Posts Tagged ‘#blogmanay’

31
Dec

Hogmanay Joy

   Posted by: MB    in Daily

Thursday, 31 December 2015. Hogmanay. New Year’s Eve.

Fireworks

Kyle and the Babes 2015. Day Fifteen.

What an incredible day!  Another beautiful breakfast by Erlend and Helene started our morning.  Then, a lovely walk through the nearby St. Cuthbert’s Cemetery, appreciating architecture and stone carving and trees and … life.  We took some photos along the way and eventually got to the Edinburgh Christmas Market. On Princes Street Roxy had decided she really wanted to visit the National Gallery, so she left us there and we enjoyed shopping, tried most of the drinks (especially the warm ones) that they had to offer, and at about three or three-thirty we made our way to the Guildford Arms.

The Guildford Arms is an absolutely beautiful Victorian pub in a style I’ve seen referred to as a “gin lounge.”  It is fairly large and very impressive, as is its beer selection.  They have a small restaurant on the second floor.  We love it on New Year’s Eve day, because we have found it’s just far enough off the beaten path that it’s not as busy as most, and if we get there early enough, we can get a table and pretty much take up residence until we are ready to venture into the fray. Today was no exception. Roxy met us there and we enjoyed some beer and cider and chips, and I wrote post cards and we relaxed, until it was time for the Street Party.

We were really hungry by then, so our first objective was food.  MaritaBeth was determined to have her Angus Burger, so we headed that way, met Chris and Jen at the Christmas Market and got the food we needed to get us through the night.  We enjoyed the general ambiance of the Street Party for a while, watching the crowd continue to build.  Chris and Jen had Ceilidh (pronounced kay-lee; means big musical party with set dancing) tickets, so we said farewell to them and we headed to the stage where we knew we wanted to spend most of our time.  Ru-Ran was already playing and was a very pleasant new treat.  Mandi and Roxy went off to have their own adventures, while we stayed put.  We had a great time listening to Peatbog Fairies and Shooglenifty–two bands we’re very fond of, after seeing them for the first time at the Milwaukee Irish Fest.  We made our way (that was interesting in the crowd of thousands) to meet Roxy and Mandi at the appointed place just before midnight, and we were all together for the AMAZING fireworks to welcome the New Year. My bonus (and my favorite) photo of the day is of Roxy and Mandi and Kyle during those fabulous fireworks. Hogmanay Joy I was enjoying them myself, and happened to turn around and see all of them looking up with childlike faces full of joy–it was too precious not to capture. We sang Auld Lang Syne, smooched, and then waited a bit for the throngs to disperse a bit.  We went back to the stage for a few minutes, but the cold won out and we didn’t last long.

Number 2 Cambridge Street was a welcome sight after all evening on our feet. We got comfy, opened a couple of bottles to share, and were visiting in the library when Helene and Erlend came home from their NYE event and joined us for a little while.

We are rather pleased to see 2015 end.  2016 holds promise and excitement.

To all our friends and family we wish you a joy-filled new year!

Happy Hogmanay!

~MB

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31
Dec

Christmas Lights and Torchlights

   Posted by: MB    in Daily

Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Christmas Tree in an Edinburgh Close

Kyle and the Babes 2015. Day Fourteen

I can hardly believe it’s been two weeks since we got here.  The time is flying by so quickly, it’s completely incredible to me.

We slept a little later than usual this morning, and got up in time for a delicious breakfast created by our hosts.  Kyle and I had a fabulous omelette topped with salmon and creme freche. Breakfasts here are truly beautiful.  Served in the library, the coffee and tea, sugar and cream are all in gorgeous silver.  Salt and pepper are in tiny cellars with tiny spoons. The china is blue and white, Delft-style, and the table linens are spotless and perfectly white. And, when the candles get lit, the whole scene sparkles.

Roxy awoke not feeling well this morning, and so missed breakfast and bowed out of the first outing of the day. But, she was already hungry before we left the house, so we are sure she’ll be back on track, soon.

