30 December 2008

Merry Christmas

This is a picture of the girls at my friend Rachel Kent's Christmas party this year. She made a wonderful meal full of Creole classics, complete even with shrimp and imported grits!

Andrew and I went home for Christmas again this year, although we had a hell of a time getting there. First of all, I came down with the flu the Tuesday before we were supposed to leave. I was still working that week, Monday through Wednesday, and my boss, Graeme, was out of the office sick already, which meant I was by no means allowed to call in sick, especially since I was hurriedly trying to finish a huge project (which you can now see on our website) in the three days I had left before the New Year. Unfortunately, I was really sick, so I left work at lunchtime on Tuesday and worked from the rest of the day and all day (even overtime) on Wednesday to finish up.

We packed on Wednesday night to leave on Thursday morning. I was feeling awful, and we had three big suitcases and two small ones to get across Tube and train to Gatwick airport. We struggled along and finally made it, only to discover upon arrival that our flight was cancelled. We made it there two hours early, but there was already a line 200 deep of people who were supposed to be on our flight and were waiting to be redirected on the next soonest flight. So Andrew got on the internet and called the airline in hopes that we could make arrangements that way faster, while I sat in the still unmoving line. He was able to arrange a flight for us on another flight out of Heathrow for the next day. While this was good news, it meant that we were both going to miss our doctor's appointments in Birmingham on Friday (Andrew for a physical, and I because I was sick), and I was going to miss my hair appointment! :( So Mom rescheduled my hair appointment, and Andrew made me an appointment with our doctor here in London for later that day (Thursday), which was good because he prescribed an antibiotic that started getting rid of my flu quite quickly.

So we had the option of landing in Atlanta and waiting a 2.5-hour layover for the next connecting flight to Birmingham, or just renting a car from Atlanta and driving. We figured driving would get us there about an hour earlier, so we went for that option. BIG MISTAKE. Atlanta has the most messed up policies EVER. We got off the plane, went through passport control, retrieved our luggage from baggage claim, and made it through customs, but then, they made us RETURN our baggage and go through security to LEAVE the airport. We had to take off shoes, remove laptops from bags, put the liquor we bought at the London airport in the luggage and everything! Just to cross the airport to the exit. It made NO SENSE whatsoever. So then we get to the "main" baggage claim in about 15 minutes, but it takes an hour and a half for our luggage to get there. It took us a total of three hours just to leave the Atlanta airport. THEN we had a three-hour drive to Birmingham!!!

When we finally arrived and got settled, we had a really nice time while we were home, although it was far too short. We felt like we barely got to see our friends and family, although I did get to see my cousin Laura's new twin babies...
and my best friends Jackie, who I hadn't seen since my wedding, and Miriam and her family (including her new baby bump!), especially her adorably daughter Reese, who has grown into a proper young woman of two years old since we've been living over here!

We miss you all terribly and can't believe that that was the last time we'll have to juggle time trying to see all our family and friends over a short nine days...

Love to you all in the happy new year!!

01 December 2008

Happy birthday and happy Thanksgiving!

Andrew's official birthday fell on a Saturday this year, and since we'd already had the big party for him a couple of weeks before, we just got together with a few of the guys for dinner before heading back to our place for strawberry cake and to watch the Alabama game. Brian, David and Jeremy joined us for dinner at what Andrew and I lovingly refer to as our "Christmas Pub". Located up by Gloucester Road, this pub has a roaring fire, fantastically festive (aka tacky) Christmas decorations with fake snow in the windows and everything, and Christmas carols humming gently in the background. Being 15 November, we were a bit early for the Christmas festivities, but it was still nice and cosy inside, and the meal was outstanding. After dinner we made a pit stop in a nearby casino where the guys all gambled a bit, and I sat by and watched. Andrew and I dragged Jeremy (the only other fellow Bama fan in the group) and left David and Brian at the casino so that we could watch the game. Kickoff was at 12:45am our time, so we had plenty of time to get back to the flat and have some strawberry cake before the game. I had baked Andrew a Simply Delicious Strawberry Cake from a Paula Deen recipe and decorated it with an Alabama "A" made from slices of fresh strawberries. It was yummy.


