Categories
travel

Eating in Edinburgh

There are some great places to eat in Edinburgh. And some less great ones. Here are capsule reviews of some of the places we ate at on our recent trip to the city.

Rendezvous
We usually arrive in Edinburgh on Friday evening and this is a good default choice close to the place where we stay. It’s a pretty cheap and cheerful Chinese. And the food is usually good quality too.

Kings Wark
One of the things I look forward to most in Edinburgh is a walk along the Water of Leith. The walk itself is very nice, but what I’m really looking forward to is lunch at the Kings Wark. Very high quality pub food. Everything I’ve ever eaten here has been lovely. One slight thing to beware of. Once we got there too early and bizarre Scottish licensing laws meant that we couldn’t order alcohol until (I think) 12:30pm.

Stac Polly
A neat demonstration that advertising can work. Stac Polly had an advert in the in-flight magazine on our flight to Edinburgh. It looked good, so we investigated the web site and decided to give it a try. We’re glad we did. The good was great. Only slight issue was that the service was a little faster that we would have liked. There just wasn’t enough of a pause between the courses.

Number Seven
This is the restaurant attached to the Edinburgh Residence – which is the place we stay in Edinburgh. We’ve eaten there a few times as it’s an easy option. I don’t think we’ll bother again. It’s not as classy as it likes to think and the quality of the food can be rather variable. The service can be strange too. The first time we ate there the table was laid impeccably – except for the fact that the knifes and forks were the wrong way round.

Holyrood 9A
We discovered this place by randomly walking past it last year and went back again on this visit. Like the Kings Wark, this has high quality pub food. But this place has more of a modern vibe and the menu tends toward burgers and chips – but really good burgers and chips.

Wedgwood
This is a place we discovered a few years ago (I think it was an advert on a leaflet in the hotel room) and now we go back every year. Imaginative modern British food cooked incredibly well. And the waiting staff are all so friendly and efficient. One tiny niggle this year. They seem to have squeezed one more table into the downstairs dining area – so it’s starting to get a little cramped down there.

The Bailie
This was new for this year. We were meeting friends and one of them suggested it. It’s a traditional pub in a basement in Stockbridge. The atmosphere was good and the food was far better than we expected.

Blue Goose
Another random find this year. We walked six or so miles west along the Water of Leith in order to find Craiglockhart Hospital. We had no plans for lunch and just hoped we’d find somewhere passable. This was the only place we passed between the river and the hospital so we gave it a try. And we’re really glad we did as it was great. On a Thursday lunchtime it was really quiet, the staff were really friendly and the food was really good.

Indian Cavalry Club
This was somewhere that we’d been meaning to try for a few years and we finally got round to it. At home we’re lucky enough to live really close to Tooting, so we’re used to really high quality Indian food. This place looks like it’s going to be really high quality, but it’s really not quite up to it. It’s more expensive than I’d expect for curry of that quality. We probably won’t be going back.

Categories
travel

Edinburgh Reviews

Last weekend we were in Edinburgh. We had a very lazy weekend doing almost nothing except walking from hotel to restaurant to pub. I thought you might be interested in reading about the places where we ate and drank.

The Golden Dragon, Castle St. It was late when we got to Edinburgh, so we just went out and stopped at the half-decent looking place to eat. It might have looked half-decent, but it really wasn’t. Some of the worst Chinese food I’ve ever had. And overpriced too. Best avoided.

The Mitre, High St. Saturday lunch was spent in a random pub on the Royal Mile. Nice pint of Guinness and some really good pub food.

Wedgwood, Canongate. Picked at random from the “what to do in Edinburgh” leaflet in our hotel room, this was a fabulous find for dinner on Saturday evening. Top quality modern British food in great surroundings. And with really friendly and efficient staff. We’ll definitely be going back here and I recommend that you give it a try too.

Tolbooth Tavern, Canongate. A quiet drink after dinner. But we headed west, down the hill and further away from the castle. We’ve been in this pub before. It’s nothing special, but the beer is good and it’s always pretty quiet even on a Saturday night. A nice change to pubs only ten minutes walk away up the hill where you stand no chance of getting a seat.

The Witchery, Castlehill. We were too late to book for dinner in the Witchery so we settled for a relatively late Sunday lunch. This is certainly my favourite Edinburgh restaurant. It may well be my favourite restaurant in the UK. Wonderful food in a really impressive building. Oh, and the it has the largest wine list of any restaurant I’ve ever been in – it’s a book.

Mercat Bar, West Maitland St. After the big meal at the Witchery for lunch we only wanted a snack in the evening. The Google Places directory on my G1 said that the Mercat was the closest decent bar to our hotel – so off we went. It was almost empty for most of the time we were there but the staff were friendly and the food was good. The cheeseboard enormous and rather scuppered any plans of only having a light snack.

