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Saturday 5th - Monday 7th March 2005. A weekend break in Edinburgh with Yuka and Chie.


11:36:21 Not long after boarding our train at King's Cross. We'd got first class tickets, and I guess we're just taking a moment here to appreciate that fact.

11:36:56 This is me looking very relaxed in my first class seat.

11:52:11 Chie was initially quite annoyed about not having been offered a complimentary biscuit...

12:03:05 ...however this was later rectified when I went to find the trolley lady and get a couple.

12:11:34 An informative simulation of what I may have looked like had I been travelling alone.

12:50:02 Lunch, served at our seats, and surprisingly good for train food. I guess that's the difference of being in first class!

12:53:16 The weather was very changeable as we passed through England - sometimes bright, sometimes cloudy, sometimes raining, and even some snow as depicted here.

12:56:20 I had a pizza for lunch, which actually wasn't too bad.

13:33:29 I think I just wanted to register the fact that we had got to York by this point.

13:56:11 Not very will lit - Chie and Yuka looking at the view.

13:59:46 No longer sure what I was trying to fit in the picture here. Maybe some snowy hills in the distance?

15:43:00 Due to engineering works we had to change after Darlington, and from Newcastle onwards we were on a different train, pictured here.

16:08:57 Yuka looking at the very nice sea views you get somewhere around Berwick (?).

16:19:19 More sea views.

16:25:44 ...and again.

16:31:51 Chie and Yuka enjoying some complimentary drinks.

17:05:10 A picture taken following our arrival (on time!) at Edinburgh Waverley.

17:44:07 Our first port of call was the hotel, to go and check-in and drop off our luggage. Following some dispute on the issue with Chie, I'd paid a bit extra for our room to get this rather nice view of Edinburgh Castle...

17:44:33 Our room, which later transpired to be only the first of three we would be in during our stay. Nice though the castle view was, it did have the disadvantage of meaning a window facing onto a very noisy street. Eventually we decided the view wasn't worth putting up with all the noise so we moved to a room at the back.

17:52:47 The view from outside the hotel, across Grassmarket to Edinburgh Castle.

18:31:20 I was really keen to pay a visit to one of my whisky club's Edinburgh venues - the one on Queens street being the most convenient. So, we decided to go there for a pre-dinner drink. This is a slightly scary picture of Chie in the member's rooms.

18:31:40 Me enjoying a dram in the elegant surrounds of the member's rooms. This picture seems to have become slightly corrupt, as is now the tradition with my camera (one per set!).

18:31:48 I'm giving that dram a really good nosing there.

18:31:55 Yuka, and the fascinating array of samples behind her.

18:32:03 ...and again.

18:38:06 We had a good sniff through the nosing kit while we were here. Judging by the look on my face this may have been the vinegar pot!

18:40:27 Yuka and the nosing kit.

19:04:14 Colours not great, but still gives you an idea of the lovely spiral staircase.

19:06:21 The roof!

19:10:46 Agggh - forgot to change the white balance setting back to normal!

19:11:10 ...that's much better!

19:39:45 We were feeling pretty lazy as regards dinner, so pretty much wandered into the first place that looked half decent and wasn't already full. I think this place was called Bar Napoli, and was actually quite good.

19:40:29 Yuka, Chie, and some Pinot Grigio.

19:41:23 It was a little strange to go from whisky to wine, but it wasn't that bad...

19:50:09 Chie and Yuka's starter - something involving avocado.

19:50:21 My starter was gnocchi in a kind of creamy yet spicy tomato sauce. Very nice.

19:59:42 Chie went for a Calzone for her main.

19:59:50 Yuka opted for some other gnocchi dish.

20:00:11 I went for a pizza involving potato.

20:08:02 Yuka and Chie enjoying their dinners.

21:04:45 After dinner we were all a bit tired, so decided to retreat to our hotel. This is an attempt at getting a night time shot of the castle...

21:05:13 ...and another one. I probably could have done with a tripod and/or having drunk less!

21:12:11 Yuka relaxing with the pleasingly illuminated trees of Grassmarket behind her.

21:12:49 ...the same thing again pretty much!

21:41:25 I have a mild fear of hairnets and the like.

21:41:49 Chie sitting down making herself busy, whilst I am clearly lazing about on the bed.


08:50:05 Here we are at breakfast, served in the Heights Restaurant, which meant it came with rather nice views of the castle.

