Edinburgh…

Tuesday 12 April 2022

Whisky with your porridge Madam?

It may be 9am, but I am on holiday, so “Och aye the noo – don’t mind if I do!”

Could I be in Scotland? I certainly could and after a fantastic few days in the capital city I can only conclude that having offspring studying at far-distant corners of the UK certainly has its advantages when it comes to planning a weekend away …

Edinburgh; the perfect venue for a short city break. The 4 hour-drive on a chilly Saturday morning, is quiet and clear. Upon arrival, we find Prom-dress daughter and grab a quick lunch before .. and here is the genius move parents … we wave farewell to Small boy and his sister, who joyfully head off to explore student life without their mum in tow. Meanwhile, my friend and I check into a nearby B&B and from there step out to indulge in a couple of days of teen-free time and … it is glorious!

Edinburgh is a city of two halves, the Old and New Towns. We dive into the Old Town and, in the short time we have, never really make it out again! (I suppose there is always ‘next time’ for the Georgian splendour of Princes Street and the Waverley Gardens). We wander the famous Royal Mile, with its cobbles, colour and many wonderfully named adjoining streets; Fleshmarket Close, Candlemaker’s Row, Cowgate, and Circus Lane. In St Giles’s Cathedral, we find the choir mid-rehearsal and pause to marvel as the beautiful voices and organ chords float through the gothic columns.

We join the Dark Side tour to walk the streets as night falls and learn more. The two hour experiences takes us as far as Arthur’s Seat and through several graveyards and dusky alleys as we are regaled with tales of poor Mary King, treacherous Burke and Hare and tales of witchcraft and fairie folklore.

It makes quite an impression and inspires us, the following day, to delve further into some of the objects and stories at the excellent Surgeon’s Hall Museum and the Edinburgh Museum. And all of this walking and sightseeing is mighty thirsty and tiring work, so we are also delighted to to find plentiful refreshment stops and use these to sample the local food and beer. My ‘vegan-haggis’ pannini is not an experience I’ll ever repeat but, as the wise sages say, ‘nothing ventured…’

On our final evening we do reunite with my two younger children at a trendy eatery is the Grassmarket area. They have also had a great time and as I still have … well half the city to explore … I raise my final whisky cocktail to , ‘the next time…’

Happy Mother’s Day 2022

Sunday 27 March 2022

What a lovely mother’s day weekend!

The British Isles bask in a full week of sunny weather and by glorious chance this coincides with me setting out on a weekend jaunt. I cannot believe my luck!

Saturday takes me to Hawes (I’ll skip the bit about me going via Leeds in a hapless satnav blunder) and a wonderful 10 mile trek along the Pennine Way. Oh it feels good to be out of my corner of the Northwest. Why I was becoming so dangerously domesticated I’d even bought strawberry plants for the garden! Amidst those rolling hills and mile upon mile of solitude, the grind of the week, the workload worries and the night-time niggles just melt away. Several medical studies affirm that walking is a proven mood booster and that Walking in nature, specifically, has been found to reduce ruminating over negative experiences. Well, it certainly works for me! And, as we hike back down to ground level, shop until we drop at the Wensleydale Creamery and then join the other weekend revellers enjoying beers in the afternoon sunshine, I almost feel as if I’m actually on holiday!

Alas, I am not and, on Monday will indeed return to work, but the the treats of the weekend are not over just yet. On Sunday I continue my drive North to pick up my Eldest from Uni-land for the start of her Easter vacation. Yeah – the perfect Mother’s day gift!

With much laughter and a surfeit of coffee and diet coke, we head home. After the two and a hour car journey, I actually hobble into the house, as the hiking has left me with a tricky combination of aching butt cheeks and very tight calf muscles! However, as my glutes and gastrocnemii loosen back into action, I find that flowers have arrived from Prom-dress daughter, my Eldest is ready to cook a Sunday Roast for me and my mum and even a rather jaded (from a Saturday night sleep-over) Small boy manages a card! Life feels good!

It is evening now and time to look to the week ahead. But with one last backward glance at the weekend, I am super glad that we made the most of the fine weather as the forecasters now warn of plummeting temperatures and even snow! Yikes; I do hope those strawberry plans will be ok…

Hebden Bridge

Saturday 29 January 2022

There is just no beating a great day out and, this weekend, a trip to Yorkshire’s arty, free-spirited Hebden Bridge proves to be just that…

“The best way to arrive in Hebden Bridge, at the western edge of the Pennines, is by train…”

I read in Paul Barker’s Guardian article, Hebden Bridge: West Yorkshire’s cool and quirky corner. And arrive by train we certainly do. In fact, I boast a 100% commitment to public transport; making a double bus plus local rail odyssey to cross the border from Greater Manchester into the white rose county. Quite a trek on a windswept Saturday! From the station, it is a short walk, past the Arts Cinema and Victorian Town Hall into the town centre.

Now, as you might have suspected, the main reason for leaving the car at home, is to free both me and my companion up for sampling the local alcoholic beverages. But the beer has to wait…until I have finished shopping. Yes, famed for its independent retail, Hebden Bridge is home to an arts and crafts market, pottery shops, vintage stores, several antique dealerships plus quaint outlets for soaps and candles and confectionary around every corner. It is the perfect place to potter, browse, while away the hours and, in my case, spend spend spend! (I do have three birthdays to shop for.)

The town also has an abundance of cafes and eateries. We lunch on woodfired pizza, mine an incredible vegan chorizo combination, with peppermint tea and eventually, of course, do find our way to Vocation Brewery and the NightJar Bar for some well earned and much appreciated craft beer. (Though, enboldened by the Dutch courage, I do dive back into the arty stalls… to treat myself, check out my fabulous new glass coasters!)

And then all too soon, and by now a little tipsy, it is time to head home. We didn’t find time to stroll along the canal walk, nor for the walk to Heptonstall, resting place for Ted Hughes’s first wife, Sylvia Plath. Maybe next time? We certainly did have a wonderful day out and how needed it was after the grind of the working week. Escaping to somewhere new and something different has really raised my spirits, so I’m off to plan a February jaunt… this could definitely be a monthly feature for 2022…