Our first destination today was the Brew Dog Pub on Cowgate.  And, in making that plan official, I realized that my favorite little hat shop–Fabhatrix–was right along the way.  So, we stopped there first…Mandi and Kyle waited for me and offered their opinions when I asked, and then I encouraged them to go on ahead without me, while I made my final decision. I ended up adopting a fabulous little burgundy wool hat that is charmingly asymmetrical; I added some wonderful little tartan embellishments, and I love it!

I joined them at the pub and helped finish a beer or two, and then we went in search of the Italian restaurant that one of Mandi’s friends had very highly recommended–Ecco Vino. We each had a delightful meal and were thus fortified for come what may! We went next to Deacon Brodie’s–a very popular pub on the Royal Mile.  It was like pretty much everyplace we saw–crowded.  But, we knew that the longer into the evening we wandered about, the more crowded everyplace would get, so we went on in, ordered pints, and waited for our chance to snag a table.  That chance came when a random older gentleman who had gone for another pint, returned to his seat and instead of sitting, he offered the chair to MaritaBeth.  After the usual “where are ye from?” conversation, the man told MaritaBeth she had “style” … and that’s why she had a chair!  There was much laughter. Those folks left soon thereafter, and Mandi and Kyle took seats.  We were hoping Chris and Jen would join us, but we kept missing each other and soon it was time for them to line up for the procession–yep, they decided to buy torches and do the two-mile walk.  So, we made plans to meet later in the evening.

When the procession started, we finished up in the pub and walked along with it for a while … taking a few photos and stopping to marvel at the spectacle and just the incredible number of people with torches!  We had magical memories of our first Hogmanay in Edinburgh in 2008, and how the lit torches wind through town and create what looks like a river of fire.  And, again tonight–magic! There is no way that photographs (especially mine) can ever do it justice.  We walked all the way to Princes Street and nearly half way to the foot of Calton Hill.  The torch bearers, of course, go all the way behind and then up onto the hill.  There were so many people walking this year that an announcement was made that Calton Hill had reached capacity and that torch bearers should stop moving up the hill. As the street filled and compacted with light, we made our way back off Princes Street and onto the North Bridge where we knew we’d have a good view of the fireworks.  When the last torches had moved far enough up the street, the fireworks show started.  We watched it, and then headed back to the High Street and eventually made our way to a restaurant to meet Chris and Jen.  (They had walked the whole procession all the way to the top of Calton Hill, extinguished their torches and walked all the way to the High Street to find that some folks were still waiting to start the walk!)

Dinner was very good, except for a few missing oysters (ask Chris sometime about his almost oyster-less Beef and Oyster Pie.) After dinner, we were of course, not really ready for the evening to fully wind down, so we all headed to the World’s End Pub, so named because it sits on the site of the original city wall and as such, was quite literally the end of the world for many people for centuries.

We had a couple of rounds there, and then walked up the street a ways together, finally allowing the night to end with hugs and promises for tomorrow. Tomorrow is the big Hogmanay Street Party! Tonight we sleep!

My photo today, incidentally, is actually from yesterday… I was too busy living today to remember to use my camera!

~MB

 

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29
Dec

2 Cambridge Street

   Posted by: MB    in Daily

Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Our Host, Erlend

Kyle and the Babes 2015. Day Thirteen.

We’re home .. or so it feels!  Edinburgh has long since been our favorite large city on the planet.  And tonight, we sleep within her walls.

My photo is of our charming host, Erlend Clouston, who with his lovely wife Helene, owns Number Two Cambridge Street, here, in the shadow of the Castle and Castle Rock. We stayed here in 2008, the first time we came to Edinburgh for Hogmanay.  In 2012, Erlend referred us to another wonderful B&B because his house was not going to be taking guests for that season. We did get to have a lovely afternoon tea with Erlend and Helene on that visit, and we knew it wouldn’t be our last.  So, when we started earnestly planning this trip I reached out to them, not really expecting it to work out due to our need for two rooms.  But, the nearly immediate response was a resounding  “yes!”  They would absolutely book two rooms for us on our four days in Edinburgh.

