Who knew that the Royal Yacht Britannia is parked up next to an enormous shopping centre in Leith?
It seems like a slightly strange resting place for a vessel, which has notched up over one million nautical miles, the equivalent of over 40 circumnavigations of the globe.
Made in Scotland
Of course, the ship was built at the John Brown shipyard at Clydebank in the first place, and so its return to Scotland is entirely appropriate, but it still seems odd to see a ship familiar from countless exotic newsreels parked next to a shopping centre.
I know that ‘parked’ is not the correct terminology––‘moored’ might be better; ‘berthed’ perhaps?––but the shopping centre imagery has lodged in my mind.
I don’t visit the shopping centre very often: I’m just not that kind of person. Given the choice, I prefer the natural beauty of the great outdoors to the consumerist idyll of the all-conquering mall. However, on the rare occasion when I do find myself in one, it is often to eat rather than to shop; to meet up with friends; share a reminiscence over a frothy latte and a light snack.
And so it is aboard HMY Britannia.
I recognised that I had made a culinary omission, as described in my last blog post. At the time, I had been too full to properly enjoy a starter and so had foregone the pleasure of a warming bowl of Cullen skink. Thankfully, I was able to make up for this lapse aboard Britannia.
The Royal Deck Tea Room is a bright, light space, with wide views out of the enormous windows across the Ocean Terminal harbour. My visit coincides with a gloriously sunny February day and, sheltered from the winter cold and bathed in the sunlight of a broad blue sky, it is easy to imagine yourself transported to a tropical port as part of the itinerary of a bygone Royal tour.
The soup is delicious: almost more cream than haddock; a delightful yellow colour like a saffron sunrise, served with a warm roll and butter. A meal fit for a Queen. Although, I can’t imagine that the Queen would have pocketed one of the Britannia branded napkins at the end of the meal as a souvenir, in the same way that I did.
© E. C. Glendenny
Travel writer, E. C. “Easy” Glendenny, is very respectful of the majesty of her surroundings.