Earlier this month, our little family enjoyed a weekend break in Edinburgh to celebrate my eldest son’s birthday. We have been trying lately to focus less on presents at birthday time, and more on enjoying experiences that give us quality time together, expand our horizons, and most importantly – are fun for us all. I’ve written here before about my love for Scotland’s capital, and last time we visited I wrote a post on 16 things to do when you have 48 hours in the capital, based on a child-free weekend in 2016 when my husband and I walked 25 miles around the city in the space of 2 days. This time the kids were with us and we wanted to enjoy our weekend at a more leisurely pace – although even they managed to rack up 8 miles according to my phone’s health app – not bad considering there were no complaints of ‘are we there yet’ (not bad going when you have a mum who thinks the best way to explore a place is almost exclusively on foot).
We stayed at a Travelodge just off Princes Street, giving us easy access to most of the city’s main attractions, and it was a delight to pop across the road to Princes Street Gardens and enjoy the daffodil-strewn display there (even if the weather was a bit grey during our stay). On our first morning, we made the 40 minute walk from the hotel to ‘Our Dynamic Earth’ – a visitor attraction telling the story of the history of the planet – the kids loved the virtual time machine and a chance to experience the big bang, the ice age and erupting volcanoes first hand (well, almost anyway). On the way there, we dropped into the Scottish Parliament Buildings at Holyrood and had the chance to visit the debating chamber (well worth a visit if you are ever in the area). On our travels we also soaked up the history of the Royal Mile, enjoyed street performers on the High Street, and popped into St Giles Cathedral for a look at the spectacular architecture (it’s worth purchasing the £2 photo permit if you’d like to get some pictures). After a quick coffee break at Patisserie Valerie – one of our favourite city pit stops – we headed back to the hotel for a well earned hour’s rest before our evening’s entertainment commenced.
That entertainment was a trip to the evening performance of Joseph the Musical at the city’s Playhouse Theatre, starring Joe McElderry – the angelic looking Tyneside lad who won the X Factor back in 2009 at the tender age of only eighteen. It was the first time our kids had been to a musical at the theatre (having only been to Christmas pantomimes before), so it was an exciting experience for all of us, and the show certainly didn’t disappoint. McElderry was perfect in the role of Joseph, and it was lovely to hear familiar songs like ‘Any Dream Will Do’ (which took me back to my fan-girl days of swooning over Jason Donovan in a long coat back in the 1990’s). McElderry himself is a fantastic singer, and his emotional rendition of ‘Close Every Door’ quite literally gave me goosebumps. All in all, it was a fantastic evening and one I hope we can repeat lots more now that the boys are getting a bit older. At ten and eight, they seem to be an ideal age for these types of experiences (although my youngest did admit he found the story a bit hard to keep track of ‘because of all the singing’).
After our show, we headed down Leith Walk to enjoy an Italian at La Favorita – a place I’d seen recommended as somewhere the locals like to eat pizza near the city centre. And the locals (as usual when it comes to travel recommendations) – were right – we loved the log-fired pizzas, and the busy, buzzing atmosphere. It was very child-friendly, in spite of it being quite late in the evening when we arrived, and there was even a pizza made of chocolate on the menu if your tastebuds were so inclined (I have to say we didn’t try it). There were several birthday parties in while we were eating and it was lovely to see the whole place erupt in celebratory sing song as the lights dimmed on several occasions. I really want to go back on someone’s birthday now just so I can watch an Italian man, arms aloft, shout ‘Everybody! One more time! Hip hip hooray!’
After a nice walk back to the hotel and a good night’s sleep our little city adventure was over and the next morning we set off on the five hour journey back to the north of Scotland.
There’s no place like home, but there’s also nothing like a little getaway now and again. In fact, I’m planning the next one as we speak!