The following week we attended yet another birthday party. This time it was for our friend Jeremy Kenyon, and he and his girlfriend Michelle had it at a posh little bar in Knightsbridge.

Andrew and I decided to go and have Mexican food first at a little place up near Victoria, and when we sat down to table we started chatting with a girl sitting alone at the table next to ours. Within about 10 minutes we had moved our tables together and invited her to come along with us to the birthday party after eating and to Thanksgiving dinner the following night. Her name was Megan; she was from Michigan and was living and studying in Aberdeen, Scotland. She had flown down to London by herself to go sightseeing for the weekend, and though she declined on coming to Thanksgiving at the Trief's because she was going on a huge, long bus tour of London starting at the crack of dawn the next morning, she did come along with us to Jeremy's birthday party and joined us for a drink!



The next day was Thanksgiving at the Triefs. Andrew had volunteered for us to make cornbread dressing and pecan pie, so we cooked using Andrew's mom's recipes. Andrew, as usual, made the pie, and I took my first attempt at making cornbread dressing, which turned out quite successful indeed. We arrived at the Trief's to bad news. We found out that night that, because of her new job, Katy and Jeremy have decided to move to Windsor before Christmas, which means that we probably won't get to see them as much. Despite that, they're really excited about the move, and so we put on a brave face and tried to get excited for them. Thanksgiving was, as usual, a success, and the food that everyone brought was amazing. Thanks for hosting it again, Trief's; the turkey and gravy was outstanding, too! We even played the "Matt and Miriam Game", as one of our favourite Thanksgiving traditions.

For the first time since we've been married, on "real" Thanksgiving night, the following Thursday, I actually made Thanksgiving food instead of Mexican. In the past years that we've been here, the Triefs have had Thanksgiving the Saturday AFTER the real Thanksgiving, so I didn't want to spoil our Thanksgiving dinner by having the same type of food two days before. This year, the Triefs opted for it the Saturday BEFORE Thanksgiving, so Thursday night I roasted some "turkey breast steaks" and made macaroni and cheese and pecan pie, and we had stuffing that was leftover from a fresh batch I made Sunday night. We've decided that when we move back to the US next year, we're going to have our own London-style Mexican Thanksgiving fiesta each year in November either the Saturday before or after Thanksgiving. We'll call it "Brocksgiving"!

The next night Andrew and I got into the festive spirit. We had a quick dinner at our local pub and then came back to the flat and downloaded all our Christmas music to our iTunes and watched How the Grinch Stole Christmas! (the old school cartoon, not the new movie) and National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation.

We woke up Saturday morning and cleaned house, preparing for a crowd of Alabama fans to come and join us to watch Alabama beat down Auburn in the Iron Bowl. We had some special guests this time, as my former boss from Axcan in Birmingham was in town for a conference, and she and her friend Denise joined our usual crowd to watch the game.
We were delighted with the results of the game and look forward to next week's battle against Florida.

Wish us luck!

02 November 2008

So many parties, so little time…

Apparently October is a popular month for birthdays, and so many of our friends wanted to celebrate as they turned The Big Three-Oh. Andrew, Chris, Kevin and Sharon all turned 30 this October/November, and all had huge, fun parties!

Sharon’s came first… Andrew and I got her a “Giant Hopper” for her birthday so that she could relive her youth. Here are the pictures…


Kevin and Chris decided to have a joint party with another one of their friends, and they had it at a club in Clapham. It was a blast! Enjoy the pictures…


Lastly, Andrew and I finally got to have our wild and wacky Halloween party, and we turned it into a birthday celebration for Andrew as he, too, crossed the big milestone age of 30. We made ours a costume party on Halloween night. Andrew and I took Friday off so that we could clean house and finish decorating before everyone arrived. We hung fake cobwebs everywhere, and turned our backyard into a “Bloody Backyard” with 100 red balloons and red streamers everywhere. Unfortunately, it was way too cold for anyone to really enjoy the backyard! We carved three pumpkins (Andrew’s was by far the best) and even had three or four Trick-or-Treaters. Andrew and dressed up as Colonel Sanders and a chicken. Here are the pictures!



