Thursday, 26 April 2012

Edinburgh Trip: Day Two (of Two [and a half])

The weather forecast for Thursday was rain, all day. So I made my plans accordingly. Luckily when I first headed out of the hotel to the Starbucks on the Royal Mile it wasn't raining. I enjoyed a relaxing coffee with a magazine and a few pages of my book, before walking up towards the Castle and taking a turn off to the left to find Victoria Street. There are some lovely shops all along this street, which leads down to Grassmarket. One-off shops, boutiques, galleries, etc. All very lovely to look at. I love how they're all painted different, bright colours too.

The view looking down onto the street.

At street level, looking down the hill

At street level, looking back up the hill

 After a fun time browsing, but not buying, I headed back up Victoria Street and over the George IV Bridge to Chamber St and The National Museum of Scotland. 

Here's an absolutely dreadful photo of the outside of the museum.
My main reason for heading here was to see the Fascinating Mummies exhibition. But first, I had a little look round some other parts of the museum. I picked up a map/guide and decided to concentrate on just a few of what the Museum considered to be its "highlights". First stop - the iconic Lewis chessmen, found on the island of Lewis in 1831. Eleven of the 93 pieces found are here in Edinburgh while the others are in the British Museum in London.
 And how they made me chuckle; just look at these two (the King and Queen pieces, I believe), talk about fed up!
 Then it was on to the Connect gallery to meet...
Dolly the Sheep! The first cloned mammal ever to be created from an adult cell. You can just about see some authentic-looking sheep poo in amongst that straw. No idea if it's real/cloned.
 Through then into the Grand Gallery - what a fabulous bit of architecture with it's high windows and steel columns. So bright and airy. Definitely my favourite part of the Museum.
 This is a dioptic lighthouse lens, designed by David Stephenson in 1889.

 In the centre you can just about see a cast iron drinking fountain (see the domed item?) from the 1880s.
 And here's a lovely Buddha from Japan.
 I spent about an hour enjoying the Egyptian exhibition, but no photos were allowed, so I'm just going to have to leave it to your imagination; although I will tell you that my favourite bit was the description of how mummies had their organs removed (including hooking out the brain through the nose...)

After all that culture, it was time for a little shopping, so I caught the bus down to Ocean Terminal in Leith. No photos from here as it's just a bog-standard shopping centre; I know, it doesn't sound like the most exciting thing to do in Edinburgh, but needs must when there's rain to be avoided.

A little later it was time to meet hubby, so I sat and waited for him back in my favourite Starbucks. This time I took a couple of better shots of the great view out onto the Royal Mile.

 Our evening was a relaxing one with dinner in Prezzo, a drink in a pub and then back to the hotel.

Next morning (Friday) and it was time to head home. Not before breakfast though, which we had in The Elephant House, famous for being the place where J.K. Rowling wrote some of the early Harry Potter books. A very pleasant place indeed to spend an hour or so
eating toast, checking important things on mobile phones (Facebook, probably) and doing a spot of reading.
And that was the end of our little trip.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Edinburgh Trip; Day One (of Two)

Last week hubby had to go to Edinburgh for a couple of days with work. And I got to tag along too. And we left DC in Wigan with Grandma and Grandad. Win, win!

We travelled up to Wigan en famille on Monday evening, and Tuesday lunchtime hubby and I left DC happily sitting on the sofa, cuddling Grandad and watching Toy Story (again.) We took the motorway route as far as Moffat, where we decided to have a little pitstop. Apologies for this dreadful photo which is the only one I have of the main street in Moffat; the weather wasn't playing ball at all that afternoon.

 Hubby was very excited to find this sweetie shop (I originally spelt that as 'sweety' but when I proofread this post it looked a lot like 'sweaty', and no one wants a sweaty shop); as you can imagine, it took quite some time for him to make his final selection (lemon bon bons, vimto sweets and Hawick balls, in case you were wondering.) I, on the other hand, being a saint (aka someone who prefers to get their sweet fix from chocolate), didn't buy any for myself, but picked out teacakes and pontefract cakes for my mum.
You can tell we were over the border, with this little sweet treat...
After a hot drink in one of several cafes on the main street, it was time to get back in the car and start the cross-country, more scenic part of the journey. We finally got to our hotel in Edinburgh at about 5.30pm; checked in, dumped our bags and headed straight out to our favourite eatery in the city - MUMS (previously known as Monster Mash). We ordered haggis, neeps and tatties (when in Rome...)
 and three different varieties of sausage with leek and bacon mash and a jug of original gravy.
Followed by sticky toffee pudding (forgot to take a picture, but it was deeeee-licious.) Then it was off to a bar for a mug of hot chocolate to warm up (I can never get used to just how chilly it is in Edinburgh.), before heading back to the hotel.

Wednesday morning, hubby and I enjoyed breakfast together in this sweet little cafe which, when we went in was called Circus, but when we came out again was name-less as the sign had been painted over. Whether it is to become Circus again, or something entirely different remains to be seen.

