A couple of weekends ago we drove the 350 miles north to Edinburgh to get another hugely welcome dose of Eldest Son (ES), his wife and their delightful son. My dodgy back more than held up through the drives up and down, the weather was clear and dry, the electric car charging points we used were all working and available, and so both journeys were smooth.
Throughout our visit, First Grandchild (FG) was an unalloyed joy. He only had one 30 minute spell when he was tired and grumpy, but he is now old enough to be distractible and consolable. Whilst his parents have to deal with more of the everyday stresses and strains (and some very early mornings) than I can really remember from our own parenting days, they are settling into their own parenthood, married life and their flat; and FG seems to be loving life!
We had many little trips out with the little one including to the National Museum of Scotland and the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh. Both venues have become fixtures in our itinerary for every trip since they are both so toddler-friendly and free (while presumably relying in large part on donations).
We managed a trip out to South Edinburgh with FG, ES and wife to a lovely, relatively new café (Elliott’s) and we twice slipped into Spry Wine Shop and Bar which is, so far, my favourite bar in Edinburgh. Jane commented that being on our own in Spry felt like being naughtily awol from grand-parenting duties but we did babysit later to enable ES and his wife to visit the same bar one evening.
It was a lovely few days of catch-up, good food and of being able to see, first hand, First Grandchild’s developing physicality, brainpower and, perhaps most of all, his sense of humour. The videos we now play every day (sometimes multiple times a day) are those of him mucking about and giggling. As grandparents he is just an absolute treat and we are lucky to be able to see him every couple of months or so.
We were able to visit Middle Son and his partner in Bristol shortly after our return from Edinburgh. A highlight was to be able to see, open/close and touch their new bedroom wardrobes. These were custom made by a craftsman cabinet maker from our village who is near retirement but who is very skilled and has done work in the past in our house. We are so pleased we could help make the connection to him. The wardrobes looked great.
We then all went to a very swish new Spanish restaurant called Paco Tapas which is run by an apparently Michelin starred chef (Peter Sanchez-Inglesias). His reputation and that of his kitchen clearly goes before him and brings in the crowds – the restaurant was packed despite a cost of living crisis and relatively high prices. Certainly the food was very good and some of the small plates were exceptional. I especially liked the lamb rump, pork ribs, patatas bravas and citrusy fennel. I also loved that I faced the kitchen where much was cooked over open flames in a way that provided a bit of extra theatre.
The restaurant was in an area of Bristol that I didn’t know on the south bank of the Avon estuary called Wapping Wharf. It was clearly once a heavily used port area. Large, old cranes still dominate the harbourside while rail tracks criss-cross the roads. There were still many boats on the quayside from modern cruisers (including one surmounted by a helicopter!), to small cargo ships, to The Matthew of Bristol which is a reconstruction of the boat John Cabot used to discover Newfoundland in 1497.
It was raining so we didn’t loiter but the wharf and nearby marinas, container-based shopping units and restaurants looked interesting and meriting another visit. Indeed, visiting the cities that our sons have moved to over the last year – Edinburgh, Bristol and Belfast – is one of our great pleasures these days. However, later this week we are taking a break from that cycle to visit Paris…… whoop, whoop!