Wednesday, June 29, 2011

an afternoon in Roslin, and an evening on Arthur's Seat.

Our original plan with one of Jeremy's two days off this week was to go to see Holyrood Palace and Holyrood Abbey here in Edinburgh, but after we got ready and went to double-check the website about entry fees we saw that it is apparently closed for another week or so, I suppose someone important is in residence just now, since the Royal Family still uses the palace for their personal uses.
Anyway, so with that plan out the window we decided to use the afternoon to hop the bus down to Roslin to see Rosslyn Chapel and the small town of Roslin itself. It's quite an easy jaunt down there, just taking the number fifteen Lothian bus for about thirty minutes and it spills you out right in the middle of Roslin, the chapel being another five minute walk away.
It was a gorgeous, sun-filled day, warm with sweet breezes that come just as the heat from the sun begins to get under your skin. We walked down to the chapel, catching glimpses of it from behind fences and stone walls--yet the glimpses we caught made us pause to think whether we wanted to spend the seven or so pounds each to go in yet, since it is such an easy trip. The whole outside of the chapel was covered with scaffolding for renovations, and since they don't allow you to take photos inside, the outside was going to be my only opportunity to document our visit--and scaffolding is seriously a pain to photoshop out. So we decided to walk around the grounds of the chapel, outside the stone boundary wall, and enjoy our afternoon in the country.

After spending sometime laughing with each other and sighing at the views we walked the five minutes back into town and sat in the outdoor area with a couple pints and more laughing and more talking was the order of the afternoon. As usual, it was so nice to get out and just be with each other, to talk, to laugh, to reminisce, to make plans, and mostly just to love each other.

After our pints in the 'beer garden' area of the original Roslin Hotel we crossed the road to another little hotel with a bar area. This time we sat inside, in a large sun-let room with dark greens and blues in the plaid carpet and rich window treatments. I picked the table in front of the back center window which illuminated us like royalty--especially since we were the only two in the whole pub. When Jeremy brought our drinks, he also brought a chess set that was sitting on the bar just waiting to be used. I personally dislike chess with a pretty good-sized passion, though I've tried liking it with a brother and sister-in-law who love it and are avid players--I'm really just completely rubbish at it, seriously, rubbish. But Jeremy made me play anyway, and though I nearly lost within the first five moves (Jeremy found a way for me to block him) and then I proceeded to make stupid moves for the rest of the game and get frustrated with myself and the game--all the while muttering under my breath 'I hate this game'--despite all of that, I enjoyed myself. I enjoyed being the only two people in the whole bar, sitting at the far window, back-lit by the afternoon sun, and playing a game together. Again, the idea of just being together seems to simple, but it is just so good too.

We came back to Edinburgh then, another thirty-minute bus ride past the Pentland Hills, through Morningside and Bruntsfield, back to Tollcross where we had decided before we left to stop at another pub we had been meaning to try: The Cloisters. This pub is pretty much attached to the beautiful cathedral that is nestled right next to it, and the building may be just as old as well. Apparently, they have an amazing selection of cask ales which Jeremy enjoyed sampling, and the atmosphere in that place made them taste somehow better. We had our own little table tucked away in a corner between a window looking out onto the cathedral and the spiral staircase that lead to the basement. We stayed there a while then finally ventured back home to have dinner.

After dinner, and an episode of 'Game of Thrones', Jeremy looked at me then out the window and said, "It's gorgeous out there. You wanna hike up Arthur's Seat and watch the sunset? If we leave now we'll easily catch it."
How could I say no? So we packed up a backpack of essentials and made our way down to Holyrood Park, crosses its green spaces and paths and made our way up the extinct volcano of Arthur's Seat. We decided to stop just below the summit so we could have a little area to ourselves instead of having to share the area with the other people who thought it'd be a good idea to go up to watch the sunset. It was lovely to watch the colors deepen and the light fade as the sun set behind the city and the Firth of Forth--oddly setting to the North here. We could see all the way to the Highlands, their high and craggy peaks visible beyond the Forth Bridge. As the sun disappeared, the coolness of the night became more of a noticeable chill and we pulled on our jackets, and Jeremy pulled out a flask of whisky for a nip to keep us warm. It really is amazing what just a mouthful of whisky can do for your body temperature.
When the sun was gone and only remnants of its brilliance were left streaking the sky in a kind of tribute to its former glory we began the hike back down.

It was a truly lovely day, and one that Jeremy made sure to point out was all for the most part spur-of-the-moment, yet just as full and exciting as any day planned weeks ahead of time. Sometimes his laid back attitude definitely does trump my planned and organized one in ways that I don't expect, but love to see.


[Skye still coming soon, it's ridiculous how many photos I took and how much we saw, I want to do it all justice.]

Saturday, June 25, 2011

perks of being a city-dweller.

Living in a city definitely has its perks, from being able to walk pretty much anywhere to the abundance of things to do and see. Another perk of our life in Edinburgh are the charity shops. They're more plentiful than grocery stores in our little Newington area, and they're always stuffed with hidden gems and amazing finds. I don't buy things often or I'd be completely out of money by now, but on occasion I'll splurge with a fiver or so. Here's an adorable plaid skirt that I got yesterday for £5.

