Because we apparently love a challenge, earlier this week, Terry and I decided to brave the cold and the crowds and take Max into Edinburgh for the day, to visit the Christmas market there.
The first challenge was just getting all of us out of the house: because it turns out that, if I’d thought leaving the house with a baby was difficult at the best of times, winter adds a whole other level of organisation to that particular task. Last winter, of course, Max was still just a newborn, so we could just keep him in his car seat, with his footmuff zipped up, and he’d stay nice and toasty while we wheeled him around. At almost one, though, we know he’s not going to want to stay in the pushchair all day, so venturing out into the cold involves coats and hats and scarves and mittens, and maybe I should just put another cardigan on under his coat? And are his socks warm enough, do you think? Because I’m just not sure his socks are warm enough, so maybe I’ll just take this blanket, and also this OTHER blanket, and did I remember to bring his mittens?
And then I had to do the same for myself, obviously, so, by the time we were ready to leave the house, I was so laden with coats and blankets and hats that I felt more like a sherpa preparing to lead an expedition up Everest than a mum about to have a family day out. But we managed it in the end:
And honestly, guys? It wasn’t even all that cold. WHOOPS. Still, it’s good to be prepared, right?
(Max’s coat, cords (Which are actually part of a playset), and shoes were all gifts from the kind people at Boden. His hat, scarf and mittens were gifts from his grandparents, and were from M&S. My gloves were also a gift from my parents, and I’ve no idea where they came from, but I’m very grateful to my parents for always making sure we have warm hands…)
Anyway! As you may or may not know, Edinburgh’s Christmas market started life as a small-ish German market, but has gradually grown in both size and remit over the years, so now it spans a large section of Princes Street Gardens, as well as sections of George Street and St. Andrews Square, and offers everything from festive food and drink, to fairground rides, an ice-rink, and even a light show. You can wander around the market itself for free, but you’ll have to pay for rides and other attractions, and you can find prices for everything here.
(If you were wondering whether Max would be able to keep his hat and scarf on all day, the answer to that is a hard NO…)
We were meeting up with our nephew, George, and his girlfriend, Emma, who are home from Kent for a few days, so, once we’d tracked them down, we had a wander past the different food stalls, stopping every so often to sample something. No food photos here, though, I’m afraid: I’m not much of a fan of eating-while-walking at the best of times (I just don’t have the coordination for those kind of shenanigans, so I always just end up wearing whatever I’m trying to eat…), and it seemed like an even worse idea while dealing with a baby, but it all looked amazing, and I can confirm that the sourdough bread smothered with melted cheese was, indeed, everything you’d expect from the words “bread smothered with cheese.” Yes.
At the very bottom of Princes Street Gardens is ‘Santa Land’- which, as the name suggests, is an area of the market specifically aimed at kids: or, I guess, anyone else who fancies it. This is exactly the kind of thing that I’d have been completely blind to before Max came along,and my child blinkers were firmly in place, but this year we decided to take a look. It’s aimed at older children than Max, obviously, but we took a ride on the little train, which he seemed to enjoy – and which gave us another opportunity for an awkward family selfie:
It was the reindeer ride that proved to be the biggest hit of the day, though – and, before you get too excited, no, it does not involve live reindeer, unfortunately: it’s just a kid’s ride with reindeer-shaped carriages. I say “just” a kid’s ride: Max was absolutely OBSESSED with it, in a way I’ve never seen him become obsessed with anything. (Well, not until I took him to soft play this afternoon, and he had a similar reaction to a picture of Santa, anyway…) He happened to catch sight of it while we were waiting for Terry to buy the tickets for the train, and he was so excited by it I had to carry him over for a look. Well, he cried to get close to it, then cried when I took him away from it, so I’m sure you can guess what happened next, right?
Yup: yet another blog post ends with a photo of me on a kid’s fairground ride: it’s almost like I’ve waited my entire life for just this kind of opportunity, no? This particular experience was even more embarrassing than the “wedged onto a tiny carriage on a merry-go-round for toddlers” one, though, because it turns out that this ride spits out fake snow every so often, and…
The glamour is strong in this one, folks. So, so strong…
It was obviously going to be impossible to top this in terms of excitement and sophistication, and Max, who had politely declined his morning nap that day, was getting seriously cranky by this point, so we decided to quit while we were ahead and get him home for a nap. If we’d had a bit more time, I’d have liked to have gone to see the ice rink and light show, which are on St Andrew’s Square and George Street respectively, but alas, not this time. Although the light show is only on until January 1st, however, many of the other Edinburgh attractions will remain open until January 5th, so I guess there’s always time for a return visit – and probably another go on that freaking reindeer, too…