FIND THIS… Ben’s Aunt Mary and Uncle Colin came for a visit this past weekend. We always knew they were up for anything, but we did not realize what good sports they were until we asked them to join my friend and colleague, Toni, in a test scavenger hunt along the Royal Mile for a couple of hours right after they disembarked from the train.
Toni was responsible for organizing the team-building portion of the MBA induction week and was less than impressed with last year’s version. Her new and improved version was so much fun! We all learned a lot of interesting facts about Edinburgh and the Royal Mile. Half of the scavenger hunt was photo-based as you can see from above and the remaining portion was quiz based. We came in second. So close.
We were Mary and Colin’s guests for dinner at the fabulous French restaurant L’escargot bleu on Broughton Street. MERCI BEAUCOUP! Full of energy after our three course (each) meal, we went attempted to get a drink at Bramble. The bouncer gave us the all-clear and we headed in. Excellent as always Bramble.
It was a bit of a leisurely start on Sunday. Brunch, a l’American (Colin is baffled by the savory egg dish and the sweet blueberry coffee cake on the same plate, Mary is equally as baffled by the fact that coffee cake contains no coffee). Ben and I could not compete with the Saturday’s activities but we tried with Ben’s patented walking tour of Edinburgh. Which just gets better and more hilly!
It was back home for paper reading and make your own pizzas before we said goodnight and goodbye to our visitors. They had so much fun, I think they might even come see us again!
GUEST POST… Chloe, friend and former colleague, who recently visited our fair city and us, wanted to give you the account of her weekend. Chloe is a great writer.
You might not think that one’s enduring memory of Edinburgh would be its seagulls but every morning my own wee birdie woke me at 5.30am to remind me that this part of Scotland is in fact a near kin to my part of Wales – rolling hills, an arm of water stretching out into the body of the sea accompanied by cloud dancing, scattered showers and sunbursts.
(A picture of the three of us! Note Chloe’s knock-off purple Doc Marteen’s- perfect for the rainy Edinburgh weather)
Once over the initial hurdle of getting to Geneva (no bus provided by the SNCF on the Pontcharra-Chambéry leg – a big thanks to Nadia for saving the day – M&S pressie on its way) my favourite airline whisked me off to Buffy and Ben’s lovely town house where Ben gallantly offered to drag my luggage over the cobbles in case they loosened some of my fillings.
Easy Sunday morning saw us heading off to visit the sights which seem to involve a lot of hills and cemeteries. We overlooked the Forth of Firth and underlooked Arthur’s Seat (he got everywhere but there again the similarity to the Welsh Cader Idris is spooky). We stopped off in the funky Canongate Kirk whose pews are painted sky blue and the carpet a fuschia pink. Maybe a bit of Royal Colour Blocking has rubbed off on this house of worship since the other royal wedding but it certainly made a change from the granite and slate versions of my religious instruction.
(Who knew that Lionel Richie owned a police box in Edinburgh, well spotted Chloe)
We wended (I think this might be a Scottish word) in an out of the Royal Mile and despite near hypoglycemia for the more senior member of the party managed to make it to Charlotte Square in time to a) feed me a cheese scone and an orange juice b) get second in the queue for the Tony Ross Book signing. In fact I was there first but this small girl who looked like she belonged more in a Roald Dahl story in a sort of I’ve-got-tickets-to-all-the-signings-for-the-whole-week-because-my-mummy-has-organised-it sort of way managed to barge in front of me despite my (only just) mock ‘oi you I was there first cry’(which gratifyingly made her jump momentarily) and proceeded to get the delightful T.R. to sign about 790 books. I will not stoop to being a groupie.
(Chloe charming Tony Ross)
Back to base for this amazing barbecue and salsa dish with homemade bread – it is all true about the culinary prowess of Eyre Place. A few episodes of ‘30 Rock’ with unusually astute insight into leadership fake authenticity (more on this with Gavin E.) and off to bed.
Monday was quartier libre for me as my hosts went out to work and I treated myself to a splurge on Princes Street. Good shopping weather with just the right amount of rain. My mock Doc Marten’s were the ideal footwear despite many a sceptic wondering whether the fact that the soles did not bend as I walked might cause some discomfort. Pff! Minor huge panic in the sock section at M&S when I realised I COULD NOT FIND MY WALLET and had to go back to Waterstones (no apostrophe any more apparently) in the hope that my holiday fun was not about to end and be replaced by international calls to the Sécu, LCL, CAF and François Hollande. Phew – there is a God and he reads books because that is exactly where I had left it. My second fright in two days propelled me into a carpe diem sort of approach to shopping. Hence I am now the chuffed owner of a new coat, dressing gown, boxer shorts (am I allowed to say that on this blog?), perfume and the rest.
