My final full day in Edinburgh began with a delicious breakfast of freshly cooked eggs benedict at the Urban Angel cafe, and then saw me turning in a different direction, this time north towards Stockbridge and its lovely village atmosphere, winding streets, independent shops, and pretty little houses.
Wednesday – a clear morning and the sun shining! Energised by the blue sky and a quick breakfast, my first stop today was Edinburgh Castle, my walk this time taking round the south side of the crag and onto the esplanade – crowded with couples and groups taking the required selfies in front of the imposing structure, the ubiquitous selfie stick very much in evidence. I decided to forgo the audio guide this time, letting interest take me around the buildings, artillery batteries, museum displays and viewpoints, conversing with the staff on duty about the history, people and stories of the place. Tiny St Margaret’s Chapel was a highlight, the oldest stone structure on the site, still maintained by volunteers and used for small weddings and services, the stained-glass windows added in the 1920s somehow adding to the beauty and peace of the space. Peaceful that is until disturbed by a group of foreign students following the audio tour who briefly filled the small room with chatter and then just as quickly departed, clearly not as struck with wonder as I was. Oh well, it takes all sorts.
Being more courageous when it comes to grasping opportunities is one of my big aims for this year, so when the chance came up at the end of January to be away from home for a few days (to escape the disruption of builders and refurbishment work) I jumped on it. I could have quite easily stayed close to home in a small hotel in a local town, but I figured I might as well go somewhere new and be able to explore, so I booked a few days in Edinburgh.
On the last Saturday of January I hopped on the train to Birmingham for the day to meet some friends.
Nothing hugely ground-breaking about that you might think. Well, for me it was huge. For a start, out of the group of seven of us, I’d only ever met one of them in person before. Yes, that’s right, I said they were friends, but I’ve never met them. Huh?!
One of our outings while we were staying in Scarborough a few weeks ago was a drive a little way south along the coast to Flamborough Head. This is a small headland that juts out into the North Sea and is a beautiful spot for a walk along the chalk cliffs and through an area of natural beauty, it's also not far from the RSPB Bempton Cliffs reserve.
Scarborough is a firm family favourite as a UK holiday destination, and a place where family still live. We used to spend most summers up there, as well as half term breaks with my grandparents, and then only occasional visits while my sister was at university in Yorkshire. But it's been a few years since we visited, so my parents and I decided it was past time for another pilgrimage.
After a quick, and crowded as always, trip on the tube, I emerged at Tottenham Court Road and headed west along Oxford Street. The noise of people and traffic roared in my ears as I negotiated locals trying to get places, and tourists trying to figure out where they were. I knew exactly where I was going - a quick cut down Argyll Street from Oxford Circus and the famous mock-Tudor shop front came into view.