Thursday, 28 November 2013

Review: Palace of Holyrood House

I love history, especially Scottish history. We are a very old country, rich in history and subsequently, lots of scandal! I suppose this love of history was instilled in me at a young age by my dad, who has a great love of history and really is very knowledgable. Many a summer holiday was spent with my mum sister and I traipsing around castles, graveyards and museums with him.  It's only now that I'm older that I truly appreciate him trying to educate us.

The lovely people over at Superbreak sent us to Holyrood Palace in Edinburgh, or to give it it's official title, the Palace of Holyrood House. Hubby, the wee one and I, with both my mum and dad in tow, travelled through to Edinburgh on a beautifully sunny, but very chilly day. 

We arrived the Palace around 11 o'clock, having researched nearby car parks, and had planned to bite the bullet and pay the car parking charges to park at the nearest one. However, we discovered the holy grail of car drivers: FREE PARKING ON SATURDAYS!! Our day was off to a fabulous start. 

We presented our voucher at the ticket office, paid for my dads ticket and as he's a senior citizen got in for a reduced price, and kids under 5 go free. 

The palace is stunning.  This is what meets you when you go through the gate:

Unfortunately, and understandably, you're not allowed to take photos inside the palace. Which is a real shame because I'm kinda rubbish at describing! 

As you go in we climbed the grand stairs, which has beautiful tapestries and paintings of the monarchs and the royal family.  You most definitely need the free audio guide which, if you're like me and know very little about the history, is essential to your trip. The audio guide is really informative, and very clear.

We strolled through the rooms, the throne room and the gallery, listening to the guide, but the wee one was getting restless, understandably as there's not a lot to entertain her.  However, we found a room which was absolutely ideal! It has crayons, puzzle sheets, blocks, puppets, dressing up costumes etc

It also had interactive stuff (for the big kid!)

And beautiful seats with the thistle emblem! 

Dad and I left the wee one there with hubby and my mum, so we could continue on our little history tour.  The Gallery and throne rooms are still in use, for ceremonies and special occasions. It really is beautiful. We climbed some very narrow stairs leading from Mary Queen of Scots bedroom, to a very cold part of the palace, where the audio tour informed us that a man, suspected of being Mary Queen of Scots Italian lover, was murdered. It certainly was a creepy room.

I am most definitely not a fan of these stairs! 

But the garden in the middle of the palace is beautiful! 

We explored the abbey ruins, which were beautiful but it was exceptionally cold!

Walking over people's graves has always freaked me out

...but it doesn't seem to bother the wee one! 

The palace gardens are closed in the autumns and winter, so this was a close as we could get to them.  They look gorgeous in the autumn light! 

And of course, the wee one had to copy her grandad, who pretended to be a soldier earlier:

It took about an hour to do the whole palace with the audio tour. There were employees dotted about to answer any questions or to help, like keeping the pram safe as we couldn't take it up the narrow stairs. After our tour it was time to heat up in the cafe with a cup of coffee, and of course, grandad cuddles!

Holyrood palace is an excellent starting point for exploring Edinburgh. You can walk right up the Royal Mile to Edinburgh Castle from the palace, and the Scottish Parliament is right across the road (which in my opinion is the worst looking building, and looks totally out of place in such an historic part if the city).  There's also Arthur's Seat to climb, which is right behind the palace too. There were lots of people climbing it the day we were there, it was just a tad too cold (and high up) for my liking! 

We had a fabulous day, and I'm quite looking forward to a return visit when they have a specific event on for children (and most definitely on a warmer day!)

*Superbreak gave us a voucher admitting 3 adults in to the Palace, in exchange for an honest review* 

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

The Gallery: A Younger Me

Ah, what happened to me? I used to be ADORABLE!! 

I must be about 3 in this photo. It's one of my favourites because I'm actually smiling! 

Why not check out the other younger mugs in Tara's The Gallery or check the hash tag #thegallery on Twitter. 

Monday, 11 November 2013

Why I Remember

The 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month is a very special moment, where the country stops what they're doing, and stands in silence to remember those fallen in the First and Second World Wars and conflicts since. 

I'm not from a military family. Only a handful of my relatives actually fought in the wars. My great, great uncles fought and died in the Second World War, one is buried at Loos Cemetery, the other's name is etched on the Thiepval Memorial.  The First World War is a passion of my dad's. He has books upon books about it and I'm sure it (alongside the American Civil War) would be his specialist subject on Mastermind. It's from this my sister and I have a lot of respect for Armistace Day. 

My Grandfather (Dads dad) was lucky in a sense that he was too young to fight in the First World War, being only 10 when it started, and too old at 35 to fight in the Second. My other Grandfather would have only been a teenager at the start of World War 2. So we were blessed in a sense that they weren't directly on the front line. But that doesn't mean their lives weren't affected. 

