This is a Sponsored Post in association with Trainline
Leaving home for a weekend away is such a treat – especially when you have just moved house, and all around you is chaos. I cannot describe the sheer joy that came with shutting my front door behind me as I headed to the train station on Saturday morning.
Part of the joy also came from the knowledge that I wasn’t schlepping out to an airport, my possessions crammed into a tiny carry-on. Instead I had the luxury of a proper-sized case that I didn’t have to check.
I love the prospect of several uninterrupted hours of peace on a train, instead of having to break up my journey into small annoying chunks of time (the trip to the airport, the miles of corridors, the waiting, the take off, the wriggling about in a small seat, the landing, etc etc etc), and wasting countless minutes in security and custom lines.
Then there’s also the anticipation that comes from knowing you have a carefully prepared and utterly delicious train picnic in your tote, that you would never be allowed to take on a ‘plane, sharp knife for the cheese and all.
(If you follow me on Instagram Stories, then you’ll have seen me making an English asparagus frittata to eat in soft brown rolls, a tray of oozy fudge brownies, and pots of my homemade granola with yogurt and berries. The latter was particularly pleasing as last time I flew I had my homemade breakfast confiscated by security.)
As you’ll probably know, I’ve been working Trainline recently, as they launched their Lintenair campaign, and they asked me if I’d like to take a train journey, using their app. I wanted to pick somewhere in the United Kingdom that I might possibly travel to by ‘plane, to compare journey times.
(Vintage train poster from The National Museum of Scotland)
I picked Edinburgh after some intense Googling, when I realised that it was actually both the cheapest and quickest option once I had factored in the travel time to the airport on a Saturday morning. There also weren’t any suitable flights – I could either pick an affordable flight and arise at idiot o’clock to get to the airport, arrive far too early in Edinburgh and hours before my hotel check in, spending the rest of the day in a fog of tiredness, or fly with a traditional airline for more than the train cost, and arrive mid afternoon, thereby missing lunch (a very important consideration when you only have three meals in a city).
The journey, hand on heart, was a breeze. We left my flat at 8am, bundling my large, heavy case, Holl’s wheelie, the dog, and my extra large canvas bag for the journey containing the picnic and Holly’s obligatory giant bottle of sparkling water without which she rarely moves, into a cab (£9) arriving at Kings Cross at 0810hrs. It was a simple matter then to walk across the station concourse to find our seats, and settle in for the journey.
I had booked the tickets through the Trainline app, and chosen the mobile ticket option (as opposed to picking them up at the station – fewer bits of paper to scatter about my person), and that too was a breeze. Just before travel you tap to activate the ticket, and then, once on board, the train’s ticket inspector simply scanned the app interface, swiping over for the second ticket. And, if the QR code hadn’t worked for some reason, the ticket details are also listed.
It’s such a pleasure to travel with Lettice – if my sister and I are travelling together it’s hard to find dog cover, so being able to take her on the train is a lifesaver. And, of course, she finds the entire business entirely fascinating.
The other thing I found useful on the Trainline app was the real time journey tracker, so we could always identify where we had go to at any given moment.
Once en route, we cracked open the breakfast picnic.
We were so lucky with the weather – Edinburgh was beautiful in the sunshine, and we headed straight to our hotel, the Hotel du Vin, where Holly and Lettice went for a lie down (her MS means she has to be careful to conserve her energy), and I turned around to go for a walk and forage for lunch.
Holl’s nap went on a little longer than planned, but towards the end of the afternoon we went for the most gorgeous walk, heading south through the Meadows, and then up towards Holyrood Park and Arthur’s Seat.
The next morning saw us taking a leisurely breakfast at the hotel, before leaving Lettice behind in the room for a few hours as we went to explore the National Museum of Scotland next door.
Of course I had to stop to admire Greyfriars Bobby en route.
After rescuing Lettice and checking out, we grabbed a cab, and headed a mile and a half away to Stockbridge, where we had been promised a food lover’s paradise awaited.
We spent quite a bit of time in the Sunday Farmers Market buying treats for the train journey home.
I also bought bundles of farm-fresh asparagus to bring back to London with me
Instagram told us to visit George Mewes the cheesemaker, where we bought cheese for the picnic, then we headed to Tom Kichen’s The Scran & Scallie for Sunday lunch.
A quick coffee after at Artisan Roasters, and then it was time for a bracing walk up Calton Hill to exercise Lettice before the train journey home.
There is definitely a strong frisson to be had from travelling on a train pulled by one of the United Kingdom’s most storied train engines
It really is extra enjoyable eating a delicious picnic, culled from brilliant independent grocers and the farmers’ market, knowing that if I was travelling by aeroplane it would all have been stuck in the hold.
Beautiful Berwick upon Tweed from the train window
It was great to pass through Newcastle where we both went to University, and indulge in a little nostalgia. Here is the eponymous castle.
And, of course, the glorious River Tyne, and bridge.
(Another wonderful poster from the National Museum of Scotland.)
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Hotel du Vin Edinburgh
11 Bristo Pl, Edinburgh EH1 1EZ. www.hotelduvin.com/locations/edinburgh
National Museum of Scotland
Chambers St, Edinburgh EH1 1JF. hwww.nms.ac.uk/national-museum-of-scotland
The Scran & Scallie
1 Comely Bank Rd, Edinburgh EH4 1DT www.scranandscallie.com
Artisan Roast (Stockbridge branch)
100A Raeburn Pl, Edinburgh EH4 1HH.www.artisanroast.co.uk
Stockbridge Farmers Market (Sundays)
1 Saunders St, Edinburgh EH3 6TQ. www.stockbridgemarket.com
George Mewes Cheese
7/3 Dean Park St, Stockbridge, Edinburgh EH4 1JN. www.georgemewescheese.co.uk