Posts Tagged ‘Dundee’

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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28
Dec

The Farthest North Ever!

   Posted by: MB    in Daily

Monday, 28 December 2015

The North SeaFishing Boats

Kyle and the Babes 2015. Day Twelve.

On the Fourth Day of Christmas, my true love gave to me … A Lifetime First …the opportunity to go farther north than either of us had ever been before!  Parts of Alaska are farther south than we were, today!

We left the lovely Newburgh Inn and headed truly due north.  Kyle battled extreme winds all day as he drove and was amazing behind the wheel. Our first milestone stop was in Fraserburgh. If you look at a map of Britain and notice that there are two bulges on the northeast side … the top one is a summer time-only trip, and we hope to do that someday.  The second one is where we were today!  Aberdeenshire, the county in that corner of the world, is wilder and rougher than most parts of Scotland we’ve seen.  With the wind we dealt with today, it even seemed more exposed and untamed than the parts of the Highlands we’ve visited in the past.  No big hills or mountains … just fields and crags … and at the end of the road north: The North Sea.  The town of Fraserburgh seems to be mostly a world of boats and fishing.  I think we saw every type imaginable of businesses having to with boats. And so many boats in relatively small spaces that it must be like a game of Tetris at the end of the fishing season, to get them all safely situated like what we saw today.  But, the highlight of the adventure was the Kinnaird Head Castle Lighthouse.  Built in the 16th century for the Fraser family, the lighthouse was added to the castle in 1787. Unfortunately, the information we had found online was incorrect, and the place was not open for tours today, after all.  But, we enjoyed a self-tour of the outside and the grounds … which included a fairly up-close and personal look at the cold North Sea.

Without traveling far to the west, there is no farther north we could go, so we turned and headed back south, but this time along the coast, instead of up the center of Aberdeenshire.  That meant a slightly smaller road and the ability to take a detour for milestone number two: a dip in the North Sea!  Not our whole bodies, of course; I looked it up and that water was 9 degrees centigrade, today.  But, despite the temperature and the wind factor, we found ourselves a lovely little beach in a tiny town called Cruden Bay and I put my fingers in it!  Mandalyn was even braver–she was hell-bent on putting her foot in it and dunk that foot, she did!  Another bucket list item checked!

After that we attempted a visit to the ruin of Slains Castle, but realized after a long and lovely, if not windy walk, that we were not even halfway there!  And, the second half of the walk was going to be across a wide-open, wind-swept field of tall grass …did I mention it was cold and windy? There was some photo-taking from afar and the satisfaction of achieving at least some of our goals for the day. We walked back to our car and quickly found a lovely little hotel pub that was open (today was the banking holiday for Christmas and the last of a four-day weekend for many Brits) for a drink and a snack before continuing south to our overnight stop in Dundee.

Dundee proves to be a big enough city that finding a quaint little hotel like we prefer was nigh to impossible without more expertise on the area. So, we found a lovely Doubletree by Hilton that incorporates a beautiful old manor house as its bar, restaurant and administration offices. Dundee has a history of being one of the top producers of jute in the world and in the mid-nineteenth century when that industry was in its heyday, one wealthy mill owner built this place for his bride.  It became a hotel in the 1930s and though it has seen many changes over the decades, it’s beauty is respected and maintained.

We took a brief trip into the little suburb of Invergowrie and visited a couple of spots, one for dinner where I had a nearly perfect plate of haddock and chips, and the other just for a pint.

Tomorrow, we’re headed in to our favorite big city in the world:  Edinburgh. It feels like going home.

~MB

 

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