Europe

Edinburgh- Arthur’s Seat

Some nature in the heart of Edinburgh; Arthur’s Seat.  It’s in Holyrood Park, near Holyrood Palace, which is the Queen’s official residence in Scotland.  It’s an ancient volcano about 250m above sea level.  So, it’s not a long walk but it’s a big steep hill basically.  Although there were small children and mad ladies in flip flops heading up there, I was struggling slightly.  I am quite unfit these days though, and the torrential rain had finally stopped and the hot sun came out which didn’t actually help.

DesktopOn our first approach we had the choice of a long more gentle slope or the steep shorter one, we chose the horrid one to go up and the gentle one to come down on.  There were some lovely views over Edinburgh, and the sea as we went up.  And lots of tourists, as was the general theme of Edinburgh while we were there.  In fact, we could see Arthur’s Seat from pretty much everywhere whilst we walked around Edinburgh all week and there were always little figures visible on the top.

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Edinburgh- The Castle

Collages22I suppose a visit to Edinburgh would be incomplete without a visit to The Castle, unfortunately everyone else in Edinburgh thought that too!  It opens at 9:30am and we arrived at 9:40am and still had to queue for 25 minutes to get in.  And the seas of people just kept on growing as we walked around.   And the number of people made it hard to see things properly, but then it’s a bit rich of me to complain when I was one of those people!

Collages23edinburgh1It was also delightful rainy in that Scottish way when we were there, so that was nice! The other excellent addition that really enhanced our experience of the Castle was the ‘Esplanade’. This is a huge set of tacky, bright blue, plastic seats for military tattoos (not the inky ones, these are performances by military bands that you can pay up to £74 for).

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There weren’t as many indoor bits that were opened up as I was expecting, which was a shame given the rain and number of people. They do actually still have a military presence in the buildings so obviously you can’t just wander in to the barracks. But for £17 I wanted more from my visit. There was a guided tour you could take but we decided just to wander which was perhaps a mistake given how little info there was on everything.

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Packing for Edinburgh

Boyfriend has decreed that we are not allowed to take two foreign holidays in a year. We went to the USA in April (and I am going to Latvia with mum in October), so our summer jolly had to be in the UK.  London was on the cards for a while, but we decided to head away further north to Edinburgh.   Annoyingly, London is enjoying a heat wave and Edinburgh is not but the tickets are booked.  Also it means we can see my sister and niece who live in Glasgow.

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So, I headed out today and picked up a new rucksack (actually three!) to take with me.  I bought the Blacks City 30, which is a 30L rucksack designed for travel and commuting rather than hiking.  And it was in the sale.

You can see what I was able to fit into it, and now it’s pretty full:

  • underwear and socks
  • sleepwear
  • 5 x t-shirts
  • 1 x shorts
  • 1 x trousers
  • sunglasses
  • snacks
  • painkillers
  • itinerary
  • purse
  • 1 x skirt
  • 1 x dress
  • 1 x cardigan
  • raincoat
  • 2 x books
  • 1 x tote bag
  • toiletries
  • cameras
  • hairbrush
  • keys

And left out:

  • small day bag
  • travel outfit
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London- Victoria and Albert Museum

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As an early birthday treat mum and I went to London to visit the Victoria and Albert Museum.  It wasn’t my first visit, but there’s tonnes to see.  We took an earlyish train but it was still lunchtime when we arrived.  I opted for a rather nice goats cheese lasagne, the food there is pricey but at least it’s nice.  Across the road at the Natural History Museum the cafe is pretty crap.

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We thought about going to the temporary exhibition which was a history of underwear, but it costs £12 for those tickets, and we found the other fashion galleries instead. It was a through the ages look at fashion.  Mum commented that the ‘modern’ pieces aren’t that impressive.  I agreed but I think it was a little warped.  The older clothes were clearly picked to represent common trends, while the newer ones were ones that would have stood out from the crowd.  I mean there no stretch skinny jeans so it can not be said to truly represent what people are actually wearing today.

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London- Harrods

Whilst in London town we wandered past Harrods.  Last time I was there it was rammed with people and I lasted about 3 minutes before I had to leave.  But it was much quieter this time, and we had a look around the food hall.