Happy Halloween, everyone! We miss you and can’t wait to celebrate next Halloween with everyone back home!

07 October 2008

Munich!

To the tune of "Take Me Out to the Ball Game":

Take me to the Oktoberfest!
Take me to the beer tent!
Buy me some pretzels and Weissbier! ["wheat beer"]
I don't care if I never leave here!
'Cause it's prost, prost prost for the Weissbier ["Prost" is German for cheers]
Because ich habe ein Tisch! ["Because I have a table!"]
And it's eine, zwei, drei Weissbieren ["And it's one, two, three wheat beers"]
At Oktoberfest!


Oktoberfest was so much more than we imagined. We went with a large group (as you can see from the pictures). Our friends Chris Miller and Lisa Graham (the Grillers for short) each had siblings and friends of siblings flying in for the occasion, so they went on over to Munich on Friday while the rest of us slaved away at the office. By the time we arrived on Saturday, they had already had a wild evening out the night before, had gotten up at the crack of dawn to get a table in one of the beer halls (or tents, as they call them), after obtaining a table had gotten kicked out (becuase of another group's booking, not their behaviour!), and had secured another table outside the beer hall. I'll let Andrew take over from here...

Well we are back from Munich and we are definately worse for wear. We had a BIG time in Munich . Kelly and I left London around 7:30 and landed in Munich at 10:30. By the time we made our way from the airport to the hotel, checked in, and walked to the festival it was close to 1:00. When we arrived we realized it is a gigantic carnival (think Birmingham fair grounds) but with everyone wearing traditional Bavarian outfits. There were big roller coasters, booth games, cotton candy and, of course the huge beer tents.

So we wandered across the whole grounds over to the Sch├╝tzenfesthalle tent where we went to meet Chris and Lisa (London friends) and their guests, a group of eight people. We were immediately served half liters of beer but in tall glasses and not the cool steins. We stayed at the Sch├╝tzenfesthalle tent a long time as it was so nice outside (65 and sunny), and we were very thankful to have a seat. The biggest problem there were the bathrooms. They were terribly small and took a long time to get through [Kelly add-in: They were serving that much beer, and all they had was TWO STALLS in the ladies room. Needless to say, the lines were off the charts. When a person got up to go to the loo, we said, "See you in an hour," because that's actually how long it took!!].

We all sat and chatted and sang ridiculous songs we made up for the festival (see lyrics to one of them above). Needless to say, we were having a very good time. We stayed till around 6pm, during which time our other three friends from London arrived and joined us. They arrived around 3pm, by which time the beer tent "guards" had closed the gates into the tent. People were standing in line to get in. We forced our friends in by assuring security they had seats at a table, but it was really that crowded.


After a while we got sick of the bathroom situation [Kelly add-in: We girls were sick of the bathroom situation; the guys had figured out an alternative.] and went into downtown Munich to the Hofbraeuhaus. Getting in was complete pandamonium as people were jammed against one another. We were told to wait, but when they opened the gates, we all just scattered upon entering to find seating.



We secured a table outside in the courtyard and stayed there enjoying big litres of beer from the large German steins. We met all of these random people and continuously singing our songs. We had eaten a little at the first tent but we eat a little more here. By 10pm, I was finished. I mean done! No more! Nicht mehr! I put myself in a cab to the hotel and went to bed. Kelly stayed with our group of friends from Londnon, 13 people in total, and came in an hour later. Neal called me at 4:30am (German time) with the Alabama/Georgia score, but I could barely speak to him I was so tired. Needless to say, though, I was really excited.

I woke around 8am and promptly got on the internet to check the football news, read the articles and revel in UA's dominating victory. I was even able to watch some of a replay on ESPN before Kelly got up around 10am, and we started getting ready to go out for the day. So for breakfast, we wander around until we find a cafe [Kelly add-in: to which we had a map from the hotel, which Andrew dropped somewhere along the way]. To say we loaded up on eggs, pancakes, omelettes and coffee and orange juice would be a gross understatement. We ordered more food than our table could hold! There were only five of us by then, as the Griller group hopped an early train to Prague. So after an outstanding breakfast (keep in mind it's noon), we wander over to the Oktoberfest grounds and go to the Augustiner tent.



