In which an epic road trip leads to Edinburgh, Yorkshire and a lovely wedding

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Between last Thursday and Monday of this week we spent 17 hours driving. In a country the size of the UK you wouldn’t think this would really be possible, but it turns out it is if you plan a road trip that takes you from Bristol to Edinburgh via Newcastle under Lyme, and then to Yorkshire via an unplanned stop in Carlisle.

Because we are multi taskers and like killing several birds with one journey, we decided to combine my friend’s wedding in Masham, Yorkshire with a trip to see other friends in Edinburgh. Oh, and to catch up with S’ parents in Newcastle under Lyme, too. The result? The aforementioned 17 hours of driving over 5 days on a route that traversed at least 18 counties. It’s safe to say that I don’t want to see the inside of our car for quite some time.

But my, was it worth it. Five days of lovely food, copious amounts of alcohol, exploring new places, catching up with good friends and one of the best hotels I have ever stayed in.

In Edinburgh we visited Portobello to see the sea and I tried cullen skink for the first time (verdict: delicious). We also climbed Calton Hill for breathtaking views of the city before visiting the Brewdog bar in Cowgate. This is now known by our friends as “our” bar, as we recently bought shares in Brewdog through its Equity for Punks scheme. At the moment its only bars are in Scotland, and sine we live a long way from Scotland, this was the first time we’d ever visited one. I have to admit being a little nervous before we arrived, worrying that it would be empty and terrible and we would regret sinking cold hard cash into the craft brewing industry. But it was full and busy and warm and stocked the most amazing range of beers, both its own and guest bottles. S even got to try the legendary Tactical Nuclear Penguin, a 32% beer. Luckily at that percentage it’s only sold in “nips”.

In order to make it on time for the wedding on Sunday we had to leave Edinburgh at 8am, a painful sacrifice for me which was not helped by the discovery the night before that S had left his smart shoes in Bristol, necessitating a stop off in Carlisle to find a shoe shop open early on a Sunday morning. S had blithely declared it would take but a minute to pop off the motorway, find the city centre and purchase some replacement shoes, which sadly was not true as we couldn’t seem to even find the centre at first. After we finally succeeded in parking somewhere near, he hunted down a Clarks while any early morning shoppers in Carlisle would have been greeted by the sight of me in the car, applying make up and nail varnish while nervously clock watching and urging S in more and more clipped tones to just choose a pair already, did he want to make it to this damn wedding, did he want to give me a nervous breakdown?

(In case you hadn’t gathered, I am a bit neurotic about being on time.)

Luckily we made it to the hotel with time to spare. In fact, it turned out I had got the time of the wedding wrong and it was going to be half an hour later than we thought. S glared at me a little at this discovery, but then we discovered that this extra time was the perfect opportunity to make inroads into the complimentary gin and whisky provided by the hotel.

G&T for lunch? Well, I don't mind if I do!

That is one of the reasons why Swinton Park currently ranks in my Top Three Hotels, Ever! list (other two: this one and this one).

This was another reason:

The view from our room

The wedding itself was absolutely beautiful and yet again I cried at the sight of the bride coming up the aisle. I used to laugh at people who cried at weddings; it’s a happy occasion, so why start weeping? But ever since my friend Steph’s wedding in Newfoundland (on the edge of a lake, it was very lovely) I’m a human fountain as soon as I catch a glimpse of the veil.

Dancing was a particular highlight. After an impromptu ceilidh the main disco kicked off and (fuelled by a good bottle of wine each) we hit the floor with a vengeance. Belle and Sebastian was followed by Jet which was followed by Stevie Wonder and oh my god I need a breather but now it’s Blur and Bonnie Tyler (my request!) and I just. can’t. stop. The dance lessons for our wedding watching Strictly on Saturday nights Innate great rhythm meant S was on good dancing form and we even had a sequence of synchronised kicks and flicks to one song. Len would have been proud of us. A guest later described S’ and my dancing as “mental” but I think she meant it as a compliment. (I think.) (I hope.)

After all the palaver with the bird print dress, New Look did not get itself in gear and actually start selling the damn thing so I went with another sleeved dress from there instead. There weren’t birds, but I got to wear my favourite pink high heels with it so all good.

However, note to self: winter weddings are actually warmer than summer ones, due to the ramping up of the central heating, so sleeves aren’t necessarily a good thing. Especially after half an hour’s solid jiving on the dance floor.

I will leave you with one of my favourite photos from the weekend, from the walk we took on the morning afterwards. Who can resist a furry little stoat?

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6 responses »

  1. Aw, my little bro looked at Swinton Park for his wedding {he chose the lake district in the end} but it does look beautiful.
    And yes, I think ‘mental’ is a dancing related compliment. x

  2. Every time we drive 18 hours from Toronto to the east coast, I wish to myself “WHY COULDN’T I JUST HAVE BEEN BORN IN THE UK?!?” Car rides are the worst. THE WORST.
    I sympathize.

    Adorable shoes, by the way!

    • The year I spent in Canada made me truly appreciate how good we have it here with distances. The fact that you can drive for 24 hours north from Toronto and still not leave Ontario just blew my mind. It puts the small size of the UK into perspective!

      • Insanity, isn’t it? Especially when you look at the map, it looks so small! Winnipeg is like 30 hours away. 30 hours of straight driving! Oh well, it’s good to be home for you I guess

  3. Pingback: In which there is an A-Z of my important things « Postcards from the Edge (of the West Country)

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