Now before I get all sentimental here's my collection of pictures that remind me of some of the best moments from the last 4 years.
Today marks exactly 4 years since I checked in to a one way flight with Singapore Airlines to the UK. I still remember everything about that momentous day. As I was passing through border control I was asked how long I was leaving Australia for and I replied "probably forever". The guy at customs smiled and said "you do know it's really cold over there right now?", to which I said "it's going to be fantastic" and proceeded through border control with a huge grin on my face and a spring in my step. And you know what? the past 4 years have been pretty fantastic. I've travelled to some amazing destinations, made some great friends, met the love of my life and made some memories that will last me a lifetime.
Now before I get all sentimental here's my collection of pictures that remind me of some of the best moments from the last 4 years.
It seems that there is a bit of a rivalry between Edinburgh and Stirling, mostly in the 'my castle is better than your castle' sense. I'm not about to choose sides, but as I've been living in Edinburgh for nearly 4 years, I found it hard to believe that anywhere could beat a castle set on top of an extinct volcano. However, Stirling Castle comes equally as highly recommended to me for its stunning views and slightly more modern- looking architecture. It's only taken me 4 years to get there, but I recently decided to take a look around Stirling Castle. And can I just say, Stirling Castle you are one photogenic beauty.
Now is the perfect time to visit Stirling Castle as they have just opened their first ever Christmas shop (I LOVE CHRISTMAS). The Clan and Craft gift shop on the esplanade has been temporarily renamed Clan and Christmas and transformed into a winter wonderland. The shop offers unique gift ideas, stocking fillers for loved ones and decorations to adorn both the tree and home. Many items are sourced from independent suppliers and producers, so there’s lots of unique gift ideas to help create the perfect Christmas.
The Christmas shop is open until the 31st of December, but you can enjoy Stirling Castle all year round. Not to be outdone by its rival, Edinburgh Castle's Portcullis gift shop has just started stocking a heap of Christmas gift ideas. Scottish themed gifts suitable for the whole family are now available in store. I've got my eye on a hand-knitted and Alpaca snood by Scottish Designer Samantha Holmes, and an awesome espresso cup that reads 'Her Ladyship'.
I'm still not choosing sides as to whether Stirling Castle is better than Edinburgh Castle, they both have unique offerings. I'm from a country where they don't even have castle's, so any castle is magical to me!
Stirling Castle VS Edinburgh Castle- which do you prefer? let me know by leaving a comment below.
For more information about Stirling Castle or Edinburgh Castle and the Christmas gift shops visit
So just in case you've missed the garish decorations of bats and pumpkins, the abundance of ghoulish sweets on sale at the check outs and the huge amount of scary make up tutorials doing the rounds- its Halloween on Friday. I've never really taken part in any of that 'Trick or Treat' stuff, it was just never that big in Australia. Even though I've lived in the UK for 4 years, this will be my first Halloween in the country. I'm getting in the swing of all things spooky by listing my top 3 scary stories that I've been reading in the lead up to Halloween.
The Pale Horse by Agatha Christie
Okay, so Agatha Christie isn't exactly scary but I love the atmosphere this book creates. I first read this novel on my first ever trip around the UK, so it has a special place in my memory. It tells the story of the sinister goings on at The Pale Horse Inn, home to three unusual ladies- a physic, a medium and a witch- and their involvement in the deaths of Father Gorman and Thomasina Tuckerton.
The Woman in Black by Susan Hill
I get goose bumps at the mere mention of this book, it still gives me the heebie jeebies even though I've read it a few times. It has perhaps been more popular in recent years after Daniel Radcliffe starred in a movie adaptation that terrified me (as in I had to mute it and cover my eyes for some parts and couldn't sleep afterwards). It has all the factors needed in a good scary story- an English moor, a young sensible hero that doesn't believe in anything supernatural, a scary abandoned house and a now deceased crazy old lady. Trust me it's genius, but you may need to sleep with the lights on afterwards.
Tales of Mystery and Imagination by Edgar Allan Poe
Nothing sums up the perfect scary story for me quite like the poem 'The Raven' by Edgar Allan Poe. I admit, some of his stuff is tough reading, but once you understand it you realise how genius it actually is. Tales of Mystery and Imagination is a collection of some of his best short stories and poems. This edition comes illustrated which for me helps to explain some of the more complicated prose. It is true Victorian horror.
