Sunday 3 April: Day 2 of the Easter Holidays
We woke early on Sunday in the Musselburgh Premier Inn after a disastrous start to the Easter Holidays. I’m not sure whether The Boss or I actually slept much, with Mini punching and kicking and karate chopping through the night.
The very first thing we did was check the weather forecast. Rain. With extra rain on top. So we changed our plans yet again and hit the all-you-can-eat buffet breakfast instead of heading straight out to explore locally. The service was cheerful and friendly, and the food was fine (apart from the sausages that were hot on the outside, stone cold and pink on the inside, and allegedly not under-cooked, but rather ‘it’s the food colouring’). The girls ate prodigious amounts of everything and we all waddled out to the car to explore the Scottish Borders a little bit before doing the Drive of Shame back home.
I’d have liked to have explored Musselburgh and Portobello at least a bit, but the forecast was for the fog and rain to hang around all day. It looked driest south-west of there, so we drove to Melrose.
“What’s in Melrose?” asked The Boss.
“Dunno. An abbey? Maybe?”, I replied, fountain of all knowledge as usual.
A 40 minute tootle through rolling countryside later and we got out into more drizzle. We broke out the waterproofs so we could properly stretch our legs without worrying about the rain getting heavier. Mini was delighted at spotting a shop called Butterfly. It was shut, like everything else in Melrose. I thought that the north of Scotland would observe Sunday closing and that the south would have more of an English attitude, but my experiences have definitely been the reverse! Never mind, Melrose’s main attraction was certainly open: its beautiful Abbey.
And we had such a brilliant time at Melrose Abbey that I’ve written it a post all of its own.
Emerging into the sudden sunshine a few hours later, we decided to push the kids’ hunger levels a little more with a quick run through the small but beautiful Harmony Garden. The beds and walled gardens look like they’ll be incredible in the summer; the bulb lawn, crocuses and fritillaries made me feel very Spring-like.
Tired and hungry, we finally agreed to go seek some food. That was going to be interesting on a Sunday with everything shut! Luckily, I spotted a line of people coming from near a banner advertising The Abbey Mill, proclaiming that it sold woollen goods and had a coffee shop.
And what a find it was! The bottom floor sold touristy cashmere and wool clothes, rugs, scarves and so on; the entire top floor was a large coffee shop. We ordered a cream tea for 4 to be split 5 ways. To boost the spirits of the flagging minxes, we made a big deal out of letting them try some very milky, watered-down tea for the first and possibly last time ever. Properly hyped-up, they washed their hands and sat nicely until the staff swiftly brought a huge platter of goodies. Oh my! Colourful, tasty fresh salad; egg mayo and ham sandwiches, on both white and brown bread; 4 iced cupcakes; 4 enormous warm, freshly-baked fruit scones with strawberry jam and cream. The staff thoughtfully put the teabags by our cups so that we could control the strength of tea for the kids, brought some extra water, then stood well back in safety as the troughing commenced…
Within 20 minutes, all that was left was a small half-ring of onion, a single egg mayo sarnie and half a cupcake. It was absolutely delicious, completely filled us up, and at £6 a head was brilliant value for such high quality food. Midi laughed when I blushed at the praise meted out to the minxes for their good behaviour and pleasant table manners. I tell you, I basked in it, savouring every word. It might tide me over next time we’re slinking out on the Walk of Shame from another cafe on a different day.
We ambled over towards the River Tweed to the chain bridge. We walked over it just for the sheer hell of it, though poor rule-abiding Maxi got herself in a right state waiting for there to be less than 8 people on the bridge at any one time so she could walk over. We didn’t tarry too long on the other side – the path was one long dog poo obstacle course. So we walked back again in the direction of the town centre, via a bit of parachuting off a fallen tree, in search of a play park.
We found a fantastic and very busy playground past the rugby ground and over beside a busy caravan park. The minxes wore themselves out over a one hour thrash around. The bark chippings underfoot were very thick, the play equipment wonderfully varied, Midi made a new friend, and all 3 tried hard to wrench their arms out their sockets on the monkey bars especially.
Around 5pm it was time to call it quits and finally head for home. We paused at Leaderfoot Viaduct to have a good look around and for The Boss to boil a kettle for hot chocolate and coffee. We saw plenty of cyclists zoom down the cycle path from the viaduct and onto Drygrange bridge – maybe that’ll be us in a few years? – but the sheer number of dog poo deposits left on the grass verges, cobbles and paths around that area mean that I honestly can’t recommend it as a stop-off. Unless you’re wearing footwear that can be easily hosed down. It’s pretty disgusting. We’re talking 2 dog poos per A4 paper-sized area of grass. Bleurgh! So a quick coffee and back on the road.
The drive home over the Forth Road Bridge took maybe 4 hours of steady driving. The sun flirted with us, giving us beautiful views over Edinburgh. We finally got home in the darkness and fog and rain that’s been forecast to last until May. I can only hope the Met Office mean May 2016…