Sunday, June 30, 2013

Leith Links

With summer school is full swing for Bobby and I, we have spent many days close to the apartment. Our favorite place to play is Leith Links.  This area was formerly used as a golf links.  The rules of golf were formed here and then later sold to St. Andrews.  The park now consists of lots of fields used for soccer, an informal cricket pitch that has existed since 1826, and the playground.

Amelie and Liam love this playground.  It is about an 8 minute walk from our apartment.  They swing, climb, slide, ride the zipline, kick the soccer ball, play with the wood chips, jump rope (or at least carry it around), blow bubbles, and do all of the afore mentioned over again.

Since we have been spending so much of our afternoons here lately, I decided to pull out the camera in an attempt to capture the fun we have.  Bobby and I are ready to explore more that the city of Edinburgh has to offer us, but Amelie and Liam are perfectly content to spend every day at Leith Links.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Scottish National Portrait Gallery

Open to the public in 1889, the Scottish National Portrait Gallery was the first purpose built portrait gallery in the world (  The building itself is gorgeous both inside and out.  The gothic architecture is enhanced by the abundance of statues that line the outside of the building.  The entrance hall is breathtaking with intricate archways, paintings wall-to-wall all the way around the room, and an amazing painted ceiling.  We stood admiring this room for a while.  Amelie enjoyed pointing out the various animals painted on the ceiling.  Liam enjoyed running around from wall-to-wall, happy to be out of his stroller.  Maybe one day he will appreciate art?! ;)

The museum has an "I spy" type game for children as they progress through the rooms of the gallery.  They are given clues and close up pictures of things to find in a painting in the particular room.  Amelie did a great job finding the clues.
Our favorite exhibit was Playing for Scotland:  The Making of Modern Sport. Here is the description found on the website of this exhibit:  transformation of sport during the nineteenth century when traditional games flourished and new sports were invented. From football to fishing, canoeing to curling, hunting to hockey, this sporting revolution is illustrated through paintings, photographs and prints and a specially-commissioned film.  Doesn't this just sound like something we would like a lot?  The kids were entertained by the video while Bobby and I walked around.  We couldn't take many pictures of what we saw, but it was so interesting to see photographs of women rock climbing in the 1900's and early golf teams and so much more.
Amelie watching the video, with a painting of Leith having a horse race behind her.  The watch tower seen in the middle of the picture is right down the street from where we live!

Our trip is not complete without a picture next to William Wallace and Robert the Bruce.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Royal Mile

Can you believe that Bobby and I have been married for 8 years?!  June 4th is our anniversary so we decided to take the day and stroll down the Royal Mile.  We did a very leisurely stroll, making sure we explored each Close, soaked in each site, and enjoyed the sunshine while doing so.   There is nothing spectacular to report other than the pictures just do not do justice to capturing the surroundings.  However in an effort to try to show you a glimpse of what we saw, enjoy the pictures below.
Eating a picnic lunch of PB & J at the bottom of the Hub (what was once an old church).

Our lunch was serenaded by this bag piper.
Liam and Amelie thought it was way too loud to pose for a picture right next to him.
One of the many Closes we explored.
One of the oldest mansions within the castle walls, built in 1622.  It is now a Writer's Museum.  Bobby and I took turns having Amelie show us around inside the museum.  Liam enjoyed playing outside in the courtyard area.

Afternoon snack of fresh fudge.  Amelie received a lesson on how to make fudge while Liam was napping of course!

We arrived home in the evening to work, work, work!  Thankful that we have a job in which we can go do fun things.  It was a wonderful way to celebrate 8 years of marriage.

Some Days

Some days we make plans to get into the city, but it just doesn't happen.  Between having small children and traveling, I have learned how to be a little more flexible.  I like making plans and sticking to them.  I like having schedules and routines, and checking things off my list.  However, I am continuing to learn that life still goes on even when we don't keep to the plan.  Monday was one of those days that we had wanted to get out in the morning before our students started waking up to start their first day of summer classes.  We just didn't make it out in time.  Instead, we ate at King's Wark which is  at the corner of our apartment building.  We had traditional Scottish food for lunch.  I didn't know what I was ordering as much of the menu is foreign to me so I randomly picked something (I think I had Mackerel Cheeks).  It was SOOO delicious!  Liam made friends with an elderly couple.  The woman stood at our table talking and playing with the kids for a couple of minutes before she sat down at her own table.  Once Liam was finished with his food, he ran over to her and she scooped him into her lap. Bobby and I just sat back and laughed at how he is a social butterfly and doesn't meet a stranger.  I love that Bobby encourages me to have fun in the moment.  I love that he can so naturally go with the flow.  I love that he gently nudges me to step out of my routines and my comfort zone.  I am usually pleasantly surprised when I do!
Too cute of a picture not to share.
Liam is playing with his bear and Amelie's bear and carrot in the window seat.
Everyone is enjoying the view; looking for dogs, babies, trucks, etc.

Girls Evening Out: Organ Recital at St. Giles' Cathedral

Bobby is the adventurous one of our pair so he is usually the one that will explore new things.  However, on June 2nd, with Liam sick and Bobby not as interested in an organ recital; Amelie and I headed out on the town together.  We started by riding a double decker bus.  While we waited at the bus stop, she educated me on how to place the money into the box and wait for a ticket from the bus driver (since Bobby always does this and I just usually hop on.)  I was glad she is so observant because she instructed me accurately.  We rode at the top in the front so we had the best view.

We made it into town and even got off at the right stop.  We found a little Cafe and ate Pesto Pasta.  It was nice allowing her to be herself and talk and talk and talk.  I am often very distracted with Liam and realize that I need to spend more focused quality time with just her.  Before I know it she won't want to spend quality time with me and the thought of that makes me sad.  