Another wonderful benefit of this city is the Farmer's Market every Saturday on Castle Terrace. I've mentioned this before, but I've made a pretty religious habit of traipsing over there on a Saturday morning to admire the goods and procure something tasty for us. There are so many different vendors, some that are there each week and some that I've only seen there once. It's a great place to get local produce and  fresh goods and to support local farmers as well. I'd never really understood the importance or benefit of that until living in a city and comparing the produce and meat I get at Tesco to the quality of the things I can get at the market. I can't buy everything there--though I'd like to--because it can be a little more pricey than I can afford, but I try to at least buy my eggs there and the occasional Aberdeen Angus beef patties for burgers, as well as whatever freshness strikes my fancy that week. Here's my booty from the Farmer's Market this morning.

And for those of you wondering, yes, that's German bread freshly-baked locally in Edinburgh. Dee-lish.

Good times. And I'm still working on the Skye trip for those waiting with bated breath. Right, well, I'm off for a bite of lunch and spending some quality time reading about Celtic deities and their transmogrifying habits.


Thursday, June 23, 2011

coming soon.

Just to let you all know that I will be writing up a sizable post about our trip to the Highlands and Skye, but it'll take some time. It was the most incredible trip I've ever been on, I'm still reeling from all the beauty and wonder we beheld. So here's a wee taster to tide you over until I can get it finished. Enjoy!
The overlook at Ruthven Barracks ruins.

One of the stone cairns at Clava Cairns near Inverness.

Eilean Donan Castle.

The castle ruins at Kyleakin, Skye.

The Faerie Glen, Skye.

A 'Hairy Hieland Coo' in his natural habitat.

Jeremy and me at Glen Coe.

And that's not even the half of it. Stay tuned.


Sunday, June 19, 2011

away to Skye.

We're saying goodbye to bonny Edinburgh for the next few days, and taking a trip up to the Isle of Skye. Two nights in Skye, one full day, and then on either side the traveling days will be going through Pitlochry and Inverness and then Glen Coe and the Wallace Monument. We're quite excited to get a better (and longer) view of the Highlands and Islands, especially Skye, as it's the one place that everyone tells us we need to see. In Gaelic a common moniker for it is Eilean a' Cheo--the island of mist--so we're looking forward to inspiring landscapes and mysterious mist-covered mornings.

Bye bye for now, fair Edina!

And a very happy Father's day to the best Dad a girl could ask for. Thanks for being an awesome dad, Dad. I love you an incredible amount.


Thursday, June 9, 2011

here and there.

This is the view from my workout. I must admit that I feel pretty lucky to have this to watch instead of the tv screens that sit atop the other machines spilling out gratuitous and disgusting images of today's most popular music videos. I get to gaze out at Salisbury Crags as I listen to my own music, sometimes the Beatles, sometimes the Avett Brothers, sometimes Cake.

I snapped this from my phone last night as Jeremy and I ventured out for an evening out with each other, rather than an evening in next to each other. The clouds billowed threateningly over Old Town, and we walked right into them, careless of the imminent rain, merely happy to be in each other's company and anticipating good conversation over a pint or two.

I also caved and decided that our date out for drinks could also include dessert of Sticky Toffee Pudding and vanilla ice cream. Plus I've been working out and can work out extra hard next time, right? Either way, it was delicious as was the time we spent together enjoying the social scene of our city.

I took this in The Last Drop, a completely touristy pub on Grassmarket, but a neat little cave-like place with nice candlelit ambiance and low ceilings. We came here for one last drink after spending most of our time just down Grassmarket in the Black Bull. I came here with my parents when they were here and Jeremy had to work that day, so we decided to pop in so he could experience it too.

We bought our plane tickets home the other day, and it's finally sinking in that we're leaving this place in a few short months. Though we are looking forward to going home to family and beginning yet another new chapter in our lives, we can't help but weep a little at the thought of leaving the city that has really come to be a home away from home for us. We've grown and experienced so much here, it will always be a formidable year in our marriage, and we'll always keep this ancient city in its own little nook in our hearts. Not knowing when we'll return is probably the biggest fear. This city is now part of our story, and I know it will have a recurring role in the future, but not knowing when that might be is disconcerting. But I know there is a plan, and that we've grown attached to Edinburgh in this way for a reason, so I look forward to its next cameo in our lives and relish the time and adventures we still have waiting for us until September 6th. So here's to Edinburgh.
Dùn Èideann, tha gaol agam ort, gu bràth tuilleadh. 


Saturday, June 4, 2011

we went adventuring in the borders.

 Lindisfarne. The Holy Island, it was full of ancient stone and sacred history. To be there in the midst of it all was absolutely incredible, and incredibly humbling. A pilgrimage there would be well worth it.

Bamburgh Castle. We only had a short stop here, but it surely left its formidable impression on us. We also listened to the first book of the Saxon Tales by Bernard Cornwell before we went, which made it that much cooler. Imagining Uhtred of Bebbanburg within those great walls was quite easy.

Alnwick Castle. Pronounced "Ann-ick" and the place where the first two Harry Potter movies were filmed. We enjoyed exploring and taking little amorous breaks in the alcoves of old stone. It was a breathtaking fortress still owned by the Percy family. In the State Rooms there were recent family pictures set up everywhere. It was surreal to realize that a real family still owned it and it was actually someone's home. Albeit not their only home, and one much bigger than anyone I know is used to.

The solemn monument in Flodden Field to the Scots lives lost in the battle here so many years ago. The countryside surrounding it was so idyllic and serene, it's hard to imagine it being the site of such brutal violence.

A day full of sights and sounds both ancient and modern. This great isle is so full of history it's hard to choose which histories to go and relive. But we're going to experience all we can while we're still here. Here's to another day and another adventure.