Hi everyone and welcome to this weeks update. It has been a busy and eventful week but I have enjoyed it. This week I be discussing my birthday, phone issues, Storm Gertrude and my weekend in Edinburgh. So let’s get started and warning it is a long one so hope you are sitting comfortably. 

I started the week turning 35. I said in last weeks blog post that I was looking at it as installing version 35 into my life. It was a quiet start to my birthday. I got some lovely cards and presents which is always nice and I love but in the age of social media you normally receive the standard message on Facebook/Twitter from friends and family wishing me Happy Birthday or text. Maybe it too early in the day. Lunchtime and no messages. Maybe they are planning Burns Night celebrations. Some people had actually wished me Happy Birthday in person which was nice but still my phone was silent. Well it is only 35 nothing special and I wanted low-key. Nothing all day until the evening when I’m guessing it triggered an alert on Facebook that it was my birthday as I received a steady stream of birthday wishes. It goes to show that we all (including me) rely on the Facebook birthday alert. Maybe Facebook needed an upgrade too.

The issue with texts though is a bigger problem that I am trying to sort out. My phone no longer sends or receives text messages. The issue is I am not sure if it is a Vodafone problem or an Apple problem as there were changes with both the other week and the problems started then. So if you have sent me a text in the last week or so and I haven’t replied and I am not ignoring you it is a technical issue that I am trying to resolve.

Although texts are not appearing now I am 35 I receiving letters trying to sell me life insurance and asking questions such as ‘What will happen to your family when you die?”. Not only is this depressing and very grown up but when you are 35 and single and unlikely to have a family it hurts even more. So I have binned the letter. However I am reliably informed I still have mail about funeral plans, Saga holidays, and mobility scooters still to come but in 5 years time. Maybe I am better off without any mention of birthdays after all.

On Friday Storm Gertrude hit and brought with it very heavy rain and strong winds. Normally I wouldn’t be too bothered however it coincided with my weekend away and it made travel Edinburgh on Friday very difficult. I thought everything was ok but then I get on the train and they then announce that the train will terminate in Newcastle as the power lines are down near Berwick and I would have to change to the Cross Country train which was diesel and doesn’t need the electric lines. So at Newcastle I dash  to the other platform where there is even more confusion particulate as the 10:42 Plymouth train arrives and it should have been the 10:35 to Edinburgh. Then there is an announcement that there is a Virgin East Coast diesel train on platform 2 so we all dash over there. Amazingly I get a seat and think things are looking good until the announcer says “the train is going to Edinburgh but they are trying to find a driver”. Only a slight problem. It made me think of ‘Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom’ (the best Indiana Jones movie) when they realise there are no pilots on the plane. Obviously not as dramatic as the train wasn’t moving but still close enough. We also had to wait as there were 2 more trains due in that were meant to be going to Edinburgh and these passengers would also be getting on. Well I have a seat and not moving for anyone sorry and all that. With all these passengers through there must be someone who can drive a train surely. Before that shout is needed a driver is found and we eventually set off. It wasn’t the nicest of train experiences that I have had (but certainly not the worst). I eventually arrive into Edinburgh 2hrs and 15 minutes later than I expected. Still I was here and my long-awaited weekend away had started.

The decision to go away for the weekend was made in the Christmas break when I was looking my resolutions for the year and thinking about what I want from 2016. Making time for myself is something I have neglected in recent years and this was a way of addressing that. Also it was a nice way to celebrate my birthday although a few days later. With this in mind I was really looking forward to these few days away. The hotel was just a Travelodge but thats all I needed. Once unpacked in hotel and had something to eat for lunch it was almost time to get ready and go out for a meal then theatre. I had booked a surprise ticket for ‘The Weir’ at the Lyceum Theatre. This is a ticket for £10 (normally tickets are £27) not a restricted view but I wouldn’t know where in the theatre I would be sitting until I collected my ticket. For £10 I thought why not and I needed up with a very good seat in the stalls. First I have to say the Lyceum Theatre in Edinburgh is a beautiful theatre and a great mixture of old and new. I hope to see other productions there. The play is a dark comedy and was very well acted. It all very natural and I forgot that I was watching a play and not just in the pub with them overhearing conversations. It was lovely way to end my first night in Edinburgh. Walking back to the hotel though was a bit spooky and very cold because of the wind. Walking at the bottom of Edinburgh Castle at night with the wind howling around me and the castle was very atmospheric and spooky at the same time. The night wasn’t over though (not in that way) no sooner had I got back to my hotel room and the fire alarm goes off. Knowing how cold and wet it was I grabbed my coat, room key and Chip from my bag and headed outside ( I know I should have left immediately but 2 of those items were essential). Fairly certain it was set off by accident and was hoping it would the case not only because it was cold outside but I had also left my wallet in my room. Need to be more practical in emergency situations at least it answers the question what would I save from a burning building. Anyway we all left the building and were told to go the end of the street and a member of staff went holding the fire assembly board to show where to go. All sounds very sensible except he appeared to forget he was holding the board and kept going back to the hotel leaving everyone confused as to where the assembly point was actually meant to be. fire brigadeFire brigade then turn up and check and give the ok and we can all back into the hotel.

