We’re just back from a short trip to Edinburgh. With our big trip in March fast approaching we were using this super short-haul as a sort of trial run. At 35 minutes, the flight is considerably less than the transatlantic distance we’re undertaking next. Eleven and half hours less to be precise, so when I say trial run, I mean a tiny taster of what might lie ahead. But any practice is good practice, right? Last time we travelled with both boys, Milo Jags was only three months and rather conveniently boobed and slept for the entire duration of the flight. He is now super physical, a total squirm-merchant and, both fortunately and unfortunately for me, no longer a snoozy milk-monster. For him the only feasible solution is a baby straight jacket. I’ll maybe knock up a nice hunter’s bohemia block-printed one before then, take the edge off. Remarkably, the toddler seems to be slightly more manageable and we have managed to narrow down our carry-on list after a few sharp lessons.
Our personal weapons of choice will be one book undoubtably read at speed a thousand times, an Etch-a-sketch for drawing fun minus the incessant picking up of crayons. Because if there’s anything more annoying than incessantly picking up crayons it’s incessantly picking up crayons from within a two feet squared area and having to poke and prod around the feet of your fellow passengers. I’ll toss in a small bag of building blocks and, as a sane pair of humans, we will have all his favourites pre-loaded and ready to roll on the iPad. And snacks. Hell, don’t forget the snacks.
We stayed in Lateral City’s Old Town Chambers and I really can’t say enough great things about these apartments. Set right at the heart of the city on the Royal Mile, it felt amazing to find somewhere that appealed to us as interior loving adults – think mid-century furniture, floor to ceiling glass and recessed, sliding doors – but also catered heavily for the kids. The open plan nature of the apartment meant that the boys could crack on with crawling and Potato Head-ing to their hearts content while we took a beat to relax on that epic sofa in front of the built-in Netflix and get stuck into the complimentary Nespresso. If it’s good enough for Clooney…
Super sleek bathrooms are fully stocked with Cowshed products making this shower-when-you-can-but-always-with-the-door-open mama very happy and I will gladly own up to the fact I locked myself in there for an extra half hour just to maximise their use.
The concierge service was impeccable and correspondences were quick and friendly. We were travelling light but when both your kids are inevitably going to want carried you need hands free, so having the option to leave your luggage at either side of your stay was a serious must. High chairs and travel cots were installed on request and the apartment was so roomy that they did nothing to detract from either the size or that incredible view.
The main thing we did before we left was switch prams. We have been using our Uppababy Vista for a few years now and love it, but it’s heavy and I always felt a little sorry for Lucas piggy-backing underneath like the forgotten child. My lovely mum-in-law sourced a new double pram for us – the Nipper 360 – and despite being the biggest sceptic of bulky side-by-side, three wheeled prams I was sold in about thirty seconds flat. For a start, it’s super light. Like push with one hand while downing your third espresso light. It also folds down in one complete piece which saves the inevitable sweat-inducing, bungee cording at the departure gate as your mostly unsympathetic fellow passengers dash past you all praying that they’re seated at the opposite end of the plane. Don’t think I don’t see those eye rolls.
Riding next to each other, however, also gives the boys a sense of mutual importance and the same visual experience of our trip. Plus it breaks my heart in all the right ways seeing their wee faces next to one another.
Although life changes dramatically in many senses when kiddos arrive, Marky and I have also been very conscious of retaining ourselves in the middle of it all. We’ve never been a incredibly social pair, preferring instead to have a nice lunch or dinner together once in a while or a break away. We’ve had to adapt this slightly on account of not losing our minds by chasing the toddler around in between inhaling forkfuls of lukewarm food. We now tend to opt for brunch; the perfect time to fill tiny tummies and give restless legs a little run around before settling down for a nap on the go.
American diner style, City Cafe, just off Hunter’s Square was the perfect stop off for a feast of a breakfast. Easy access, plenty to share and pinball on tap while Papa P regaled me with tales of his boozy bygone days in that very spot.
We’re nothing if not predictable and it was fairly inevitable we’d end up gravitating to somewhere with a great craft beer selection. It’s not like us to forgo a bit of advance research but somewhere amidst the carrying of too many bags and wrenching everyone out of bed at 5 a.m. we forgot, so stumbling across The Hanging Bat was a kismet coincidence. Their statement is awesome beers and fantastic food and they’re not wrong. What they don’t mention and you should definitely know is they are also lovely people with an incredibly welcoming atmosphere. Anyone who greets your two year old like they’re part of the gang is a good one in my book.
I had a ginger beer that took my face off, Papa P had ‘the best beer I’ve ever had in my life’ and together we scoffed a portion of the most perfect, pulled pork nachos before poor Lucas even knew they’d arrived. Sorry, buddy. The only downside to this place is that it’s in Edinburgh and not Belfast. Pretty sure Marky would be sneaking off for cheeky beer flights left, right and centre.
Papa P actually spent five years studying in Edinburgh. Chemistry in case you were wondering. He’s smarter than he looks. Love ya, Daddy-O. Anyway, fast forward fifteen years, one wife and two kids later and his expansive knowledge of the city on a wider scale was actually an amazing bonus to the trip. Knowing the boys were in desperate need of a run around within a manageable environment we headed out out of the city centre across The Meadows towards the more residential Marchmont.
We truly lucked out with the weather; the winter sun was warming despite the crisp air and slight breeze. This area would be a dream in the summer time but was the grass was a touch too sludgy for a pair of crazies boarding a plane in a matter of hours so we opted for the park. FYI, also an amazing area for having a good old nose at some incredible properties and window shopping other people’s homes. I saw a lot of cracking rugs. Don’t judge, I know you do it too!
Shopping with two littles is generally not on the cards and casual browsing is a distant memory. A list is required if you want to achieve anything. Ever. So when the stars aligned and both boys passed out simultaeously (thank you, independently reclining seats!) we made a beeline for some essential stop-offs.
I spent the most blissful ten minutes in Eteaket on Rose Street sipping fresh Orange Oolang while sniffing my way along samples. The white walls are lined with their statement blue tins of loose leaf teas and the whole store has the most serene vibe. I left with an incredibly rich blend of Chai, some tea-infused chocolate and a couple of great recipe ideas.
All in all I’d say our ‘trial run’ was a success. It left me feeling both confident in our future flying endeavours and content in my heart after an amazing trip away with my favourite people in the most beautiful city. Would I change anything? A couple extra days would have been nice!
[Photo credit to Lateral City for the apartment overview shot]