08:50:24 My vegetarian breakfast. Nothing wrong with it, but I didn't seem to have much appetite this morning.

08:50:35 Yuka and her breakfast. Erm.

08:50:58 An attempt at getting me with the castle in the background. Unfortunately the lighting wasn't quite right.

09:09:15 A shot of the castle straight out of the window from the place where we had breakfast.

09:09:26 ...and again, but with an attempt to get that apartment block (or whatever it is) out of shot.

09:09:44 Again, in portrait, and therefore a bit more sky.

10:05:38 After breakfast we decided we ought to head out for the morning. These are the steps leading from Grassmarket up to the Royal Mile.

10:05:53 Another view of the castle from half way up the hill.

10:08:12 Chie and Yuka in the car park of the castle.

10:08:54 View from the castle car park - you can see our hotel down there (the pinkish building).

10:09:01 Snow covered peaks in the background there.

10:12:28 We decided to go in, despite the rather high admission fee, so this is the main gate bit where we entered.

10:15:51 A view through an arrow slit to the National Gallery below.

10:16:43 Yuka and Chie with a view out over the Firth of Forth behind them.

10:17:08 Me trying to look Japanese.

10:18:38 This is meant to be Yuka and Chie lighting cannons.

10:20:06 Another view...

10:23:20 Chie and Yuka pointing to a horse rider who looked a little familiar...

10:27:50 I rather liked the idea of the "Lang Siege", and had visions of hundreds of Rob's kinsmen going beserk and attacking the castle.

10:31:29 Chie and Yuka sneakily eavesdropping on a Japanese guided tour.

10:34:44 Chie and lots of sky.

10:34:51 I think this is the gun that gets fired at one o' clock.

10:38:27 Yuka in the little guard hut thingy.

10:39:19 Me and Chie in the other little guard hut thingy.

10:41:29 Another view out towards those snow covered peaks.

10:41:49 Chie and Yuka looking very friendly!

11:00:01 View out across Edinburgh.

11:00:07 I think that is Prince's Street down there in the foreground.

11:09:24 More views...

11:10:06 ...and more...

11:10:44 This is inside Queen (and St...?) Margaret's chapel - one of the oldest buildings in the castle.

11:15:25 A cannon firers eye view out across Edinburgh.

11:43:08 Chie in the little courtyard where the main hall is.

12:07:25 It was hard to resist taking a picture of just about anything with the word "Lang" in it.

12:21:36 The top end of the Royal Mile, taken on leaving the castle.

12:58:40 The Royal Mile a bit further down...

12:58:46 ...and the other way.

13:59:47 We rather randomly wandered into an All Bar One for lunch. Having thought I wouldn't like it I was actually pleasantly surprised.

14:00:23 Me enjoying some leek and parsnip soup.

14:31:03 The floral clock, not looking particularly floral!

14:37:31 Chie and Yuka having a bit of a rest in the park.

14:44:12 The Scott monument (I think)...

14:44:21 ...which was all fenced off.

14:48:55 A view up to the Royal Mile and the old town, taken from near the National Gallery. Not very good lighting here - must have been taking into the sun.

14:52:23 Chie and Yuka pretending to be monsters attacking a model version of the city.

15:13:51 I love all these little stepped alleyways that are dotted all over Edinburgh.

15:14:54 A view down through the alleyway - possibly Milne's Close.

15:41:38 We decided to retreat to our hotel room (by now on our third and final one of the weekend) for a bit of a rest, and to start getting ready for going out in the evening.

15:44:15 This is me looking stupid with an ironing board.

16:02:30 I think I'm showing off the quality of ironing handiwork here.

16:05:53 I've stayed in a fair few hotels in my life, but I don't think I've ever actually used the trouser press before now. I have to say, I wasn't particularly impressed (sure there's a pun there!).

17:05:29 Yuka and Chie, ready to go out for the evening.

17:12:56 This was a fun taxi ride. My conversation with the taxi driver went along the lines of:
- Can we go to Leith please?
- Yes, no problem.
- It's Giles Street to be more precise.
- Are you going to the whisky association by any chance?
- How did you know?
- You had it written all over your face.

17:25:21 Me and Chie outside the vaults, the home of the whisky society.

17:37:41 We decided to go for a little stroll before going into the club, and to find the place we'd booked for dinner so we'd know where to come later. So this is it - The Shore.

17:38:00 Some nice views of taken from the street called simply Shore.