Stockbridge Tap, Raeburn Place. This was a random place we were walking past at lunchtime. It looked nice, so we went in. Three hours later, we emerged having had some of the best home-cooked pub food that we had ever eaten. Nice pint too. I think it was called Spooky or something like that. Nowhere near the centre of the city, but if you’re ever near Stockbridge I recommend checking it out.

Categories
travel

Support From The Internet

I’m currently in Lisbon for YAPC Europe. I very nearly didn’t make it. I flew out on Friday and on Friday morning, about three hours before I was supposed to leave the house, I discovered that my passport was missing.

I realise, of course, that looking for your passport on the day that you are planning to travel is a rather stupid way to organise your life. But that’s not what I did. I made sure that I knew where my passport was two weeks before that. Except it turns out that wasn’t my current passport. That was an old expired passport which, for reasons too boring to go into, hasn’t had the corner cut off in the way that expired passports are supposed to.

Just before 9am, I twittered my predicament.

Hmmm… I appear to be having some slight difficulty tracking down my passport *FX: Mild panic*

An hour and a half later, I still sound calm (almost joking), but internally the panic was rising.

If I was a passport, where would I be hiding?

At that point I think that some of my Twitter followers realised that I was serious and started to send helpful suggestions.

@davorg in the cupboard where the cereals are [@davecampbell]

@davorg Old suit or jacket pockets? Maybe in a suitcase? [@OvidPerl]

@davorg Even reading that has me moving to check that mine is where I think it is. Hope it doesn’t stay hidden for long! [@keiosu]

@davorg I found mine hiding under a stack of dirty dishes. [@__Abigail__]

@davorg sock drawer at ours usually [@gellyfish]

Every time I went back to Twitter, there were three or four new encouraging messages.

@davorg odds are you’ve packed it already [@SeanClarke]

@davorg My passport is in my dressing-gown pocket, but I suppose that’s unlikely to help you. [@robinhouston]

@davorg sock drawer? bedside table? [@davehodg]

@davorg I remember a Perlmonks user finding his passport in a slipper [@larsen]

@davorg When did you last use your passport? Is it tucked in the carry-on bag you were using? Filing cabinet? Safe? [@rozallin]

@davorg buried in the middle of a pile of filing/paperwork .. or is that just my wifey that does that? [@chiselwright]

@davorg The trousers you were wearing when you last entered the country? [@theorbtwo]

A lot of the suggestions weren’t particularly helpful, but by about 11am the support I was getting from Twitter was about the only thing that was keeping me sane. My stress is starting to show in typos.

Thanks for all
the advice. The passport remains elusive, but I’m sure I@m getting
closer. And I don’t need to leave for an hour or so :-/

The advice kept on coming.

@davorg Drawer. Bedside table? [@antoniojl]

@davorg If I was a passport I would hide in a suitcase, ready to go. [@anniemaggiemay]

And then it started to take a different tack.

@davorg if we had id cards, you wouldn’t need a passport :> [@pfig]

@davorg You’re an EU citizen. Showing your ID isn’t enough? My girlfriend says she can travel to Portugal on her French ID. [@OvidPerl]

@davorg you don’t need passport to come to Portugal! I believe you are EU citizen :) [@braceta]

Unfortunately, I’d already eliminated that option.

Phoned Passport Agency and BA to see if there is any chance of travelling without it. Of course not.

Then, at 12:33:

Found it. It was in the scanner!!!

One day perhaps I’ll find time to explain exactly why it was in the scanner. But for now I’ll just say that I only found it because I was looking in random places that I knew it couldn’t possibly be.

My Twitter followers were as happy as I was.

@davorg Hooray! [@mrvaidya]

@davorg heh and yay! [@chiselwright]

@davorg Of course! Bloody identity thieves! [@antoniojl]

Of course, the drama wasn’t completely over. I still had to get to the airport in time for my plane. At 12:59, I wrote:

Inna taxi to LHR. Hurrah! Excitment not over yet. Might not get there in time.

Still more encouragement from Twitter.

@davorg i fel the sonic boom as you whizzed past :) [@rjw1]

I was too busy to tweet for a while, but finally at 14:35 I found time to write:

Made it. Sitting in departure lounge waiting to board. Thanks for all your help. Hope you all enjoyed the drama.

And I think everyone was as relieved as I was.

