A bit of Country in the City

April was Frankie’s birthday. Not a big one this year, only 31, but I still like to try to make something of it for her when I can. In the past year she has starting to find a of love of country music & I had found that The Shires were playing in Edinburgh a few days after her birthday. Music & city break, perfect! So I secretly booked train tickets & concert tickets & slipped them into her birthday card. We had been staying at my mum’s for a few weeks due to having the bathroom ripped out so the dogs were being looked after too.

All set we got a very early train from Bolton up to Edinburgh Waverley station (via the delightful Wigan). I love driving but sometimes, not having to get road annoyance or trying to find car parking in a city I’m not overly familiar with, the train is a brilliant relaxing escape. Doing a city visit on a budget isn’t always easy however on this trip I think we did a pretty good job. £80 return train tickets for the both of us & I found a great hotel deal for about £120 for 2 nights. I had been looking at numerous hotels in Edinburgh. As with most cities you can either spend a fortune & stay in luxury, spend about £100 a night & get some standard basic, none interesting hotel with the same feeling you’d get in any city in the world or a hovel! I had checked on booking.com and came across a new branch of the Premier Inn hotels called The Hub. They only have 9 hotels in the UK, 7 in London & 2 in Edinburgh. We chose to stay at the Hub by Premier Inn Edinburgh Royal Mile. It was literally 300mts from Waverley train station (once we’d gone out the right exit!) so was perfect for not trekking through the city with our bags. It’s a perfect location, not too far out of the city but enough that you can get a quiet night’s sleep even with some trendy bars nearby building into the railway arches.

Quirky hotel room at the Hub

 I love Edinburgh. I’ve never actually been when it’s not been cold, regardless of the time of year, but this always gives me the excuse to buy a new tartan scarf or something tartan anyway! But the history, the castle, the cobbled streets, the haunted night walks, the Scottish hospitality makes it one of my favourite cities to visit. We took a walk through the city (with our TomTom’s on, we had a mapmyrun step challenge going!) to try to find where the concert was going to be that night at Usher hall. I love walking through Princes Street gardens, a huge park of sorts smack bang in the middle of the city with the castle towering down from above. If there’s a cemetery nearby somehow me and Frankie always end up in there. I don’t know what draws us to them but I love going through the headstones, seeing the ages and years when people died, trying to link families together from hundreds of years ago. May be morbid or geeky but I find it fascinating. Luckily for us…and the deceased people of Edinburgh….it has a cemetery at the end of Princes Street Gardens.

 All the walking makes for big appetites so we obviously had to indulge ourselves in some culinary delights! With the help of Yelp & Trip Advisor we checked out Mademoiselle Macaron, the Indigo Yard for some gin cocktails & Foundry 39 for the best chilli cheese fries & burger. Excellent service, not expensive but loads of flavour food & just around the corner from Usher Hall.

Variety of macarons from rosewater & lavender to typical Scottish Irn Bru
Chilli cheese fries, burger & pizza to share

After we’d stuffed our faces we headed off for some Country music fun. Usher Hall is a gorgeous category A listed building from the early 1900’s which has recently been restored & has great acoustics which made the concert amazing. The Shires were supported by an amazing young girl called Catherine McGrath. She was funny, talkative, engaging & had a great voice. Would love to see her again. The Shires were amazing, such a talented pair from the UK who, rarely, have broke the US and Nashville. They have such great energy on stage and it felt like they had transported the whole audience to a night at the Bluebird!

Great city. Great food. Great entertainment. Great company.

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