When I had an invite to Canvas Holidays 50th anniversary celebration shindig back in November last year, I knew it was an event not to be missed. Canvas were inviting its campsite owners and selected suppliers to spend two nights at the best hotel in Edinburgh – the Balmoral with a weekend of activities thrown in.
Upon my eager reply of yes please, I set about booking flights and planning our journey there. Fast forward to the last weekend of January 2015 and there we were on the Friday, boarding our Easyjet flight at London Gatwick. Less than two hours later and a tram ride from Edinburgh Airport we found ourselves standing in front of the magnificent Balmoral Hotel located at No 1 Princes Street.
As the doorman took our suitcase and showed us in, we were welcomed by the hotel staff and a few of our Canvas friends who were there to greet everyone. We instantly knew this would be a weekend and a half and after having been shown to our room that thought was confirmed!
Let the weekend begin! After unpacking and a freshen up we headed down to one of the hotel suites for welcome drinks, a presentation by Simon Allan (the Managing Director of Canvas) and dinner. Of course, being Canvas and typical of the great Scottish hospitality (that I’ve witnessed previously) this was just the start of the evening.
At 8pm we boarded a coach and were whisked off for an evening at Edinburgh Castle, taking in the Scottish Crown Jewels, followed by more drinks and canapés in the Jacobite Room with its wooden vaulted ceilings and amazing views of the City’s night lights. As the evening came to a close we were treated to the most amazing farewell from the Castle Pipers in full regalia playing some good old Scottish music on the bagpipes.
A great evening was had by all and being at the castle on a dark but clear and dry January evening listening to the sound of the bagpipes really made our time there feel very special.
Waking the next day to blue skies and sunshine we headed off down to breakfast in readiness for our choice from the itinery, a 90 minute walking tour of Edinburgh. Without going into too much detail, this gave us a fascinating insight to Edinburgh and its history. One fact that surprised me is that the city is built on an extinct volcano, the castle sitting on what was originally the crater. The North and South of the volcano were eroded in the ice age to provide a valley either side which gave the castle a natural stronghold.
Having completed the tour, we had the afternoon free to wander and take in the city. We retraced some of our steps from the morning so that we could spend a little longer at some of the interesting places we had visited such as Grassmarket and the Castle.
The hours seemed to tick away rapidly and we had really only scratched the surface of what this beautiful city has to offer. We had promised ourselves afternoon tea at the hotel so we headed back to drop off our bags and wander down to Palm Court where I had a tasty pot of Edinburgh tea, along with some even tastier shortbreads.
After this it was time to get ready for the highlight of the weekend, the evening ball that Canvas were putting on for all they had invited for the weekend plus their staff. Having been given the option of hiring the full traditional kilt as my evening wear, I jumped at the opportunity and went for my fitting. Thankfully all was fine and we headed back to our room to get ready. 6.30pm arrived and saw us downstairs for the welcome drinks where it was great to catch up with people we knew from old and to meet those that we had only spoken to via email and telephone before.
Well, all I can say is that the Scottish know how to throw a party! We had a fantastic evening which included dinner, staff awards, Scottish dancing and a live band. We danced until the early hours at which point we fell asleep seconds after hitting the pillow in our extremely comfortable bed.
Sunday morning beckons, the sun streaming through the window. We wandered down to breakfast where we sat with our Canvas friends, some of us looking slightly worse for wear while others were looking amazingly awake. After saying our goodbyes, we went back to the room to pack. Realising I had a spare hour to kill and the blue skies were beckoning I decided to pop out and take a few more photos, so once again I found myself up at the castle looking over Edinburgh, which commands some amazing views.
Returning to the Balmoral, it was time to check out and head towards the tram which would take us to the airport. This is a new addition to the transport system and I have to say if anyone wants to get to and from these locations, this is the way. £5 each way it’s easy to jump on and off and only takes about 30 minutes.
Well, finally we’re standing in the airport, checked in and standing at the boarding gate, the two of us having had the most amazing time, feeling very privileged and grateful to Canvas Holidays for including us in their 50th anniversary celebration weekend. Thank you to Simon and all of his staff for a great weekend.
Here’s the link to the full gallery of images.