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Trip Report - A Snowy Weekend in Edinburgh (26-28 Nov)

Birmingham
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Trip Report - A Snowy Weekend in Edinburgh (26-28 Nov)

As always, other people's Trip Reports and reviews inspire me greatly when planning our next adventure, so I hope I can give a little back to those people with my own story.

For anyone who've read my US Trip Reports, you'll know I don't do brief!

Birmingham
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1. Re: Trip Report - A Snowy Weekend in Edinburgh (26-28 Nov)

Day 1 – Goodbye England, Hello Scotland!

Two years ago, when planning a wonderful autumnal wedding at the winter end of November, Mr Fletche and I never once gave thought to how we would celebrate our subsequent anniversary celebrations. And more importantly, with Christmas budgets looming, that it would not be feasible to jet off somewhere hot and sunny (a la our Maldives honeymoon) every year.

So wedding anniversary Number One was spent in the pouring rain in London. Where to go for anniversary No 2? Where will be wonderful in November, even if it rains and snows? Our decision? To make the long (long) journey up the M6 to Edinburgh. I had visited with work on a couple of occasions – although had seen very little apart from the inside of hotel rooms – and had fallen in love with the city, so we packed our suitcases into the Mini-Fletchemobile and hit the road!

Of course, we could have booked the train, or even flew, to Edinburgh, but after our US Roadtrip earlier in the year, we preferred the freedom of being in charge of our own journey – and I preferred being able to throw several pairs of shoes in the boot of the car (“Yes, of course I need those stiletto heel boots. They go with that dress. And of course I need three pairs of ballet pumps. And the two pairs of trainers. And the furry boots go without saying… it might be a bit nippy up there…”

With the beautiful scenary of Walsall, Stoke and Warrington behind us (and hunger satisfied by a KFC at Charnock Richard…), we leave England behind… hello Scotland! It’s at least 10 degrees cooler this side of the border and the temperature gauge is now wavering just below zero. It’s 4pm. We are enveloped by darkness as we drive down little country lanes, and pass hills and meadows… and then suddenly, we’re smack bang in the middle of Edinburgh. At rush hour. On a Friday afternoon.

Luckily, we put our trust in Tiff the Teflon Sat Nav (so-called because she will NOT stick to the windscreen…) and we find ourselves parked outside of Ten Hill Place. When researching hotels, I was aware there was limited parking only, and other than metered parking on the street, we couldn’t see where we could park. So with Mr Fletche keeping the car warm at the side of the road, I slip out and into the hotel to enquire.

Nice man on reception points me in the direction of the closest NCP car park – with 15% hotel discount – and I bundle back into the Mini Fletchemobile, clutching directions. Its miles away! Well, not exactly miles away, but the climb back UP the hill certainly makes it seem that way… especially as I have a suitcase, a handbag, a holdall… oh, and that bag of shoes I’m refusing to let go of…

Finally, we’re checked in! See Hotel Review of Ten Hill Place. I decided to put on half my layers when walking from the car, and am now sweltering as if in a sauna – which is probably a good job as the Air-con unit appears to be blowing out nothing but cold air… We play peek-a-boo with the glass bathroom door for a while, and I muse on how great it is to be able to watch the TV from the toilet… But with a city to be discovered, and drinks to be drunk, we struggle back into our warmest clothes to head out into the cold. I take one last longing look at my bagful of shoes, and opt for my furry boots – warmth over glamour tonight I think!

The hotel is a ten-minute walk from the Royal Mile – possible only five minutes, but with the wind whipping in our faces, and the snow starting to fall, we were considerably slower than we could be… The pubs with their glowing warm interiors all look very inviting, and as the snow comes down heavier, we duck into The Tass for our first drink of the weekend. Not sure how a chilled pint of cider could make my cheeks glow so fiery red, we head back out into the snow. Next stop is the Albernach – a pub I can see us revisiting on a number of occasions over the next couple of days. We find a nice cosy nook to sup our drinks, before battling the elements once more.

We wander up towards the castle, giggling slightly. Neither of us are particularly lightweights when it comes to drinking, but the lack of food (KFC just doesn’t always cut the mustard) combined with the biting cold means that the alcohol has gone to our heads a tad quicker than normal. As we peruse the view over the city, we decide that something a little more substantial food-wise may be a good idea…

With the clock ticking past 9pm, we are confident of the one place we can get a cheap, hearty meal at this time – Wetherspoons. While the food may not be gourmet, it has become something of a family tradition to eat at Wetherspoons on our first night, wherever we are in the country. Mr Fletche and I are considering getting a map to pin on our kitchen wall, noting all of the Wetherspoons in which we have dined…

We head over to George Street, averting our eyes from the Christmas market – can’t spoil tomorrow night’s itinerary! – momentary panic… left or right? It’s almost ten o’clock; we have just 10 minutes to find Wetherspoons, find a table, choose and order! Intuition makes me choose left, and the familiar signs soon come into sight (when you are a Wetherspoons connoisseur, you can recognise the bar from fifty feet away…). We manage to nab possibly the last vacant table in the place, and order without even looking off the menu (new menu was introduced in November, we’ve managed to memorise it since then…)

We can finally relax! Food is on its way, a drink is in front of us, and the snow continues to fall onto the Edinburgh streets. Mr Fletche and I spent a short time bickering about the order of the Chronicle of Narnia (we have the most important conversations you see….) and then settle into companionable silence to devour our food. Typical Wetherspoons fare, highly unlikely to win any Michelin stars, but fills a gap all the same.

