Edinburgh. A Drink in An Elegant Bar.

It was a friend’s 50th birthday and he decided that an appropriate way to celebrate would be lunch in Edinburgh at the Malt Whisky Society. Three of the attendee’s, Andrew the birthday boy, Niall and myself live in Lancashire, the fourth guest, Gavin lives on the outskirts of Inverness. So train tickets were booked and lunch reservations made.

A travel note, it took as long for Gavin to travel from Inverness to Edinburgh as it did for us to travel up from England, Scotland is by no means a small country.

We all rendezvoused in Jenner’s cafe overlooking Princes Street, there’s a photo of it in a previous Edinburgh post. After a coffee and catching up session it was a taxi to the Malt Whisky Society in Leith where excellent food was provided along with excellent wine. The finale being a measure of a gorgeous cask strength Bowmore single malt.

Extremely happy and satisfied we made our way back into Edinburgh ready for our early evening trains home. There was time in hand though for one last relaxing drink, a little bit of head scratching produced the Cafe Royal in West Register Street, just off Princes Street and convenient for Edinburgh’s Waverley station.

A quiet drink was had in the elegant surroundings and was the perfect end note to what had been a very, very pleasant day.

Scotch Malt Whisky Society

The Cafe Royal

How We Got There & Back

Edinburgh. City At Festival Time.

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My Images For Sale

Cheese on Toast In A Blackpool Cafe

If only walls could talk as the old saying goes. I had decided to take a trip out to Blackpool, it was still a little early in the year and so the days were a bit on the short side. To make the most of the available time I decided I would drive but that I would park my car at Fleetwood and use Blackpool’s world famous trams to get about. There is a day ticket which covers both the tram service and the bus network. So after I had parked the car and grabbed a quick-ish coffee I walked over to the tram terminus and boarded and was on my way.

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One of Blackpool’s new trams.

Blackpool’s trams operate from Fleetwood in the north, down the promenade through Blackpool itself to the southern terminus at Squires Gate. Travelling south the Irish Sea is on your right and depending on the day’s weather and tide is either forbiddingly gloomy or as on the day of my trip, a sparkling ribbon on a distant horizon.

A ride on a Blackpool tram is always an interesting affair as you cross paths with other people’s lives. Catch happy or otherwise expressions or dip unintentionally into conversations that are not as private as the participants would like to think. For this journey I travelled down as far as the South Pier, one of three that Blackpool proudly possesses, I crossed over from the promenade and made my way up Waterloo Road This was a busy part of town which faded a little, though now it’s on the way back up after some refurbishment. Blackpool South railway station is at the top of the street, though it is now very much a pale, single platform shadow of it’s former self but the station still has an hourly service through Preston to East Lancashire so it still can be a busy place.

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Blackpool South railway Station.

By this time my internal clock was telling me that food would be a good idea. One of the many delights of Blackpool is the almost endless supply of cafes and tearooms. I chose one, went in, checked the menu and ordered cheese on toast, a personal favourite and a mug of coffee. I had picked a corner booth from where I could watch the coming and goings. I have a great affection for places like this cafe, one that has it’s regulars, customers who don’t need to order at the counter, their meal is almost ready the minute they step through the door.

20-09-12 BLACKPOOL B

Lunch for two on Waterloo Road Blackpool.

Two sets of people caught my eye almost immediately. The Lady in the header photo and the couple. The Lady on her own was sat at her table and radiated a sort of inner peace and calm. Her expression throughout was one of reflection and meditation. As though she was happily engaged in turning over in her mind past personal events and happenings. The couple were sat at a table near to the Lady. Their conversation was polite and considered, as though they had reached the stage of a comfortable form of conversational shorthand, where whole sentences could be conveyed in a couple of words and a glance.

It began to feel as if I was a theatre play or a film. I ordered another coffee and a cake so I could spend a little more time watching these quiet events unfold, like the petals of a flower in the sun. But eventually it was time for me to go so as discretely as possible I clicked the shutter. on my little ‘go-everywhere’ camera and made my exit.