Have you got a favourite scary book that you think I should read on Halloween? Let me know by leaving a comment below.
I wasn't crying in the cinema, honest I wasn't. I just had something in my eye...oh who am I kidding? I was a total blubbering, snivelling mess. Love, Rosie struck a chord with me. I don't know why, our lives have nothing in common, but for some reason I spent an hour and a half smiling when she smiled and crying when she cried. Love, Rosie is quite possibly the best chick flick I've seen in years. It's the kind of film that makes me want to go home, kiss my boyfriend and tell him he's the love of my life.
Love, Rosie is the adaptation of Cecelia Ahern's second novel 'Where Rainbows End'. It tells the story of Rosie and Alex- friends since they were little, but they just can't seem to get it together to actually be together. Life gets in the way and they are constantly missing each other. It's the kind of story where right from the start you want to yell at the screen 'HE'S THE LOVE OF YOUR LIFE GOD DAMN IT!!' It's okay, I refrained from doing so in the cinema, but I couldn't help the laughter and the tears.
I was lucky enough to see the film at No1 Magazine's exclusive preview night on Monday. Cecelia Ahern was there in person signing books and smiling into cameras. I tried my best to play it cool when I met her, but how can you, when you think she is a total legend?
About forty or so of Cecelia's other adoring fans, all packed into the Grosvenor Cinema in Glasgow for this exclusive night. No1 Magazine interviewed Cecelia before the film started, and she revealed the following facts about her writing:
1. She writes her novels from January to June, edits them in the Summer and promotes them in the Autumn/ Winter.
2. She can't choose a favourite of her novels, that would be like choosing a favourite child.
3. In her spare time she loves to read Crime fiction.
4. She wrote a short story for the 50th Anniversary of Doctor Who called 'The Bog Warrior'. She got the inspiration from a news story she saw where police found a body in a bog.
5. She has an office where she writes from 9.30am-5.30pm every day.
6. She had a short cameo in the film Love, Rosie but it got cut in the final edit.
7. She already has an idea for her next novel but wouldn't reveal what it was (NNNOOOO!! the suspense is too much!!)
The Grosvenor Cinema is Glasgow was the perfect venue for the preview event. Tucked down a cute lane complete with fairy lights draped between the buildings, the Grosvenor Cinema has comfy leather seats and a smaller screen than your typical multi-chain cinema complex. It's the perfect venue for a date, or a get together with the girls. The bar Vodka Wodka is just across the lane and serves a huge amount of girly cocktails.
I recommend you make a night of it- get the girls together, have cocktails and enjoy the best chick flick released in years.
If you've seen Love, Rosie let me know what you thought of the film by leaving a comment below.
Looking for an excuse to get the girls together for a much needed Girls Night Out? Well, consider me the Fairy Godmother of good nights out. Cocktails in the City is returning to Edinburgh next Thursday the 23rd of October and I'm inviting you!
Held in the BEAUTIFUL Mansfield Traquair building, the event promises to be Edinburgh greatest cocktail party with food, drinks, music and fun. To be honest, they had me at Cocktails......
Fifteen of Edinburgh swankiest, trendiest and best bars will be giving one-to-one tuition on the art of drink making, and of course there will be the obligatory taste testing to follow.
Bars taking part in the event include Harvey Nichols, Panda & Sons, Heads and Tales, G&V Royal Mile Hotel, Sygn, 56 North, Chaophraya, Gusto Bar and Restaurant, The Voodoo Rooms, The Priory Bar and Restaurant, Bar Kohl, Juniper Bar, The Blackbird and Hamilton’s.
My cocktail making skills are definitely below standard, so I'm looking forward to seeing some live demonstrations from the true masters of cocktail making.
With so much choice, I don't know how you're going to decide which cocktails to try, which is why I highly recommend that you bring your friends- all of them. Tickets are £10 (plus booking fee) and are still available via the Cocktails in the City website here. Trust me, you'll be kicking yourself if you miss this. See you at the Bar!
Cocktails in the City
23rd of October 2014, 18.00-23.00
Mansfield Traquair, 15 Mansfield Place, Edinburgh, EH3 6BB
If you have a favourite cocktail bar in Edinburgh that you can recommend, get in touch and leave a comment below.
