Wednesday, 18 March 2009
A Grand Tour
It’s five o’clock in the morning and I’m good to go. Notoriously grumpy outside my core hours, I’m making a big effort to be cheerful – and with good reason; we’re off on our hols! The only slight problem is that something is tickling my neck and further investigation reveals that I’ve put my jumper on back-to-front. Oh, and my Ugg-alike slippers are on the wrong feet. Well, maybe it is a bit early for me.
Since the cars ate our cash, the budget for our city break is even tighter. We shouldn’t be going at all but, sheesh, ten years of marriage has got to be worth celebrating, and Edinburgh’s been on our list of places to visit for ages. We’re going to make the most of our precious time away, hence the early start. The meander through Wales is slow but the scenery is so beautiful we don’t care and by lunchtime we’re drinking tea in a service station in Gretna in brilliant sunshine.
Craigmoss Bed and Breakfast provides us with the perfect base (and the perfect Scottish breakfast!) for our city break; and Isabelle and Harry are wonderful hosts. On the first evening, a crystal clear night, we walk round the city where all the architecture seems to reach up to pierce the sapphire sky; it’s just wonderful. The next day it’s up and away to cram in as much of Edinburgh as possible; the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, the Dean Gallery (both amazing buildings) and over to the Royal Botanic Gardens and Inverleith House.
In the evening, courtesy of Stepson Two (thank you, dear heart) we go to see Noah and the Whale at the Queen’s Hall. Now me, I’d call putting all the focus on a series of short films and bizarre and sometimes grotesque vintage film clips, rather than the band, throwing in the towel, but maybe I’m just missing the point.
The following day we head for Glasgow to visit Kelvingrove and then GoMa, the Gallery of Modern Art. It’s strange though, that out of all the collections we’ve seen, the one that haunts me is the one that’s attracted the most censure. From the angry comments in the visitors’ book, you’d think Hayley Tompkins was up to something really dastardly. Her show, ‘Autobuilding’, which takes up two storeys of the magnificent Inverleith House, is like the pause at the end of a line of poetry. One room, for example, is devoted to a single exhibit, ‘Artificiel’, and comprises, well, a painted twig actually, dotted with squares of cut photograph. I don’t know why it works but it just does, although I’m less convinced by cut up paper and photos arranged on a table.
Having travelled so far, Tom and I decide that a few extra miles are neither here nor there so we come home via the beautiful Northumbrian coast. We manage to fit in a walk on the beach at Bamburgh and coffee and cake at Durham University where Tom studied at his OU summer school last year. Then back through Newcastle and my first glimpse of the Angel of the North. Brilliant! A brief, but truly memorable, break.
Talented Stepson Two has responded to the slings and arrows of the music industry by doing what he does so well, writing melodic, catchy pop songs with a touch of wistfulness. Have a listen to them and catch up with The Pretty Critics here...
Image is 'The Way to Llyn Cau' by Tom Tomos