parkrun tourism: Portobello

Geth and I managed quite a few new parkruns during our Christmas trip to Edinburgh. We’d only ever previously done the main Edinburgh parkrun at Cramond while visiting Mum and Dad, but this time round we found ourselves with multiple reasons to go further afield. One of these was my desire to mark my first sober Hogmanay with my first ever New Year’s Day parkrun double the following morning – and the main Edinburgh parkrun doesn’t run on New Year’s Day, having done its special event on Christmas Day instead! As such, I had to select two alternative local parkruns for my Edinburgh-based double.

Portobello parkrun
Another pop-up sign. I’m collecting a lot of these photos!

The first of these was Portobello in north Edinburgh. I’d been meaning to do this one for a while but had never got round to it – the lure of Cramond and its lovely flat, scenic course is usually too strong. It turned out to be a nice fast three-lapper round the very pretty Figgate Park. The course isn’t as flat as Cramond, but it’s a lot more shielded from the wind! Geth fell in love with Portobello parkrun and immediately planned to do it regularly during the several weeks that he was (at the time) planning to spend in Edinburgh for work in May. For obvious reasons, that trip won’t be transpiring, but I still hope that we’ll both get to do Portobello parkrun again sooner rather than later.

parkrun tourism: Oriam

I’m a bit behind with my parkrun tourism blogs, but seeing as we won’t be parkrunning again any time soon due to the coronavirus lockdown, it’s a good time for me to catch up with them!

Oriam parkrun
I love those pop-up signs and am always really disappointed if I’m visiting a parkrun and they don’t have one out! Geth had to ask the volunteers to put this one out again specially for the photo as they’d already packed it away by the time I finished. Sorry, volunteers, but one’s 100th parkrun only happens once!

On the 28th of December, while visiting Edinburgh for the Christmas period, Geth and I got in the car and drove to the new local parkrun at the Heriot-Watt University campus in Riccarton. The parkrun takes place in the woodland trail behind the Oriam sports facility (hence the name), which is a much nicer setting than I’d originally assumed – I’d thought we’d be doing laps of a football pitch or something!

Oriam parkrun was only a few weeks old when we attended, and the Scottish winter weather had resulted in a lot of mud. Like, a LOT of mud. More mud than I had ever seen on a parkrun course, by quite a considerable margin. The trail is not at all flat, either, so you’re basically staggering uphill through a quagmire at various points. Not one for your PB. (Apparently the mud was more manageable by the end of the winter – whether this was due to weather or land management I’m not sure – but I still don’t see this ever being a fast course!)

It also happened to be my 100th parkrun. I had hoped to do my 100th at home, either at Newcastle or Jesmond Dene, but a really nasty cold took me out of the game for most of December and so the date for my 100th ended up coinciding with my Christmas visit to my hometown. (I could have done it on Christmas Day… but I’ve never yet made a Christmas Day parkrun, as Christmas morning with the family is fairly sacrosanct, and 2019 was no exception!)

As such, while it was too busy and disorganised a time of year to organise any real celebration, I did wear my red 50 shirt for the very last time, and after the parkrun, Geth and I drove back to Mum and Dad’s and ate lots of the cake that we already had in due to it being Christmas. You can’t have a parkrun milestone without cake!

I will return to Oriam at some point… but it will almost certainly be in the summer!

Shetland

I have been really late with catching up with all my blogging since I got back from holiday. I’m very busy with the day job at the moment and haven’t had much time. However, I finally have a chance now to post all about my travels – better late than never!

Geth and I drove up to Mum and Dad’s in Edinburgh on the Sunday to meet up with the family – my brother and sister-in-law Malcolm and Steff had arrived from Canada on the Saturday – before we all travelled north. On the Monday, it was another long drive up to Aberdeen, with a brief lunch stop in Arbroath for some chippy goodness – separate post to follow at some point!

It was a bit of a wait to get onto the ferry but I was pleased to find that the small cars were loaded first – this meant that once my wee Skoda was in place on the car deck, Geth and I were able to grab a good space for the family in the lounge bar for the evening.

It was a fairly pleasant ferry journey north to Shetland, although first-time sailor Steff found it a bit nausea-inducing. In the morning, as soon as I’d driven to the B&B, I found a space to get on with some work – August has been busy from the off this year!

