The Royal Mile, which just to be awkward, is 107 yards in excess of a mile, runs parallel to Princes Street in the heart of Edinburgh.

Its cobbled street meanders downhill from Edinburgh Castle, the east shoulder of the once active volcano, to the Holyrood Palace gates  – both destinations in their own right. The walk between the two along The Royal Mile is delightful and must be part of any visit to Edinburgh.  Edinburgh’s architecture is tremendous and the atmosphere is humming.

the royal mile, edinburgh

the royal mile, edinburgh

On either side of The Royal Mile were grand old timber buildings back in the 1100s. The gaps between the buildings are called closes. They were big enough to have gardens and livestock back in medieval times. But, back in 1544 it all turned to custard when King Henry VIII had them destroyed after bullying the Scots to allow his son to marry Mary (Queen of Scots). The city was rebuilt mostly of stone. Closes with tenement houses on either side, created narrow streets. By 1645 there more more than 70,000 people living within the Royal Mile (with up to ten people sharing a single room).

The closes are still very much a huge part of The Royal Mile, revealing a network of modest doorways leading to alleyways, shops, restaurants and even a warren of streets beneath the cobbled Royal Mile, such as Mary King’s Close in the ‘Old Town’.

fishers close, the royal mile, edinburgh

royal mile, edinburgh

September was hardly tourist season yet alive with street entertainers. Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker stop to heckle a passerby, the ‘most pierced woman in the world’ made herself camera ready as musicians played, as did the statues.

street entertainer, royal mile, edinburgh 2014

street entertainer, royal mile, edinburgh

For this Kiwi Girl, who’s oldest New Zealand architecture dates back to the early 1800s (Mission Stone Store in Kerikeri), Edinburgh oozes history at every turn. It is most wonderful. The buildings hold so many stories from so many centuries.

….and yes, we timed our visit with the biggest march of the decade: the Orange Boys ‘No thanks’ march, to make their views known in the days pending the Scottish Independence. I write about this in my next blog.

edinburgh, YES vote, scotlandroyal mile, edinburgh

Kiwi Girl visits the Lake District

September 14th, 2014

From the moment we drove towards Kendell it was obvious that this scenic route was a wise choice! The Lake District is all that it’s famous for: beauty, charm, hamlets almost frozen in time.

We headed to Bowness-on-Windermere, a small township in the southern parts of the Lake District, for a planned stop, a stretch of the legs and Yorkshire Dale ice cream as it happened!

Lake Windermere

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Quick diversion to Deppers Bridge

September 14th, 2014

Not far from the royal town of Leamington Spa lies Deppers Bridge. It’s a small hamlet with just a handful residents and one very wonderful farmhouse.

The latter belongs to my aunty and uncle and I was delighted to be able to call by for a ‘coffee and a catch-up’ before continuing on my merry way on the long drive from London to Edinburgh.

converted barn

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Kiwi Girl drives to Edinburgh

September 14th, 2014

Driving to Edinburgh from Surrey?! People thought I was mad attempting such a feat in one day. But Kiwis are known for their sense of adventure, right?

Sure it was a healthy 400 miles (640 kilometres) but driving comfortably at 75mph on all-motorway seemed a much easier task than crawling Auckland to Wellington in a day. Driving to Edinburgh isn’t such a hard task at all.

M5 to Edinburgh

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Kiwi Girl circumnavigates Elstead

September 13th, 2014

A drive through the English countryside is ‘a must’, and where better than the county of Surrey. Better still, don’t let your experience be from the wrong side of the car window, instead explore semi-rural England with full abandon by foot.

Elstead has it all: an historic village, cottages, a village green, an old parish church, cemeteries, a watermill, forge, woodlands, juicy blackberries and stinging nettles. It’s all there for the senses to appreciate.

Elstead is flanked by the River Wey.  It was referenced back in the 11th century, then called Helestede. The Elstead Mill stands stately, was once occupied by Oliver Cromwell’s army in the English Civil war, subsequently rebuilt in1648 after a fire, and a corn mill until the late 1800s.

Elstead Mill, 2014

Elstead Mill, 2014

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