Friday, 30 December 2011

Edinburgh Hogmanay

It is almost time for the annual Hogmanay party in the centre of Edinburgh.  Months of planning go into the organisation and almost 100,000 convene in a secure area in the centre of the city for loud music.  A range of stages with different music on them and a more exclusive Concert in the Gardens, mean there is something for everyone - or that is what they say!  In my view it is a younger persons' thing.  Having worked as part of the team in the past, I can definitely tell you that at 1 am on New Year's Day I should far rather be sitting by my fire with some friends (or even in bed already?!) than standing in Princes Street Gardens in the middle of someone else's party.  Although it is a sight worth seeing. I once climbed onto the TV platform that literally sticks out into the street from the gardens, and I looked down the road at the 100,000 crowd.  It was an amazing sight and one won't forget, but I shall not go again.

As part of the Christmas team, however, we do get to do good things, like going up the Scott Monument and joining in a Santa flash mob on a weekday in the middle of Princes Street.  This is a lovely picture of the Flying Carousel, or the "Chair-o-planes" as my daughter calls it...  It was taken by a fab photographer called Tony Marsh -

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

A Very Special View of Edinburgh

Sometimes, in my job, I am a very lucky person.  Because we work with lots of tourism providers and major events happening in Scotland, sometimes we get to do very special things.  In January I was allowed into the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to witness the signing of the deal to bring the pandas to Edinburgh, for instance.  This November, I was the media person in charge of the press photographers allowed up the Scott Monument in the dark to film Edinburgh's lights going on at Edinburgh's Christmas Light Night.  It was very dark up there and windy!  But the views are amazing and even just using my iphone, I got some lovely shots of the lights from a different perspective.

Not my Blog

Someone else has written this, but I love it so much, I am sharing it:

Sometimes don't you just wish you had done it first?

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Scotland's Best Coffee Stops

Black Medicine Coffee Shops in Edinburgh
Now, strictly speaking, we never drive past these shops on our way anywhere for work.  But they are so good that I would happily fabricate a reason to drive past, park and go inside.  There are three shops: Nicolson Street, Marchmont Road and a new one in Barclay Terrace, Bruntsfield.  They all have a very distinct style, with North American style wooden seats and tables, a really friendly atmosphere, great food, particularly fab coffee (well, it IS a coffee shop!) and FREE WIFI (always worth a mention - look out for a rant on this coming your way soon...).

My children particularly enjoy the smoothies and milk shakes.  There is a ridiculously evil Oreo Milk Shake, which pretty much serves as a full meal.  They serve great cakes - things like Rocky Roads, Tunnocks Teacakes and Brownies.  And, like many of the coffee shops I enjoyed when I lived in Belgium, they put a little biscuit on the side of your coffee saucer - a very nice touch.

They have a funny website at and sometimes the webcam in the Nicolson Street branch is working and you can see what's going on inside.  There is an alleged link to JK Rowling, but you don't need that as an excuse to visit.

Here is a pic.  Highly recommended - make up a meeting so that you can go!


Monday, 17 October 2011

Scotland's Best Coffee Stops

This post might not be suggesting a coffee stop that is en route to a meeting, but we discovered a very nice little place yesterday that deserves a mention.  We are up in the Highlands at the moment and yesterday walked through from Tomich to Glen Moriston.  Using two cars allowed us to walk a linear route.  It started well and we walked through some gorgeous woodland and met volunteers from Trees for Life removing non-native species.  The north side of the hill was totally decimated, however, with works for the Beauly Denny power line.  Is this meant to be Scotland's natural playground?  Not when you have to walk for miles through a nasty building site - what price being a "green capital" of the world?