Brussels. Bruxelles. Brussel. No matter how you spell it, this city often gets overlooked by holiday makers. It's never the top of anyone's holiday list. Ever. It wasn't particularly the top of my list, and yet that's where I found myself for my birthday weekend.
Brussels is a city of contrasts, it's shy but with a boisterous beer culture, French but just a little bit English, sophisticated but a little bit nerdy. And yet, they all seem to blend seamlessly into a distinctly Belgian culture. I can't help but feel like Agatha Christie's famous Belgian Detective Hercule Poirot sums up the Belgian persona into one neat little package.
The thing that baffled me most about Brussels is how different every street is. One moment you could be walking down a distinctly Parisian street complete with French shutters and hanging flowers, but when you turn onto the next street you are in a trendy Dutch art district. This makes Brussels the perfect destination for idle street wandering. They are also firm believers in Al fresco dining and street food, adding to the relaxed atmosphere of their city centre.
As our trip was a long weekend, we knew we had to cram as much sightseeing in as we could. Thankfully, Brussels is extremely easy to navigate. Their metro and tramway are efficient (I'd expect nothing less from the Belgians) and relatively cheap. The city centre is easy enough to walk around without the need for public transport.
Our first day was spent slightly out of the city centre at their famous Atomnium, a large silver structure that looks like (yep you guessed it) atoms. It's nice to look at from the outside but not worth the entry price, or the wait to go up in the lift. Next door is Mini Europe which is a small park with miniature replicas of famous European landmarks. Expect to see the Eiffel Tower, the Houses of Parliament, the Berlin Wall, Leaning Tower of Pisa and many more. The park comes with an English guide that tells you some fascinating facts about each landmark and the country they come from.
The real heart of Brussels is the Grand Place (or Grote Markt) in the city centre. This is where tourists and Belgians descend for festivals and events, including the famous flower carpet every August. On the weekend we visited, the square was hosting a beer festival. The cobblestone square is enclosed by some impressive historical buildings including the Town Hall. Take one of the many side streets off from the square and you'll find an abundance of chocolate shops, beer shops and tourist traps. I can safely say I've never seen so many shops promoting gluttony in the one area.
The food in Belgium was one of my favourite things. I love chocolate, waffles and fries- three things the Belgians are well known for. It would be easy for any tourist to overindulge on a weekend in Brussels. The selection of waffles baffled me the most, as they had just about every combination of toppings you could possibly imagine, all on display in windows to tempt people like me who have no self-control when it comes to waffles.
In the Grand Place, you'll find the Museum of the city of Brussels which is an interesting insight into the making of the city. At the top of this free museum is a room dedicated to the funny little statue of a peeing boy that Brussels is famous for. They have a whole room filled with the costumes that Mannekin Pis has been dressed in over the years. It's like walking into Barbie's wardrobe, as in his time Mannekin Pis has been everything from an astronaut to a surfer. The Mannekin Pis statue itself is not far from the Grand Place but is hard to get up close to due to the tourists, so I recommend seeing it in the museum instead.
The highlight of my trip to Brussels was The Royal Palace. I have a bit of an obsession with all things royal, so this was top of my list to see. The Belgian Royal family has had a bit of an exciting history, and for a few weeks in the summer each year the Palace is open to the public. I've visited a lot of palaces on my trips around Europe, and this palace is pretty impressive. From the manicured front garden, to the marble staircases and gold chandeliers, the palace is stunning. Exhibits within the palace show the history of the Royal family and Belgium. The most stunning room is the ballroom which has more chandeliers then I could count.
If modern history is a bit more your scene, then I recommend a visit to the Parliamentarium, the home of the European Union. The display is free and comes with an audio guide that takes you through the interactive displays about the history of Europe and the formation of the European Union. The Parliamentarium is close to Parc du Cinquantenaire which is worth a visit on a sunny day for a bit of solace from the tourist crowds.
Even after my trip to Brussels, I'm still confused about how I feel about the city. It has so many contrasts and quirks that make it endearing but still a little unassuming. I soaked up the Belgian atmosphere, ate a ridiculous amount of chocolate and waffles, drank some beer and met some Storm Troopers (random I know, but this is Belgium!). All in all, it was the perfect birthday weekend.
