We catch up with the Idlewild frontman to find out why he finds Edinburgh so inspiring.
One of Edinburgh's most famous chefs tells us what he loves most about Scotland's capital.
25 June 2014
A Mum and Daughters Day out in the Grassmarket and the Old Town
Working mum, Ali Findlay, runs a busy advertising agency in Edinburgh (The Lane Agency) and has lived in the city for over 20 years. Her daughters are aged 11 and 12. Her “Girls Day Out” is sure to inspire you to take a moment to enjoy time with the family and indeed the many things on our doorstep which can be enjoyed by residents and visitors alike.
"In the hurly burly of drop offs, pick ups, playdates, parties, sports clubs, etc. you can forget to make time to enjoy all that your own city has to offer families. Once you’re past the years when only soft play gives sufficient respite to have a coffee in peace, it’s time to remind yourself that a day in Edinburgh can be as enjoyable for you as it is for the kids.
Working on the TV commercials for the city centre campaign, reminded me how long it was since we last enjoyed some of the less obvious things that are great about Edinburgh. So, I headed off with my two daughters on the no 41 Lothian Bus (our favourite seats at the front top deck) which took us directly over the Mound and dropped us off just adjacent to one of the loveliest streets in Edinburgh, Victoria Street.
Once we got past the pleasant smells coming from Oink Hog Roast and I J Mellis Cheesemongers, where we picked up Ava’s favourite Old Lochnagar cheese, we headed straight for A-Ha-Ha-Ha where the kids adored the fake moustaches, beards, wigs, not to mention plastic poo and fake sick. Maybe not the most sophisticated boutique in Edinburgh but depends on your sense of humour.
From there we headed across the Grassmarket to Armstrong which was a completely new experience for the girls and took me right back to my student years. Mia loved the prom dresses and Ava picked up a luminous orange tutu to match her leggings (best not to ask!).
We then enjoyed some random Belgian/Morris dancers and the street market before heading to Mary’s Milk Bar as reward for our shopping exertions. What a revelation it was. The children were forced to make more adventurous choices from their usual chocolate or strawberry ice cream. Mia went for salted caramel, while Ava went for fresh raspberry and mint. Mine was a hot milk chocolate with orange and cardamom. Wow. The flavours were out of this world, and the service was great. We then stopped by Faver’s Candy Emporium for some fudge to take home to Dad and some old fashioned sweets.
After a little more retail therapy, and stopping to watch a fire juggler on the Royal Mile, we then decided to head for Wings Diner, the cool gang at work had been talking about it and since Mia is a spice-loving carnivore we thought we’d give it a go. Tucked away, with furniture looking like it is salvaged from your garden or a student flat, the friendly team explained how it goes at Wings – order as you go, paper plates, bottled or canned beer or juice, and chuck your waste in the table top bucket. Lunch cost £13.50 for the three of us (three drinks, 2 bowls of wings, 1 cheesy chenga with dips) and the girls loved the food and the eclectic posters and artwork on the walls.
Our next discovery was the Swish T-Shirt shop on Cockburn Street where we saw cool school bags and bagged a personalised Dr Who t-shirt for a birthday present. Across the road we picked up Ava’s first skateboard from a wonderful young guy at Route One, with interesting piercings and tattoos supported by fantastically friendly and excellent advice, he fast became the girls’ no 1 retail expert!
As we staggered back on the bus complete with skateboard, tutu, t-shirt and a quirky birthday present from the Museum of Context, we’d had a great afternoon, and went home having had a thoroughly different day and a little bit of soul enrichment too. As a full-time working mum, it can be difficult to fit in quality time together, and I’m so pleased to be rediscovering my city with my girls. I hope we’ll continue to do so for years to come."