Anyway, at the end of the route we found ourselves at the Redburn Cafe in Glen Moriston.  A lovely friendly welcome as we went in. Nice cakes and ice creams and a really great location.  The toilets were spotless and included a range of thoughtful extras.  We were impressed.  They didn't even mind that we had left a car there for the day and they even waved goodbye as we left.  This is one coffee stop I would highly recommend.  Here's a link:

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Scotland's Best Coffee Stops

As I have reported before, we spend time in our business driving around Scotland for meetings, so have collated good knowledge on the best stop-off points for coffee and home baking.  One particular favourite of mine is Mhor Bread in Callander.  We used to stop there on the way to visit a west coast luxury hotel.  Now I can only manage it on the way to our annual family holiday on Mull.  Mhor is run by the brilliant people from the Monchayle Mhor Hotel and looks, feels and tastes like a 1950s teashop.  There is also a Mhor Fish down the road that does fish and chips, though I have only HEARD that it is good. Never tried it.
This place is really worth trying and Callander is a good stop-off point on the way west.  YUM

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Scotsman Steps

My daughter and I made a real discovery yesterday.  We took a shortcut to the city centre from beside the Scotsman to avoid a demonstration at Waterloo Place.  So we nipped down the Scotsman Steps and cut across the East Gardens to reach Hanover Street.  The steps have been transformed into a wonderul array of different marbles.  Having looked this up, I see it is a form of art installation.  Really stunning and worth a visit in their own right!  Here is a link to some information:

and here is a picture!
Scotsman Steps corner

Friday, 2 September 2011

National Museum Scotland

I went to a lovely party last night, launching the new corporate spaces at the National Museum of Scotland following its £46 million facelift.  The museum looks completely beautiful and there were four caterers demonstrating how fabulous they are, so people could experience what an event could be like.  The best, by far, was Heritage Portfolio.  They decked an area out entirely using herbs - the smell was amazing!  And the delicate china cups of gin and tonic (v strong) were genius and beautiful, though I had to make sure I did not drink too  much!  What a great place for an event.  They can now do massive gala dinners in the atrium and there were hundreds of people at the party, so for a big event in Edinburgh it will take a lot of beating.   The picture is a generic one of the new gallery - that is not me at a party for one!The Grand Gallery

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Scotland's Best Coffee Stops

I spend a reasonable amount of time in my job, driving around Scotland to meetings.  I go to Aberdeen quite a lot, but also Inverness, Glasgow and the west coast.  As a result, I and my colleagues have a list of the best coffee stop-off points on some of the more frequented routes.  Top of the list is Peggy Scott's!  Half way to Aberdeen at Finavon on the A90, Peggy's (as we call it) might look like a trucker's cafe, but is actually a really nice tearoom that does homebaking and huge fry-ups (not that I have tried those).  Top of our list is their custard cream.  Also worth trying is the carrot cake and the paradise slice.  And our top tip is make sure you ask for a type of coffee (eg Americano) rather than just coffee - or they give you the filter stuff.  The black Americano + a custard cream is the perfect early morning pick-me-up.  I took a group of girl cricketers there in June and they devoured the lot and gave the place a massive thumbs up, particularly because of the sofas in the corner - very popular early on a Sunday morning!  Here is a picture, which does not do it justice. One day I shall post a picture of an actual custard cream.  And keep an eye out - I shall post on other top coffee stop-offs.

Monday, 29 August 2011

Scottish National Portrait Gallery

The National Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh has been closed for refurbishment for what feels like years.  Actually it is years - maybe three or even four?  It used to drop pieces of building onto passers by, so a renovation was pretty necessary.  It looks amazing and is due to reopen on St Andrew's Day - 30 November 2011.  Can't wait!  In the meantime I am really enjoying the blog created by people working on the restoration.  Lots of them are just young people getting the chance to be involved.  I have put a link to the blog beneath the photograph

Refurbishment of the Portrait Gallery includes the restoration of this magnificent Arts and Crafts building.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Oyster Catching

Oystercatchers are fabulous birds.  The call of the oystercatcher is one of the most evocative sounds as they scoop over a beach on the west coast of Scotland.  It is just a holiday sound maybe, so it makes me feel happy.  So my blog is about catching life's oysters and how they can make us feel.  Apologies to RSPB members - it is not about bird watching!