Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Tom Gets His Skates on to Visit Edinburgh; the Festive Season Is upon Us, and TOM MULLEN Finds Edinburgh to Be the Perfect Place to Savour the Christmas Build-Up

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Tom Gets His Skates on to Visit Edinburgh; the Festive Season Is upon Us, and TOM MULLEN Finds Edinburgh to Be the Perfect Place to Savour the Christmas Build-Up

Article excerpt

Byline: TOM MULLEN

THE colourful flashing lights of a Christmas market, a huge big wheel and an ice-rink bursting with friendly folk happily cheering and laughing.

This was the festive scene that greeted me as I arrived - for the first time - in Scotland's capital.

Fresh from a comfortable journey with East Coast trains, I emerged from the train station and stepped into weekend-break enjoyment.

Edinburgh seemed to me to embody all that is quintessentially Scottish. Yes, there are the stereotypes - bagpipe players, the haggis breakfasts and the quirky accents.

There is Edinburgh Castle, an impressive building perched at the top of the Royal Mile - a bustling street of traditional shops, restaurants and pubs.

There are the kilt-wearing wedding guests, the red-haired, friendly folk with a sense of humour more brash than the English, but somehow warmer. And then there are the unexpected delights, such as Camera Obscura - a bizarre and fascinating museum of optical illusions.

Located at the foot of Edinburgh Castle, no visitor should miss this multi-storied exhibition of warped mirrors, crazy electronic effects and surreal holograms. A personal favourite was the corridor surrounded by a spinning cylinder of lightbulbs, which leaves most visitors stumbling in dizziness.

At this time of year there is also the festivethemed German Market.

Lying just off Princes Street - a Mecca of highstreet shops and cafes - the market offers mugs of mulled wine and honey mead as shoppers peruse the many stalls selling Christmas gifts.

Just yards away are rides including helterskelters, swings, a big wheel and an ice-rink. It was my first experience of trying to ice skate.

I have a new-found respect for anyone who can slide more than three metres across these slippery artificial glaciers without flailing around, shouting pathetically and grabbing hold of another - rather bemused - skater in a desperate effort not to fall over.

After a few goes I had mastered the basics - and almost the art of turning corners - but Dancing on Ice this wasn't. But it is still immensely good fun.

After arriving on Friday evening, my partner and I made our way to our accommodation for the weekend, the Royal Scots Club.

Situated within one of Edinburgh's finest Georgian streets, the private member's club offers the charm of a country house hotel with a cosy club atmosphere.

You don't have to be a member to stay here - rooms can be booked in the usual way - but there is a membership element that includes a friendly contingent of ex-military gentlemen, who are only too happy to stop for a friendly chat.

Our room here was incredibly comfortable. It featured all the mod-cons amid a red-carpeted and warm setting, with a huge bed providing the perfect retreat for a cosy winter snooze. …

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