Last weekend, we ventured north again to Edinburgh in our electric car. We visited my Dad in Nottingham on the way. Then we had an overnight stay in Harrogate, and stopped briefly in Jedburgh, before reaching Edinburgh in time for pre-dinner drinks. Apart from the brief catch up and lunch with my Dad, the main purpose of the trip was to see and stay with Eldest Son (ES) and his now very pregnant partner before the excitingly close baby due date.
The journey was smooth albeit long due to the need to charge up the car every 100 miles or so, and to regulate speed so the battery didn’t get run down too quickly. The charging of the car was almost without any problem. Our relief at that was enhanced by the smugness of knowing that we didn’t have to search for, or queue for, apparently scarce supplies of petrol. Having said that, we might not have got a ChargePlace Scotland charging point to function without the helpfulness of a Jedburgh resident. We were a little lucky in an unpredictable e-charging world!
Stopping off in Harrogate, which is famous for its conference facilities, brought back some memories of a few corporate conferences I attended there back in the last century (it feels even longer ago than that….). On this occasion, the part of the town we were staying in was overrun by HGV company bosses and drivers who were attending a large lorry-fest. The lorries on show were for every imaginable purpose and all tremendously shiny – quite a sight!
We loved Edinburgh this time as much on this trip as we did during our last one in the summer. The scale, the architecture, the vistas, the proliferation of interesting independent shops, the history and the monuments are all attractive. The excrescence that is the new shopping centre is a rare architectural misstep in the city centre and is rightly nicknamed by locals as the ‘golden turd’. Almost everywhere else feels right, interesting or both.
We did quite a lot of walking and casual sightseeing. We retraced many of our previous steps along the Water of Leith that winds pleasantly through the city. This time, we managed to get to Calton Hill in sunshine.
On the Saturday I took a breezy walk around Holyrood Park and up Arthur’s Seat. I was fortunate, given the intermittent, blustery drizzle, that it was reasonably dry on the way up and down since there was some slippery scrambling to do in places. The view from the top was worth the effort and I look forward to repeating the climb on a sunnier day.
The Modern Art Gallery was a manageable size and contains some excellent and varied art. Unexpectedly, it happens to contain one of Long-Suffering Wife’s (LSW’s) favourite paintings – ‘Lustre Bowl With Green Peas’ by William Nicholson (see below).
The current temporary exhibition was of paintings and related sketches by Joan Eardley. I had seen this had been reviewed favourably in the Guardian. I loved the seascapes and landscapes which were all of a small village on the Scottish east coast where she had lived in, and alongside, some tiny, semi-derelict cottages. That there were just two rooms of her work on show made the story around her art and the pictures themselves really accessible and absorbable. The exhibition is on until early next year so there may be an opportunity to visit (for free) again.
The Botanic Gardens were gorgeous despite the lateness of the season. There were still splashes of vibrant colour and the gardens were exceptionally well maintained. The rockery, in particular, was impressive and the Palm House, although empty and undergoing repairs, was beautifully proportioned. An exhibition of photographs of unusual seeds was also interesting and we happily donated a bit of cash for the otherwise free visit.
ES’s partner cooked a lovely dinner when we arrived – she is a calm and excellent cook. Next day we went to Leo’s Beanery for a rather wonderful breakfast (see below). We seemed spoilt for choice of breakfast eateries but this was a very good one that served up such substantial fare that I didn’t need lunch.
Dinner on the Saturday was with ES partner’s parents (indeed, since our last Edinburgh visit, ES and his partner have got engaged so we should consider her parents as ES’s future parents-in-law). The Palmerston was a perfect venue; the food, service (after an overly rapid start) and company were all very good.
It was matched for quality by dinner on our last night in the north at Tom Kitchin’s The Scran & Scallie. My starter there included mushrooms, ox tongue, egg and bone marrow (still in the bone) in a presentation that made it one of the most interesting starters I’ve had for a while.
All these meals, walks and talks with ES and his (now) fiancée were enlivened with the expectation of motherhood, fatherhood, grandmotherhood and grandfatherhood in a month’s time. How exciting!