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There was yummy looking cheese and chocolates.  And I finally got to the see what a cronut was (half croissant, half doughnut).  I wonder what it’s like to work in Harrods, it must be incredibly busy most of the time.  And mainly with tourists who must be quite annoying, and always taking pictures of cheese…

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But the only thing I bought was some tea!  There were a lot of flavours of regular black tea, but it was really green tea that I was after.  They didn’t have many in tea bag form, and I decided to go for a white tea (with hints of cucumber and watermelon) which was £5 for 20 bags.  Not the cheapest tea ever, but possibly the cheapest thing in Harrods!

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Beaches

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Things to do in Leeds

Some nice things to do in Leeds.

Royal Armouries
The Royal Armouries is a free, council run, museum themed around weaponary!  Guns and knives feature here from hunting weapons to fighting.  It’s on the waterfront and it might take some searching for but on a sunny day it’s a nice area to hang out.  It’s council run so there’s always something that’s broken but still enough to occupy an afternoon.  It’s got a fun shop and a rubbish cafe.

Arts Cafe
A nice cafe that does good fries and was one of the few places you can get a Coke Float in Leeds, however now they look at you like you’re crazy if you ask for one even though it’s still on the menu!  It does a good line in contemporary British cuisine, and a has a curious range of cakes in slightly mad combinations of flavours that I’ve never tried!

Roundhay Park
A large park that has two lakes that people often walk, run, or cycle round.  There is also Tropical World where they have some birds, reptiles, spiders, and meercats.  It’s an odd mix perhaps but you pay about £5 entrance fee so who’s complaining!

Corn Exchange
The old Corn Exchance where, one assumes, corn was exchanged…Anyway the building is one of many lovely buildings in Leeds (if you look up above the tacky facades at street level) and now full of shops.  A few years back it was full of alternative shops but they were booted out when they needed more money to repair the roof.  The,  ill-conceived, plan to replace them with restaurants during a time of economic depression did no pan out and the place was largely empty for a long time.  Now there are some nice vintage shops, a good hot dog place, and a place to buy all you incense you could want.  They also have craft and vintage fairs from time to time.

Pizza Express
Next to the Corn Exchange is my favourite Pizza Express, which is my favourite restaurant! I assume they are common elsewhere, they are definitely a chain as there are 4 in Leeds. They all do the same food but the Corn Exchange one is the nicest building and has the nicest decor in my opinion.  Boyfriend likes the one nearer the Train Station, and we both dislike the one amongst the shops in Leeds centre.

Outside Leeds:

Saltaire and Salts Mill
20 minutes on the train from Leeds is a small but hilly town called Saltaire. Saltaire was built by Sir Titus Salt (best name ever!) who was a 19th century mill owner and troubled by the pollution and poor living conditions in Bradford.  He built an entire town to house his workers and their families, which was quite remarkable.  Now the old mill is an art gallery dedicated to David Hockney, it is really the biggest book and art supply shop around and worth a visit.  The cafe is good too.

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Touring UK- Leeds

Well I live in Leeds and I do occasionally see tourists coming out of the train station on my daily commute, or when we travel we see people landing in Leeds Bradford Airport, and I often wonder why on Earth people would chose to visit here!  Thinking about it a little though there are worse places you could visit!

There is a lot in the North of England that often gets overlooked as most foreigners think only London exists.   The main selling point must be that the north is A LOT cheaper than the south in terms of accommodation, food, and pretty much everything!

A little note before we begin about Leeds Bradford Airport, if that is your port of entry, it is the most depressing place on earth.  It is small, cramped, and grey and a sad way to start your trip. There is no airport shuttle as such but one bus to take you into Leeds that swings through every half hour and takes 40mins to get into town.  It costs about £3.50 one way and since it’s just a regular bus you can only get a same day return, and you buy the ticket from the driver on the bus who will probably be grumpy because they always are.  A taxi will be about £25.

Welcome to the UK!

Once that’s out of the way you can enjoy Leeds!

 

 

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Lord Rodney, Keighley

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What’s On The Horizon?

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A selection of images of the horizon in some of the amazing places I’ve visited.

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