This weekend we headed “oop North” (how northern Briton’s say “up North”) to Lancashire to visit my other half’s family. He was born and raised in the quaint market village of Chorley. It really is a different pace of life there, and every time I go I can envisage myself buying a cottage and retiring there. But of course, New Zealand still is number on the list for next home destination.
We caught an 8.30am train from London up north, so breakfast snacks were very important. While we were in the northern regions of England we enjoyed the sunshine in the spectacular open spaces and gardens, drank “skinny” coffees covered in chocolate, smacked some golf balls, visited a photography exhibition and checked out the local pubs. Local pubs up north are my favourite spot to sit and watch people. Everyone knows everyone else, and all their business. There’s no secrets in small-village England. Everywhere we went, my other half’s dad proudly introduced us to everyone, with proud high shoulders his son living in London, and then along comes me, the foreign woman none of them can understand. It’s always hilarious and they are all so good natured.
It was a lovely weekend all around, and so nice to get out of the big city to spend time relaxing in the country at a much slower pace, breathing in all that fresh air.
Over the weekend, my other half and I went to visit his Uncle and Aunt on the Isle of Harris, Scotland. The place is phenomenal. The break from London was well needed, the fresh air incredible and the hospitality likened to the Kiwi’s.
When you see the views, it’s hard to believe you’re still in the UK – although the bitter wind that picked up on the odd occasion soon reminded you that you weren’t on a tropical island in the Caribbean. But the sea sure gave the same turquoise beauty.
While we were there we enjoyed the local seafood which is so fresh it reminded me of the treats from the sea in New Zealand. Unfortunately London based seafood, no matter the price you pay, just doesn’t compare to seafood by the coast. I gorged myself on all seafood at every moment I got; scallops, monkfish, seafood linguine, fresh mussels and prawns. We ate at a bunch of beautiful spots that I would recommend; The Anchorage, The Crown Inn and Skoon Art Café to name a few.
It’s becoming more common for people to have stay-cations (holiday in their own country) and I completely agree with it. Why not see the beautiful places right on your doorstep? Not that the Isle of Harris is on anyone’s door step, the dodgy flight from Glasgow in a tiny aeroplane seating 30 people was not a highlight for me. But get out there, see the country you grew up in.
Since being in the UK I have managed to hit all the corners; Pembrokeshire in west Wales, Brighton in south England, Southend on Sea in east England, and now Stornoway in north Scotland. Really, the next spot I need to visit is Ireland, then I would have completed the four corners of the UK plus a trip to the island.
In anticipation of my long weekend in Scotland’s capital for the annual Fringe Festival I asked around for the top 10 must-do’s. I thought I’d write a list of recommended to see/do’s and then revisit the list once I returned to see if I would rate them the same.
- Edinburgh Castle. I see this remaining in my list – I do have a thing for castles.
- Sample the local tipple. I shamed myself at work when someone suggested I drink whisky in Edinburgh; “do they make it there?”. Oh they laughed, and I learned.
- Eat local = haggis, venison and stovies. Enough said.
- Visit the seaside! Portobello beach, right in the city.
- Laugh, sing and dance with the festival – we planned our trip around Fringe so we could check out all the gigs while taking in the city.
- Climb the extinct volcano in the urban park; Arthur’s Seat, the tallest of Edinburgh’s seven hills.
- Soak up the architectural sights in the centre of town.
- Hit the Old Town; small streets lined with wool shops, pubs and historical monuments.
- Pop by Elephant House Cafe where writers such as JK Rowling, Alexander McCall Smith and Ian Rankin put pen to paper and let their ideas flow.
- Finally, just wander. Stroll the cobbled streets and pass through the historic Royal Mile.
Have you been to Edinburgh, what would you suggest? We’ll see if this list matches up when I return.