I sometimes think that no normal person could ever get bored living in Edinburgh. How can you when there is always something to do? Whether it's cultural, historical, scenic or just plain random, Edinburgh is the King of great days out. Take this weekend for example. As I walked along Princes Street on my usual Saturday morning shopping trip, I stumbled upon a pop-up Chinese Tea House (as you do). The gathering at The Mound was run by the Confucius Institute to mark the first ever global Chinese language day, and who was I to turn down the offering of a free cup of Chinese tea and fortune cookie?
If you ask me, China at the Mound was a fantastic idea. I had a brief Chinese language lesson (turns out speaking Chinese is not one of my hidden talents), learnt some Tai Chi, tasted some traditional tea and made a wish on a Chinese wishing tree (is it me, or does that all sound a bit rhymey?). It was a whistle stop cultural tour of a country that I think I might actually like to visit one day.
My favourite part was the Wishing Tree. I have to admit, I'm a firm believer when it comes to these sorts of things. I once visited a Chinese Temple in Singapore created to worship the Goddess of Mercy, and had my future told. For me, it was a thrilling cultural experience and somehow this little wishing tree in the middle of the Mound reminded me of that Temple. I love the goodwill that the wishing tree stands for- it reminded me that everyone has dreams and wishes for their lives and that sometimes little rituals like this help us to feel more positive about the direction our life is heading.
Apparently the Wishing Tree is a ritual to celebrate the Chinese New Year, kind of like making new year's resolutions but with a slightly more romantic feel to it. I'm terrible at keeping New Year resolutions, but on the 1st of January 2015 I think I might adopt this wishing tree idea.
If you'd like to experience a little bit of Chinese culture without leaving Scotland, then head over to the Confucius Institute of Scotland's website for information on other events, lessons and courses.
This afternoon I had the pleasure of having a sneak peak behind the scenes at Dermal Clinic's brand new premises in Morningside. The Clinical Director Jackie Partridge was kind enough to give me the grand tour and can I just say, WOW. When you first walk in, the reception area looks like a five star hotel, with a soft purple and chocolate colour scheme.
From reception, a hallway leads to the real hub of the Clinic- the treatment rooms. A chandelier in the centre of the hallway adds to the five star hotel feel. Each treatment room has a skylight to allow for natural light. This gives the treatment rooms a serene vibe that helps to offset the Clinical environment. Everything in the rooms is pristine and perfect. The treatments on offer are varied from Cosmetic (wrinkle reduction and muscle relaxing injections, Dermal fillers, Skin Boosters), to Surgical (Plastic surgery, skin tag removal and mole screening and removal) to Beauty (waxing, Electrolysis, Manicures, Pedicures and Facials). The also do Alizonne Medical Weight Loss and Body Contouring, but are most famous for Jackie's expertise in Botox. There just isn't enough room in this post to list everything in their repertoire.
It was easy to tell that Jackie and her team are chuffed with the makeover, and they should be. The team has heaps to be excited about. In 2013, Dermal Clinic came 2nd in the Aesthetics Awards (3rd the year before that), and Jackie won the Expert Cosmetic Therapist Award at the INAA Scottish Hair and Beauty Awards. They are the top of their field for the whole of Scotland, not bad considering the Clinic first opened its doors in 2011.
So one glass of champagne, a goodie bag and a treatment demonstration later, what did I think? The Dermal Clinic is in a league of its own. Jackie is the sort of woman who I wish I'd had for a role model at school- she's intelligent, successful, passionate about what she does and stunning. She's the best kept secret in Edinburgh.
Dermal Clinic, 21-23 Church Hill Place, Morningside, Edinburgh, EH10 4BE
Tel: 0131 447 2642, firstname.lastname@example.org
Earlier this year, my boyfriend and I traveled to Lisbon to celebrate our three year anniversary. The decision behind the choice rested solely on the fact that it has a bridge called 'Ponte 25 de Abril' meaning 'The 25th of April Bridge', which just so happens to be our Anniversary date. It took a few weeks for me to convince my boyfriend to go, with him fearing that the name of the bridge would be all too romantic for me to cope with on a holiday celebrating our anniversary. After ensuring him that he had no obligation whatsoever to do anything romantic, he agreed. One cheap flight and reasonably priced hotel reservation later we were exploring a city that was more beautiful than I could have imagined.