My fathers parents didn't meet and marry until the 2nd World War had started.  We think my gran may have had a soldier boyfriend who didn't come back, but we'll never know because he really didn't want to talk about it. My Uncle was born as Clydebank was being bombed. My other Uncle was born just before the end of the war, then my dad was a baby boomer, born in 1946. 

I don't quite know what my mums parents did during the war. I know grandad worked in the shipyards, and the aerodromes, so I'm sure he must have worked on some of the Naval fleet. I know my gran worked with the Salvation Army on the trains, serving tea and food to soldiers being transported around the country. I'm sure my mum's grandfather served and came back, as she has his medals. 

I wear my poppy with pride every year. I wear mine to remember the lives that were irrevocably changed by war, those who fell and never came back, and to remind myself how lucky we are as a generation that we have never, and hopefully will never, go through what our grandparents, and great grandparents generations went through. 

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Saturday, 9 November 2013

My Profile Photo

Today, as part of NaBloPoMo, Vonnie over at Nowt Special is asking us to explain the story behind the profile picture on our blogs. 

There really is no explanation behind mine. I was getting ready to go to a wedding reception, yes, one of those rate occasions where hubby and I went out together without the wee one!

While we were waiting for my parents to arrive to babysit, I snapped a selfie. Usually I just delete them right say cos I either hate the way I look or it's just a plain rubbish photo! But I quite liked this one and for once my hair was perfectly straight! Pity it was absolutely chucking it with rain that night... 

So that's my (very boring) profile photo story. 

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Social Media: a rant.

Ah, social media. Home of the chronic over sharers and attention seekers. 

I admit, this is a ranty post, inspired by recent events on my Facebook timeline. 

I much prefer to take to Twitter these days, and reserve Facebook for posting photos of the wee one for my far away family and friends to see.  Twitter is a better place for conversations, though I must come across as really quite boring and moany, because I never have much to say.  I try not to put too much stuff on Facebook, and I keep my page private, so only those I choose to have on my friends list can see what I want them to see.

Some folk definitely reveal too much on Facebook, like having full blown arguments with their husbands in a conversation thread visible to the entire internet, or posting selfies every five minutes.  I am really sick of seeing certain folks duck face poses every time I scroll down. And those who post every 2 seconds: in coffee shop. drinking coffee. Here's a photo of said coffee. Leaving coffee shop. 

But what really gets on my last nerve is those people who post things like "today was the worst day, ever". They then get a slew of messages with are you ok, what's happened, etc. and then the poster types "I don't want to talk about it". 

Argh! Why? Why post it if you don't want people to ask if you're ok? Keep it to yourself if you don't want to talk about it. 

Then there's those who post cryptic messages, with no explanation, but is clearly a dig at someone. I'm of the opinion that if you've got a grievance with someone, or something to say, say it to their face, don't plaster it on Facebook.  This all leads to speculation. Speculation leads to gossip, where stories grow arms, legs and multiple heads, and before you know it, that bad day you were having has turned into something completely different. 

So, the moral of the story? Say what you mean, mean what you say, and if you don't want to divulge anything, don't post about it! 

Wednesday, 6 November 2013


Sadly, for the past two years I've not made it to any fireworks displays because I always seem to be rostered on to night shift! 

We used to go every year to Glasgow Green, in the days when they used to build a huge bonfire, to watch the fireworks. Then they built it right over a gas main one year, and the bonfire tradition was no more. They still did the fireworks, but it just wasn't the same. 

Thankfully, from my bedroom window at my parents house, we could see right over Cathkin Braes and my sister and I would sit, huddled up watching the little bonfires and the sporadic fireworks being set off. 

As we got older, we resurrected the Glasgow Green tradition. Nothing says reliving your childhood than pulling on your wellies, wrapping up in your hat, scarf and gloves, and trudging through mucky grass to watch fireworks with hundreds of strangers. 

We've not been to a fireworks display in Scotland since the wee one was born, but we did watch the big fireworks show at the Magic Kingdom at Disney World. And they were absolutely spectacular. I didn't include any photos of them, because my photos really don't do them justice. The wee one absolutely loved them. They really know how to make firework displays awesome at Disney. Well, everything is awesome at Disney!! 

What's your Firework Night tradition? 

Monday, 4 November 2013

Are you easily tricked?

I have to admit, I am one of those people who's quite gullible at times. People can string me a story for quite some time before I realise they're having me on. 

It mostly happens at work. Being a Staff Nurse I suppose I'm quite serious most of the time, but still have a laugh and a joke with my colleagues. On one occasion, I passed the ward board and found a new name in one of our empty rooms: Annette Curtaine. 

Naturally, I asked every staff member if we were getting a new patient down, did we have a handover, "who's Annette Curtaine?". Little did I realise I was being pranked, and A Net Curtain was a fake...

