Friday, September 10, 2010

Halcyon Day

Halcyon means calm and tranquil, or 'happy or carefree'. It is rarely used now apart from in the expression halcyon days. The name of the legendary bird was actually alcyon, the 'h' was added in regard to the supposed association with the sea ('hals' in Greek). The Phrase Finder

Full Scottish Breakfast
The night before we were to catch the train to Edinburgh D and I decided we'd better think about accommodation. A(nother) glass of wine later and we were ready.

We googled "Scotland Edinburgh old town accommodation" and various combinations thereof. We found a number of Edinburgh accommodation sites, but nothing much under £400 per night. Could Edinburgh be more expensive than New York?

I think not. We must have been doing something wrong but I have no desire to find out what. Eventually panic set in and we decided to look for a B&B. We found one called Halcyon House. £106 per night for the two of us.

The best thing about Halcyon House is its breakfast (see above), which is included in the price. But what about the rest of it, and why did I title this posting "Halcyon Day" - singular?

Well .... I would recommend Halcyon House to the following people

One sixth of the  stair case at Halcyon
1: People wanting to practise their mountain-climbing skills. Halcyon House is situated on top of one of the highest peaks in Edinburgh - at least that's what it feels like attempting to get there from Edinburgh's Waverly train station. And your climbing won't end there. Depending upon which floor your room is on, you will have to climb 36 (first floor above ground, 72 (2nd), or 108 (3rd) stairs to get to your room.

2: People who don't like phones and who like big breakfasts.

3: People who are practicing to be a hotel inspector à la Ruth Watson.

Ruth Watson is a well-known (in the UK) hotelier who has a mission - "to reverse Britain’s depressing reputation for poorly run hotels, guesthouses and B&Bs". She also has a television show, called appropriately enough, The Hotel Inspector.

Indeed there were times during our one day (yes we moved) stay at the Halcyon, that I felt I'd morphed into Ms Watson.

Canon at Edinburgh Castle -  thanks to my climbing practice
at the Halcyon, I was able to reach the summit.
There's no real reception area at the Halcyon - just a bit of un-manned space given over to tourist pamphlets in the hallway. Adjacent to the pamphlet rack, a sole minuscule table has a minuscule vase taking up most of its surface, thus making filling out the obligatory registration form somewhat difficult.

In our room's bathroom there was nowhere to put a toothbrush, let alone any creams or cosmetics. I used a chest of drawers for my laptop. There was no shampoo. There was however soap. No TV, not that this bothered us. No little extras. Just the basics.

Breakfast was served in a fairly typical B&B room, peopled by people who spoke, if at all, in whispers. In the center of each table stood a small vase holding a dusty artificial flower that bore no resemblance to any species of flora that I have come across in my 100 years on this planet.

Two Tourists At the Edinburgh Castle
The breakfast was generous and the landlord keen to make Scottish jokes and to greet every guest in the dining room.

And yes, I've thought of something else good. There was free high-speed wireless internet access in our room. I could not see this facility advertised in any Halcyon literature. Perhaps it belonged to the neighboring B&B. It was unsecured and un-passworded.

I wasn't going to make a special trip down 72 steps to ask.

There was no phone.

My name is Kathleenwng and I approve this message


Jaded NYer said...

Boy you sure are "roughing it" as it were.

Good for you that you could climb up and down 216 steps a day and not die. Not me. I hate stairs.

Looks like the weather is good and there are sights to see. You should try some haggis while you are there. Goes good with Margarita's (evil laugh)

Maybe you could stay in one of the haunted castles, although you might not get breakfast. Ghosts don't eat breakfast. I know this from first hand experience.

Have you heard any bagpipes yet?

Have you seen the Loch Ness monster yet?

Have you?

monty said...

After that breaky you would need the exercise from those steps to help you through the rest of the day.

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