Scotland, Rain & Shine, U.K.

June 1, 2010 2 comments

The trick about spending 3 days with the children in Scotland is the packing. You’ll need some for the Rain – because it will rain! – and some for the Sun – because you might get lucky.

24 hours in Edinburgh was barely enough but it allowed us for a good overview and enough time to explore the famous castle (half day). It dominates the whole city and is worth the climbing of the (many) stairs. (Thank you Ceki for carrying the bugaboo each time. Next time I won’t leave the backpack behind)

Not to be missed at the Castle, the daily 1pm firing of the gun (except Sunday). It’s impressive for everyone, and very very loud.

BozAround tips: beat the queue at the castle and pre-buy your tickets online here.

Right after the visit, on Castle Hill, it’s interesting to stop at the Scotch Whisky Experience for some sampling, provided that you have babysiting planned afterwards. We did not, so we just chose some good-looking bottles…

Edinburgh gets 2 million visitors a year, one of which comes during the world-class festivals of August. My advice, visit the city any other month of the year.

However, every May, there is the Edinburgh Children’s festival, with a good quality programme of performing arts. Worth checking out.

The Old Town neighborhood around the castle is charming and easy to cover by foot. I wish we had a lunch at The Witchery by The Castle. Built in 1595, the setting looked beautiful and the restaurant got great reviews. But it’s not baby friendly at all (no high chairs, no buggies) so we’ll come back when Amalya is a bit older…

Edinburgh has many fine antique shops and old bookshops. We stopped at The Old Town Bookshop on 8 Victoria Street where I picked a very sweet book of poems for children called The Littlest One. A handwritten note inside says it’s from 1920 and used to belong to Rosamond Leeds. Our thoughts are to you, Rosamond. Scroll down for a selected poem.

I must admit we did not eat well in Scotland. A lot of lamb, pork and fish&chips…not my cup of tea. Below is Marcelo staring at a piglet ready to be eaten, hungry anyone?

However, we did sleep extremely well at the new Chester Residence. With a kitchen and full amenities in each apartment, and a very accommodating staff, it’s the perfect base for a family.

For our 2nd day, we drove north east towards Saint Andrews, famous for its castle, its cathedral, and the fact that Prince William studied there. The coast is beautiful, with intense shades of greens and melancholic greys in the sky. On the way, there is Deep Sea World , which everyone raves about, but we by-passed it and rushed to where the famous East Neuk coast begins.

East Neuk is one picturesque village after the next. We stopped for fish&chips at the Ship Inn in Elie.

Our last day, we relaxed at the Hotel Gleaneagles in the countryside, west of Edinburgh. That was quite a discovery, so family-friendly it was. Famous for its golf course, it also has an incredible choice of activities for the family, starting with a creche and a fully-equipped kids club with Fat Boys and all sorts of electronic devices.

The most exciting activity: a Falconry School. That’s right, children from 4 year olds can learn to train an eagle. There’s also a gundog school, some off-road driving sessions and a world-famous equestrian club. You guessed it, it’s traditional British at its best, but done with taste and in a very welcoming/almost casual way.

Marcelo wanted to try every activity at The Gleaneagles. He even played croquet. But he still needs to say tomato properly…

I am sharing here a little poem from The Littlest One book, called Out-of-the-World:

When Mother is tired or worried or sad

She slips away an’ down the garden

Into a place of cool, green trees,

Where always, she says, there’s a tiny breeze

Whisperin’ up in the tree-tops.

And always it makes her quiet and glad,

And she sits an’ thinks, an’ she feels she’s somewhere

Out of the World an’ looking on, Watching the things that are passing – and gone…

And she says she can see such a lot doesn’t matter;

So she leaves all her worries there under a tree.

And the things that do matter she puts in her heart,

And comes back to the World and to Daddy an’ me.

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