The Augustiner tent is a huge tent and very traditional. There were lots of families there, and it seemed more low key. It was really crowded, and we were about to leave for another tent until Kelly saw some folks leaving and hopped in there and grabbed seats at an outdoor table. Again, it's 70 degrees and sunny, so we were happy to sit outside. We all took lots of sun on our faces [Kelly add-in: Some of more than others; I'm still feeling the effects].



This is exactly what I always envisioned Oktoberfest to be. Our "waitress" was missing teeth, but she could carry eight steins at once. The steins hold a litre of beer and are heavy when empty. We met all types of German folks who seemed to enjoy talking to us and are definitely having a great time.



We sat there until around 6pm when one of the guys next to us mentions as he's leaving that if we want to get a table inside and sit for the night, that would be the best time, as lots of people would be leaving shortly causing a rush of tables and people waiting to get them. So we sent the girls (Kelly and Sharon) to go scout it while we three boys sat outside to hold out outside table.

Well, me and Emanuel were sitting outside while Kevin (who is single) talked to an attractive German woman in traditional garb. The phone rang signalling that the girls got seats, so we wrench Kevin away from the Geman to find that Kelly and Sharon have gotten us seats right in the middle of all of the action [Kelly add-in: Sharon and I found a table with three young Italian guys who hardly spoke any English. The table had room for about 10, so we indicated that we had three more outside, and they said we could sit down. Was it our fault they thought we meant three more women?]. We proceeded to stay there for the remainder of the evening (until 10pm) dancing on the tables (with everyone else in the room) and singing with the band and talking to random strangers while our waitress continued to bring us more steins, which by now are completely unnecessary. We enjoyed ourselves immensely. [Kelly add-in: Andrew even got hit on by a good-looking German girl who was waving to him from a few tables away, but he, of course, behaved himself!]



We finally left and Kelly befriended a random American kid who was drinking out of a running shoe. His name was Jeff, aka Alcoholiday, and he randomly joined us while we grabbed some dinner at a random restaurant on the way towards our hotel. Kelly ate something Mexican, as she usually does when it's on the menu. I don't know when she'll ever learn that Mexican food is not good in Europe. I tripped over a fallen bicycle on the way and chipped one of the steins I smuggled out, but the fact that stein survived the fall and made the trip back is a testament to the entire weekend trip.

Waking up yesterday and travelling home may have been one of the most painful experiences of my life. Coming right back into the office today was even worse. We watched the Alabama/Georgia game last night on ESPN archive. It was a great game! I can't believe we are number two in the country. Anyway, we made it home safely. Of the six glasses we stole from Germany five are just fine. Only one glass broke on the trip home, but it was one of the ones from the Sch├╝tzenfesthalle tent that weren't traditional steins anyway.

[Kelly add-in: Next time we go to Oktoberfest, I'll make Andrew wear lederhosen.]

Bama vs Kentucky


17-14!

Nathan and Emily Vaughn hosted the London Alabama Alumni Association again. Thanks so much for letting us have the group over, Nathan and Emily! Your place is so much larger than ours, and when we've had as good a turnout to watch the games as we have this year, it really makes the seating arrangements much easier!

We look forward to seeing the Tide roll on in another couple of weeks!

PS I'm wearing the scarf you gave me, Aunt Burma, because, yes, IT IS THAT COLD!

27 July 2008

Edinburgh!

Our weekend in Edinburgh was absolutely lovely, despite the weather. Andrew and I just really needed a nice little trip after the recent frustrations with my job situations, and Edinburgh being so close provided an excellent getaway. We both took off on Friday and caught our plane at 6:30am to land in Edinburgh around 8:30am. We arrived at the adorable little B&B Andrew booked so early that the office wasn’t even open, yet, but the kitchen was, so we went down and a cup of coffee until we could check in and get going. The B&B, by the way, was called the Walton on Dundas Street. Check out the link; I swear the picture of the room is the same room in which we stayed, bedspreads and all!