The first thing I noticed when we arrived in Lisbon was the sun. After many years living in Scotland, I think I can be forgiven for momentarily forgetting what real sunshine felt like and Lisbon was more than happy to remind me. It was roasting, and even this tough Australian got a little bit of heat stroke under the blaring heat of the Portuguese sun. I wore shorts for the first time in years and had to get over the embarrassment of having the most pasty white legs the city of Lisbon had ever seen.
My boyfriend's idea of holiday is one where every day is an unplanned surprise of wandering the streets and seeing what we find. My idea of a holiday is in-depth research involving web searches, guide books and tripadvisor reviews all condensed down into my very own 'To Do List' for the city. Lisbon suits the laid back holiday style better. The whole atmosphere of the city is relaxed and you get the impression that no one is in a hurry to do anything.
Our days were spent strolling the streets with no real direction apart from stepping out of the hotel and deciding to turn left or right. Most of the streets are paved with mosaic tiles, something that Lisbon is well known for, and the buildings are a interesting mix of old and new. Regardless of your holiday style I would recommend stumbling across the following Lisbon landmarks:
Belem Tower (Torre de Belem)
This was my favourite spot in Lisbon. It's perched on the side of the River Tagus and looks distinctly like a tiny chess piece. It's small, quirky and strangely fascinating. The lines are usually massive to get into it but there's no real need to go in, you can enjoy it just as much if not more from the outside. Close by you can also see the Discoveries Monument which is an impressively large building with sculptures of some of Lisbon's most famous adventurers on the outside. You can also get a great view of the 25th of April Bridge, and Lisbon's miniature version of Rio's Christ the Redeemer statue.
Cable Car at Parque Das Nacoes (Park of Nations)
Take the underground out to Gare do Oriente and take a ride along the waterfront on Lisbon's Cable Car. The river look pretty amazing from up here, and you also get a birds eye view of the newest part of Lisbon. The cable car ride ends at the Oceanarium which is a great place to escape the Lisbon heat and view some interesting marine life.
TOP TIP: Don't try and walk back to the city centre from here, it might not look that far on the map but it is and it's mostly industrial car parks along the way.
Marques de Pombal Square
Depending on where you are staying in town, this huge park and french looking square in the north of Lisbon is pretty easy to get to. At the top of the hill you can see views all the way down to the waterfront. It has a majestic feel to it and is one of Lisbon's many green patches. Perfect for city sunbathing.
Estoril and Cascais
No trip to Lisbon would be complete without visiting these two beach side holidays spots. I hadn't been to the beach in nearly four years, so to go here and feel the sand between my toes was amazing. Estoril and Cascais can be easily reached from Lisbon city centre- 30 minutes on a train and you can be stepping in to a pasty-white-expat-in-desperate-need-of-sunshine's paradise. Estoril has a better beach, but Cascais has more shops, cafes and bars.
I've been to a lot of European destinations in the past few years, but few have had the impact on me that Lisbon did. It is the kind of beautiful that you can't quite put into words and you can't really explain why you love it so much- you just do. It's the kind of place where you wish you could spend forever wandering its streets, sipping coffee, eating custard tarts and lounging on the beach. It's the kind of place where locals tell you that afternoons are for drinking and dancing only. It's the kind of destination perfect for celebrating anniversaries, because as much as your boyfriend tries to avoid it, there's no denying it's completely romantic.
If you're thinking of going to Lisbon, I highly recommend the travel site Go Lisbon www.golisbon.com for a full list of things to see and do.
Travel Park Hotel Lisbon was the perfect place to stay for our trip. It's metres away from a metro stop (Anjos), has an all you can eat sushi buffet nearby and is 15 minutes walk into town.
Since moving to colder climates I have developed a slight coffee addiction. My day just doesn't feel right unless it’s started with a caffeine hit. To be honest there's no point in talking to me in the morning at all until I've had a coffee, if you do you're likely to be greeted with something that closely resembles Chewbacca.
