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.
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.
At last I can say that I've been to a Proms concert at the Royal Albert Hall! It's another of those things I've been saying for years that I really want to do, and for whatever reason have never got round to it. Well, this year, in the spirit of enjoying more different experiences, I booked tickets to a Thursday evening concert for me and Mum, not knowing any of the pieces on the programme, and off we went.
Every year over a long weekend in July, the Wildlife Heritage Foundation Big Cat Sanctuary near Smarden, Kent, holds its annual Open Days - an opportunity to go and see the amazing work the Foundation does, see the beautiful cats they care for, and have a great day out.