I love Edinburgh! I have a huge affection for the city for all sorts of reasons but not least because two of my children have attended university there.
Our fond association, however, goes back far beyond the university years to school lacrosse tours with children numbers 1 and 2 and a gang of like-minded parents who enjoyed watching their children play sport and then partied the night away in restaurants, bars and clubs - heady times!
Then number 1 spent four happy and party-fuelled years at Edinburgh University and we enjoyed visiting her and spending time in more bars, restaurants and clubs, going to Murrayfield to watch England and Scotland play the Calcutta Cup and introducing her small siblings to the sights and history of this mighty city. "Is that the blood stain from where Rizzio was stabbed 56 times in 1566 because Mary Queen of Scots' husband Lord Darnley was jealous?" - Definitely one of my favourite bits - even if the stain on the floor of Holyrood House is probably red ink.
When the second (number 4 child) chose Edinburgh as her destination university it was another special moment. Mother and daughter had travelled to the city and on the morning of her interview, we both hopped on a bus out to the ring road where Edinburgh Napier is situated. Having delivered her nervously to the door - both her and me - I crossed the road and headed back into the city on the same bus to while away the hours in the shops and galleries of Princes Street, Rose Street and George Street - all too familiar from previous trips. When eventually the grilling was over, number 4 arrived back on the bus where I met her on the pavement of Princes Street. "Don't talk to me about it!" she declared. "I just don't want to go anywhere else!" That day in March was warm and sunny with folks sitting in Princes Street Gardens, the city putting on a spring show for us. She, as we had before, was beguiled. The offer arrived, the grades were achieved and three more years have now passed and it's finally time to say goodbye.
There is, of course, no better time to see Edinburgh - and say goodbye - than at Festival time. And the Festival is very special to us too. We had taken the children there to see street theatre, enjoy the atmosphere and see the children's entertainment as youngsters. We'd enjoyed some wild and whacky plays and comedy and then, two years ago, the Fringe was the perfect springboard for a young actress in an original play by Jack Thorne - yes, he of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Number 1's lead role in The Solid Life of Sugar Water http://www.telegraph.co.uk/theatre/what-to-see/edinburgh-2015-the-solid-life-of-sugar-water-review/- no easy watch and about as emotionally exhausting as it comes - was one of the big hits of the Fringe 2015 and led to a UK tour with the play and ultimately a run at the National Theatre in London.
This year we chose the Fringe as our last hurrah in Edinburgh. Three shows (and an extra one squeezed in between the cracks) in one day. Drama: Eleanor's Story: An American Girl in Hitler's Germany https://edinburghfestival.list.co.uk/event/829802-eleanors-story-an-american-girl-in-hitlers-germany/- gritty, a brilliant monologue; musical: Thrones:https://edinburghfestival.list.co.uk/event/565124-thrones-the-musical/ an hour and a quarter of the entire plot of six series of Game of Thrones set to music in the most unlikely fashion - hilarious; Sarah Bennetto: Australian stand-up comedy in a scruffy basement which turned out to be interesting though not terribly funny; and finally, Andrew Maxwell http://www.andrewmaxwellcomedian.com, an Irish stand-up who made us laugh so much we wept. He was utterly brilliant - without reservation.
So that's it. There are no more children to visit as an excuse (though the rugby is always a very excellent reason for a visit) and I left the city with a very heavy heart - I think more than the child who actually lived there. But it will always be a special place to us. And as Arnie says, "I'll be back."