In the past,all of our trips and city breaks have been with the express purpose of visiting our chosen destination with a view to perhaps making a longer return trip another time. As I’ve probably said in previous blogs, I do tend to favour the city break more than a longer trip as I find that my low boredom threshold makes me restless to find new sights and experience new things. As a result of this, our weekends away and mini breaks have tended to be a fairly intense burst of activity over a 3 day period where we turn up, see it all, photograph everything and then dash back home to go back to work the following day. Of all the places I have been lucky enough to travel to,there are very few places in the world that I would consider making a return trip to as, nice as they are, the world is choc-a-bloc full of amazing places to go to. So far the only place that we have managed to find the desire to go back to is the four seasons hotel in Canary wharf London,where we have a room that overlooks the Thames and the skyline of London,now dominated by the shard. Sure, someday I’d love to go back to New York and maybe even back to the pyramids in Giza but for now I’m focused on new sights and new destinations. So late last year we booked a trip to Edinburgh this time with the express purpose of going to see the comedian Micky Flanagan, or Michael Flatley as Cally’s mum calls him. It also coincided nicely with with Callys birthday. With Edinburgh being over 400 miles away we of course looked for cheap flights as well as the train but as its still the Easter school holidays they were way too expensive, so in the end we decided on our 2nd road trip of the year. Unlike the last road trip though,this one was not going to be a one day round trip as we would be incorporating a 2 night stop over.
At the last minute, and with bit of trepidation given that it was so cheap, we reserved an apartment in a complex run by a company called Fountain court apartments who seem to own many apartments within the city, and when we eventually arrived after an 8 and a half hour road trip we didn’t really seem to care what it was like so long as we could get out of the car and have a shower. After a relatively quick check in we got the keys to our place and went inside and were, quite frankly, a little taken aback by what we saw. For £80 a night ( less than the premier inn) we had a modern, warm, fully furnished apartment with our own kitchen and with every appliance necessary to have a peaceful and relaxed time. Bargain! The apartment block this was situated in was in a gated community so we felt safe and secure and despite it being situated on a main arterial road the noise levels were not an issue. We had read on trip adviser that this road was a “major issue” but then again the world is full of mony whining knobs and we found it to be no issue whatsoever. So for less money than a fairly ordinary premier inn room, we could come and go in privacy, have our own kitchen facilities and feel completely at home. If you ever go to this part of the world and don’t use Fountain court apartments, then in my opinion, you are missing out.
After a wash and a slob out on the sofa we went out for dinner. We found a restaurant/bar called Ryan’s bar on the web before heading out and chose it partly because it wasn’t too poncey (we’re just not that type) and partly because it was within walking distance, which meant that even when taking into account one of Cally’s famous “shortcuts”, we could make it within 15 minutes. Now, it does seem as though all of the centre of Edinburgh is under construction at the moment but after we navigated our way through the roadworks we got to Ryan’s and despite not having booked,and the fact that they were busy,we were accommodated quickly and sat downstairs in the basement restaurant where I had one of the best dinners I’ve ever had. I had haggis for starters which was simply devine,and a mid sized steak for mains which was cooked perfectly and served with the best red wine sauce I’ve ever had. We had drinks as well of course and our waitress looked after us impeccably but the best bit was still to come as the restaurant has a deal in place with Fountain court where you get 20%off your bill, so despite having the best meal I’ve had in ages,I spent less than when I last went to TGI Friday. Unbeknown to Cally,I had an ulterior motive for going out to dinner that night. For sometime I had been planning to pop the question and ask her to marry me. Now I had planned to do this on new years eve last year but she had inadvertently talked me out of it, and I had taken a ring to Amsterdam a few months ago but again without knowing,she had made some comments that had made me apprehensive about asking the question, not because I didn’t think she would say yes but for reasons that we’ll chose to keep to ourselves I didn’t ask. But on this night in this basement restaurant, with a pianist playing in the corner and a glass or two of wine inside us both, the time was right to ask the question. I didn’t just want to drop to one knee out of the blue so I had decided that I would ask her if she would like one of her presents early. Knowing that she would say yes meant that this was a sure fire way of setting the scene and getting the required result. So after we had eaten our main course and were enjoying this lovely place I said to her ” would you like one of your presents a little early”?… She thought about it for a second or so, and said….. “no, I’ll wait till the morning”
So day two dawned and whilst it wasn’t exactly a now or never situation, I knew that my moment was upon me. I gave her a “starter” present of some perfume which she loved and then I got her birthday card out and gave it to her. I had bought her a card with “to my fiancée” on the front so that while she was looking at that and looking a little perplexed, I had the ring out of my bag and sat there with it’s box open while she came to terms with the words. Then as she put the card down she saw the ring. At that moment I saw her go through about 5 different emotions starting with confusion,moving to realisation and ending with elation. I didn’t have time to get down on one knee… She simply asked “really”? And worried that I might lose my composure I simply nodded my confirmation.
The next few hours we spent on the phone to friends and family and updating Facebook (of course) whilst receiving messages of congratulations via text and social media. We also decided that we would go out and have a celebratory drink and enjoy our day together before going to explore the city and do what we had come here to do which was to see Micky Flanagan later that night. Now I don’t really know what expectations I had for Edinburgh but I knew it had a famous castle and and that Princes street was the equivalent of Oxford street in London so, armed with the camera, off we went. Unluckily for us though this city has been photo proofed meaning that everything worth looking at has had either a metal fence built around it, a set of traffic lights or road sign erected next to it or has been built on top of a hill meaning that it’s too far away to get a good shot. It brought back memories of being in Dubai and getting frustrated at not being able to get the postcard photo that I wanted. Although, unlike Dubai when I thoroughly pissed of my (now) fiancée, this time I gave up and went to the pub and we spent the afternoon in a variety of bars before heading down the the Edinburgh playhouse for the evening show.
And a great show it was too. We were expecting some kind of support act but as it turns out he “doesn’t believe in helping new acts, so f**k ’em” and therefore we were treated to a first act which was 40 min long then a longer 60 min act 2, followed by a ten minute encore “on double bubble”. You certainly get a lot of laughs for your money during this show and considering that he is doing this show an average of 5 days a week for virtually 7 months of this year he can’t be accused of being lazy. If you are in two minds as to whether to see this show or not then I strongly urge that you do. So the following morning we set off on our 8 hour trip home and for me, Edinburgh doesn’t contain much worth going back for. Now I realise that this will probably put me in a minority of 1 but it’s just how I see it. Sure the castle looked lovely perched on top of the hill all lit up and I’m sure once all the road works are taken down it will feel less like a building site. Friends had messaged me before I left suggesting places to go and they had clearly had a great time and maybe if we were going to stay there for longer then we might have found more to keep us entertained, but for me it’s not a place I’ll be in a hurry to get back to.