My mother came to town yesterday and what a day we did have. We were all over and took in royalty, government, museums, pubs, a meal and a show. And all the while the sun shone brightly and the heat kept us smiling.
I met my mum off the bus at the St. James Centre and we went for a coffee and a light bite in Costa on Hanover Street. That gave us time for a catch up and chit chat about things as well as a chance to cool down as the heat outside was really quite warm.
Marcus Adams Exhibition
We stayed there a wee while then headed off in a taxi to our first destination, The Queen’s Gallery. Currently on show is an exhibition of Marcus Adams, in particular the portraits he took of two generations of the children of the Royal Family.
The collection was mostly commissioned by King George VI and Queen Elizabeth. Their daughters, Princess Elizabeth (now HM The Queen), Princess Margaret, The Prince of Wales and Princess Anne were all photographed by Adams over several years.
What was remarkable about the collection was the deep sense of history attached to Royal Family, and of the continuation of the monarchy throughout British history.
Palace of Holyroodhouse
Following that we moved through to the Palace of Holyroodhouse itself (we’d bought a joint day ticket). We took the tour at our own pace, moving through each of the rooms and with it, further and further back in time. We saw Mary Queen of Scots quarters, the Kings ante rooms, the dining room (still used by HM The Queen to this day), ante room where Donald Dewar stood before The Queen as she signed Scotland into Devolution, and the Grand Hall, where OBEs and such like are handed out.
It was fascinating to learn about the reasons for certain objects being where they were, seeing first hand 500 year old items of royal history and being among the grandness of it all. With Holyroodhouse still an active palace, it brought it all more to life to have the current monarchy using such a historic building in their activities. And of course, in the week of a certain royal wedding, it made us feel quite close to the whole event.
The tour took us outside and through the remains of Holyrood Abbey and well kept gardens, and as we walked round we had the immensity of Salisbury Crags as our backdrop. It was very easy to forget we were in the middle of a city as we toured the grounds in such splendour, and very easy to see why The Queen likes it here so much.
The tour took almost two hours and by the time it had finished we were ready for another break and a coffee. This time we enjoyed our beverages in the café at Holyrood Palace with a shared sandwich (there was a big meal to come later and didn’t want to fill ourselves up). All very regal, as we tucked into a nice cappuccino and ham salad chitty.
The Royal Mile
My Mum had never seen the Scottish Parliament building before so on leaving the palace grounds we stopped and had a look at what is the newest and perhaps oddest construction in Edinburgh. We were aiming for a pub near to the restaurant so decided to walk, but that took several deviations of the main route.
We stopped in at the Museum of Edinburgh, a small and squeaky gallery housing many artefacts from an Edinburgh and Leith long gone by. I never knew this one even existed but it was good to get out of the sun for a wee while.
Next stop along the Mile was the Museum of Childhood, a fascinating place packed with toys from long before the words Nintendo or Wii were invented as nouns. There were toys I recognised from my childhood and ones my Mum remembered from hers. It sparked off memories and conversations about parts of both our childhood I think we’d forgotten, from Ladybird books to Powdered Milk tins, and extravagant dolls houses to three wheeled trikes.
Our walk took us up to the junction of the Royal Mile with the North Bridge, which we turned into and started heading in the direction of the Festival Theatre. I’d book a mean in a restaurant close by but we were a bit early so found a pub to sit in and rest our bones until it was dining time.
The first pub we came across was The Southsider Pub. It was what we had been looking for: cool, cold lager, comfortable seats and friendly atmosphere. Perfect for a mother and son to talk about the day they’d had up until then.
With that first taste of beer, though, came the start of the more in-depth talking. We started to unravel the world’s problems in that pub and much of it continued to our next port of call, the Pink Olive Restaurant.
The Pink Olive
We cracked open the restaurant’s last bottle of Chianti and made our selections: my mother electing to go for a starter of Smoked salmon & herb pate with Arran oatcakes and a main meal of Grilled lamb gigot chop with pea & mint salsa & spring onion mashed potatoes. I plumped for the Korean sticky chicken & kimchi starter followed by a Scottish Aberdeen Angus sirloin steak with chunky chips & salad.
With the wine, bread and olives (green, not pink) all flowing well, we relaxed into the meal and had a great laugh. My mum told me stories that were knew to me, and I made some revelations that were new to her. Before we know it, though, it was showtime.
By half past seven we were in our seats, front centre of the stalls of the Festival Theatre, for the main event of our day: Lenny Henry’s, From Cradle to Rave show. I’ve long been a fan of Lenny Henry and with the musical aspect to the show being an attraction for my mother; we booked the tickets and built the day around it.
Henry was fabulous. In what was a difficult audience to get going, he was as raucous at times as he was cheeky, flat out funny as he was melancholy. Towards the end of the show he was sad yet managed to finish the night with everyone on their feet singing and clapping along as he performed a few numbers that had formed the core of his story.
It was basically a look back at his life and how music, his first love, had influenced him to becoming one of Britain’s top and most loved personalities. It was brilliant to see him perform, and I know this is biased and that he’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but he used to be a giant (metaphorically; physically he’s larger than life) but that’s fine with me.
Following the show we popped over to chill down over another coffee in the Spoon Café, where not only did I show my mum why it’s fast become my favourite stop off point for a coffee on Saturday mornings, but we discovered Lenny had spent a large chunk of the afternoon drinking copious amounts of coffee, snacking and on his mobile phone.
With half an hour left until the next bus, I walked my mum back over the North Bridge and along to the bus station so she could get back to Glasgow in time for my old boy to pick her up.
It was a great day out and as seems to be standard when my mother and I “hit the town” we have a great laugh, ease off timetables to go with the flow, and just enjoy doing what we want with no outside pressures. We got the weather to go with it and healthy doses of laughter, culture and good food and wine.
What more could a son ask for?
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