We had done no research on the city or what we wanted to see prior to getting on the plane, but I grabbed Frommer’s Europe from $85 a Day (a tour book that Andrew recently purchased but we had yet to use) before we left the house because it had a chapter on “Edinburgh & Environs”. I looked through that on the plane and numbered everything it listed as 1) must see; 2) would like to see; 3) kind of would like to see if time permits; and no number meant I didn’t care to see it at all. There were five ones, so I mapped off the most time-saving course for us and after we checked in at the B&B, we moved along on our way!

The first thing on the list, of course, was Edinburgh Castle. We climbed the hill from our B&B, and as we neared the top of the rise, we could see the Castle looming over the cliffs above us. It is truly an amazing sight. Because it was so early on a Friday morning (it had only opened about an hour before we arrived), the line had hardly formed, so we were able to make our way inside pretty easily. It rained quite a bit that morning as we were wandering the Castle grounds, but we tried to dodge the rain whenever possible by ducking in to view some of the indoor sights while the rain came down. Inside the Castle grounds we enjoyed amazing views over Edinburgh from the lookout; we visited the National War Museum of Scotland, Scottish National War Memorial, Prisons of War Exhibition and, my personal favourite, the Honours of Scotland, or the Crown Jewels.


When we finished touring the Castle, we walked back down the hill to the city and on to the National Museum of Scotland, where, despite our map and audio tour, we managed to get incredibly lost. We wandered around for a good while and then skipped a lot to check out the roof terrace and head to lunch!

We lunched at a little pub nearby the Museum and next door to Greyfriar’s Kirkyard. It was called Greyfriars Bobby’s Bar. Here’s the story behind the bar and the statue of the little dog out front:

“In 1858, a man named John Gray was buried in old Greyfriars Churchyard. His grave levelled by the hand of time, and unmarked by any stone, became scarcely discernible; but, although no human interest seemed to attach to it.

The sacred spot was not wholly disregarded or forgotten. For fourteen years the dead man's faithful dog kept constant watch and guard over the grave until his own death in 1872.

The famous Skye Terrier, Greyfriars Bobby was so devoted to his master John Gray, even in death, for fourteen years Bobby lay on the grave only leaving for food.

It is reported that a daily occurance of people from all walks of life would stand at the entrance of the Kirkyard waiting for the one o'clock gun and the appearance of Bobby leaving the grave for his midday meal.”
[extracted from www.greyfriarsbobby.co.uk]



We’ll come back to the little dog later…

After lunch we decided that we were a bit tired of museums and sightseeing (as I knew we would be when I mapped out our course for the day), so we went to the Brass Rubbing Centre to do a little artwork. We really weren’t sure what this was going to be like; the book didn’t tell a whole lot about it. Basically, they just have a lot of brass tablets with all kinds of different designs; you choose the one you want, and they’ll set it up for you with paper and show you how to do it, then you just rub the wax over the paper. It’s as simple as that! Andrew chose a king (I forget which one)...


...and I chose a Celtic cross, which I know doesn’t make sense because we were in Scotland, not Ireland, but I thought it was pretty. We did our little brass rubbings (quite cheap, too, only about £5 each) just before they closed the Centre, and we moved on to the next spot on our list!

The next spot was just across the road: the Museum of Childhood. Anyone who has ever visited a toy store with Andrew will know why I marked the Museum of Childhood, a museum full of toys for children, as a number one must see. [Andrew often gets thrown out of toy stores for playing with or even breaking the toys. Offhand I can think of two examples when toy store employees yelled at him for playing – Bruges and Rome.] The Museum was actually kind of a let-down. Most of the toys were collectables behind glass, but it was interesting nonetheless.


