A Trip to Wee Edinburgh Part 1

While it is still fresh in my mind, I thought I’d write about my trip to Edinburgh this weekend. We live in Manchester so it was lovely get away from what we normally achieved and knew every weekend. It was also a weekend to relax before the arrival of our 2nd child, due in January, and we had arranged for my mother to look after our 4 yr old daughter.

Originally, I wanted a stress free pampering weekend but soon realised that this Scottish city had more to offer than I originally thought. We had decided to get the train into the city on the morning after our arrival, even though we had the car and it was such a good idea! The train station was ideally located in the centre of the city, but I’ll tell you more about that in part deux. 20121205-143342.jpg

So we began our expedition on Saturday morning and walked out of the station into the hustle and bustle of city life. Expecting to be surrounded by local Scottish folk, I soon realised that almost everyone around me was a tourist. Individuals and families from all over England, America, Ireland and Eastern Europe and more. I had been a little worried, I must admit, having not been to Scotland before, that we would stick out like sore thumbs with our Mancunian (fiance) and Lancashire (myself) accents but felt pleasantly relieved. We noticed Edinburgh Castle instantly after exiting the station and made our way in its direction. The Christmas markets were set up and had a mixture of food stalls, gift stalls, mulled wine stalls, children’s rides and attractions. The enormous ice rink, which I loved, was admitting adults and children of all ages. However, I was only able to watch longingly, with being heavily pregnant, and thought “maybe next year”. A helter skelter…(gosh it’s years since I’ve seen, let alone been on one of those) and a giant snow dome were all set up, aswell as Christmas themed fair ground rides, music and lights scattered to entertain the kids.

The Christmas attractions encircled one monument, which I have to say was overwhelming and striking. It brought the old and the new together right in the heart of the city. Scott Monument gothically stood tall and towered above the newly established buildings. I loved that Edinburgh was such an ancient city and had kept a lot of its origanal architecture, thankfully because the war planes didn’t travel this far during the Great War.20121205-143250.jpg

We continued to walk in the direction of the castle and decided to take the scenic route, which included cobbled walkways and tunnels. The cobbled streets were lined with local business selling tartan, souvenirs, tours, fashion and whisky, but all in the highest of taste and culture. The local coffee shops, restaurants and pubs were a welcomed sight, instead of the normal high street business’.

The castle was beautiful and set high up on a rocky hill that have a wonderful view off Edinburgh below. The castle offers tours but we decided to explore more of the city and local shops. You can learn more about the castle here.

We happen to use the public toilets next to the castle and thought it was very disappointing when I closed my cubicle door to find graffiti masking the whole door. It wasn’t until after staring at this for a few seconds, whilst doing what ladies do, I realised that it was something more than graffiti. Women had written their names with their towns/cities and it was fantastic to see that people from all over the world had travelled to Edinburgh to take in its history and architecture. As you can see, there were women from Dublin, Ireland from Yorkshire, England, from Seattle, USA, from Holland. I was a little tempted to add my stamp to the door, but thankfully, I didn’t have a pen.20121205-143329.jpg

We shortly came across a large cathedral, St Giles, that didn’t look like much from the outside but was spectacular when you walked in. My partner doesn’t believe in God and can become quite vocal about it but it was his idea to go inside. He has a background in design and I’m so glad he suggested it.20121205-143307.jpg

Walking through St. Giles Cathedral was like walking through history from its achitecture, to its stained glass windows, from its memorials of John Knox to the Great War heroes.

Just a little further down the street, we came across a shop front that looked like a traditional toy shop. It was, in fact, a museum and an amazing discovery of children’s toys from the 1800’s. In this age of expensive high-tech toys, it was amazing to see how children played with toys when money was scarce. Some of the toys belonged to middle class children and even showed pictures of their young owners, but some toys were self-made, such as the dolls made from wooden spoons and shoe soles, and then dressed in cloth. This made me realise that it’s not about how much money you spend on your children, but how you encourage your child’s imagination and learning through play. I, myself, was brought up in a large family that had little money for Christmas and birthday presents. I had a sister 16 years my senior and one of my earliest memories of play was of alphabet cards that she had made for me for learning to write. I thought these were fantastic at the time and played with them lots!

So to conclude the first part of our Edinburgh trip, we had a wonderful day and learned vast amounts about Scottish history and culture. Considering we live only 4 hours drive from the city, Manchester is a world away from Edinburgh and the town happily welcomed us to share in this. We’re hoping to make a trip back there after our baby arrives and I’m not too tired from all the walking!

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