@davorg – just happy you’re on the way safely. [@unixdaemon]

@davorg woo hoo – well done :) [@davecampbell]

@davorg Awesome! See you in Portugal on Sunday :) [@OvidPerl]

@davorg The HP techies here in the Bracknell office have been enthralled by yr mini soap opera. Glad you made it :-) [@edwenn]

@davorg Yay! Well done! [@antoniojl]

glad that @davorg found his passport in time. [@maokt]

@davorg Well done, and thanks for the entertainment! [@robinhouston]

@davorg w00t! U made it. Should have started a sweepstake in the office :) [@cyberdees]

My Twitter statuses are also fed through to my Facebook page. So friends were commenting there too. And I’m really grateful for all of the comments that I got from both places. It would have been really easy to have given up and cancelled the trip, but knowing that there were all these people out there rooting for me gave me the incentive to keep going.

I can categorically state that in this instance both Twitter and Facebook were wonderful systems.

Thanks to everyone who commented.

Categories
travel

There’s Probably No Bus

Rather appropriate, I thought, given yesterday’s transport chaos.

[Bus slogan generator]

Categories
travel

About the Same as a Duck

Perhaps I need to travel a little faster. Or more often. Or something.

The new Dopplr profiles are fun.

Categories
travel

Translating from Russian

A few day ago, I noticed this Russian blog entry which used one of my photos of Montserrat. When adding the link to Delicious I commented that it would be good if could read Russian so that I understood what was being said.

(Another) Dave reminded me that Google has a translation service which claims to do Russian to English translations. So I tried it, and the results were really pretty good.

City after volcanic eruption

In summer 1995, in one of the islands in the Caribbean eruption occurred. As a result, Plymouth city was almost completely filled ash. A layer of ash in a half meters.

In the town of 4000 people lived, and was the capital of the island. Clear solidified lava flows and ash was too expensive. The capital is moved to another city. A Plymouth declared a zone of exclusion.

The single comment just says “terrible”. Of course the translation isn’t perfect. But it’s a lot better than I expected it to be.

Categories
travel

Colossal Caving Adventure

About nine years ago I was on holiday in Somerset with my wife and stepdaughter. As part of that holiday we visited Cheddar Gorge and, in particular, the caves there. Whilst wandering round the show caves is all very interesting, my stepdaughter’s attention was grabbed by the fact that they also ran “adventure caving” trips where a guide took you deeper into the caves. We pointed out that the minimum age for the trip was 12 and that she was therefore too young. We promised to bring her back when she was old enough and promptly forgot about it. Until this year.

This Christmas we went back to stay in the same cottage in Somerset. When we asked my stepdaughter (who is now 20) if she wanted to come with us, one of the first things she asked was “can we go adventure caving?”

And that’s how on the day after Boxing Day the three of us found ourselves entering one of the Cheddar Gorge show caves in boiler suits and wellies, wearing hard hats with lights on the front.

Categories
travel

Hi Honey, I’m Home

Did ya miss me?

Been off touring New Zealand for a few weeks (Mr Torkington, that’s a beautiful country you have there). Got home just before midnight last night (about three hours later than expected due to flight delays).

Not entirely sure what time of day it is, but I’ll be catching up over the next few days. There will be photos. There will be stories. There may even be an update to Movable Type 4.

My main problem currently seems to be that my spam filter broke about two days after I went away and I’ve been getting undiluted spam in my inbox for the last three weeks. I’m being rather cavalier about cleaning it up so if you sent me something important in the last three weeks and you don’t get a reply in the next couple of days, then you might consider resending it.

Categories
travel

New Zealand

I mentioned yesterday that we’re off to New Zealand in ten days time. If anyone’s interested, here’s the itinerary (all dates in August):

Sun 5th Leave UK
Mon 6th Arrive Singapore
Tue 7th Singapore
Wed 8th Leave Singapore
Thu 9th Arrive Christchurch
Fri 10th Christchurch
Sat 11th Christchurch to Queenstown
Sun 12th Queenstown
Mon 13th Queenstown
Tue 14th Queenstown to Fox Glacier
Wed 15th Fox Glacier to Christchurch
Thu 16th Christchurch
Fri 17th Christchurch to Wellington
Sat 18th Wellington
Sun 19th Wellington to Rotorua
Mon 20th Rotorua
Tue 21st Rotorua to Paihia
Wed 22nd Paihia
Thu 23rd Paihia
Fri 24th Paihia to Auckland
Sat 25th Auckland
Sun 26th Auckland to Singapore
Mon 27th Singapore
Tues 28th Singapore to UK

I’ve tried to list the whole tour on my Dopplr account, but it doesn’t recognise some of the places.

Categories
photography

Havana Photos

Still slowly organising the photos from the christmas cruise.

Here is a set of photos from Havana and here’s a collection that will eventually contain all of the cruise sets.