 Hubby then had to toddle off and do important business stuff, and I didn't. So, I took myself and my heavy bag full of magazines and a book off up the Royal Mile to the nearest Starbucks for a little bit of R&R, before beginning the serious job of shopping and sightseeing. I think this has to be one of the nicest Starbuck's I've ever been in; it felt a little bit like a Gentlemen's Club of yore with its tall ceilings, large windows, leather sofas and wood panneling.
 And the views were rather good too (although this is a dreaful photo!) out over the Royal Mile.

 After a very leisurely coffee (caramel mocha, in case you're interested), a read of  my book and a flick through a magazine, it was time to stroll up the road and along to George IV Bridge to catch the bus to lovely Morningside.

As I passed the High Court I saw lots of TV crews filming, as it was the first ever time that cameras had been allowed inside to witness the sentencing in a murder trial.
On to lighter matters... My first port of call when I reached Morningside was Loopy Lorna's. A teahouse we'd discovered on a previous visit to Edinburgh. They make a great cup of tea (of which I know nothing, because I only drink coffee), and I availed myself of a very good breakfast (well, brunch really since it was 11.30am) of scrambled eggs and toast.
A bit of a stroll down the hill soon burned that off. (Again, apologies for rubbish photo - the light/weather was not conducive to iPhone photography.)
 Morningside is absolutely brilliant for shopping, eating and drinking. I think this particular road must be about a mile long, if not more and it is pretty much lined on both sides from beginning to end with one-off shops, delis, cafes, boutiques and lots and lots of charity shops. I picked up some Anchor embroidery thread in one charity shop for 25p per skein, as well as a knitting pattern for 50p. Then I made the mistake of going into the Oxfam bookshop. Having already taken four books with me for this little trip to Wigan/Edinburgh (a very optimistic number I'll admit, but I did manage to read one book and make a start on the second, as well as reading six magazines), I then went and bought another three. You've seen before that I have a H-U-G-E problem with books, the buying and storing thereof, so adding another three to the collection was not a good move. But one of them was for Book Club No.2 (that I haven't officially joined, but if I'm going to it's only right that I at least buy the book, even if I don't read it... any excuse...)

Anyway, moving on. I found this gorgeous shop - Time and Tide. We'd been into one of their branches in North Berwick on a previous holiday in Scotland and absolutely loved it; I bought hubby an apple picker (like you do) and a slate chalkboard for the garden, plus a lovely glass jar that lives in our bathroom and some handy storage bags for DC's toys. This time, though, I came away empty handed, although I was sorely tempted by quite a few things...

And at the bottom of the hill I had to snap this picture as a reminder of the place where I'd managed to lock myself, hubby, Granny and a 19-month-old DC out of the car when last we were here. Good work, me!
Wednesday proved to be a busy day as I then caught the bus back to the hotel, dropped off my shopping then headed over North Bridge. Here's a shot of the Balmoral Hotel with North Bridge in the background and Arthur's Seat on the horizon.  
My detination was Prince's Street, and the very lovely road parallel to it - George Street. While Prince's Street is the place to find your usual high street stores - M&S, Monsoon, House of Fraser (aka Jenners), Top Shop, H&M, etc, George Street is a little more 'upmarket' shall we say? Here you'll find Cath Kidston, The White Company, Jo Malone and Anthropolgie, where I snapped a LOT of photos of all the things I wanted to buy (but didn't). Plus their displays were gorgeous. 
 Mugs with initials.
GEEE-or-geous lampshade. 

 Wonderful smelly soaps, wrapped in thick strands of yarn.
 An old coat and hat stand rescued from a school. I REALLY wanted this, but couldn;t quite stretch to the high three-figure price tag...
 Milk glasses
 More sweet and colourful glasses. I'd love to replace our current everyday glasses with some like this, but it seems silly to get rid of perfectly good glasses. Maybe one day when all of our current glasses have failed the test of time.
 A book on ways to spend weekends in cities throughout the US and Canada
 Sweet storage jar with 'blackboard' area where you can write the contents (could be something to try at home...)
And these bright and cheery bowls - perfect for breakfast/starting the day with a spot of colour.
 Not forgetting a nod to my home city. Except they were £22 each, and made in China...
After all that (non) shopping (I did actually buy a small melamine plate for DC in Cath Kidston), it was time to head back to the hotel and meet up with hubby. We had a quick wash and brush up before turning round and heading out. After a drink in a pub on Grassmarket we made our way back to George Street (with time to take a quick snap of part of E'burgh Castle along the way.)
 Another drink in a lovely pub on Rose Street, then it was time for dinner - nachos and tapas in All Bar One. Yum
 And that was pretty much the end of Day One in Edinburgh. Day Two can be another post since this one has gone on quite long enough, thank you very much. Hope you've enjoyed coming on this little trip with me!