Princes Street is the main shopping street in Edinburgh. In the forefront you can see Princes Street Gardens and in the background, right up the hill overlooking the city, is Edinburgh Castle.
There was a program about Edinburgh on TV and it set me thinking back to the times I was there.
It's funny how sometimes, a photo, or a piece of music, a smell even, can take your mind back to times gone by, to your childhood even, and the memories come flooding by.
I was in the garden telling our tortoise about my childhood the other day. It sat there listening, or sleeping. I don't know which.
I had a happy childhood. We were not very rich. You know, we did well though. Do you remember hand-me-downs? Did you have that when you were young? Parents would pass on good clothing from their elder children to the younger ones. The old child would have grown out of the clothing and instead of giving them to charity you would pass them to a younger child.
I hated going to school in a dress. Worse still, having the name Helen embroidered on my blouses.
To stop being bullied I learnt self-defence. A cousin taught me karate. I got very good at breaking a brick by hitting it with my hand. You had to concentrate, shout "Hiiaaah!!!" and hit the brick hard with your hand in a chopping motion.
One day on my way home from school the bully attacked me. He beat me up and did not give me a chance to use my karate skills. As I lay there on the ground bleeding from cuts in my face, I saw a brick. There was the opportunity to get my own back on the bully. He'd never expect that. I got up. Shouted "Hiiaaah!" and broke the brick in two.
I persevered with my karate lessons. Also, in the evenings I went to wood-working class. I wanted to be a carpenter.
I became very very good at karate. I was confident of being able to defend myself. One day on my way home I met the same bully. Now was my chance to really defeat him. I offered to build him some shelves. We became friends after that.
I also remembered, and told the tortoise, about my interest in magic as a child. I wanted to be a magician. A neighbour of ours was a part-time magician. He came to our house and taught me tricks. He tried to teach me how to make a rabbit appear out of a hat. We didn't have a rabbit, so he used one of the newly-born kittens instead. Unfortunately, he was allergic to cats and his hands swelled up. That was a trick in itself!
Days later, when he healed, he came back to teach me the same trick. He did not use any of the kittens.
Have you ever tried to get an Alsatian out of a hat? Our dog bit him!
He tried a ventriloquist act with a parrot on his shoulder. He would talk and the parrot would respond; not for real - ventriloquist like!
Unfortunately, the parrot bit his ear and would not let go!
I gave up learning magic. And karate. And wood-work.
But it was a very happy childhood. Great memories.
Which brings me back to Edinburgh. You often see bagpipers playing various Scottish tunes on Princes Street. They wear their full costume with kilt and so on and they play the bagpipes. People put money in a box by their feet.
I was in a hotel on Princes Street. Very expensive! I was really tired from the night before and wanted to just lay in bed. It was ten in the morning and the bagpiper in the street below started playing. Great as the sound of bagpipes is, you don't always welcome it. I tried to cover my head with the pillow. I could still hear him.
In sheer desperation, I got up, got dressed and went down to confront him.
"Tell me my good man," I said, "how much roughly do you make in an hour playing here?"
"On a good day," he replied, "about £15!"
"Here's £30. Can you now shut up and let me sleep?" I said.