh.
We were excited when some friends invited us to stay with them for New Year in Edinburgh. We had both been slogging our guts out in retail jobs over the Christmas period. Shop work is a thankless task at the best of times but during December every crazy, stinky, foul mouthed, bad mannered cretin crawls out of the woodwork to cause havoc in the world of retail. After dealing with the Christmas idiots for what seemed like a life time, we couldn’t wait to let off some steam and enjoy ourselves at Hogmanay. As soon as work finished on New Years Eve, we jumped in the car and began our journey north.
It is roughly a four hour drive from Liverpool to Edinburgh, as usual we decided to split the drive between us. We always do this and no matter how we plan it, Emily always ends up with the short end of the stick. Sian began the drive and it was an easy run straight up the M6 with little traffic and some light rain. We stopped half way for a coffee and congratulated ourselves on the good time we were making. Emily took over and true to form, thick fog began to surround the car. Soon the motorway gave way to what should have been an A road but was more like a cart track. Emily battled on through poor visibility along the narrow twisting road until we eventually joined a long queue of traffic heading into the city. Six hours after leaving Liverpool, we finally arrived at our friends house in Edinburgh and were immediately handed a jagerbomb and a glass of mulled wine.
It’s a funny thing, catching up with old friends. It never seems to matter how much time has passed, how old you now are or what high powered job you now have, as soon as you meet, you immediately revert back to person you once were. These particular old friends were team mates from Sian’s rugby playing days at university. Needless to say as soon as we crossed the threshold, we were all quickly transformed into nineteen year old, loud mouthed, banter-saurus-rexes who would do anything for a pound. After a quick catch up, the festivities kicked off with several alcoholic beverages, raucous singing and some ridiculous drinking games, which resulted in someone drinking from their own shoe. We drunkenly pre-mixed bottles of rum and coke for the evening, before filling our backpacks with cans of cider and beer and heading into the city.
By the time we arrived at the biggest street party in the northern hemisphere we were all very inebriated. So obviously we decided to continue drinking the alcohol we had brought with us, it was a fool proof plan. As is often the case north of the border, there were many men wandering around the street party wearing kilts. In a moment of alcohol induced clarity, one of our friends decided it was her duty to check if they were true Scotsmen or not. This uncomplicated task was carried out by simply reaching up the underside of each man’s kilt to check if they were wearing any underwear or not. Of course the game quickly morphed into light hearted sexual assault as any underpants that were found then had to be removed by force. At some point we named the game Kilt or Quilt, with true Scotsmen being proclaimed Kilts and those with undergarments being Quilts. The Kilts were given hero status whilst the Quilts were ridiculed and unceremoniously stripped of their protection. This seemed hilarious at the time, but in hindsight it was pretty terrible behaviour. If you happened to be in the Edinburgh Hogmanay street party during the 2013-14 celebrations and encountered us, we sincerely apologise.
We counted down to the New Year and watched the firework display in the midst of a huge crowd at the street party. We sang and danced and shared our bottled rum with people from all over the world. Someone decided we should hit a club afterwards, someone else decided to vomit all over the street. We finished the night sobering up in two hour long queue at a taxi rank before crawling into bed.
The following morning we were up early for the real reason we had actually come to Edinburgh. Each year on New Years day, hundreds of lunatics throw themselves into the freezing cold waters of the River Forth in the annual Loony Dook. People dress in all kinds of crazy outfits and raise money for various charities and good causes by braving the icy Scottish waters. Three of our friends had decided that they would like to join the ranks of crazy people and throw themselves into the sea. They chose to raise money for Marie Curie and take part in the event in memory of Sian’s mum who lost her battle with cancer in 2013. So on New Years day 2014, we watched three very hungover ladies run into the sea and raise over £300 for Marie Curie. Then we watched one of them throw up.
During our trip we spent a little time wandering the streets of the historic city of Edinburgh. It’s a real pleasure to roam around with beautiful buildings and shops selling shortbread and tartan on every corner. Iconic Edinburgh castle offers amazing views across the city and the streets surrounding it are full of old world charm. We also visited Eteaket, a fabulous tea room offering all sorts of tea varieties and superb servings of afternoon tea. We hope to visit Edinburgh again sometime in the future, possibly with a little less alcohol involved. The Hogmanay celebrations are a fabulous thing to be a part of and we recommend attending them. Just don’t get involved in a game of Kilt or Quilt, you will live to regret it.