Still very busy with work so here’s yet another photo from South Shields a week and a half ago. I’ll get back to the pesto logging next week!
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.
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!
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.
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!
I first heard that this exhibition was coming to the V&A in early 2018, and was excited to find out that it would coincide with my London Marathon trip. As soon as the tickets became available in the autumn, I booked a slot the day after the race, banking on the fact that the pretty outfits would distract me from having to stand on marathon-tired legs for a couple of hours!
Dior is my favourite fashion house, but I didn’t actually know much about the life of Christian Dior himself, so the initial part of the exhibition, which focused on his early years and his first forays into the fashion industry, was really interesting. The late ’40s and early ’50s fashions shown were beautiful (and probably totally at odds with postwar austerity/rationing for most European women, but…!).
There followed an equally interesting section about Princess Margaret’s love of Dior clothes and how it fitted in with her already-colourful life as a young royal. They had the dress that Dior designed for her 21st birthday portrait on display.
Later in the exhibition, there was a large room dedicated to the history of the Dior house and its different creative directors throughout the years. I appreciated the ’80s era designs best, of course…
…but the most colourful and fun dresses on display were those of John Galliano, who was creative director during the ’00s. I’m not normally a fan of ’00s fashion (largely due to too many cringey memories of wearing it), but I really liked these.
I bought the exhibition book afterwards, so I’m looking forward to curling up with it at some point and looking at some pictures that are a bit better than these ones off my phone camera!
I was also excited to see that the V&A have another fashion exhibition on at the moment – one about Mary Quant. My post-marathon legs couldn’t have coped with another hour or two of standing, though, so that’ll be one for next time I’m in London – it’s on till February 2020 so there’s plenty of time.
Geth and I had an extra day in Inverness yesterday after Sunday’s half marathon, and thankfully it was much better weather than we’d had the day before! We went for a long walk into town so that our post-race legs wouldn’t get too stiff.
After a quick bit of breakfast in Costa (Geth didn’t feel adequately caffeinated by the tea provided in the hotel room), we headed along the river and onto the Ness Islands, which were really, really pretty in the sunshine. The tall pine trees and system of bridges reminded me of Channelwood in the first Myst game (if you played videogames in the ’90s you will know what I’m talking about!).
Once we got to the southern tip of the islands, we headed back the way we came and went up to Inverness Castle. We were too cheap to pay the entry fee to get the advertised views of the city, but we still got a good look out over the river and the centre of town.
We finished with lunch at the Filling Station (a Scottish restaurant chain that we’ve both missed since moving to England!) – there may have been pizza, which will be logged soon.
After a long walk (the Metro wasn’t running today!) and a quick vintage fair session this morning, I met up with Mum, Dad and Geth again and we headed off in the car to see some local archaeology-related stuff. First up was Derwentcote Steel Furnace, an 18th century structure that was apparently featured on an episode of Time Team at some point.
We then headed to the Land of Oak & Iron visitor centre, mainly because they had a coffee shop and everyone wanted a coffee. They did also have some wall features.
They also had this bell, which might have come from a Napoleonic warship, but it’s been lost and recovered so many times that nobody’s really sure.
Finally, we headed to Corbridge to see the excavated Roman town there. We’d missed the opening hours, but there’s so much of it you can still see the buildings from outside.
After that, it was back to Newcastle for Italian food and more ginger beer. It’s been a nice weekend, but I should definitely get back to normal eating tomorrow!
Today’s earworm playlist:
Murray Gold – Martha’s Theme
Sex Pistols – Anarchy In The UK
Bon Jovi – Bad Medicine
Tears For Fears – Change
Justin Bieber – Love Yourself
Madness – Driving In My Car
The Killers – All These Things That I’ve Done
Post Malone and Swae Lee – Sunflower
And a couple of bonus tracks that Geth was humming earlier:
Traditional – Land Of Hope And Glory
Steve Miller Band – Abracadabra
Canada part ten…
I had ALL THE FOOD at hotel breakfast on my last morning in Toronto, because I knew I wouldn’t get another chance! The French toast was amazing and I’ve missed it since I left, although obviously there’s no way I would be staying at target if I were eating that every morning.
Geth went off for a meeting with a contact he’d made at the conference while I packed. Mum and Dad arrived at our hotel shortly afterwards, and we caught up with the Tour de France on the TV – then once Geth had returned and Malcolm had arrived, we went down to the hotel bar for a couple of drinks. It was nice to have one last drink together before we had to head off.
We collected my bags and walked over to the Holiday Inn, from which Mum and Dad had booked a taxi to the airport. It was sad to say goodbye to Malcolm, but everyone’s already looking forward to meeting up again on this side of the pond next summer. Geth had another day to spend in Toronto, but for now I had to leave it behind – I’m sure I will be back again before long.