The weather appears to have taken a turn for the worse since we disappeared indoors an hour or so ago… the conditions are now blizzardous… (Is that even a word?). The wind is whipping snow and rain and ice into our faces, and I have to hang onto Mr Fletche for fear of losing sight of him in the white-out blanket. It doesn’t help that Mr Fletche and I are both slightly “visually challenged” – even before the alcohol – and our glasses are now as useful as frosted glass. Do I keep them on and try not to think that I’m viewing the world through a waterfall? Or do I take them off and risk grabbing onto a man who is NOT my husband… I take a good hold of Mr Fletche first before popping them in my pocket for the time being.

We somehow find our way back over to the Royal Mile, and we feel that we deserve a drink for battling back that far. It’s back into The Albernach, where I peel off my sodden clothes, attempt to find a dry spot to clean my glasses and try not to look at my scary hair in the mirror. My saving grace is that people continue to come in looking a lot worse than me… Although confusingly, I also see a lot of young ladies not quite suited and booted for the inclement weather - short skirts, no tights, open-toed shoes, that sort of thing… At 33 I’m hardly over the hill, but I wouldn’t be seen out dead tonight without at least six layers of clothing…

With the snow abating slightly, we decide to try and make a dash for the hotel. Now if only we can get that heating sorted out….

Birmingham
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2. Re: Trip Report - A Snowy Weekend in Edinburgh (26-28 Nov)

Day 2 – Thank you St Andrew!

After a chilly night (still not quite got that thermostat right…), we wake to see…. Oh, it’s not that bad actually. I expected snow up to our knees, and Eskimos building igloos in the square, but the sun is shining, and it looks like we’ll be able to continue exploring the city today.

Worrying slightly about running out of clothes – I’ve already worn every jumper I’ve brought with me, and we’ve been in Edinburgh less than 24 hours - I pull on my winter woollies once more. Sorry stiletto boots, sorry ballet pumps… your time will come, I promise you!

We start as we finished last night… Royal Mile. We could have opted for breakfast at the hotel, but decided to sample some of the local cooking. Although we both wimped out totally and ordered the Full English - Not a haggis or neep in sight! With full tummies, we climbed the Royal Mile by daylight, poking our heads into little gift shops selling tartan everything.

As we approach the Castle, the crowds increase. “Free entry!” someone trills. “Free entry to the Castle!” We edge a little closer to the speaker… indeed, to celebrate St Andrew’s Day, there’s free entry into the Castle! Well, a freebie’s a freebie isn’t it! Unfortunately, despite the icy ground, everyone appeared to appreciate the offer as much as we did. We were all herded in, but with people queuing for the best photo spots, and jostling up and down steps, and people listening to their audio guides oblivious to the world around them; we knew we wouldn’t be able to get the best out of this attraction today. So barely 15 minutes after being swept up in the “Free! Free!” crowd, we headed back to the slightly more civilised outside world.

Whilst in the vicinity, we decided to check out the Camera Obscura and World of Illusions, right next to the Castle. Now this was worth every penny of the admission charge! With five minutes after entry until our Camera Obscura presentation, we made our way up and up and up to the top of the building (no lifts folks, it’s stairs all the way…) for our 15-minute show. The presentation was entertaining and highly informative, and I could have happily sat there and watched all day (not only because it was toasty warm in there…). A few piccies from the rooftop terrace, and then we made our way down through the maze of corridors which housed the World of Illusion exhibits. Loads of interactive stuff, great fun for little kids and big kids like us! Who doesn’t want to experience an Alice in Wonderland style growth spurt? Who doesn’t want to take photographs of their shadow? Who doesn’t want to stare at Magic Eye pictures for hours on end (well, me actually, I just DON’T get them…). Oh, and Mr Fletche would be happy if he never saw the inside of a Vortex Tunnel ever again thank you very much.. But a fantastic couple of hours spent – highly recommended!

Mr Fletche was having a few footwear problems – namely his sturdy faithful boots that did not leak a jot in Prague were now letting in the Scottish slush. So, we decided to head over to the New Town for a spot of (necessary) retail therapy. (Who ever heard of a husband taking his wife on a romantic break, then HIM dragging HER around the shops while SHE complains?). My complaining is diminished slightly with the promise of a hot chocolate and a mince pie on the way…

So one (successful) shopping trip later, Mr Fletche now has dry feet again, we’ve sussed out our options for our anniversary meal tomorrow night (Browns or Wildfire are winning) and we’re enjoying a Saturday afternoon pint in the Abbotsford. We discuss our plans for tomorrow – depending on the weather of course, but I suggest that we take a drive out to Firth of Forth, to Portobello Beach and up to Arthur’s Seat. It’ll be a wonderfully romantic way to spend our wedding anniversary…

Back to the hotel to thaw out a little, before heading off back out to the Christmas Market to freeze right back up again. We wander among the stalls, and the fairground rides, and the tottering ice-skaters, before settling on a pork & apple bap, and a nice cold pint of German beer. It’s not too long though before we start losing all feeling in our extremities, so after a discussion on the Dalai Lama (you really have to be there to appreciate Fletche conversations), it’s back to the Royal Mile, and back to the Albernach (although not before picking up chocolate covered fruit on a stick – a staple ingredient of any good German Market).

