I realise I’m very very late in doing this little trip report, but better late than never! 🙂
We decided to take a short break to Edinburgh as my oldest son is very interested in cities at the moment and, after having visited London last summer, he told us he wanted to see all the other capital cities of the UK. Not sure we’ll be visiting Cardiff or Belfast any time soon as they’re a bit far for us up here in the North East, but Edinburgh is a doddle. Just over two hours drive and, I’m happy to report, absolutely no problems during the journey from any of the three children!
We have a Renault Espace car, so we have lots of space. Charlie (7) and Henry (4) sat in the very back seats which allowed for our very compact Zia Petite Star pushchair to sit behind them. (Front wheel removes v.easily so they had lots of space). Then Mathilde (2) occupied the middle seat with our bags and Me and Chris were upfront.
Our first stop off was at a Toby restaurant in Shiremoor, just north of the Tyne Tunnel. It’s a bit of a Grey family tradition to have a big breakfast as we start a holiday and these types of eateries are usually really good for the kids as they often eat free. Charlie managed SIX sausages! Henry always opts for a few bowls of cereal and Mathilde loved the hash browns. If you’re a family with young children, you can’t go wrong!
The border between England and Scotland is marked by a sign which made for a great photo opportunity! Mathilde was having a nap, but the boys found it amazing to “jump” from England into Scotland.
We arrived in Edinburgh by mid afternoon on a Monday and we had to find our hotel, a Premier Inn. We usually book Premier Inns for our stays in the UK as they are nice and clean, reasonably priced and have great breakfasts. Being a family of five makes hotel stays difficult, but we’ve found Premier Inn to be very accommodating as long as we bring our Spider-man blow up bed with us! Really, the littlest should be in the air bed, but middle child won’t give it up, so Henry and Charlie slept next to each other on the floor of the hotel, with daddy having the single and Me and Mathilde in the double.
We walked from our hotel, which was in the Haymarket business area of Edinburgh, along the Royal Mile and up to the Castle. We had the full afternoon to visit Edinburgh Castle and this was a big treat for Henry who loved knights and castles and kings. When Henry is doing something very important (such as helping daddy with a spot of DIY) or he is exploring something important (like a castle), he develops a very confident and authoritative “swagger”, so he spent the first half hour swaggering about proudly as he found secret stairways, spectacular views and lots of very important-looking cannons!
It cost around £42 for the five of us to visit Edinburgh Castle and we only paid for Charlie as under 5’s are free. All in all, I think this was very reasonable as we spent a few hours there and there was lots to see.
After the Castle we walked to Prince’s Street and found Hard Rock Café. Chris and I have visited lots of cities with a Hard Rock Café, but for no real reason we’d never eaten in one. Me, thinking it would be a cool family thing to do, decided we would go to this one and then see how many others we could all visit. I chose a burger which was very nice and very big, Chris chose a pulled pork sandwich – again nice but enormous! I’m not a huge fan of burgers, but it seemed to be the thing to have at Hard Rock Café and, to be honest, it was nice but not as amazing as I expected (or as the price tag suggested). The kids meals were the usual options of pizza, burger, nuggets etc. and both boys enjoyed their meals which were served on a guitar shaped plate. Mathilde, being 2, was having a not eating day so unfortunately she ate her grapes and half her chips, but not the chicken. For pudding, the children all had ice cream and Chris and I shared a dessert as we were still very full. With a couple of rounds of drinks, the bill came to a rather eye-watering £80.00. I’m not sure we’ll be going back as I don’t think the food quality was particularly special.
The next day we had a huge breakfast in Premier Inn’s restaurant and then made the journey by car to Edinburgh Zoo.
We paid for Henry this time, but Mathilde got in free and the total price for a family ticket was £57.00, which was expensive, but worth it as we spent the whole day there. When we arrived, Henry adopted his “swagger” again and with map in hand, he marched us up pathways telling us which way we needed to go. We double backed on ourselves a few times, but he was enjoying himself so it didn’t matter!
There were some great exhibits at the zoo. I particularly enjoyed seeing the giant pandas and the children’s favourites were the monkeys (Charlie), lions (Henry) and penguins (Mathilde). We had been to the zoo before with Charlie when he was a baby and it is a bit of a hike as it seems to be built on a hillside, which really tired the kids out. There was a lot of fighting between the kids over who got to sit in Mathilde’s pushchair and there were a few squabbles between the adults over who had to push it up the hill!
The gift shop wasn’t as good as I remembered from last time we visited. There were lots of stuffed animals and regular toy-shop books and toys but nothing particularly different there. Mathilde chose a lovely soft ball over the huge aray of stuffed animals, and Charlie decided to save his pocket money for an Avengers toy (the philistine!), but picked up a zoo notepad and pencil. Henry opted to return to the Royal Mile to buy the knight’s sword and shield he saw from yesterday (we did!).
After our zoo trip we returned to the hotel for a rest then went to a restaurant Chris had googled on his phone called “Burger”. Now, as I’d had a burger yesterday and as I’m not really a burger person, I had a chilli dog and it was lovely. The best thing about the food at this lovely restaurant, which seemed to serve a business clientele in the Haymarket area, were the chips. They were absolutely gorgeous and they hadn’t been peeled so had skin on which added to the taste. All three kids (and husband) thoroughly enjoyed the food here and, at half the price of Hard Rock Cafe, it was actually much nicer. Charlie also got to have a milkshake which he loves, but doesn’t get to have very often.
The next day we had our third huge breakfast (this is the point when breakfasts start to wear a bit thin!), checked out of our hotel and headed into the town. We parked our car in a shopping centre car park, walked the Royal Mile again and visited a few shops. Charlie (the toy philistine!) bought his Avengers thinga-ma-jig in Jennings Department Store. We then made a lovely trip to the Edinburgh Museum of Childhood, which was made even more fabulous because it was free!
I love toys (obviously!) and I had a great time browsing the cases filled with dolls, dolls houses, toys, clothes from years ago. It was a lot of fun for the children too. Not only did they see toys which mammy and daddy used to play with, but they saw lots of things grandma, grandad and gran played with when they were little too!
We left Edinburgh early afternoon and stopped at Seahouses for fish and chips on the way back. It was a lovely journey back and the kids were great in the car again which is good news as we’ve just arranged a “road trip” to Paris for May half term! Wish us luck! 🙂