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Our Latest Move Includes Indoor Weather Patterns

Our New Digs!Last week at our cottage in Perth, we woke up to the sound of ducks laughing. This week we've been waking to the sound of seagulls and the morning busses going by. We're loving it!

We've moved to Edinburgh for two months and we're living in a 4th floor walk-up in the port area called Leith. It's a 10 minute walk from the Forth of Firth, and a 10 minute bus ride to Princess Street -- the heart of the city.

We're loving living in the city again. Our neighborhood is "being gentrified" as they say in LA. This means that the artists and musicians have moved in, and most of the addicts are in treatment, (or at least keeping a low profile), but all the neighborhood Grannies are still here. It's Perfect! As long as we don't go to the park after dark. 

We have two butchers (wonder if they are pals?), a fish monger, and a produce guy, all on our one little street. The tailor across the road has a candy bowl for kiddies, and wouldn't let Ella out until she had not one candy, but a handful. The Book Exchange shop down the way is run by a very stern woman with a receding hairline and an immediate distaste for my choice in books. The pubs on every corner have retired longshoremen smoking outside the door (and they won't let you in the door unless you're 25.)

It feels very New York 1940. The brick buildings are old. The stone ones are older. The church across the way has a tall pointed steeple with a clock that's lit up at night. It all looks like every single twilight shot in Mary Poppins, until you look down at the ground and see broken bottles and tiny little baggies.

We live in a building that's pretty famous around here. It's a converted brewery, which used to make a classic Scottish alcoholic concoction called Crabbie's Green Ginger Wine.

John Crabbie created his Old Scottish Green Ginger Wine in the ancient port of Leith in 1801. Over 200 years later it is still one of Scotland's favourite ginger wines, with an array of the finest fresh ingredients from around the world, including ginger, lemon and orange zest, wild cowslips from Eastern Europe, fragrant Oriental cinnamon and cloves. Crabbies Green Ginger Wine is the perfect partner for a tall drink on a warm summer's day, and warming on a cold winter's evening.

 My favorite part about this quote is that Scotland has a favorite Ginger Wine. How very Scottish!! We, of course, now have Crabbies in the fridge, and are committed to experimentation. Last night Bob found a recipe for mixing it 50/50 with whisky. The first few sips were delightful. After that I somehow fell down...

So, our building was built for Crabbie's in 1801, and has the plumbing to prove it. It's an interesting thing - UK housing philosophy. "Comfortable" by US standards is not standard in housing unless the house is pretty newly built. Case in point: We have a fixed amount of hot water available every morning, we're told. If we use it all, then there's only cold water until the next day. I don't know quite how this is managed. A water heater with a timer and a churlish nature? At any rate - by afternoon the hot water is gone, even if two of us skip showers. Last night I washed dishes by boiling water in the kettle and pouring it into the sink over and over until I had enough water to wash. Rinsing was done in cold.

Yesterday it was -3 Celsius. Our heaters would not come on. No matter how many buttons I twirled, or knobs I pushed, the two heaters that we allow ourselves to use in the public areas of the flat (bedrooms should always be cold enough to hang a side of beef) simply refused to let off any heat. Miserly bastards! This morning, on the other hand, I woke up to an agreeably humming wall heater, serenely giving off a very subtle waft of warmth. I simply have no idea.

These aren't my undies! Hurray!The dryer, on the other hand, gives all the warmth (and humidity) anyone could want. It's a roll-around, and we've rolled it out of the closet, and into the hallway. Let's talk about a common household dryer - shall we? The luxury of drying jeans and underwear for even just the last 10 minutes, so that they feel like cloth, and not cardboard, when you pull them on, is not to be overestimated. Having air-dried everything we own in the bathroom above the tub, over the balcony railing, on a line two stories up along the alley, across kitchen chairs and tables, in the rain, in the fog, and in sub-zero weather, I'm feeling entitled to the little luxury of undies that aren't crackly and brittle, and socks that don't stand up on their own. There! I've said it.

When we turn on our dryer, the hot, wet air that your dryer vents out into your backyard is vented into our hallway. It certainly does warm the flat up! The windows are DRIPPING!! Mist swirls near the ceiling. We're creating our own weather patterns! I think I'll plan ahead next time, and lie naked on a towel right in the middle of the hallway. I'll pretend that I'm in a sauna room at the Korean Spa on Olympic in LA. I'll think to myself, "I've never smelled their new Clean Cotton incense before." I'll let my pores open and my muscles melt. Then the timer will buzz, the dryer will stop thumping, and I'll go back to folding clothes and mopping up the puddles underneath the window-sills before I finish the last of the dishes in icy cold water.

Which is all just to say that we're in a new place again, and we're discovering all of it's quirks and charms. 

The first night we slept here Owen said, "Hey - the lights of the city are our nightlight!" Of course by the second night he was estimating the angle that a sniper would need to shoot through the window.