By the time we left, it was 5pm, so we planned to make our way back to the hotel for a quick kip before heading out for dinner and night time ghost tour! On the way back, however, we popped into the Nutcracker Christmas Shop where we ran into a college student wearing a University of Alabama Supply Store backpack and chatted with him for a moment. He’s living in London doing an internship, so we invited him to look us up and come watch some Bama games with us and the UA London Alumni Club this fall. The world really is incredibly small. What are the chances of our meeting a kid from UA in Edinburgh (and the real kicker) at a Christmas shop in the middle of July?!

Also on the way back to the B&B, we were mesmerised by juggling street performer with an odd petulance for Americans and dumped on by the sky. Andrew had realised once we arrived that he forgot his coat, rain jacket and umbrella for this cold, rainy weekend in Scotland, so when it began to rain, we ducked into a pub for a quick pint. The pub just happened to be one that I’d marked in the tour book. It was called Deacon Brodie’s Tavern, named after Deacon William Brodie, the man who inspired Robert Louis Stevenson’s novel, The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. While we were there, we talked about what we would do the next day, made bookings for that night’s and the next night’s suppers and decided on which ghost tour to take that night.


When it stopped raining, we left to go buy Andrew a rain jacket and / or umbrella, only to discover that everything closed at 6pm, and it was about 6:05! We couldn’t find one place that was open, which we found quite strange for a Friday night. Even London shops stay open until 8 or 9pm on Fridays, though they mostly close at 6pm the rest of the evenings through the week. With no luck, we headed back to the B&B and took a quick nap before getting up and heading out to dinner. We made a booking at a place called Dubh Prais (pronounced “doo-prash”). We ordered traditional Scottish haggis as a starter. Luckily, the waiter refused to tell us what was in it until after we’d eaten (half) of it. It was so salty that neither of us could finish it; we liked it, but will probably never order it again! When we finished eating we had to run out to make it to our ghost tour!

The ghost tour we decided to take (okay – for those of you who know us – the one I decided to take) was called the City of the Dead cemetery tour and was supposed to take us through parts of the Greyfriar’s Kirkyard that aren’t open to the public. It was so much fun. Andrew and volunteered at the beginning in a Braveheartesque demonstration of Scottish warfare. Andrew was the Roman general, and was part of his army. The Scottish kicked our butts. The tour took us into the cemetery where the guide told us the REAL story behind Greyfriar’s Bobby (I told you I’d come back to this…). Apparently, the little dog had the wrong grave. The right name was on it, but it was the wrong grave of another man by the same name! Also, right next to the grave was a tombstone set up so that it kind of looked like a picnic table, so the real story is that the dog wasn’t even trying to keep watch over the grave of his master at all, but was just trying to keep dry and warm under the shelter of the table tombstone next to that grave that just happened to bear the same name as his master. Also, the dog is supposed to have been buried at the entrance to the Kirkyard, but our tourguide told us that was basically nothing other than tourist ploy, as well. The little dog was a stray after his owner died, and no one knows where or when he really died. The dog’s tombstone at the entrance is just a “memorial”. So funny and disappointing at the same time!


So that night we asked our tourguide where to go, and she told us Bar Kohl down the street. We went for a drink and left immediately after because it just wasn’t our scene. Instead, we stopped back into Deacon Brodie’s Tavern where we ran into the nicest couple of Canadians and the strangest blind (possibly faking it) homeless guy who invited himself to sit with us after we petted his adorable puppy. We ended up leaving him at the table and went out to a club with the Canadians. After a couple of pints, we were cashed and grabbed a cab back to the B&B where we crashed.

The next morning, since we’d seen almost everything we wanted to see the day before, we were able to really have a more relaxed day. The only two things left on our list to see were Nelson's Monument where you’re supposed to be able to see the best views of Edinburgh, and the Scotch Whiskey Experience, to which Andrew was especially looking forward. We also, as a side note, wanted to wander through the shopping district around Princes Street to see if we could find a new dress for me to wear to my 10-year high school reunion next month.

We started out the day with a wander around the shopping district, where Andrew was hit by a “fly-by pooping” from a deranged seagull. After the pooping incident, we popped in a little deli for outrageously over-priced sandwiches and then left to do a little more wandering. Andrew found a golf shop where he could practice hitting balls for a bit, so he did (technically) get to play some golf in Scotland.