The pub though is not much warmer, despite sitting in the furthest possible corner from the draught of the front door, and I shiver my way through a Jack Daniels & Coke. So it’s back to the hotel, for a quick drink in the hotel bar, before retiring to bed – finally there’s some heat being pumped out of the system!

Birmingham
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3. Re: Trip Report - A Snowy Weekend in Edinburgh (26-28 Nov)

Day 3 – Bad weather stops play…

Our wedding anniversary! We exchange cards, realise we’ve bought each other the same gig tickets for next year, and then look out the window… who tippexed out Edinburgh? It was definitely here when we went to bed, now there’s just a big white space where the city should be…

Of course, Edinburgh had not been covered in correction fluid. Instead, a whole heap of snow decided to dump itself on the location of our anniversary break... A quick reccee outside and our worse fears are confirmed - there’s a whole bunch of cars not going anywhere, particularly not up the hill towards our hotel from the car park.

Being hardy – and hungry – souls, we decide not to make any plans until we have some breakfast inside us. We decide to call in on the car park on the way and load up that big bag of shoes that really really didn’t need to make the trip up North, what with my furry boots now being surgically attached to my feet. With a nasty slope up from the car park barrier to the exit, we realise quickly that if the snow continues like this, the Mini Fletchemobile ain’t going nowhere….

With heavy hearts – over another Full English at the Royal Mile – we decide there’s only one thing we can sensibly do. Abandon ship. Get while the going’s good. In fact, get while we can still get going. A quick stop at Tesco on the way back to the hotel for supplies – water and ginger biscuits – and we’re prepared for anything. We throw our remaining clothes in the suitcase, making sure we keep them to hand in case of emergency (like we need to burn them for fuel. Or eat them) and tootle off to check out.

Luckily, it’s a lot easier wheeling my suitcase downhill than up – even dragging huge piles of snow under the wheels – especially as I’m now unencumbered by the pointless bag of shoes. We load up the Mini Fletchemobile, and attempt to execute part one of today’s challenge… getting the car out of the car park, and onto the main road. A sharp left turn on a steep hill almost proves our undoing but the Mini Fletchemobile uses every last bit of its power and frees us from our snowy shackles.

It’s gutting to leave Edinburgh behind, particularly as it looks so magical in the snow but we know we would have spent all day worrying about getting home… and after all, there probably wouldn’t have been much to do, except drink… (“Hold on, turn back! We can still drink!”) Once we hit the motorway, the roads are clear and we start to doubt our decision, but then a two-hour delay on the M6 sets up straight again – if it takes us 7 hours to get home to Birmingham on a Sunday afternoon, what would the traffic be like on a Monday morning?

Despite the weather (“Aah, wouldn’t it be nice if it snowed while we were there?” “Err, NO…”), we both loved Edinburgh and it’s hospitality. This is a beautiful city, and would definitely like to return when we can head for a few more of those local areas that we missed out on.

And I’ll leave you with a thought. November 28th 2008 – 4pm. A country house hotel in Warwickshire. Mrs Fletche glides down the aisle to say her vows to her true love. November 28th 2010 – 4pm. A lay-by on the M6. Mrs Fletche cleans the Mini Fletchemobile’s windscreen while Mr Fletche screams “I still can’t see anything….” Romance eh? Next year I’m heading for the sun!

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4. Re: Trip Report - A Snowy Weekend in Edinburgh (26-28 Nov)

What a fantastic trip report-thank you! Edinburgh is a lovely city indeed.

Edinburgh, United...
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5. Re: Trip Report - A Snowy Weekend in Edinburgh (26-28 Nov)

Hilarious!

Thanks.

USA
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6. Re: Trip Report - A Snowy Weekend in Edinburgh (26-28 Nov)

Loved your report!

Essex
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7. Re: Trip Report - A Snowy Weekend in Edinburgh (26-28 Nov)

Glad I had a read of this one, made me laugh aloud in places.

Happy Anniversary

and

Happy Christmas.

london
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8. Re: Trip Report - A Snowy Weekend in Edinburgh (26-28 Nov)

just about the best trip report I've read ... your sense of humour is wonderful ... happy anniversary, and I hope anniversary number 3 is warmer, although it sounds like Edinburgh will have a fond place in your hearts for ever

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9. Re: Trip Report - A Snowy Weekend in Edinburgh (26-28 Nov)

MrsFletche,

I read all of your reports on your California trip, and was delighted to find you here when I popped over to see what was going on in the UK.

You really should publish. Delightful reading.

Edinburgh
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10. Re: Trip Report - A Snowy Weekend in Edinburgh (26-28 Nov)

I like your style MrsFletche. :-)