“Quick nip back” to base camp (which in fact involves topography not that dissimilar to the 7 hills of Rome) for a snack before heading back to the Book Fair to listen to and stare glassy eyed (concentrate, Chloë) at the gorgeous Gavin Esler discuss his new book ‘Lessons from the Top’. His accessible, knowledgeable and humorous approach to his subject matter was delightful and I am now the proud owner of a slightly botched signing session copy of said book. The only slight fly in the ointment was that he did mention he had quite enjoyed interviewing Angelina Jolie so I thoughtfully warned him about her kind – half woman, half plastic. You can only give advice and hope people learn along the way. I will not stoop to being a groupie. I really won’t. Well I might if pushed.
Back to reality and a delicious risotto, salmon, goat’s cheese and beet dish for supper although I soon realised that the ch**se word is now a source of potential friction in the Gorrilla/Pawson love nest. I can say no more but I hope I am not asked to testify in court some day.
Tuesday, sun and a following wind saw Buffy and I cycling down to Leith to catch the midday screening of BRAVE. It was lucky we had no pressing appointments as we sat through 30 minutes of unsuitable trailers, in your face adverts with lots of noise and bright colours (call me old fashioned), a Pixar short and finally the film during which I spent the whole time waiting for Merida to give the English the thrashing of their lives (must have misunderstood the trailers). Anyway a great film with and amazing hairdresser on the set and so glad I saw that instead of ‘Rebelle’!
Cycled back via Mimi’s Bakehouse where sugar levels were replenished with a slice of coffee and walnut cake that could have doubled up as a door stopper. A quick loop to visit Ben and Buffy’s old residence in Leith (next to Barclays funeral Services – no connection to the ch**se word of course), a lightening shop at Tesco then home for more deliciousness in the form of lamb lasagna (two helpings for me – doesn’t anyone eat in this household?).
And so to bed knowing that tomorrow (today) I’ll hear that bonny seagull for the last time in a wee while but taking with me such positive vibes from a kind city and its more than generous hosts that I’m set up for the rentrée (yawn) and then some.
Haste ye back Buffy and Ben
REMEMBER JACK… My cousin who came to visit us for over one week? We received his timely thank you note and I was almost brought to tears by his heart-felt sentiment for all the fun we shared. Both Ben and I were bowled over by the recollection of the impact we had on his young life and the memories we made together in Edinburgh.
Jack, you are most welcome- we would allow you to stay with us when ever you would like!
JACKINGTON…Two years ago my cousin Jack came to visit us in France- he dusted Paris with the sleeves of his royal blue sweatshirt- it drove me crazy…
Jack is now 14 and has outgrown the sweatshirt and his dusting desire- thank goodness. We had the pleasure of having him in Edinburgh for a week. Ben and I had a great time getting to know the more mature Jack- likes SUGAR, dislikes- THINGS WITHOUT SUGAR. We think Jack had fun too- although I was a bit nervous when I heard him telling his dad about his visit:
”Yeah we’ve been doing stuff. It rains all the time. The buildings are really old. I don’t understand what people are saying.”
We did stuff- The Castle, Modern I and II, National Museum of Scotland, Jupiter Artland, The Shore, Inverleith Park, The Botantics, Mary King’s Close, Urban Paintball and lots of walking.
Jack was out there in the rain. He adapted quickly to the Edinburgher motto of not letting the rain get you down.
A big thanks to my aunt for sending her precious cargo to us. It sounds like flying as an unaccompanied minor is the way to go- Junior Jet Lounge- NICE!
Hopefully he will come back. He makes a mean hollandaise sauce and introduced us to the t.v. show Num3bers.
I am not sure if I can convince Jack to do a guest post and reveal his true thoughts and feelings about his favorite cousins who live abroad!
AWWW… Here are some of my favourite shots from my Mom’s visit. It was wonderful sharing a week with her. She adapted well to our chilly apartment, layering a giant St. Kate’s sweatshirt under an even more giant Irish fishermen knit sweater.
We were warmly welcomed by Ben’s Mom and Dad, had a tour of Peterborough Cathedral by a very knowledgeable and enthusiastic guide. It has an impressive history.
We did not make it to spin class together, my Mom did however get on a bike for the first time in 20 years. She handled the hills, the cobbles and the left side of the rode with determination and a smile.
A word of warning if my Mom wants to pay you a visit, she will generously offer to treat you to meals and latte breaks, but her credit card NEVER was accepted and she ran out of cash on the first day. She did however have 7 euros which will buy me breakfast in Paris in a few weeks.
My Mom had a great birthday celebration with Ben, made even brighter by receiving calls from my brothers.
My Mom arrived home safely, a long flight, de-icing was needed.
We miss her. Thank you for this visit.
We have a very important visitor arriving next week. My mom lands on Sunday, February 5.
This is her first visit to our new apartment and our new city. We are so excited; we have a week of fun times and memory making planned.
My mom has agreed to go to her first spinning class. We are going to visit Ben’s mom and dad. There will be plenty of wandering around Edinburgh, people watching and latte drinking. Some of our favorite mother-daughter travel activities.
Unfortunately, I have to leave on February 10 (going to Toronto), Ben will carry on the entertainment and my mom’s birthday celebration until she heads out on February 12.