Sunday, 30 March 2014

Photo diary: Edinburgh & 5 things any vintage girl (or otherwise!) should do

I recently visited Scotland for the first time - or, more precisely, Edinburgh. While this was a trip for B's birthday weekend and not for selfish little ol' me here, we did end up doing a lot of things that I especially like doing (oh, how did that happen...). Things that included a royal boat from the 1950s, a pin-up tea room and some retro photography...

So, I thought I'd share my top 5 things I did in Edinburgh that I think other similarly 'vintage-minded' girls would also enjoy. It will help if you also like eating as much as I do, as I couldn't do a top 5 without including at least one brilliant restaurant we went to.

1. HMS Britannia

This is the Queen's royal yacht that was decommissioned in 1997 and is now moored in Edinburgh - built in 1953 and retaining many of its original features. And where the features have been upgraded, it was quite hard to even tell, so you feel like you're walking around a floating piece of history. Great for mid-century lovers like me, as the royal rooms particularly were rather cute and kitsch, as per the first photo of one of the sitting rooms.

You'll need to pay entry, but you get to walk around the whole ship (which takes about two hours) and you're given an audio guide which we thought gave just the right amount of detail. One of my favourite facts from the guide is that the sitting room in the first picture had its decor chosen by the Queen herself, who elected for it to not be 'ostentatious'. Note that the second picture, of the grand piano, is from the other half of this room. Enough said.

I don't know much about life at sea, but I feel like I know a little bit more than I did, now. Well worth the trek out to where the boat is (which is actually easy to get to from the city centre by bus).

One is going for 'country casual' here (also according to the audio tour)

One needs a big piano for country casual

One needs much crystal at one's dining table...

...Especially for a table that seats about 50 people (this is only one small part of it)

One spots a stowaway!

2. Camera Obscura museum - website

Alas, I didn't get any pictures of this one, but to be honest it's one of those you need to see for yourself, as part of the fun of this museum is the range of optical illusions it houses! Ranging from tricks where you can swap your nose with your companion's, see your 'true' reflection (not for the fainthearted/insecure - I got rather sulky about how wonky my jaw truly is), wonder at rooms of holograms, go cross-eyed at Magic Eye pics (ok, I love these), navigate your way through a maze of mirrors (much harder than it sounds), walk through a rotating tunnel (not for the seasick) and find yourself inside a room full of infinite lights. If it's as windy/cold outside as when I was there, dipping into this museum for a couple of hours is a bit of light-hearted relief from the battering.

This is also a good one for lovers of retro photography, as the museums' crowning glory, quite literally, is the big camera obscura at the very top of the building that's been there for years and years. A novel way to see the view...

One small downside is you'll need to part with some money for entry as it's privately owned, but I'd argue it's worth it.

3. Explore the Old Town (Madam JoJo's Boutique)

This has to be the reason a lot of people take a short break in Edinburgh. The Old Town is just beautiful. It's also full of independent shops, from milkshake shacks to Madam JoJo's Boutique - you could easily spend a day diving in and out of these places, before you even get to things like the castle. So I won't waffle on about it anymore than that, especially as I have lots of photos that speak for themselves!

A view of Edinburgh Castle from below, between buildings

So pretty - and full of activity

This very noisy bird clearly perched here just to give us a wonderfully colourful backdrop

Just demonstrating that it is still cold and windy in Old Town (many hairs will escape up-dos)

Possibly the cutest houses I've ever seen

Rainbow-coloured shop fronts - such a nice idea

It's very hilly to walk to/from, but here we'd found a handy slope 

4. Two quirky tea stops

I'm essentially an old woman at heart already and like nothing better than a nice cup of tea and a scone. In my head, scones are calorie-free on holiday (as, unfortunately, is everything else) - so all the more reason to indulge, I tell myself! We limited our tea room visits to just the two, but they were both so charming I wanted to share them.

Curious Tea Rooms

This is basically a sort of Alice in Wonderland themed cafe, with lovely but not intrusive decor (including an upside town table and chairs on the ceiling), that specialises in offering loose tea in as many different flavours as you can think of. I had vanilla and grenadine flavour, which actually wasn't like syrup and in fact was very nice and just mildly sweet. You can buy all the teas too. We initially darted into this place as the first tea-provider that wasn't Starbucks we found in the main city centre (because I was nearly crying with misery at how much my nose was running), but it was a very happy accident.

I loved the little milk bottle

And the dainty tea strainers

Token tea-drinking picture #1

Token tea-drinking picture #2

Mimi's Bakehouse

As the name suggests, Mimi's sells a lot of good cakes as well as tea. I sampled the scones (of course) and can confirm it was both freshly cooked and melt-in-the-mouth. Delicious. B had a hot chocolate that basically would be a model in the hot chocolate world, it looked that good (see below). What I liked just as much as the refreshments was the decor, including the duck-egg blue and black theme and the amazing pin-up wallpaper. Another place we stumbled on, but were very glad we did.





5. Bar Frizzante

Ok, so this one isn't remotely 'vintage' unless you count eating enough to gain pin-up curves (and then some), but if you like food indulge me please because it will be worth it! This is a family-run small Italian restaurant in the city centre that we stumbled across on TripAdvisor. I ate the best pizza possibly of my life there - and I went to Rome last year! They have a huge menu and offer gluten free pasta (always a winner for me, if I could only force myself to choose it over a pizza). Service is great and one waitress even told me I looked 'very pretty' - which considering I had a stinking cold and was in a strop about my hair (hence, no photos for this entry!), couldn't have been more appreciated at the time. That alone possibly would have made the visit worth it ;)

So, that's the 5 things I'd seriously recommend anyone do on a city break to Edinburgh.

And as this is a photo diary of my trip, I leave you with an image of the birthday boy, about to blow out a candle on his ice-cream sundae. Because it's my blog and I can :)



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