Our drive down from Dundee was absolutely lovely. The Kingdom of Fife, as it is called, is an area where we have never spent time, and we were quite impressed with its beauty.  Lots of rolling hills, farmland, and sheep, like much of the country; and the little towns we saw were all lovely. We took one small detour into the town of Falkland to see the historic Tudor era Falkland Palace. Although closed to tourists at this time of year, we took a few photos and logged it in our memories as a place to visit again during the open season.

On down the road, we had a luncheon date planned with friends of Roxy’s … so we made our way to a retail park in Dumfermline and located a Marstons’ restaurant with potential called The Sweet Chestnut.  Moments later, we were introduced to a lovely family who even brought us presents of cute little stuffed British critters (mine is a hedgehog named Hamish who will most certainly take up his Texas residence upon the dashboard of my truck). We enjoyed our lunch, took pictures of the bunny outside our window, and began the last leg of the day’s drive–across the newly re-opened Firth of Forth Bridge and into the City of Edinburgh.Bunny

After arriving at 2 Cambridge Street, and having a delightful “spot of tea” in the library while catching up a bit with Erlend and discussing plans for our time in Edinburgh, we ventured out and up!  Out to the Grassmarket area (which is actually down)…where we popped in and out of some of our favorite pubs: The Beehive Inn, The Last Drop, Biddy Mulligan’s, and then up the hill to The Bow Bar. All of the pubs were very busy and in the last spot we never were able to even score a table.  So, we headed on up to the Royal Mile and began to look to our food options.  Roxy and Mandi ended up choosing an Indian restaurant, and Kyle and I found a new spot that impressed us a lot–Whiskey Dram.  It is a narrow doorway on the High Street leading to a flight of stairs down to another door.  Inside that door, is a very small, beautifully decorated restaurant of perhaps twelve tables, with a bar at one end. We were very quickly greeted and upon learning that we did not have an advance booking, the young man said he’d check on table availability.  He returned momentarily and told us he had one table for us, but only for an hour and fifteen minutes.  Since we really had less than an hour until another arranged meeting time, we said that was perfect and followed him to the last table in the back corner.  He took our order for starters and drinks–Kyle had venison haggis and I opted for smoked trout–and we were both delighted with the service and the food that came. We were able to finish quickly enough to be only a minute or two late to our next spot: The Devil’s Advocate.

Another place that is new since our last trip here, this establishment is a fun mix of old and new. It’s down the wide steps of the Advocate’s Close and housed in one of the High Street’s centuries-old buildings.  But, inside, it is dark and spot-lit in modern fashion.  The tables are old wood, but hand-crafted recently … the bar and bar back are shiny and black and glass.  The stairs up and the terrace outside were industrial metalwork, and the tables there were modern fabricated metal. The bartenders were amazing and although the place was packed to the gills (we sat outside in order to sit at all), they were polite and kept their act classy.

We might have discovered it on our own, of course, but we were there because we were meeting our friends Chris and Jen, there, and Chris had chosen the spot.  They’ve been on holiday about as long as we have this month, but they have spent their time until now in Paris, Bruges, and Prague.  They arrived here in Edinburgh yesterday, as we did, and the plan is for the six of us to pal around together while we’re here. Making great memories is what it’s all about!

Outdoor liquor licensing here is additional to the regular bar licensing, so we were moved indoors at 10 p.m.  We finished our drinks and thought we’d move on to another pub, but, between the day’s travels and the large crowds, we didn’t find a place that beckoned to us.  We walked up the hill a-ways, and ultimately hugged our goodnights with plans to meet again tomorrow. Our little foursome did stop one more time as we had to walk by it anyway, at The Castle Arms for one last round, before going down, over, and up again, to our little home away from home.

Tired and happy, now–first sleep in Edinburgh.

~MB

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