Edinburgh Farmers Market – Jazz and Memories in the Shadow of Edinburgh Castle

NFMW2018_MGbannerIt’s National Farmers Market Week and I promised to share, so I’m unearthing more farmers market memories. Today, we’re in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Just last summer, I had this amazing experience in Edinburgh. Only a few weeks after my Dad died, I was on a European business trip which required a weekend stay-over, and the location happened to be Edinburgh. Lucky me. In a hotel that looked out to Edinburgh Castle. Double-lucky me!

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The hotel is in the center of town, in the shadow of Edinburgh Castle. That was the (zoomed-in) view from my hotel window. Wow.
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Photo of Mary King’s Close from the Guardian by Murdo MacLeod

My colleagues and I did touristy things together on Saturday morning, including a macabre underground ghost tour that taught us all about how the Scots of way back handled the plague, and then we split up, some of them headed out to castles in the distance, some of them shopping, and me – just wandering around and thinking about Dad.

Getting back to the hotel and in desperate need of a nap, I was amazed to learn that the city’s month-long music festival had taken up residence right outside my hotel, the street blocked off at both ends to hold three stages and various food and drink vendors.

Score! I shucked off my inclination for a nap like a new year’s resolution on Jan. 3 and flung myself headlong into the crowd.

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Have you ever heard live jazz, in Scotland, in the shadow of a castle? I hadn’t … wow, what an in-the-moment experience.

Festival in the Shadow of Edinburgh CastleIt was the end of the performances for the day, sadly. The first – and last – tune I heard was, unbelievably, When the Saints Go Marching In.

Here’s a little bit of video of that performance.

Oh. My. Gosh.

The connectedness. The synchronicity. The serendipity. The simple, awesome experience of enjoying delightful live music with an appreciative crowd.

Saints is a tune that is important in my family. My Mom always loved the New Orleans tradition of the second line parade after funerals, that lively and joyful conclusion after the pre-funeral dirges. We made sure it happened just that way after her funeral; I will always be grateful to my friend / ex-husband for bringing his whole jazz band and playing their hearts out in her memory. Joy in sorrow, joy in sorrow.

Before this Scotland trip, I had been at the New Orleans Jazz Fest, when Dad was still alive. I had happily heard When the Saints Go Marching In about 10 times over a long weekend, including once by the legendary Herb Alpert. OMG, he is awesome! Dad and I texted each other during the Herb Alpert performance at Jazz Fest, when the Grill-Meister and I were awestruck at how vibrant he was at 80-something; Dad said, ‘your mother and I saw him ’round about 1965. Good times.” (Another story for another day.)

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Herb Alpert and his wife Lani Hall brought the house down at the NOLA Jazz Fest

Just three weeks prior to the Edinburgh trip, the venerable Saints tune was the joyful conclusion at my Dad’s funeral, just like it had been at my Mom’s 17 years earlier. Just like it will be at mine when it’s my time to go. I’m partial to that song, you might say.  🎶🎶🎶🎶 “O Lord I want to be in that number, when the saints go marching in.”

So, to be in Scotland on a business trip and just stumble into a live performance of Saints was almost too much.

The connectedness. The synchronicity. The serendipity.

I felt Dad’s presence on a grand scale, and my heart grew too big for my body, just like the Grinch’s when he saw that Whoville would still have Christmas without presents and food. It was a transcendent experience.

Back to the the Farmers Market

I haven’t forgotten, truly I haven’t – this post is supposed to be about the Edinburgh farmers market. My journey there tonight took place via music and reminiscence.

As I said, I hit the ground at the music festival at the tail end of the performances. Sigh. I jammed and jazzed to Saints, but then, sadly, the musicians began to break down their gigs and pack up. I was just getting started!  I noticed that there was a farmers market on the other end of the street … hmmm. Curses, is it about to close, too?!!? But no, the stalwart vendors didn’t ‘up and leave’ when the music was over; they were on their regular Saturday market schedule.

And what a lovely market it was. It had everything: produce, cheese, a bridal couple (he wore a kilt), dogs galore, arepas, paella, olives, breads, leather goods…a plethora of products to peruse while people-watching.

I’ll be in Edinburgh again soon, and will likely fall more deeply in love with it. Watch this space!

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