17:41:38 This was a lovely time to go for a stroll. It wasn't even particularly cold.

17:43:38 Very maritime around here!

17:50:58 The Shore, and the row of buildings it is in, as seen from the other side of the river. I rather like this shot - it's one where you could turn it upside down and it would look more or less the same.

18:11:17 In the whisky club now. Here's Chie and Yuka relaxing...

18:11:40 Me in the club.

18:13:45 A better picture of me in the club.

18:35:12 A random bit of interior.

18:35:36 Some more interior, at random.

18:36:08 Chie and Yuka leafing through the paper or something.

19:09:35 We've now moved onto the restaurant - The Shore. I'd booked the table before we'd actually set off to Edinburgh which seemed a little odd. We'd effectively booked it from another country.

19:09:57 Me and a rather nice glass of wine. Again a bit of a strange shift after having had whisky first, but I didn't seem overly concerned at the time!

19:20:06 Yuka and some tomato soup.

19:29:04 Chie went for the fish soup, which was apparently very good.

19:55:52 Chie's main course was sea bream (breem?) in an orange and fennel sauce. Apparently very good.

19:56:46 Yuka's was something cod based - I have to admit I didn't pay that much attention!

19:57:29 The great thing about The Shore (where, incidentally, I have been before) is that despite being effectively a seafood restaurant, they do always offer a very good vegetarian option. Tonight was no exception. It was a pasta dish with a ratatouille and grilled goat's cheese. Really tasty.

21:03:56 After dinner we returned to the whisky club, where Chie and Yuka had a cup of tea...

21:04:27 ...whilst I had a rediculously good Ardbeg. I was pretty much bordering on tears it was so fantastic.

21:13:05 I really like this picture of me and Chie.


09:38:57 Despite already having taken pictures at breakfast the previous morning, I couldn't resist taking the same pictures again - it is such a great view. Unfortunately I still had the white balance set wrong on the first picture...

09:39:15 ...but this was quickly corrected. A lot more cloudy than the day before then!

09:39:22 The castle again.

09:50:46 A not-too-bad picture demonstrating how great that view is from your breakfast table!

10:06:24 Just a few minutes later and the clouds seem to have dispersed a bit.

10:43:42 We decided to walk to Calton Hill in the morning, which required the usual walk up steps...

10:49:36 ...and across the royal mile...

11:09:24 ...and here we are on Calton Hill. According to Yuka's guidebook, this Gretian acropolis style construction has the name "Scotland's Disgrace", because they couldn't afford to finish it. Not sure how accurate this little snippet is, but there you go.

11:12:22 The tower thingy on Calton Hill and some decidedly billoughy clowds.

11:13:37 One of the many views to be had from Calton Hill...

11:13:43 ...out over the Firth of Forth...

11:13:49 ...I think I may have been trying to make a panorama here...

11:13:55 Just caught Yuka in this one, also taking pictures of the views.

11:14:52 Yuka and Chie, looking colder than it actually was.

11:18:03 Nice bit of blue sky over there.

11:18:35 Those snow capped peaks again!

11:21:24 Round the other side of Calton Hill, views of the city are on offer...

11:21:30 Very "Athens of the North".

11:21:36 Obviously lots of experiments with composition going on here.

11:22:08 I really was very shutter release happy wasn't I?

11:23:26 I think this is taken from sitting down.

12:59:30 A bit later on, and I left the girls shopping so I could make a final visit to the whisky club (the one in the city centre). This is the view from the upper floor.

12:59:38 As there was no-one else in the room, I took the opportunity to snap the interior.

14:08:53 Chie and Yuka joined me after a while for a spot of lunch...

14:10:35 The bar!

14:49:51 After lunch we split off so Chie and Yuka could get some cakes and I could go and get our luggage. This seemed like a fair division of labour. On the way back to our hotel I took this final picture of Edinburgh, as seen through Milne's Close, which I had become rather fond of.

16:03:05 On the train now, the lighting seemed to be going a bit crazy.

16:03:22 That's a bit better.

16:14:55 Chie enjoying a cake purchased in Edinburgh's Harvey Nichols.

16:15:05 Lighting going a bit odd again.

16:48:17 Taken around Berwick...

16:48:27 ...last view of Scotland! Goodbye!

19:24:45 A picture of me looking a bit stupid.

19:25:35 Me and Chie. That's all folks!