When I talk about my beautiful baby sister, people who don’t know her often bunch their noses up, and, in a cutesy way, say to me, “Naaaaaaaw! Bless! How cute! How old is she?” And when I reply “30”, they suddenly look confused. Ok… so maybe I should stop calling her my baby sister… but that’s not the point. The point is she’s 30, and I honestly don’t know how that happened.
For her 30th birthday Laura wanted to do something special. So she invited me, my older sister (Becca), and her best friend (Cecilia) to go on a girls weekend away with her to celebrate. After many discussions about budget, winter sun, travel time, flights, hotels, and beaches, Laura took the executive decision on our destination – we were off to Edinburgh!
Ok, it’s not known for it’s winter sun (or beaches) but the thought of travelling by train across the country to a beautiful city, and exploring more of this island we call home, got everyone excited!
It would be a 4hr 22min journey for me, Laura and Cecilia, with Becca joining us at York, 2hrs in to the journey. The itinerary had been kept a secret from Laura, so apart from the destination, the rest of the holiday was a surprise.
At 8am we boarded the Virgin East Coast train at London Kings Cross (having arrived an hour early for coffee and croissants), and found our table seat. We decided to wait until Becca joined us in York to bring out the surprises. The 2hrs passed surprisingly quickly. Unfortunately we were too busy chatting the journey away for me to remember to watch out for the sign marking the historic location where the Mallard set the world speed record for steam trains (just before Grantham), so I missed it. Before we knew it we were in York and the blond whirlwind that is mine and Laura’s older sister was on board the train.
Time for the first surprise – Champagne! I cowered away from the bottle in a very pathetic and super wimpy way (Champagne bottles terrify me ok!?), whilst Cecilia (heroically, in my opinion) popped the cork like a pro. Out came the rest of the goodies Cecilia had brought: strawberries, chocolate, chorizo, pâté, cheese and crackers (and vegan cheese and crackers for me). If anything was going to be true of this journey, it was that we were going to eat like queens!
The bottle of Champagne didn’t last long… It was a good job that Cecilia also brought plenty of Prosecco too! As the drinks flowed, and we nibbled at our feast, Becca presented Laura with her second surprise – a survival kit for the weekend (and a mini survival kit for the rest of us too!)! The kit consisted of:
- A can of Gin and Tonic (hair of the dog),
- Tissues (in case things get emotional),
- Paracetamol (for the hangover, obvs),
- Breath Freshener (for the honking alcohol breath),
- Hair Bobbles (to hold your hair back if/when you’re sick),
- Face Wipes (so you don’t look like a panda that’s been in a bar brawl in the morning),
- Coconut Water (to rehydrate),
- Lip Balm (to keep those lips soft),
- A Face Mask (to restore natural beauty the day after),
- Plasters (to cover any blisters caused by excessive dancing),
- A Packet of Popcorn (to soak up the alcohol)
All in a beautiful white faux leather bag.
Needless to say, Laura was starting to get a little worried about what we had in store for her! Haha!
As we headed north of York the scenery became increasingly breathtaking. We crossed over the viaduct at Durham, where Durham castle and cathedral could be seen; and passed through Newcastle, seeing the beautiful bridges over the River Tyne. Having never been to Edinburgh by train, I was shocked when the sea came in to view at Alnmouth. I had no idea that the railway line hugged the Northumberland coast! And when the Royal Boarder Bridge came in to view we were all amazed! The train raced towards Berwick, over this spectacular viaduct, over the River Tweed, and alongside the coast. It was a gloriously sunny day, and we were having the most wonderful time. We talked about our passions, and our motivations, about careers, and languages, and books, and mindfulness, and travel and food: There’s nothing like a long train journey to reconnect, and really put the world to rights!
I was almost sad when the journey was over, and we arrived in to Edinburgh Waverley (almost sad).
We had a really special few days exploring Edinburgh; eating amazing food (oh my goodness, if you visit Edinburgh you must go to Contini on George Street!); drinking gin (I would 100% recommend booking a tour at Edinburgh Gin Distillery – fantastic value for money!); dancing (at the super fun Tigerlily, which also happens to have awesome staff); playing games (my surprise for Laura was that I made her her very own board game), and recovering (afternoon tea at the Waldof Astoria is a classy way to cure any hangover!). And generally just enjoying being in each others company.
The journey back was a lot more chill. We were exhausted. Becca read her book “Start With Why” By Simon Sinek, which prompted a fellow traveller to talk to us because he was a big fan of the book. Throughout the journey to York, whilst reading, Becca would gasp and chuckle with concurrence and, when asked, explain what she had learned. It was fascinating. I’ve put it on my reading list.
Cecilia, Laura and I played a card game called Wizard (this could be a handy game to have in your essential travel kit). It’s a great, and rather unusual, game with wonderfully bizarre artwork on the cards. If I remember rightly, the game lasted for the majority of the journey – so if you’re gonna play it, be sure you have plenty of time at your disposal.
Back in London I left Laura and Cecilia as we headed for separate tube lines. I felt so incredibly lucky to have such a special relationship with my sisters, and to have had such a wonderful few days with such inspiring, funny and loving women.