A quick rundown of Scotland’s Capital and how we enjoyed it together


Anna and Sophia liked Edinburgh last summer enough to warrant a second visit with the whole family. As our first stop, an August arrival fortuitously coincided with The Fringe, the world’s largest arts festival. It is the opportunity for a fair dose of sophisticated entertainment before heading off to learn some survival skills practiced by our Meso/Neolithic ancestors. Yes, animal tracking, catching a spark from striking flint and transporting our fire around in tree fungus. You know–in the event global politics continues to worsen and we survive WW III. Even if we aren’t plunged into post-apocalyptic hell, I think learning how to dye wool with lichens and weave your own sleeping mats to prevent hypothermia is pretty cool. My son would agree, but my hormonal t(w)een girls are a question mark so Glasgow Girls and a classy night out At the Illusionist’s Table has set us off on the right foot. The younger ones enjoyed the not-so-age-appropriate James and the Giant Peach and  Story Pocket Theatre’s King Arthur (see Emma’s fantastic version of their experience here). We all were able appreciate the talented French Canadian group that put on Attrape Moi, a performance that I found to be a great deal more intimate than Cirque du Soleil. I would go again. 

As one must on the Royal Mile we enjoyed Edinburgh Castle, but the real highlight was again–for the second year running–the Real Mary King’s Close. Where else can you share with your children the stench of 17th century animal  waste, the nightmares of  Black Death and the bubonic plague, and pick up a bit of borrowed French in the process–Gardyloo, anyone? Whenever my little monkeys complain about accommodations that don’t meet their snobby Manhattanite expectations, I will remind them of the days when we only bathed once a year and children were nailed to the pillory for any number of minor offenses. What’s a little house dust or a lumpy sofa with a stain? 

On the Unicorn

The Scotch Whiskey Experience is another favorite of ours where you embark on the journey of whiskey making in a cozy cask and end the tour with a dram of your own. Although Anna is less than 2 years from ordering her own glass of cider in a local pub, she is still almost 4 away from her own dram of scotch, so she and the kids partook in the other Scottish favorite, Irn Bru. I think the stuff looks and tastes like carbonated cough syrup but ‘Kurti’ starts jumping around like his pants are on fire whenever he sees it at the market. Makes me wonder how much sugar is in that stuff since my 6-year-old son now seems to be a diehard addict. Move over Sprite.

Strolling past The World’s End toward Hollyrood Palace and Arthur’s seat is anticlimactic until we hit The Fudge House. Chocolate Rocky Road, Rum & Raisin, Chocolate Orange, Praline & Drambuie, Highland Cream, Lemon Meringue Pie, Marzipan & Amaretto, Chocolate Peanut Butter. Yup–between last summer and this summer we have had quite a sampling. Sophia liked the flavor she selected so much that I was finding bits wrapped and hidden in the breadbox. I hope there weren’t any other stashes she hoarded away in the Edinburgh rental. I can just imagine our hosts happening upon a rock-hard chunk of Chocolate Orange and mistaking it for some odd geological sample collected at Arthur’s Seat. 

After a tour through Hollyrood Palace and Abbey we are all sugared up and ready for the hike up Arthur’s Seat. Fresh air, views for miles, and for Kurti and Kristina there is the thrill that this very spot may have been the legendary King Arther’s Camelot.


Melissa Breyer’s article about words describing nature and landscapes includes the Gaelic term rionnach maoimmeans, which refers to shadows cast on the landscape by clouds gliding across the sky. If I had a whole day, I could easily spend it watching the magical kaleidoscope of dancing colors on the moorlands of Scotland. This effect is so mesmerizing that I had to include a brief clip. I can’t recreate the experience but I thought it would be better than just leaving you with the description of a word I can’t even pronounce… Enjoy!

Bound for a Breakdown or Breakthrough?

Normally I would dread the prospect of my active 6 year old running nonstop circles around me, but this year I don’t have all the obligations that normally crowd my kids out of my day. No Parents Association, Church, or other clubs, classes and social responsibilities will keep me from being available to my family. Right?

So here we are, less than two weeks into our journey, residing in our second ‘home’ on-the-road and I find myself in a familiar space–overwhelmed. There are the more glamorous responsibilities of picking out restaurants for our party of 6+, mapping out places of interest that we must see, picking out shows, selecting which countries and continents to visit and during which times of year. And the more mundane such as acting as chauffeur, navigator, laundress, grocery shopper, house keeper and disciplinarian. Let’s face it, I had a lot of support in NYC. Wonderful people who are like family to us that helped cook, clean, ferry the kids around–sometimes in four different directions–and who also acted as surrogate parents at times.
I know this period will end and everyone will find their groove to make this year-on-the-road work for all of us. I keep telling myself that we are still in the initial stages where there are growing pains as we find out what it means to really depend on one another. Am I right or am I an overly optimistic fool?
Something must be working, though. I am already doing the dishes less often. I get sympathetic hugs from my 14 year old when she sees I am frustrated  and struggling and hugs are a vast improvement over another eye roll when I express feelings that don’t fit into that supermom box with 1950’s era June Cleaver roots. My 14-year-old would prefer, “Well darling Anna, you really should put your clothes in the laundry basket so they all get washed.” My usual response is, “Anna! No clothes in basket means no clean clothes for the next week!” And when it comes to her insatiable appetite for sweets, Anna might prefer to hear the sweet harmonious response, “I’m afraid you really shouldn’t have a third helping of chocolate mousse, dear,” over a more abrupt, “Are you kidding!?”
The goal is to have the entire family self sufficient–and happily so. It’s time to create a new family culture. One that brings us together in the kitchen to explore new ingredients, flavors and recipes. One that creates the opportunity to make all aspects of life pleasurable–from the glamorous to the mundane. I remember when I had to fold clothes as a child, I would make sure to be waiting at the dryer toward the end of the cycle. Reaching in and taking out armfuls of warm, fluffy towels and burying myself under them was one of my favorite sensations. I would lie there and feel my body absorb the warmth and smell the fresh clean scent before creating neat puffy squares bound for the linen closet. Will my children find their own simple pleasures amongst life’s many responsibilities ?
Right now when I ask for help in the kitchen I get, “I’m afraid of knifes,” and “I can’t cook on a hot surface with a flame.” And when laundry is mentioned there is an immediate deer-in-the-headlights response before everyone scatters like cockroaches and leaves me in the dust. Can you imagine just the sheer number of soiled socks generated by 7 people over the course of a few days, let alone a week? Sigh…give me a sign!
Stay tuned…