Yes...I Am DAFT Enough For The Mad Dooking In The Firth Of Forth!
South Queensferry Travel Blog› entry 36 of 49 › view all entries
January 1st, 2008 – by: TRE69
New Year's Day morning's dim gray light filtered through our room window and I found myself fully amped up for the Loony Dook event. My Loony Dook outfit consisted of a swimsuit, kitschy plastic Hawaiian-esque lei, no name brand blue water booties (the one's Mar had left in LA after our failed attempt to go river rafting during our cross country road trip in 2006).
Apparently some of the Couchsurfers we met in the wee hours of this morning were going to the Loony Dook as well. Tabi was so on point for the Hogmanay festivities that she posted a meeting place and time on the Couchsurfing message boards to inform all the Couchsurfers heading to South Queensferry from Edinburgh.
The boys were still sound asleep when Mar and I left the warm comfort of the hostel and into the brisk cold of the city. The bus stop was roughly a mile away from our hostel so it didn't take long for us to get there. We waited about under the cover of the bus stop awning. A few minutes later, we see a large group of people headed in our direction...some colorfully fancy dressed. Their leader was a red head dressed as Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz...it was Tabi and the Couchsurfers! We huddled close together at the bus stop to keep warm with all our body heat.
When the bus arrived at the stop, we all piled on...it seemed as if the entire passenger list were Couchsurfers but I am sure there were others on board as this was the only scheduled bus leaving Edinburgh for South Queensferry today. The bus ride to South Queensferry took about 15 minutes and dropped us off near the police station on Hopetoun Road. The bus stop was a short walk away to the 22nd Loony Dook grand parade meeting place... The Moorings Pub at 24-26 Hopetoun Road, South Queensferry.
The Moorings Pub was packed to the gills with people...young and old, local or visitor, sober or drunk, fancy dressed or not...we all had to be just a tad bit loony, mad, brave, and daft to take a refreshing dook (swim or dunk) in the frigid Forth.
The Loony Dook parade was to start at 11am so the entire Couchsurfing group loitered about the Moorings parking lot anxiously waiting for the antics to begin. Every minute of waiting, I was getting more and more cold. Even huddling close together with the other Couchsurfers did little to warm me up. But others around were seemingly more frozen than me because they were far less dressed in their thong bikinis and nuthuggers.
As soon as the bagpiper started playing the crowd was in a roar of excitement because we all knew that the grand parade was just about to begin. Masses of loony, mad, brave, drunk, and daft people followed the sound of the bagpipes through South Queensferry's High Street as if the bagpipe musician was the Pied Piper. In addition to the Loony Dook participants, the parade route was was lined with loads of fully clothed spectators cheering us on to our inevitable fates.
The final leg of the parade route was down a stone stairway. Looking down from atop stairway was an amazing sight...so many people were gathered here to welcome in the New Year with this crazy local tradition and I was in the thick of it all...it was great! The stone staircase led us down to the shoreline which was rocky and very uneven.
Once together, and with a flurry, we made a mad dash to the River Forth trying not to trip over each others feet or the many jagged rocks on the shoreline. The other Couchsurfers ran with reckless abandon into the frigid waters. I sort of eased my way into the water. The Forth was instantaneously numbing my lower extremities. Mar took her boots off at the very edge, stepped into the water, and quickly stepped back as she didn't want to wade into the rocky riverbed without foot protection. We were forewarned that the rocks are jagged and that there may be broken glass. I gave my Scottish flag towel to Mar so she can keep it dry.
I waded further out into the Forth joining the very loony and very daft Couchsurfing crew of which some were already at it with a water splashing fight.
Out of the water, we reveled in the fact that we just participated in the Loony Dook. Talk about when in Rome do as the Romans do...right?!? I laughed at the comical fancy dress of other Loony Dookers...a mermaid, an ape, a tiger in pink Speedos, several girls dressed as Playboy bunnies, a bikini-clad Santa, and a trio of elderly men dressed as babies with soggy diapers and pacifiers!
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We all were thoroughly chilled to the bone so we hightailed it back to The Moorings Pub. Another Loony Dook tradition is to partake in the hot soup and hot toddy provided by the pub owners. The soup, though merely broth, was a much needed treat. The hot toddy, apple cider spiked with most likely whisky and flavored with spices, was way too strong so I sipped it very very slowly. Me and the rest of the Couchsurfing crew warmed up in the back room of the pub. Since my clothes were made of quick dry materials, I was pretty much dry before I even finished my hot toddy!
One of the other Couchsurfers probably had too much fun at Hogmanay last night because she had forgotten to pack a dry change of clothes. I offered up my dry pant legs so her lower extremities wouldn't freeze.
We continued to rest up in the pub while we waited for the return bus to Edinburgh. We were all engrossed in conversation when I do not recall who but someone had offered up snack bags of crisps, that's potato chips, to the entire Couchsurfing crew. It is purely amazing the act of sharing...it truly warms the soul! While the rowdy bunch of us were enjoying our crisps, the Scottish Pied Piper entered the back room of the pub and played us several tunes on the bagpipe...the music was wonderful but boy those pipes were LOUD!!!
To be on the safe side, the Couchsurfing Crew headed to the bus stop early and we waited around for the 1348 bus.
As Mar and I disembarked the bus, we quickly bid our newfound Couchsurfing friends goodbye and I got my pant legs back. We trudged back to our hostel in a light drizzle. After a nice long hot shower I fell into deep sleep and it was only like 2 or 3 in the afternoon! Too tired and cold to head back onto the streets of Edinburgh, Mar and I chilled at the hostel and watched a movie on their huge flat screen. Besides, we had to get ourselves travel-ready for tomorrow's flight to Dublin, Ireland!
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