Sourtoe Cocktail

Look, okay, this title made sense when I wrote it but now? I have no idea why I chose it. Which makes it delightful in and of itself. Either way, it stays!

In March, all those many months ago, we finally made it to Scotland. One of my oldest friends lives with her husband in a suburb on the outskirts of Edinburgh. I’d been promising to visit for … well, since before we moved to London.What can I say? I am a terrible terrible person.

 It was the most flying of visits – we arrived in the early evening of Friday and we left just after Sunday lunch. Thankfully, Edinburgh is a delightfully compact city. It was quite sweet, really, coming from London.  

Our trip did not begin auspiciously. You see, I am an exceptional planner. Except when I am not. Somehow, I had managed to walk away from the ticket booth with only three of our four tickets. Not my finest hour. Thankfully, despite the woman at the customer services counter being less than helpful, they let us on the train anyway.

Immediately upon arrival Kat took us to the top of the Royal Mile to look at the outside of the castle and out to the city beyond. I have a working theory that Edinburgh is where it is purely because that outcrop was too perfect for a castle; they couldn’t not build one there.

 I had booked us tickets to visit the Real Mary King’s Close. A touristy touristy tour but pretty much the only way you can see a Close, an old Victorian street buried when the Royal Exchange was built on top. Except, you see, I had booked the tickets for 7pm. Perfectly timed to allow enough time for a drink after our 5pm arrival because I have my priorities straight. And, you see, I am an exceptional planner. Except when I am not. We sat down with our drinks and I pulled out the tickets and saw … 1700. As in 5pm. As in at least an hour and a half before when I was looking at the tickets. Not my finest hour. Putting on my broadest kiwi accent any my widest innocent eyes, they rebooked us for the next night. 


What with all the travel related stress I couldn’t trust myself to pick a glass of wine. This ‘wine flight’ was the perfect thing & that La Veldt pinotage? The perfect smoky wintery red.

We went back to the castle when it was open so we could wander around and pretend it was our castle and spend a lot of time thinking about how very cold and damp and smoky it must have been back in the day. Scotland isn’t known for temperate weather.


I hunted out the bust of Mary Queen of Scots that I’d visited in 1995 and felt extremely old.

Unhelpfully split between two buildings across the road from one another, Edinburgh has an excellent Modern Art gallery. We spent a happy couple of hours dragging the long suffering Kat around, before attempting to drive as far up Arthur’s seat as possible and failing miserably.


There’s a secrety little area of Edinburgh that basically only locals know about. Kat & Dave took us out there for dinner & oh that bridge. I mean, it’s not quite the Clifton Suspension Bridge but it’s pretty damn impressive. 

Our final morning was spent visiting The Largest Horse Sculpture in the World. Which, I imagine, is not the most difficult category to top. But, The Kelpies! They exist and yes, they are really very large.

One of the bonuses of visiting pals in far flung places is, seeing their faces notwithstanding, they know all the tips & tricks & best places to go. Kat took us to a great little Japanese place we never would’ve found, & Dave took us to get curry out the back of a mosque. Amazing. And sometimes they have transportation. So you can drive 45 minutes to see ominously large steel horse heads!