Ack! We were late!!! :o Apparently they open the gates at 8pm but we arrived about 8:30pm! But hey, apart from throngs of people getting along Princes Street to Calton Hill everything was fine. :)
Quite a crowd ... multinational, lots of French there, also a couple of Germans. ;) We walked up the way, didn't have anything in our bags that the security people would have to confiscate. So got up the steps, around the hill and were nearly at the place behind the observatory when Markus said he wasn't feeling so well. He doesn't seem to respond well to salads (gosh, I don't think I could survive that!! LOVE my salads!!!). So we went searching for the toilets.
Found them, couldn't see any apparent queue for it so Markus went in the next free one. That's when I realised that there was a HUGE queue for them!!!! OOOPS!! But who's so stupid to put up 6 Dixies for 12000 people????? I am sure that's not within the guidelines for such events (and will have to feed back to the organisers provided I remember!). Seeing the queue I decided NOT to go to the loo and try to hold it in until we get home. I had a look at the brochures they had on a table (and I thought the queue was for that) and nearly had a giggle there ... Beltane being a pagan festival, and all the brochures were for CHRISTIANITY!!!! LOL! Now who's trying to get the black sheep back to the congregation???? ;) Shame there weren't any brochures about paganism/druidism etc, THAT would have been very interesting for me.
Fortunately, Markus was feeling better when he returned to me, so we searched for a nice spot in front of the "Acropolis" where the whole shebang seemed to start (as per the map the procession would start there).
It took another 45 mins until it was dark enough for them to light the first fires - around 3 symbols (photos in the slideshow). Too many people around, lots of French shouting (I am not having a go at the French, one of my friends is French, but it was predominant!! ;) ) and a bit confusion as to what is going on.
Then the procession started - the May Queen with her white women and the blue men. Calton Hill is not the best place to stage things like that because of its dips and rises, so I missed about 75% of the procession, the 4 different elements (and the invocations at each of them). Shame really... :( So when we found the bonfire place, I decided to stay there so I could at least see something!!!
Markus, being the height he is, was looking around, watching bits and bobs and feeding back the things I couldn't see (the whole attack of the red men etc.). Wonder if I should try it again next year or so, but not sure if I should bother again with that amount of people (and 50% of them not even interested in the whole background!!!).
But I saw at least something!!! The lighting of the bonfire by the May Queen and her companion, the Green Man (previously the Horned One). That was very interesting, seeing the Blue Men, Red Men (and women) and the White Women. And seeing some of the Red "Men" (women) I could see WHY some people were up here ... they were wearing a G-String and nothing else!!! *gasp* I was freezing wearing my jacket and jumper!!! How did they manage???? But yes, lots of bare chested women! ;)
The bonfire was HUGE ... and lots of sparks going everywhere as the Scottish Weather was hitting again (windy, foggy .. just eerie!). Was a little scary, but we survived ok, just a few bits of ash on our bags and jackets, but no holes and no singed hair. :)
After the lighting of the bonfire there was lots of dancing (red men & white women with the blue men somewhere as well) and the red men (and women) did acrobatics as well - pyramids etc. Quite impressive, and I could actually SEE something! :)
We left Calton Hill around 1am and went to get a 26 bus home ... first time in a long time I'd taken the night bus home, and paying £1.50/£2.50 respectively was not nice ... Glad that I took more money with me - Doug said it would be only £1 for me with my bus pass.
All in all a very interesting day and night. I think I'd do it again, but could do with less people there (just remove all the ogling men/women and drunkards who are just after a drinking session!!!). We'll see.
Little interesting thing ... I am going to start my stimms soon - Sharon said it's a good sign starting injections so quickly after Beltane, which is after all a fertility thing!! :D