After our dinner we strolled up (as in up the hill) the Royal Mile to St. Giles' Cathedral.  The bishop was only letting in members of the congregation for the recital so we felt special not being a tourist, but being there for an event.  She picked out our seat and we had about 10 minutes to spare before the recital began.  We made silly faces together and took pictures with my phone.  
She became a little fidgety after the first song so I talked about how songs tell a story.  For the rest of the recital, she waved her hands around like she was conducting or she was whispering in my ear about what she thought was happening (they are running now, they are sad, they are happy, etc.)  I absolutely LOVED the recital (does this mean I am officially old?).  The beauty of the old church with stain glass, the echoes of the grand sounds of the organ, etc...A-MAZING! The recital was by Malcolm Sim who has a pretty impressive resume.  I found it interesting that he recently played in Paris in St. Sulpice which was was of my favorite churches.

After the recital, we sat down for ice cream.  Amelie's perfect end to a fun evening (well the ice cream made it fun for her!) 

Our only hitch in the evening was that we only missed the bus while standing at the bus stop.  You have to actually flag down the bus like you would hail a cab, otherwise the bus keeps moving.  A man came up to the bus stop shortly before our bus arrived and was asking me if he could take pictures of my feet.  Thankfully, we were able to run a bit and the bus stopped for us.  I was apologetic and the bus driver was not too happy with me. I learned my lesson:  Do not under any circumstances let anything distract you while waiting for the bus.

Edinburgh Zoo

Thursday, May 30th, was a day promised to be full of sunshine and warmer temperatures (mid 60s).  Before our summer semester started with students, we wanted to make a trip to the Edinburgh Zoo.  We rode the bus to the outskirts of Edinburgh while enjoying the gorgeous scenery on the way.  One of the big attractions of this zoo are the penguins.  They have a huge area with King Penguins, Rockhopper Penguins, and Gentoo Penguins. We had fun watching them swim, play on a water slide, and waddle around.  We were pleasantly surprised that we made it just in time for the Penguin Parade.  Once a day they open up the penguin enclosure and any penguin that wants to walk around on the sidewalk can.  They do not force or coerce the penguins.  All penguins involved go voluntarily.  We were also told that some of the penguins are slap happy so to be sure to not sit down (or keep small children down on the ground).  It was SO fun watching them walk right by us.  In this particular parade there were about 25 penguins.  One did stop and stare down Amelie, which she proceeded to be very dramatic about and talk and giggle about the event to all around us. Thankfully, no one was slapped on this parade!

There were so many interesting animals!  We saw the largest pelican birds; they were actually pink!  Another draw to this zoo are all of the monkey exhibits.  Since there is ongoing research done as this zoo, all the monkeys wear a little necklace with two different color beads to identify them.  All of the monkeys have names and their pictures (with necklaces showing) displayed.  Amelie wanted to hear all of their names (dozens of them).  One of my favorite areas was the African safari.  You walked on a wooden bridge to a gazebo which was in the middle of a large field. The view was at the top of a mountain so you could see for miles.  The zebras were really close to the viewing deck.  There were other safari animals around, but none as close as the zebras.
The Meerkats were SO fun to watch up close.  Their habitat was open with only a 3 foot wall surrounding them.  Amelie and Liam both enjoyed leaning over the edge to watch them dig while listening to the noises they made.
There were two different playground areas that we had to try out.  You can see the open-air netting for the Baboon habitat behind Bobby's head.  You can see the love Liam has for his dad written all over his face!
Here a monkey is playing with Amelie and Liam in the window.  The monkey house has inside areas and large outside areas for the monkeys to play as well.  They can freely go in and out.  Liam would yell, "Watch Out!" as they would run by him.
The picture doesn't do justice to the beauty...but it was worth a try!

The zoo was one steep hill, as is Edinburgh.  Bobby had fun pushing the stroller up some fun hills! ;)  We had a lot of fun learning about new animals, familiar animals, and just being together.  

Scottish National Gallery

One of the many great things about Edinburgh is that many of the museums and galleries provide free admissions.  On a chillier day last week, we set off for the National Gallery.  Liam fell asleep on the walk to the Gallery so Bobby and I were able to enjoy walking around with Amelie talking about modern art and other notable historic works of art.  We started in the Modern Art area.  We saw paintings, sculptures, videos, and claymations.  We were amazed by some works and dumb-founded by others.  We then made our way to the classics.  We enjoyed scrutinizing Rembrandt, Leonardo da Vinci, Sandro Botticelli, Raphael (Raffaello Santi), Claude Monet, and more.  Who knew this little gallery would have so many amazing famous works in it?  It was nice being able to see them in a relaxed setting, unlike our experiences at the Louvre.

Bobby and I reenacting The Kiss by Rodin.  Amelie took the picture.  Not too bad! ;)
Amelie then had to pose in front of the statues...she is so silly!
Amelie and I mimicking the statue behind us.

Bobby admiring a Da Vinci.
When Liam woke up from his nap, he was ready to enjoy the art as well.
Bobby and Liam in front of the painting Reverend Robert Walker Skating on Duddingston Loch (1755-1808) by Sir Henry Raeburn.  The name caught Bobby's eye and since we have learned what a famous work this is.
 Since the kids were patient for us, we stopped by a playground at the base of the castle to burn some energy before going home.  Both Amelie and Liam are getting more and more daring on the playground equipment.  Amelie is also starting to want to do things on her own for Liam.  It is fun watching them play together.  
This swinging rope is actually really fun.
It is big enough for our whole family to ride on (and we did ride on it all together!)