After a god deal of wandering (and no luck finding a dress, by the way), we decided to take bus to the Monument, only the busses were quite confusing… Then we looked up and realised the Monument wasn’t even that far away, just a hike up a “little hill” that felt like a mountain on the way down when Andrew made me climb an off-the-trail 85 degree drop-off in high-heeled boots. I don’t mind going up slopes like that, but going is a different story!


The Monument was amazing, though I think we had more fun exploring the hillside on the way up than we did actually up the stairs in the tower. There are what looks like Roman ruins next to the Monument that create an amazing view and a kind of forlorn, romantic atmosphere. If I could get married again, anywhere in the world, I would choose to be married on those ruins, despite the fact that they’re known as “Edinburgh’s Disgrace”.


The “ruins” actually make up Scotland’s National Monument, a memorial to those who died in the Napoleonic Wars.


It was designed by Charles Robert Cockerell and his collaborator William Henry Playfair and was intended to be a replica of the Parthenon in Athens, but they ran out of money when it was halfway finished. Apparently, Glascow City offered to help pay for its completion, but the City of Edinburgh was too proud to take them up on it! I don’t think it’s disgraceful, and I think it looks better half finished than it would have completed!


Next we thought it was time to move on to the Scotch Whiskey Experience, which ends with a tasting and therefore is not really suitable for a morning excursion. Our friends Rachel and David had warned us that the tour wasn’t all it was cracked up to be, but that the first 20 minutes and the tasting at the end were both great. They advised we skip the tour and go straight to the tasting. However, Andrew and I talked it over and decided that we’d do the tour anyway because we were both interested to learn a little more about Scotch, and there wasn’t a museum that you could wander yourself before the tasting; it was the tour or nothing. So we took the tour. Big mistake in my opinion! We should have listened to the Kents! The first 20 minutes of the tour was very interesting. They taught us how to taste Scotch: how to look at it, how to smell it, and how to taste it. It was really interesting.

Then they moved us to another room where we watched a movie about Scotch. Then they moved us to another room where we watched another movie about Scotch in front of a small scale model of a distillery that moved. Then they moved us to another room where we watched another movie of ghost bartender telling us more about Scotch. Then they moved us the slowest roller coaster ride in large fake barrels of Scotch on a little ride that told us more about Scotch. It was the laziest tour on which I’ve ever been; the tour guide only really had to talk for the first 20 minutes. It was like being in school with a bad substitute teacher!

The tasting was worth it, though, and afterward we went to the giftshop where Andrew proceeded to buy so much Scotch that they threw in a free map of all the distilleries in Scotland!

After that, we walked outside and decided to try our luck getting into the Witchery, which is a very famous restaurant next to the castle where they used to burn witches at the stake (morbid, I know, but the restaurant is very posh and elegant). We’d tried making a booking the day before, to no avail, but were hoping that if we arrived early (it was 6:30ish), that they might be able to squeeze us in, and they did!


We had an amazing meal there and then wanted to make an early night of it, so we wandered back down to Princes Street and popped into a couple of pubs in that area before we headed back to the B&B.

The next morning, our cab was supposed to arrive around 6:30am, and I woke up, by chance, around 7am. Of course, the cab was gone, and the B&B office, who had called them for us the night before, was closed, so we had no number to call another! Andrew started freaking out, trying to hurriedly pack everything while simultaneously running to and fro in his underwear (including out in to the B&B lobby) trying to figure out what to do about a cab. I honestly think I was still too asleep to really be bothered at that point and was hurriedly, but calmly, packing. We found a binder of guest information in the room, and Andrew called a cab, who arrived about five minutes later to a dishevelled American couple standing outside the B&B obviously freaked out about missing a flight. We made to the airport and checked in safely with time to spare and then I lost my passport somewhere between check-in and security. So we start running back and forth, retracing our steps, dumping everything out of my bag, dumping everything out of Andrew’s bag, and on the second round of dumping, finally found that it had somehow landed folded up in a piece of paper in my bag. All was well again! We made it home in one piece and will always look fondly on weekend getaway to Edinburgh!!