That afternoon, Geth and I found a nice café called the Dowry for lunch – it was so good that we ended up eating there five days in a row! – and then went for a walk around Lerwick to plot out where we were going to do our long runs the next day. I hadn’t slept well on the ferry so I got a fairly early night before the run.

It was nice running around Lerwick – a good way to see the town again after twelve years, especially as we had to do three laps to make the scheduled 14k we were both running that week! It was back to the Dowry for breakfast, as I’d been eyeing up the waffles the day before, and decided I’d earned them after my run.

Waffles with ice cream and marshmallows
Probably completely undid any calorie deficit I’d accomplished with the run. Delicious though!

I had a fairly quiet Wednesday afternoon – I had a bit of work to do again – before meeting up with the family for a meal at an Indian restaurant where we’d eaten when we were last in Shetland twelve years ago.

On the Thursday, Geth and I drove down to Sumburgh so that we could visit the excavation at Old Scatness. It wasn’t really open when we were last in Shetland as it had only recently been excavated, but they’ve got a nice wee visitor centre nowadays. Geth loved the site and could probably have stayed there for another hour!

Old Scatness
A bit windswept at the Old Scatness site!

Back in Lerwick, we had an afternoon snack at the Dowry, and a chippy with the family again for tea. (On reflection I’m amazed that I only put on half a pound during the holiday! I did do a fair bit of running though…)

Geth and I met up with Malcolm and Steff for breakfast (at the Dowry again, you’ll be amazed to learn) on the Friday morning, and then went to the Shetland Museum. The museum hasn’t really changed since we visited in 2007, but it’s always worth a poke around.

St Clair IV deck plan
This is the deck plan that hung on the wall of the passenger deck of the St Clair IV, the P&O ferry on which we always travelled to Shetland in the ’80s and ’90s when I was a kid. I must have looked at that deck plan on the actual ship a hundred times back in the day, and the fact that it’s now in a museum makes me feel a bit old.

In the evening, we met up with relatives Joyce and Douglas at the Waterfront restaurant. There was a lot of fish eaten by everyone else, but I was pleased to find that the veggie option was my old favourite, pasta and pesto. Cheesecake too, which is always welcome (see forthcoming cheesecake roundup post).

On the Saturday morning, Geth and I packed all of our remaining stuff into the car and then went on foot on the Bressay ferry to get to the start line of Bressay parkrun. After parkrun, we visited Joyce and Douglas for lunch and a brief tour of Bressay in the mist, before heading back to Lerwick so that I could get some work admin sorted out courtesy of the Dowry’s wifi.

Later that afternoon, we all drove back to the ferry terminal, and Geth and I and the Skoda got onboard nice and promptly again! It was a slightly bumpier ride than going up, and again I found it difficult to sleep on the boat, but we arrived nice and early in Aberdeen and the Sunday morning traffic was so quiet that we were back in Edinburgh by ten o’clock.

We had a couple more days in Edinburgh – I had to spend all of Sunday and Monday working, but Geth and I were able to meet up with our friend Kieran on the Monday night, and then we went to the City Cafe with Malcolm and Steff to have breakfast with my cousin Freya and her boyfriend Ryan on the Tuesday morning, before Geth and I headed back to Newcastle in the afternoon.

Hopefully it won’t be another twelve years before I make it back to Shetland again!

A nice weekend back home

I’ve had a great weekend – it was Lisa’s baby shower last night, and then bridesmaid dress shopping today, both of which were a lot of fun.  It was really nice to see so many friends that I hadn’t caught up with in years.  What’s also nice is that it won’t be too long before I see them all again, ’cause they’ll all be at the wedding and/or hen do!

As such, I’ll be seeing a lot of my hometown this summer.  It’s good to have the excuse to go back.

Edinburgh Castle
Edinburgh Castle, taken from the bus window this evening, Sunday 20th May 2018.

On my (flying) travels!

Just a quick update tonight, because I’ve arrived in Edinburgh for bridesmaid dress shopping for my friend Lisa’s wedding tomorrow!

After parkrun this morning, I left Geth in the house (our friend Lewis had shown up for an all-day gaming session so don’t worry, Geth won’t be lonely) and went to catch the (delayed) train.  It’s lovely weather and it’s so nice to be back home, even if just for a day!  I will be vanishing like pixie dust back to Newcastle tomorrow evening.