We had a male Staff Nurse who was particularly good at sounding completely serious whilst winding you up.  He was just one of those folks who had the knack for it. He would routinely concoct a fake handover that would sound completely convincing, but with something completely wild at the end, like "patient had third hand removed 3 weeks ago".  One night shift, he came up to tell me that he's had a handover from A+E, to come down into one of his side rooms, that patient was absolutely rigid, couldn't bend in the middle, and that the porters had delivered him to the ward standing up so could I help to get him into bed. When I went to the room I found a drip stand dressed up in a hospital gown with a mop for a head, gloves for hands, complete with a catheter! 

It has backfired on one occasion. I was heavily pregnant, and had been away on escort with a patient to MRI scanning, and came back to find the ward doors shut over. I met this colleague at the door who said "you can't come in, a patient has barricaded himself in the male 4-bed room, is using his walking stick and fork as weapons, and we've had to evacuate the other men out of the room".  Naturally, I didn't believe him, and strode on past him with my patient. He protested that he wasn't joking, but I didn't believe him until I actually passed the patient who threw his stick at the window of the bay, frightening the life out of me and my poor patient, and started hurling abuse at us.  He was a pleasant man(!)

Sometimes, I'm just plain daft. 

My grandad used to work in an aerodrome at a place in Fife, which I thought was with a company called Donny Bristol.  I only learned recently that the place in Fife is called Donibristle.

I grew up in the Salvation Army, and often wondered why the Officers all when to a place called Furlow for their holidays. I think I was about 25 before I realised that being on furlough meant being on holiday...

And only just this year, whilst watching Great British Bake Off, did I realise that Welsh Rarebit is NOT made with rabbit...

This is my post for day 4 of NaBloPoMo, using the prompt from Vonnie: Are you easily tricked? Do you fall for things

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Silent Sunday

Soup update!

Those of you who read yesterday's post about making soup, will be aware of how I really was just winging it. Armed with mums recipe in my head, I set out and put it on to boil this morning.

I put the pot on to boil, then down to a simmer before we went to meet my parents for a bit of shopping.

Casually mentioned to my mum that I was making the soup today, and that I'd left it to simmer while we were out. Her words? "Ooh, that's a bit of a high heat, you maybe should go home and make sure it's not dried out".

EEP! Panic. I had put plenty of water in, but stupidly, forgot that soup needs to be stirred!!

So I got home, gave it a wee gentle stir... And some of the soup had stuck to the bottom!! Argh!

However, it was rescuable, and turned out looking like this!!

And it tasted exactly like mums!

Hubby tried it and said it tasted great, but then he has to say that to stay married to me ;o) The ultimate test was giving a bowl to the wee one for dinner. The 21 month olds verdict?

"I like it"


Saturday, 2 November 2013

In which I try to be like my mother.

Now that I'm a mum, and I've turned 30, I've been meaning to try to turn my hand to the things that should be passed down the generations.

I already knit. My gran was the best knitter I know, and she would still be knitting away if diabetes hadn't claimed her eyesight, and dementia, her memory. My mum can knit well when she wants to, but she's got other things to keep her busy. 

My gran also made the best soup. Honestly, the most awesome soup ever. My mum makes soup the exact same way my gran did and it tastes amazing, but somehow grans was always that wee bit better. We think it was the good Fife water that gave hers that extra flavour. 

So I decided I would try and make soup on my own. I remember helping my mum make soup, so naturally I thought I could wing it. 

Turns out, I couldn't. 

After forgetting what actually goes into soup, I ended up phoning mum from the supermarket to make sure I had all the ingredients; veggies, broth mix, split peas, ham hough, etc. Yep, all present and correct, and she gave me some further instructions, ie soaking the lentils overnight.

Got home, laid out all my ingredients, and I poured my 3 packets of lentils, peas etc, in the pot to soak. It looked a but much, but I let it soak anyway. 

Three hours later, there's a LOT of expanded broth, and no space in my massive soup pot. I made another panicked phone call to my mum, who explained that I really should have only put 1/3 of each packet in! Arg! I'm such a numpty. Cue spooning out half the mixture into a Tupperware dish. 

At the moment, I'm left with half of the mix soaking in the pot and the other half waiting in the fridge, probable for my next attempt, because judging by the way things are going, this one is a disaster! 

I rally want this soup to work out, because I want to be able to make it and be like my mum and gran, and hopefully, be able to teach the wee one. And to be able to say to my husband, look, I CAN cook! (I can't really, I'm rubbish and he does all the cooking, but to achieve this one thing would be awesome).

I'm letting all my ingredients soak as I type, in preparation for actually making the soup tomorrow.  I really hope I'm able to post a success blog post.

Fingers crossed! 


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