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Reader Comments (12)

How awesome! In my many trips to Edinburgh I've failed to see Leith. I love the picture you paint of your neighborhood. Looking forward to reading more about your adventures in Auld Reekie.

Jan 20, 2010 at 2:43 PM | Unregistered CommenterKeith

Leave it to Owen to think about snipers. What ever happened to how many people you could hit with a water balloon out the window before your mom cught you. Man, times have changed!!

Love your historic place! The Green Wine is a hoot,but cowslips? The ginger, lemon, orange, cinimmon, and cloves sound heavenly.....I just don't know about those cowslips.

Brenna, look at the dryer situaction this way, steam and moisture are oh soooo good for your skin.
Get to know some of the artists for me.
Love to

Jan 20, 2010 at 3:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterMOM

I was just reading an Ian Rankin mystery which takes Inspector Rebus through Leith. That's where D Division is headquartered. Have you visited Holyrood? Lothian Road? Everything happens there! I have no idea what I'm talking about, but Rankin seems to agree with you about the cold. We once lived in a triple-decker in Cambridge Massachusetts which we intentionally heated with our dryer, which was in the living room. The moisture would accumulate on the windows and freeze there. Couldn't see out the windows for the ice. But Massachusetts didn't have Crabbie's Green Ginger Wine! I have got to find some of that stuff! I've already got the whiskey.

Jan 20, 2010 at 8:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterNancy Hurley

Very funny. I do read all of your posts.

Jan 20, 2010 at 8:27 PM | Unregistered CommenterIrvin

Wonderful writing! Brilliant! You're amazing, really Bren.

Quick comments: 1) Too bad you guys don't have a fireplace. We have the exact same scenario in winter (the last SEVEN years) but the fireplace helps loads. 2) You're still rinsing dishes? 2 people, wash and dry quick, no rinse necessary. 3) LOVE ginger beer, but never had ginger wine. I have a hankering now. . . 4) Lol at the difference between LA & SA, Natalie my 12 y.o. daughter said, "What's a sniper?"

Lots of love~ xx

Jan 21, 2010 at 6:40 AM | Unregistered CommenterStephanie

Absolutely breath-taking. I love that old brick New York look. Where are the Dead End Kids?

Jan 21, 2010 at 4:06 PM | Unregistered CommenterDarleen

I'm with Owen. I always want to know where my areas of vulnerability are!!! I must have been shot in the back in a former life!! :-)

Jan 22, 2010 at 8:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterKim

The photo of your flat reminds me of the attic bedroom in Kiki's Delivery Service - simply charming & lovely and you get your stairmaster workout everyday without fail (I'm into passive exercise). How about a pulley system at the top of the stairs?
We should have figured out the sniper angles when we were in Boston; the living room had 7 windows and no curtains. We had fly-bys of Canadian Geese every night (7th floor, but we had an elevator - no walk-up!).
Missing you all something awful, but thanks to your posts I don't have to miss your humor!

Jan 23, 2010 at 8:34 AM | Unregistered CommenterNicole

Hehehe ... The adventures just keep on comin'. I thought I would chime in here on a couple places I had visited when in Edinburgh that I would want to take Mariah for home-schooly reasons.
One would be Craigmillar Castle. Very nearby. It is an outstanding example of medieval castles. It is a bit ruined (as opposed to the currently working Edinburgh Castle) as it was abandoned for a couple centuries. Mary Queen of Scots stayed at Craigmillar, I believe, at a time that coming into 'town' would have meant her arrest.
Another neat spot is Aurther's Seat. It gives an uncompromised view of the entire area. I spent some time there imagining all the recent century's constructs gone, and seeing Edinburgh Castle a ways away, imagined how awed someone in the 15th-16th century would have been. The castle is mighty impressive by today's standards. As an aside- I did find (probably wandering where I was not supposed to go) that the Royal Military's bagpiper school is in Edinburgh Castle. Sounds very haunting in that environment.
Now ... the sarcastic engineer in me is compelled to comment on the heater situation. Try twirling the KNOBS, and PUSHING the buttons. Couldn't hurt. ;-)

B,J, & M

Jan 26, 2010 at 11:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterBroose

Oh yeah ... as a bona fide ginger fanatic ... I have to go to BevMo tomorrow and query them for some John Crabbies. :-) Not sure how that one has eluded me.


Jan 26, 2010 at 11:10 PM | Unregistered CommenterBroose

Brenna and I are laughing right now Bruce -- thanks for the engineering advice on the heater (we appreciate that you phrased it as a way to fix the heater and NOT as a comment on our proof-reading skills!!) If you like ginger, DO try the ginger wine. It's incredibly sweet, which is why "cutting" it with the whisky is a good idea.


Jan 27, 2010 at 12:26 AM | Registered CommenterBob & Brenna Redpath

Wow! Now I'm up to date on where you are now. Great visuals! Creating your own weather patterns has to do something to global warming, doesn't it?!!!

Jan 27, 2010 at 9:17 AM | Unregistered CommenterLauri

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