The next morning I woke to s snowy Edinburgh which was lovely to see as I haven’t seen much snow this winter. I got dressed and decided to venture out to get some breakfast as I wanted something a bit never than a Travelodge breakfast. I decided I would just wander out and see if anywhere nice caught my eye. I came across Hadrian’s Brassiere at the Balmoral Hotel. I thought it looked nice and as I went to open the door I realised they had someone to open the door. I suddenly felt I was going to be turned away. But no the staff were very welcoming and I got a table for probably the poshest breakfast I have ever had. The only other meal that felt this posh that I have had been when I went to Atul Kochhar’s restaurant Benares a number of years ago. I decided to have Eggs Benedict which I am ashamed to say I have never had until now. While waiting for my food I noticed the guy who was the headmaster on Fame academy so that was my celeb spot of the day. The breakfast was delicious and so was the pot of coffee. I certainly had made the right choice opting for this and not the Travelodge snowy selfieoffering. After paying (the most expensive breakfast I have ever had) I ventured outside only to be met by a blizzard. The most sensible thing to do would be go and get shelter but no I was in tourist mode so took a selfie. Yes I was as cold as I look. It soon cleared and I head off to Calton Hill. I have never been to this part of Edinburgh so thought it would be good to do and with the snow I would get some great views. I certainly did get some great views but it was very cold and windy up at the top. Still It was all part of it and the views certainly made up for it.

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From here I set off towards the Scottish Parliament where I had a look around. As I am interested in politics it really appealed to me and was impressed by the debating chamber and I think the House of Commons could learn something from its setup.

After the leaving gift shop of the Scottish Parliament I decided to see how far I could get on Arthur’s Seat. I did only have trainers on and the wind was quite strong and my old Scout instinct was saying don’t be silly but lots others were heading up in even more inappropriate clothing. I soon realised that I was getting too carried with the outdoor adventure feeling and only got a little way before realising I had to go back as I turned to go back I slipped in the mud. It was as if nature was saying that will teach you for trying to be clever come back another day. So I headed back feeling a bit silly and muddy jeans back to my hotel.

There was a reason why I wanted to attempt it and it is to do with the book ‘One Day’ by David Nicholls as Arthur’s Seat features in the book and I wanted to pay tribute to the book and maybe gain some inspiration for the year ahead. Hopefully I will go back sometime and do it just with better shoes.

After changing my jeans and getting over my embarrassment I headed back into town and a look around the shops and included a quick visit to the National Gallery of Scotland where there was a Turner in January exhibition on. This was enjoyable except being stuck behind a know it all Turner uber fan who got over excited about each painting  while I had to wait and listen to it before seeing the painting – I hate spoilers.

I decided I better head back to hotel as I had a meal booked later that night and on way back it started snowing again so I took shelter in the Museum of Childhood. Lots of people have said that I should visit this and it is charming with the exception of a room full of porcelain dolls. I found myself saying out loud “this isn’t creepy at all” before finding the exit to the room. The visit didn’t help with me feeling old as  I suddenly saw toys and books that I had as a child now as museum exhibits.

My posh meal out was nice but not a patch on the breakfast earlier on that day and part of me wished I just gone to Nando’s opposite. Oh well you live and learn.After the meal I ended the evening with a trip to the cinema to see ‘The Danish Girl’. This is a great film but not a feel good film and certainly not a comedy which one audience member thought it was going to be and laughed at very inappropriate places.

Walking back to my hotel that night at the foot of the castle it felt as if I was in continental Europe. Edinburgh is a great city and I hope to be back soon.

After just a few days away coming back hit home hard. I realised I had truly switched off from everything such as work, family, personal life and just enjoyed myself and for the first time in ages didn’t feel guilty about doing it. I know weekends away are not the answer to everything but it was what I needed at the this moment. As well as letting me switch off from it all it has allowed me to think about what I want from the next 12 months. Maybe the version 35 has potential after all.

Celeb Spot of the Week – Richard Parks (Fame Academy headteacher)

Top Programme of the Week – War & Peace

Top Song of the Week – Rachel Platten – Stand By You

Book I Am Currently Reading – Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

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