Starbucks is usually my dealer of choice. There is something strangely comforting about knowing that whichever Starbucks you go to, wherever in the world it is, you are always going to get the same coffee just the way you like it. My Starbucks addiction has got so bad that now when I plan my overseas holidays I always choose a hotel based on its proximity to a Starbucks. And before you ask, no there isn't a support group for my level of addiction.
However, when I'm not worshiping the Starbucks gods I do like to indulge in a little independent coffee. My boyfriend always insists that these places have more character and I'll get the added satisfaction of knowing I'm helping an independent business. I consider myself to be a bit of a coffee connoisseur nowadays, so if you don’t want to bow to the Starbucks gods but still need a caffeine fix to make it through your day, here are my top three coffees in Edinburgh.
This newly opened Portuguese bakery on Leith Walk is a true gem. Not only is it the best coffee in Edinburgh, it also serves some pretty wicked sweet treats. I can literally feel my waistline expanding just from looking at the custard, cream and chocolaty pastries. Portugal is famous for their custard tarts, and the ones served at Casa Amiga take me right back to my holiday in Lisbon. My favourite coffee on the menu is a flat white; it has the perfect ratio of coffee to milky froth. The bakery has a nice laid back feel to it and has extra downstairs seating for when it gets busy. They also stock some Portuguese soft drinks and sweets. It’s authentic, relaxed and relatively undiscovered.
Casa Amiga, 294 Leith Walk, Edinburgh, EH6 5BX, www.casa-amiga.com
The Southern Cross Café
This café just off the Royal Mile is usually heaving during the festival months. It also happens to be my choice for a pre-workout caffeine hit. Their cappuccino is pretty darn good. The owner and staff are really friendly and greet everyone like long lost friends. The whole vibe of the place reminds me of café’s in Australia and they even do some sweet treats that my Dad used to make me at home.
The Southern Cross Café, 63a Cockburn St, Edinburgh, EH1 1BS, www.facebook.com/Southern-Cross-Cafe
This is a recent discovery for me, but my boyfriend describes the coffee here as ‘amazing’ which is pretty big praise from him. It’s always busy, no matter what time of day or what month you go. Its close proximity to the University means that it’s often filled with students and artsy types. The rustic vibe makes it feel like the kind of place where brilliant novels could be written. They can do no wrong when it comes to coffee, it’s all good and well worth the trip to the Old Town.
Kilimanjaro Coffee, 104 Nicholson St, Edinburgh, EH8 9EJ
If you want to help a coffee addict out and can recommend some new places for me to try, leave a comment below. xo
Having lived in Edinburgh for nearly 4 years, you would think that I could just about class myself as a local. But there are still parts of Edinburgh and Scotland that remain undiscovered for me.
I've still not tried haggis or black pudding (not really top of my 'to do list'), a deep fried Mars Bar or Irn Bru. I've not been for a night out in Glasgow, or to the Highland Games or any of the Isles in the North. There are many weird cultural things I'm yet to experience, but there are many things I have done that I think should be on any tourist's 'To Do' list.
1. Loony Dook
The first New Year I had in Edinburgh, I dragged myself out of bed on New Year's Day and made the trek to Queensferry to watch a bunch of totally insane Scots in fancy dress jump into the River Forth. Apparently nothing says 'Happy New Year' like the thrill of catching hypothermia. It's an entertaining spectacle, mostly thanks to the completely outrageous fancy dress costumes and the shocked faces of the participants when they immerse themselves in the freezing water. It kind of leaves you wondering if maybe it's their version of a hangover cure.
2. Edinburgh Castle
I don't care how cliche you think it is, no 'To Do' list for Edinburgh would ever be complete without taking a moment to enjoy the spectacle that is Edinburgh Castle. It's unmissable, and yet a surprising number of tourists stand right below it and still ask where it is. St Margaret's Chapel, within the Castle grounds is the oldest building in Edinburgh and just a little bit romantic. Make sure you take the opportunity to view it from all sides, I do all the time and my mind still boggles at how beautiful it is.
3. Calton Hill
If you're here during the busy festival months and feel like you need a bit of fresh air and peace and quiet, then I recommend Calton Hill. When I first came to Edinburgh, there was a cat that sunned itself on the hill and was more than happy to make friends with the tourists. My sister and I had christened him Chester. The views from Calton Hill on a clear day are pretty amazing. You can see all the way to the River Forth, and on the opposite side of the hill you can see all of Edinburgh's icons. The Palace of Holyroodhouse, Princes Street, Edinburgh Castle and Arthur's Seat are all on display. Calton Hill also has a rather large half-built but long since forgotten about version of the Acropolis.
