*warning. Extremely photo heavy post!
Going on holiday by train means that the holiday starts as soon as you leave home, instead of getting frazzled by driving and getting lost etc etc. It only took us 3.5 hours by train from Newark to Edinburgh, and there were beautiful views for most of the way, particularly along the Northumberland coast and between Berwick-upon-Tweed and Edinburgh. This photo was taken from the train window as we approached Berwick. It was so much less hassle than taking the car (I dread to think how long it would have taken to drive!)
On the first day in Edinburgh we caught a bus out to Peebles, about 25 miles south towards the Scottish border. All the bus services were pretty impressive, both in the city and going down to Peebles. And parking in the city itself would have been a nightmare. So no contest really, car not needed!
The reason for the whole holiday was to go to Peebles as there's a shoe shop there that specializes in narrow shoes. We'd been promising ourselves a trip there for years. But Peebles itself was also impressive, with beautiful views of the surrounding hills and some interesting shops. There was a tiny "wool shop" as part of a very traditional department store (which I thought was hilarious, and sent Mum straight off into reminiscences!)
At the shoe shop, James Inglis, Mum and I were both measured on their foot gauge (which measures narrower than most do, most don't go beyond a B or an AA). Mum came up as chunky(!) AA, whilst my feet are AAAA. That was a bit depressing, as it means I'm going to have trouble finding any shoes to fit anywhere (but I'd realised that by now anyway!). The shoefitters said I had extremely narrow feet, even by the standards they're used to in the shop (people travel from all over the country to come here) I think the average width in Britain is something like an E or F? It was great though to finally have a proper shoe fitting session (I hate those High St shops that just hand you pairs of shoes and make no attempt to help you get a pair that actually FIT. There must be so many people wandering around in shoes that don't fit properly, which can only lead to joint problems etc in the future). And I got these:
These are 5 AAA (they don't make AAAAs!) and they feel tremendous. They might look a bit boring, but I am so pleased with them. I haven't had a new pair of shoes for at least six years, as I haven't been able to find any that fit so I'm really excited! The two shoe fitters were very helpful, getting Mum and I to try on various styles from various manufacturers so we have more idea of which shoe last shape will fit us (which means we'll be able to use their mail order service in future). It was so nice to find a shoe shop with properly trained staff who know what they're talking about. Definitely well worth the trip to Scotland (does that make this the most expensive pair of shoes ever?!).
Back in Edinburgh we enjoyed a meal out that evening on Hanover St (just off Princes St) at Urban Angel. This is a sensibly priced organic/fair trade/ ultra yummy restaurant which we loved so much we went back again for a meal on the last day of the holiday! Their menu changes every day and they have a lovely range of food, about half of which was veggie (Mum thought the meat and fish dishes were excellent too). We also discovered a tasty drink called "Bouvrage" which is made with Scottish raspberries. On our second night there we ate at Smoke Stack, a chargrill restaurant, which, despite the name, isn't just a haven for those who like large amounts of meat. They had some excellent veggie choices on the menu too and the salad I chose was delicious. The service was a little slow though. On the third night we ate at Henderson's Salad Table, just across the road from Urban Angel. This is a totally veggie restaurant, with a wide range of choices, delicious salads and very tasty puddings!
And then onto knitting. We caught a bus from the western end of Princes St to HK Handknit on Bruntsfield Place. From the outside it looks tiny:
Inside there are two rooms. This is the back room with Mum waiting patiently whilst I drool all over the yarn.
And the wall of yarn in the back room:
And the front room. All those boxes in the window had just arrived and contain EVEN MORE yarn!!! The Boye needles are the ones in the foreground. It's a lovely shop and we (I) spent ages browsing patterns and stroking yarn. The woman who runs it was very friendly and helpful too. It was quite busy, with people popping in and out, so was sometimes a bit of a squash to get to different parts of the shop. Pics of what I bought (without breaking the yarn diet) are at the end of this post.
We stayed at the Albany Hotel on Albany St (funny, that), which is just off Princes St in the New Town area. I love the Georgian streets around here, they're so wide, and many have a lovely view at the end! The hotel itself was OK, and we were on a special offer, as I certainly wouldn't have paid full price. We ended up being upgraded as the first room allocated had a leak, and the second was a double, not a twin so we ended up in an "Executive Suite" which should have cost £190 a night (we paid £49!!). It was comfortable, but there was only a shower, not a bath, and they'd definitely forgotten to dust for a few weeks.
Edinburgh is full of green spaces. This is Princes St gardens, looking up towards the Castle.
On Thursday we went to the van Gogh exhibition at the Dean Gallery. I thought it was very well done, with additional interest from archival material (reports from earlier van Gogh exhibitions, sale catalogues, letters from owners etc). Afterwards we walked along the Water of Leith walkway back through Dean village and into Stockbridge and back to the hotel. I couldn't believe this was only a 10 minute walk from Princes St!
If you're in the centre of the city a good place for lunch or coffee is the fair trade cafe underneath St John's church at the western end of Princes St. It's reasonably priced with plenty of homemade cake to get through! And there's a book shop and fair trade shop next door.
The Water of Leith walkway was very peaceful and we even saw a heron!
Some little waterfall/weir things.
And amazing architecture going into Dean Village. This is were the mills were originally and many of them have now been converted into flats.
On Friday we went to the Audubon exhibition "Birds of a Feather" at the National Library of Scotland. Not as good as the van Gogh, but I thought it was well put together and particularly good for anyone with children in tow. Mum enjoyed it too, even though she hadn't heard of Audubon until we went in!
From there we caught a bus out to the Botanic Gardens and had lunch admiring the view back over towards the centre of Edinburgh. Arthur's Seat:
And back toward Princes St.
There was even a Red Admiral sitting on the buddleia in the garden centre!
We caught another bus onto Leith, this is where the Water of Leith reaches the Firth of Forth:
And a lot of rejuvenation is going on. The old warehouses above have been converted into flats. And they also appeared to be building flats on what looked like a sandbank sticking out into the Firth (this picture was taken from Ocean Terminal, a particularly grim shopping centre, with some nice views):
And on the journey home again more lovely views out across the North Sea!
And, finally, this is what I bought! Or rather Mum bought me the wool to make this pattern (Jaeger, JH 0052) as I'm on my Stashalong diet. The wool is Jaeger Matchmaker Merino 4ply (8 balls)
and five balls of Lana Grossa Cool Wool Big to make the child's jumper from the first issue of Knit Today (for Noah's Christmas present, so the yarn wasn't for me!). The pattern used Jaeger Baby Merino DK, but I didn't like any of those colours and the Lana Grossa was identical yardage and very soft and strokeable, as well as being a beautiful blue!
And you'll have to wait for the next post to see the knitting I did whilst away! ;-)