Monday 25 February 2013


Packed the Hound off to the dog walker and took myself and partner off for a splendid weekend of luxury and relaxation in that gorgeous City (indeed partner born here). Booked a great hotel with a splendid view and 2 rather lovely armchairs in the alcove of the room where we drank champagne out of 2 champagne glasses we purchased from the St Columb Hospice charity shop. Made us feel like an elderly couple!

We were staying in Stockbridge, the Scots equivalent of Notting Hill though I'd be shot for suggesting this. And a very vibrant charity shop scene. We went in 8 of them on Saturday afternoon. I can't understand those people, especially in councils (or indeed Mary Portals) who denigrate charity shops and say it shows how the High St has declined. In fact charity shops have been keeping the High St alive. And they are not all at the bargain basement end of the trade. Why, the Stroke association has a pair of fine brogues for £ 110 and an Italian pair of trousers for £38! I did not purchase!

Part of the joy of not being a spotty youth is that occasionally one can push the boat out in search of great food. So we ate at Wishart in Leith, one of Scotland's finest and at the Rhubarb in Prestonfield House. The later is a fine establishment, built in 1687 for a former Lord Provost. I was amusing myself to eat here as my Scottish fifth Great Grandfather , the Rev Thomas Somerville was born up the road 2 years after that and 5 years after the Somerville’s were summarily evicted from the land and took a boat to Ireland and greater fortune. Does this entitle me to a tartan one wonders? Perhaps not, if only on sartorial grounds. The restaurant is called “Rhubarb" because a former owner, Mr Dick, introduced rhubarb to Scotland!

But I am also to do some work this week! This morning I joined Peter Housden, the Head of the civil service in Scotland (and former Permanent Secretary at DCLG) to talk to his colleagues on public service reform. I then went off to the RBS Business School where we are having a third sector leadership event. I shall Blog more tomorrow on both! In the meantime a photo of me at Prestonfield House will have to make do.

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