I have been away on my first trip of 2022!
I went to Edinburgh, a total of 28 miles (45 km) from home. Well, it is a start.
It counts as a trip because I stayed there for two nights, at the Residence Inn by Marriott where I stayed a few times last year.
I was going to be visiting Edinburgh anyway to meet my cousin for lunch. Then at the last minute I wondered if I could get a mid-January mid-week deal to stay the night. What was on offer was so cheap I decided to stay 2 nights. It worked out at £80 per night for a studio, and that included a buffet breakfast.
I paid twice that much last year and still thought it was a good deal (for Edinburgh, in the summer). The Residence studio provides a large living/sleeping/working space with a small kitchenette – microwave, fridge and cooker. It is very spacious and comfortable. I was happy with all their pandemic protections when I was there last year (or I would not have gone back) and it was the same this time.
It is located adjacent to Edinburgh University’s city centre campus, a short (15 minutes) walk from the route of the bus I took into the city from the park and ride. If you know the city a bit, think of Greyfriars Bobby and it is about 400m from there. One of the attractions for me is the huge choice of pubs, cafes and restaurants within a 10 minute walk. It lies within an area which is largely pedestrianised, so traffic noise is close to zero.
Between the darkness of a Scottish midwinter, the renewed pandemic restrictions after the Omicron variant arrived, and the cumulative effect of almost 2 years of pandemic restrictions, I had reached the point where even a short escape to somewhere close by seems like a gift from above. I was doing these Change-of-Scene escapes last year, but had put them on hold when the Omicron variant arrived around the time of my Belfast trip at the start of December.
It is just about getting away from the house – when, where, and how are almost irrelevant. It has to be somewhere pleasant obviously, and the price has to be right, but apart from that…
Inevitably the question of risk has to come into my decisions – I would not do anything which breaks the rules or guidance, and in fact my work (in politics) really precludes it.
My experiences – bus, pubs, cafes, restaurants and the hotel – were overwhelmingly positive. They were all doing what was required to keep themselves healthy and their customers too. As for the customers, I would put compliance at 95%. I was positively impressed. I was only irritated by a Covidiot once, and that was in Waverley Station as I passed through on my way to the family reunion lunch.
I am happy to confess I broke the rules once. In the middle of lunch I went to the toilet and forgot to put my mask on. It shows how easy it is to make a mistake especially when you are distracted by being in company and after a couple of drinks.
Our lunch was in Joseph Pearce’s on Elm Row at the top of Leith Walk. It describes itself as “shabby chic… with a Swedish twist”. It is a gastro-pub rather than a restaurant. When I was a boy it was just plain shabby, but the beer was good and it was cheap. A “sawdust on the floor” type place.
We enjoyed our lunch there. The food was good and the service too. It has a pleasant and relaxed atmosphere.
My next challenge is to plan my next Change-of-Scene escape. Paris? Amsterdam? Rome? Dundee?
ⓒ iain taylor, 2022