We’ve been in Saint-Malo for two days. The first we spent on one side of the Walled City, traipsing around a headland. As always at the coast, I’m reminded of where I spent my teenage years. Photo below is particular reminiscent for me of home. Above is the ramparts of the Walled City, which you can walk around, and is surrounded by marinas and beaches. I tend to find something to grab onto, something for inspiration for writing, particularly historical places – certainly had it in Mont Saint-Michel, the dragons and dragon slayer not withstanding (no, I don’t need to write a time-slip story featuring a medievael monk and a pre-revolution prisoner, thank you very much! No, I really don’t…shut up brain). Here… I’m really just enjoying the weather, the colours, the sea and sky, the beachy aspects of it. My sister and I dipped our toes in the water – my mother told us we made steady progress down the beach, and were immediately stilled when the cold water rushed over our feet. And it was chilly, but I got used to it. Just so nice to back with this for a while.
We were pointed to a very nice seafood restaurant where we ate twice – really nice waiter working there, who also rescued my camera and phone when I stupidly wafted out of there without them!
Oh, and these seagulls? HUGE!
Mirrored from jacquelinebrocker.esquinx.net.
So bright and early Saturday morning S and I hauled ourselves up to Peterborough for the Edinburgh train. The train times were only a fraction disappointing as our journeys being Saturday morning and Monday afternoon meant we missed hot lunch options and booze on the weekends, but really, I'm not complaining about complimentary sandwiches, tea, soft drink, crisps, and cakes! And the leg room. And the proper tables we had. Something I could too easily get used to.
We were exceedingly lucky with the weather we had - not typically Scottish at all. Sometimes overcast, yes, but there were long stretches of sun, and there was only some rain at night when we were already indoors. So thank you Scotland for being kind to us while we were there.
I'd already been to the city before, but S hadn't, so it was up to the castle on Sunday for a long wander through there. I managed to see some of the parts I'd missed the first time around, and there is a lot to see up there. We managed to exhaust ourselves by walking the length of the Royal Mile, before going on foot back to our guest house. As a result we lazed for a few hours in our room before heading out for dinner.
Food wise; we possibly over did it on the hagis (S and I are both fans); we had it in really tasty starter at Howie's on Saturday night, placed in a filo pastry dish and drizzled with plum sauce, then for breakfast at the guest house, and then me for lunch at the pub and S on his Balmoral chicken...so we had Thai for the Sunday night, place called Leven's which was very good indeed (excellent service; I suspect much of the attention was because it was late and we were the only ones in there, though you got a sense this was what they did in general.)
Monday was our day to travel back. We organised to meet A for coffee, and made our way up to Carlton Hill, something I've wanted to do each time I've been to Edinburgh. Stunning views of the whole city and the Firth of Forth. Met A for a coffee and catch up and then made it to our train for the journey back.
It was a brief dash through the city, but I do like the place very much. I love how the gardens sit in the gorge where the train station also is, separating the new from the old town. The combination of the Gothic and the Georgian is great, and I like being able to see the sea (even though you need to get to a height to do it.) Next time going I definitely want to see Holyrood Palace and look more at Arthur's Seat. Assuming there will be a next time. Which I hope there is. :)
Well, that's precisely what it turned out to be.
( IVFDF ramblings below cut )
I've been typing while sitting down, but then I went upstairs, and found some of my muscles were complaining a wee bit. I think that's the sign of a good weekend of dancing. I'll certainly be going again.
Meanwhile, on the blogging front, it's been a while since I've written anything here. I hope I will start writing more posts in the coming year. I keep meaning to, and then think I really ought to be doing other things, but I suspect writing here may keep me feeling a little more sane. :)
We did plan to go to Toledo on Saturday, but the weather turned out not to be so great, so we stayed in again till the afternoon when we went for another walk down towards the river. I joked that she'd taken me the scenic route - the first part of the walk, shall we say, did not show the prettiest parts of Madrid. The river, Manzanares, was nothing much to comment on, but there was some work around the bridge we went to which looked like it might be rather nice when it's finished.
The rain then caught up with us and we trundled up past the palace, me under my broken brolly, which was soon replaced by a bloke selling them on the street, taking advantage of the weather change. Then we had some tasty churros in exceedingly busy place where the wait staff piled the cups of chocolate and plates up so high that you worried they might topple over if the customers hadn't moved out of the way in time.
We met up that evening with M, who is doing the dancing exam with me, and her sisters (we all just happened to be in Madrid for this weekend) for a very nice paella and sangria (sister and I will be having the leftovers of this for food later tonight). An early night intended, sister and I attended up chatting till after 2 and crawling out of bed around 12.30 today. Very well rested, we trotted over to the Museo del Prado to take advantage of the free entry from 5-8pm on a Sunday. We had a good look at the first floor, before deciding to come back another evening to see the second floor (again, free entry 6-8pm on weekdays). My user icon is from this painting by Federico de Madrazo y Kuntz, which we saw at the gallery and featured in a lot of the gallery products.
I managed to find a magnet of a painting of St Michael (San Miguel here); naturally, he's slaying a dragon. ;)
Now off for drinks with a friend of my sisters.
The short story on my travelling: I managed to see a wee bit of England and other parts of Europe in the earlier part of the year, but was a bit more located at home for the later half. Hope to do more this year, with plans for Ireland on the cards as well as Madrid.
Long story...see below (cuts for length as well as several pictures).
(Note: I wrote the bit of Florence way back when I was just back from there, hence it is a bit longer than most.)
( In England: London, Manchester, Stroud, High Wycombe, Statford-on-Avon, Suffolk and Essex )
( Paris and Surrounds )
( Florence )
And then the rest of the year I was a wee bit skint, so I kept mostly to Cambridge. :)
I have more pictures of all these places, and if you're on Facebook you can see them all, but I'm trying to figure out how to get a nifty one-stop place for my pics so everyone can see them without too much hassle...something to think about for Feb.
Next and final 2009 in review: Writing
My sister's apartment is 11 square metres. Total. Yes, it's that small. The bathroom is combined with the kitchen, and when she told people that you don't want to drop the soap in the shower as you might hurt yourself picking it up, she wasn't kidding. Still, we're managing with the two of us. There will be pictures later as well.
Yesterday we went to Monet's house in Girveny, which was a train trip into Normandy followed by a quick bus ride. Very pretty - house, gardens full of flowers, pond with water lilies and bridge and all. Photos forthcoming when I can get them off my phone (left camera in Paris, so the phone camera had to do - but they seem to have turned out surprisingly well.) When we got back to Paris we walked a good way across the city, stopping for crepes in Saint-Michel after dinner (which was a somewhat disappointing leg of duck, though S's duck fillet was rather tasty).
Today we went on the free tours that S does in Paris. It is free in the sense that no money is paid upfront, but tips are very welcomed at the end. So I got to see a bit more of the city. I have been before, nearly nine years ago now, and so saw a lot of the major sights then, but this was quite good for a general overview. S did well, though the tips could have been a bit better. Ah well.
Tomorrow I'll tag along on the Montmartre tour she does as well. That is not free, but if she's lucky, people will still tip her anyway.
For now, that is it. We're about to go shopping for dinner (to be cooked on one of the two hotplates that make up the kitchen) and probably having either wine or gin and tonic (complemented with olives) for dinner. Such a hard life it is.
That's it for now.