I will go back, the coffee and the cheese on toast were both excellent but I really want to see if I can catch any more of the quiet drama of everyday Blackpool folk playing out

Blackpool Tourism Information

A Cheese On Toast Recipe

Lachlan’s Electric Bookshelf

Watch The Birdie Watching You

22-09-12 AMBLESIDE

I was at a garden centre in Ambleside,  the town is at the top of Lake Windermere and after a walk  around the plants, gardening accessories I decided to have a break. The was a cafe with a roof terrace and I had just started enjoying a coffee and and slice of very good carrot cake when this character hopped onto the back of the chair opposite me. Mr Jackdaw, or Corvus Monedula ( yes I looked that up, it’s not the sort of information I carry around in my head ) was short on conversation, the occaisional caw and shuffle of wings was all that I got in reply to my observations on the days weather, the current political situation, the quality of the coffee and the cake. In fact, it was the cake that seemed to be the centre of his unwavering attention. Slowly I realised, probably some sort of avian telepathy, that while I was enjoying the cake, I wasn’t supposed to enjoy ALL of the cake.  I got the message. I finished my coffee, broke up what I thought was an overly generous piece of MY cake rose, bid him good day and left.  The was a squark, probably Jackdaw-ese for ‘about time’ and the cake crumbs vanished.  I supposed I confirmed in the Jackdaw’s mind that given time even the stupidest of humans can be taught basic tasks.

Garden Centre Info

Jackdaw Information 

Ferry To Knott End For Fish & Chips

I like fish and chips, I also like really good fish and chips. One of my favourite ‘chippies’ is in the small town of Knott End which faces out over the wide expanse of Morecambe Bay. 

20-09-12 KNOTT END. The very good chippy

This is the chip shop in question, it’s easy to find, it’s the only one. You can do take away or be posh and sit in. Depending on the bracing Lancashire weather I usually take my fish and chips al fresco and sit out on the nearby promenade and enjoy the views across the bay.

Now to get to Knott End, the origin of the name is lost in the mists of time, it may have referred to twin mounds of stones which once stood on the shore but were cleared when nearby Fleetwood Harbour was built, I can either drive all there way there or make my way to Fleetwood which is on the opposite side of the River Wyre estuary and take the Knott End Ferry. This may sound odd but the road distance between two towns is approximately 11 miles as you skirt the Wyre estuary to the first road crossing then head back along  the other side.  The ferry journey is about three minutes. 

20-09-12 FLEETWOOD. The Pharos.

This is the Pharos at Fleetwood, one of the two navigation lights built by the architect Decimus Burton to aid shipping using the channel into the town’s harbour. Fleetwood has it’s beginnings as a planned town in the 1830’s  on land owned by local magnate Peter Hesketh Fleetwood. The original plan had the street laid out in a half wheel pattern centered on the largest of a series of sand dunes near the shore, this became the Mount and it’s surrounding ornamental  gardens.

20-09-12 FLEETWOOD. The Wyre Estuary Ferry, The Wyre Rose outside the window

The ferry leaves from the landing stage opposite the tram stop for the famous Blackpool trams which also serve Fleetwood. The current ferry boat is the ‘Wyre Rose’ and it runs through the day on a regular timetable. some days the crossing is smooth, sometimes not but at only three minutes or so there’s not a lot to worry about.  There is also small waiting room on the Fleetwood side if the weather is being unfriendly.

20-09-12 FLEETWOOD. The Wyre Estuary Ferry, The Wyre Rose E

The ferry has it’s regular users, it’s a pleasanter prospect to use the short ferry crossing to Fleetwood with it’s market and shops, than to drive or travel by bus along the winding roads. 20-09-12 KNOTT END. The Wyre Rose

Things at the Knott End side are a little more basic, or bracing depending on the height of the tide but it’s only a short walk up the slipway to the promenade and its cafe, converted out of the old station buildings of the former Knott End Railway, an extremely local line with a very chequered financial  history 

LANCASHIRE, Fleetwood. The Old Lighthouse.

LANCASHIRE, Fleetwood. The old lighthouse.

On your way across, you may see the skeletal remains of the Wyre Light, the now ruined third of the estuary’s lighthouses. Built by the engineer Alexander Mitchell it dates from the 1840’s.

20-09-12 KNOTT END. The clock

There’s a handy clock by the chip shop, so you can keep you eye on the time for your ferry back. 

FERRY TIMETABLE