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.

And finally...
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


liz fenwick said…
Have a get break and I love the painting!
Flowerpot said…
Sounds like a really wonderful trip - I've never been - and I should, as part of current wip is set there! Of course 10 years is worth celebrating - and let's face it, no one can save at the moment with interest rates this low so you might as well spend it!
JJ Beattie said…
That sounds wonderful. I love the Bamburgh castle bit of coast and the Angel of the North is wonderful, isn't it?

(I love Flowerpot's theory: spend it then, yup!)
Crystal Jigsaw said…
I can't believe you walked on Bamburgh beach and I didn't know!! I live 3 miles from the castle near a village called Lucker. Next time, drop me a line and I'll have the kettle on!

CJ xx
Lane said…
Well I think you celebrated in admirable style! It all sounds absolutely wonderful.
You did remember to take your Ugg-alike slippers off before you left didn't you?:-)
Preseli Mags said…
I love the sound of Ugg-alikes. They sound so accommodating! I'm glad you had such a great break to celebrate your tenth anniversary. I didn't get anything like that last year for ours (she moans, enviously. Sigh.) Off now to follow that link to The Pretty Critics...
Elizabethd said…
Sounds as if you had a realy super break. Ten years deserves a 'runaway'.
bodran... said…
I feel a scottish trip coming on>>> maybe this year i've got to make some money first though x
Frances said…

Thank you for the report of your anniversary trip up to Scotland. You've reminded me of what a splendid time I had in Edinburgh and Glasgow many Novembers ago. (Roses were still abloom.)

I took a train up there from York and found the scenery along that coastline absolutely gorgeous.

Pipany said…
Souns a good break Chris. never been myself as it is SUCH a long way form Cornwall - where isn't? Had a listen to the music link and htey are really good. Success will come xx
Pondside said…
It sounds as though you picked a great way to celebrate, Chris. That B&B looked good and the Scottish breakfast...mmmmm.
My brother is going to Scotland next month so I've sent him the link.
Congrats on 10 years!
Calico Kate said…
What a fantastic break Chris. I love Kelvingrove gallery when it isn't too busy, I would guess that you got it at about the right time. During the summer its about 12 people to a painting min!
And that you went 'off-road' makes trips away extra special.
Congrats on 10 years!
ChrisH said…
Liz, thanks, I'll tell Tom.
Fp, good thinking, Batman! Do go. it's fab.
JJ, my first time for all of it and it was great.
CJ, it was a bit 'spur of the minute' to go back that way.. had I known you were so close I'd have been round for that cuppa.
Lane, I had to because I was walking round in circles!
Mags, I think they are a girl thing so maybe get the anniversary trip organised before B sees the Ugg-alikes.
Elizabeth, with my track record it certainly does!
bodran, see fp's comment! I'm so glad we went! But don't go by moped!
Frances, yes, Tom's done that train trip. We followed the line some of the way - what views!
Pip, well, we're quite cut off here, so I know how you feel. Thanks for listening.
Pondside, it was great and very reasonable - I wouldn't have put the link on otherwise; comfortable, friendly and close to the centre but still quiet. The people who run it are great.
Kate, I think you're right - we hit all the galleries when we had most paintings to ourselves (especially Hayley Tompkins!!) lovely to have an almost private viewing.
Debs said…
It sounds like utter bliss to me.

Shall go and listen to stepson two's music.
Suffolkmum said…
Sounds like a great break. I love Edinburgh but haven't been for ages. Jealous of you being on Bamburgh beach!
Frances said…
Chris, thanks for the tip on the Guardian review. I think that their writer was even a bit more generous that I was! Still, I so love to go to the theatre, and so wish I could afford to go more often.

Now, I will have to be on the look out for the original Blithe Spirit film with Margaret Rutherford!

Milla said…
Hi, Chris, I'll skip the shudder of sympathy at getting up early (even if in a good cause) and jump straight to Clocks / Pretty Critics. I just love them. Have added them both to my favourites. I can't but believe they're going to be huge - and can't believe that Clocks' CD never got made. What a shame. Love it! Massive good luck to them.
LittleBrownDog said…
Yes, I'm not at my best at 5am either - completely with you on that. I'm always envious of the way you seem to make time for doing those really important things like getting away and immersing yourself in culture - I am always too half-hearted to actually plan things properly, then actually DO them. Sounds like a lovely trip (and I do love that painting...)

Cait O'Connor said…
Love Edinburgh and Nortumberland, I am green can't you see?
Fennie said…
I blame all that running! After Llanelli its amazing you can still get up. Putting a pullover on back to front is surely a small price to pay. But glad you went to Edinburgh. It is the city of my birth and therefore doubly beautiful for me with its great Georgian architecture and space.
ChrisH said…
Debs, thank you for listening.
Suffolkmum, I didn't realise how many PCers withing striking distance there - could have really upped the 'jealousy' factor!
Frances, I'm glad the link was of interest.
Milla, thank you very much! The thing is Clock's album did get made, and it's full of catchy, melodic pop tunes and the record company are sitting on it! Such a waste.
LBD, it's easier for us to take off, no small people around to consider... just money. Sigh!
Cait, sorry! I want to go back now.
Fennie, yes, space - I was really struck by that... I can't compare it to any other place, I'd love to go back.
Un Peu Loufoque said…
Gosh havent been up there since I was 12!! Sounds as if it was worth th visit and you had fun!
Tam said…
Edinburgh is lovely and the Angel is an impressive sight, isn't it?
ChrisH said…
UPL... but that was only 9 years ago!
Tam, welcome, thank you for visiting.

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