Canada part nine…
On the Monday, which was my last full day in Toronto, Geth and I decided to go and visit the Royal Ontario Museum. Before that, however, we headed to Carlton Street for a quick look round the Maple Leaf Gardens, which is next door to the Holiday Inn where Mum and Dad were staying.
The Maple Leaf Gardens is currently used for sports by Ryerson University (the same uni that was hosting the conference Geth was attending while we were in Toronto). They took it over and massively refurbished the interior in the early ’10s. In the ’00s, it lay empty and deserted, but up until 1999, it was a thriving venue for political events and music concerts and was the home of the Toronto Maple Leafs ice hockey team (hence the name of the venue).
(Incidentally, it’s always really annoyed me that the team are called the Maple Leafs rather than the grammatically-correct Maple Leaves. This is why I will never get into watching ice hockey. #proofreaderproblems)
As a concert venue, the Maple Leaf Gardens hosted Elvis Presley, the Beatles, and pretty much everyone else who was big in the 20th century. In 1984, Duran Duran filmed the video for The Reflex there, which was one of my main reasons for wanting to go and have a nosey around.
Inside the building, there are lots of boards on the walls telling you about the history of the venue. The number of famous sayings that were apparently coined there is difficult to believe!
‘Elvis has left the building’ – apparently said for the first time at the Maple Leaf Gardens! Wikipedia claims differently.
‘Hat-trick’ – apparently originated at the Maple Leaf Gardens! Geth didn’t believe this one for a second, and again Wikipedia claims differently – cricket players were using the term almost a century earlier.
Still, I guess one out of three turning out to be true is not bad going.
After a pleasant wander around the venue, we headed over to the Royal Ontario Museum. Geth just wanted to have a look around the main museum, but I was more interested in one of the exhibitions they had on – a collection of work by fashion designer Iris van Herpen and her interesting collaborations with architect Philip Beesley. The creative and design process behind making the pieces was fascinating – there was a short film all about it that was being shown in the exhibition hall – but it was the beautiful dresses being shown in the hall that were the best thing:
The shiny installations dangling from the ceiling were nice as well!
After I’d finished looking around the exhibition, I met back up with Geth and we took a quick trip to the dinosaur floor. They had some good skeletons, both real and replica, but it was a bit too full of kids having pictures taken with the T-Rex, so we eventually decamped to the Museum Tavern nearby, which is one of our favourite pubs in Toronto, for a couple of pints and a good chat with the barman.
In the evening, we met up with Mum, Dad, Malcolm and Steff for our last meal in Toronto, at Scaddabush. This involved more pizza (which was served on a board with SPECIAL PIZZA SCISSORS for cutting it up! They were amazing and I want a pair!), more cheesecake, and more crayons for scribbling on the table:
After the meal, we said goodbye to Steff – she was working and wouldn’t be able to see us off the next day – and Geth and I headed back to our suite at the Grand for one last sleep in the city (for me, anyway).
Canada part eight…
On the Sunday in Toronto, Geth and I had a lie-in (or as much of a lie-in as you can have when you’ve never quite adjusted to Toronto time) after getting up early the day before – and then after breakfast, we headed to the Holiday Inn to meet Dad, and the three of us walked through Toronto in the pouring rain towards the Rogers Centre, where we were going to see the Blue Jays play.
I’d never been to a baseball game before, but after we met up with Malcolm and Steff and went into the stadium, Malcolm explained that the Blue Jays are only the second worst team in the league at the moment and their opponents for the weekend series, the Baltimore Orioles, are the worst, which was why the Blue Jays had already won two out of three games.
The Rogers Centre is huge, and is full of stalls where you can buy souvenir merchandise, booze, and pizza – my three favourite things. I got a Blue Jays t-shirt from the sale rack, and had to go with a Bacardi Breezer to drink as I didn’t fancy any of the beers – I don’t think I’ve had one of those since I was a teenager. Luckily, for subsequent rounds, Geth managed to find me some Brickworks 1904 to drink. The pizza was good too!
I really enjoyed the game – baseball turns out to be a nice relaxed thing where you can dash in and out for drinks and food all the time, and the atmosphere reminded me of going to see a weekend of Sevens rugby at Murrayfield back in 2007.
It looked for a while like the Blue Jays might lose, and a lot of the fans left the stadium early, but they pulled it back in the last couple of innings for a nice exciting win at the end!
After the game, I took a picture of Geth with his namesake street sign:
We had another nice meal in the Holiday Inn bar in the evening – no cheesecake for me this time, however, as I’d already tried all the ones at the Holiday Inn!