Sundried Haggis & A Tartan Tan
I’m pretty sure that if you visited the Scottish Tourism Website you’d be hard pushed to find the recommendation to visit their country in February, after all, even a summer holiday requires hats and scarves. However, this is our third trip to visit family in Edinburgh in the February half-term and yet again I wished I’d packed my raybans!
Obviously, the sunshine always tints your ‘good-times’ with warmth and easy reflection, and after a few burdening weeks of first-world hardships back in Nottingham, we were ready to be embraced by family and ensconced by Scottishness. After all, don’t they say ‘If life throws you lemons…pack them in your case for Scotland to have with your whisky and battered mars-bars’?
Home Of Harry Potter
First off, a pretty little village by the name of Cramond (home to J.K Rowling herself!) with its fleeting gateway to a tidal island of the same title. Connected to the mainland at low tide, across the ‘Drum Sands’, you can’t help but feel a little titilated by the prospect of mild-peril and being stranded till tomorrow. Or is it just me whose mind plays overtime with brainstorms on how to forage for food and stay warm when nighttime falls? I can’t help but notice no one else in our party are eyeing up the whelks and borage like me, they seem to be just enjoying the views of Edinburgh and the sinking sands! How irresponsible.
In The City
The sun continued to shine on us for a few more days so we took the tram into Edinburgh itself to spend some Tesco vouchers in The Camera Obscura. It’s listed by Trip Advisor in their top 10 things to do in Edinburgh and it doesn’t disappoint. If you were the kind of person who couldn’t let Magic Eye pictures defeat them back in the 80’s then this is the place for you! Floors of illusions, mazes, light tricks and brain-boggling stuff kept us entertained for a good few hours, and then to top it off you reach the highest point of the building and are faced with lofty views of the best city in Scotland, including its impressive neighbour – Edinburgh Castle.
Granny kindly offered to take the grandkids to Deep Sea World, which they totally loved, but given the opportunity for a little down-time, Rich and I quickly fled back into Edinburgh to explore some sights of our own. We started in the picturesque Dean Village, only 5 minutes walk from Princes Street. In bygone days this area was the centre of the Milling industry and if you keep your eyes open you can spot a few old mill stones and carved stone plaques of bread and pies – enough to make us a little peckish so we jumped in The Angel’s Share hotel and ordered a burger. It was fun to watch a local patron respectively chat up each bar-maid that crossed his path, then stumble out into the cold. We weren’t too far behind him though as we made our way around various drinking establishments ourselves. With lined stomachs we took refreshment in Brew Dog and drawing inspiration from some of the crazy craft beer names we indulged ourselves in the idea of opening the most politically-incorrect bar in history, with Ales called The Fat Ginger, or Handicapped Hazard (to be honest – I can only bestow the mild ones upon you, that be the joy of having a better-half who shares your humour!) Apparently they do the best Pizza’s in Auld Reekie but we were saving ourselves for Curry later.
The aforementioned curry had to be eaten at Khushi’s, I’m not saying they’re the best – we haven’t sampled enough Edinburgh Curry Houses to state such, but I am saying they’re gooooood! Licensed for you to bring your own bottle the atmosphere was lively, especially given that Hearts were playing Hibs down the road that night and half the Hibs fans were in there! The food was great as usual and the peshwari naan was greater (can you believe – it had glacier cherries in it!)(if you know me you’d not be surprised this got a mention several times over the next few days) Anyways, satisfactorily stuffed, we popped in a mint and set off to find what we’d really come out for this day – cocktail bars!!
Cocktails And Single Malts
First stop The Dome on George Street, a grand old Bank since the mid-1800’s and not a lot of need for conversation here as your eyes admire the architecture. Then up the road to Tigerlily, where many moons ago we had our family wedding meal. But the award for best bar that evening went to Panda and Sons – a hidden speak-easy type joint with a barbershop frontage and a concealed bookcase entrance. The cocktails come in all disguises and you can’t not be impressed by a ‘Smokey and the Pandito’ – I’ve not even heard of half the ingredients but it’s brought to your table under a glass cloche and fills the room with smoke when the waitress takes the lid off! We finished our night here, in the dark, discussing taxidermy and our friends’ marital – weirdnesses to a soundtrack of tunes Bowie would have had on his walkman. A great night with my best friend – cheers Granny!
Dollar Glen In The Snow
Unfortunately for us, that was the end of the sunshine, but not the end of the fun! The heavens opened and brought snow so the kids were happy, and it set a beautiful scene for our last days walk up to Dollar Glen, only 45 minutes drive from Edinburgh past Highland cows and Loch Leven (where Mary Queen of Scotts was imprisoned). After several adapted versions of Ten Green Bottles from the kids in the back of the car, (how do I get hold of a bottle of Chloroform before tomorrows 6 hour journey!?) we set off through the Ochil Hills with its gorges and waterfalls, right to the top where Castle Campbell sits in all its 15th Century Glory. Leaving only one last thing to do before we returned home – have a massive snowball fight!!