4. Arthur's Seat
If you're fit enough (and mad enough) to attempt to make it to the top of Arthur's Seat, then it's worth the visit. It's like being in the Highlands but with the distant hum of traffic to keep the city slickers happy. You can choose to go the long way and follow the path like a civilized person, or you can go cross country and head straight to the top. I have a friend who once trekked the cross country path (I use the term 'path' very loosely here) in high heel wedges, which deserves a round of applause if you ask me.
5. Royal Botanic Garden
Continuing with the nature theme, I highly recommend the Botanic Gardens. It took me three years to get around to discovering this gem, but since my first visit I've been back multiple times. My favourite spot is the Queen Mother's Memorial Garden, mostly because it has the most amazing little gazebo. The walls of the gazebo are decorated with sea shells and the ceiling has a Saltire made out of pine cones. Basically it's like something out of a children's novel and I desperately want one in my own house.
6. Dynamic Earth
Now be warned, I'm about to go all nerdy. Dynamic Earth is awesome. Firstly because it's like being Doctor Who (only way less hazardous), but mostly because they have a new Dome show that is narrated by Benedict Cumberbatch. For a brief 20 minutes you can watch a show about how the Earth was formed while being serenaded with the sound of Mr Cumberbatch's voice. I'd go back multiple times for that alone, but if you're interested in the rest of it then you can also touch an iceberg, and go to a cool interactive 3D show to explore how the Earth was formed. I'm not doing this place the justice it deserves, you just need to go for yourself.
Edinburgh has many more amazing places to visit while you're here. If you have a location that you think should be at the top of anyone's To Do list, get in touch and let me know.
Towards the end of my first trip to the UK, I spent one sunny morning in Bath visiting the historic Roman Baths. Having pored over pictures of the Baths for months in advance of my trip, I was determined to see them when I ventured to the UK. On the day I visited, the weather was what I would call 'travel brochure perfect', the sun was out but there was a crisp chill in the air.
The Baths were everything I had hoped they would be; historic, fascinating and British, but it was one room in the building that drew my attention. It didn't look like much from the outside, and on the inside it was just a ruin but it held a large pool where people could throw coins and make wishes.
I'm not entirely sure that this pool was meant for coin tossing or whether one person with a compulsion to make wishes just threw a coin in and started a trend. Either way, the bottom of the pool housed an impressive coin collection and I wasn't about to argue with its origins- I had some wishes to make.
I chose a shiny 20p coin, thinking that this entitled me to two wishes (10p a wish seemed a fair price). My first wish was one that had been playing on my mind since I'd travelled to Scotland the week before.
I wanted to move to Scotland. The moment I'd crossed the border into Scotland, I had felt more at home than anywhere else I'd been previously, and the moment I'd left I felt like someone wanted to chop my right arm off- Scotland just felt right and felt like home.
My second wish was to meet the love of my life in Scotland. Now, call me sentimental or just plain female but I think every girl grows up with an idea in her head about who the love of her life will be. Blame Disney, Jane Austen and the chick lit genre in general for this life time search to find 'The One', but ever since I was little I had it firmly set in my mind that the love of my life would be British. So wish number two was to meet the love of my life. I held the coin tight in my hand, closed my eyes and made my wishes to the Roman Baths pool gods (whoever they might have been) and then tossed my coin into the water.
Now, as with most wishes that require a coin donation I didn't think for a moment that either of those wishes would actually come true. I was optimistic for the rest of my trip, but once back home and dragging myself to work everyday, I started to think it had all been a waste of a nice shiny 20p coin. But the Roman Baths pool gods clearly deserve a little more credit than that. Eighteen months after that wish, I was on a one way flight to Edinburgh, and 3 months after I arrived in Scotland wish number two was granted.
In the 4 years that I have been living here I've been back to the Roman Baths pool gods, firstly to thank them for granting my first two wishes, and secondly to make some new wishes.
'Everything I wished for' is a culmination of all of the wishes I made to them and how they are coming true.
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