I’ve lived in this city for four years now, so am officially declaring myself a stalwart of Edinburgh culture – a large chunk of which is defined by the annual frenzy that descends on the capital come August. That’s right readers, Fringe season is almost upon us.

I absolutely love the festival. I love the way Edinburgh comes alive with weird and wonderful people, acts, shows and events for a whole 3 weeks.

Trying to get anywhere in a hurry during that time though? Nat so much.

With this in mind, I’ve put together a survival guide for any new Edinburghers experiencing their first Festival living in the city. Here are my 9 snippets of humble Fringe wisdom.

1. Do not take the bus anywhere.

Seriously. During the Fringe the population of Edinburgh doubles – as a result, some aspects of our travel infrastructure are affected. Basically, get on a bus in central Edinburgh in August and expect to be there for a loooong time. Pigeons overtake you (seen with my own eyes). My suggestion would be to walk and soak up the atmosphere. Granted, power walking isn’t likely to be effective with the amount of dawdlers around, but the bus is the same or worse, and you end up in a bad mood. Best avoided.

2. Be organised (but not too organised.)

It’s easy to be complacent when you live here, but there are too many good shows I’ve missed from thinking I’ll get round to booking it – cue, the festival ends and I’ve seen nothing. The half price hut, normally located outside the Scottish National Gallery, is a good compromise for last minute Larrys, and the app is worth downloading to keep track of it all too. But the festival is also all about spontaneity too, so don’t go too hard on the old organised fun.

3. Have at least one big night out.

The festival license means places stay open at least two hours longer than usual (so 5am in some cases), and a lot more cool venues are available to check out, so make the most of it!

4. Be prepared to queue. Everywhere.

That’s all I’ve got to say about that one really. Maybe don’t turn up to a show with minutes to spare?

5. Take an umbrella.

Even if it starts off sunny, remember: we are in Scotland. And there isn’t anything much more miserable than standing in said queues in the pouring rain. It happened to me circa 2007 and I’m not sure I’ve ever fully recovered.

6. And a hoodie.

You spend a lot of time outdoors during the festival and while it’s summer, again, we are in Scotland and once that sun goes down, the temperature takes a nose dive. So take something warm if you know you’re going to be sitting in one of the festival’s many outdoor areas!

7. Cash up.

Although a lot of the shows are free, it’s courtesy to leave a fiver in their tips collection at the end. Also some food and drink stalls don’t take card – and you cannot festival without beer and street food. Catching ubers can also be pretty extortionate (and slow – see point 1), so in case you need to grab an old-school cab, best to have a non-plastic form of payment on you.

8. Do NOT get over-excited when you see a celebrity.

After one too many drinks in the Gilded Balloon, I came face to face with a well-known comedian. And, er, told him who he was. He looked at me scathingly, muttered “fir fuck sake” and turned his back on me. Three years later, I still cringe every time I think of this. Stay cool out there, people.

9. Explore outside the city.

If it all gets too much, remember Edinburgh ain’t the only Fringe in town. North Berwick hosts Fringe By the Sea every year, which has music, food and drink, can be a welcome break from the assault of the Royal Mile. It’s a really arty community there and has a pretty chilled out vibe for days when you still wanna soak up some culture but cba with being in the city.

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Got a love for fashion? What about interiors? Health and beauty?

What if I were to tell you all of these topics and more will be covered at this year’s Life & Style event? Add some cocktails to the mix and I think that ticks all of the majors on my ‘favourite ways to spend a weekend’ list.

Here are some of the star attractions coming up at Life & Style 2018…

 

LIFESTYLE STAGE

This event is all about celebrating the luxurious things in life. So naturally, that covers hair, skin, make-up, fashion – to name but a few.

Award-winning celebrity hairdresser Jason Collier, whose scissors have graced the barnets of icons like Victoria Beckham, Eva Longoria, Laura Whitmore (a personal fave) and Sienna Miller will be taking to the stage to share his expert hair advice.

Joining him will be facialist Charlotte Connoley, whose client list boasts babes such as Meghan Markle, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley and Cheryl (Cole? Tweedy? Anyway you know the one) with skincare tips to help us rival our celeb counterparts.

Also appearing will be fashion director and designer Wendy Rigg, Scottish make-up artist Sara Hill aaaaaand the ever talented blogger and author Vicky Psarias (aka Honest Mum) and lifestyle blogger and STV queen Susie Bruce.

 

WORKSHOPS + POP UPS

Great as these guys are, it ain’t all about them, huns. Life & Style 2018 is also giving guests the chance to attend one of many themed workshops and expert talks – including floristry with Snapdragon, calligraphy with Laila Lettering, tea tastings with The East India Company, and lots more.

Plus, there’ll be cocktail classes from Badger & Co and Element, to help guests learn to serve the perfect tipple. Hurrahhhh.

Pop-ups from everyone’s fave Instagrammble brands such as Oliver Bonas, John Lewis, Jenners, Anthropologie and more will also be appearing throughout the weekend. Get ready to lust.

TICKET HOLDER PERKS

Included in each ticket is access to the much-loved fashion show and trend talk, which returns this year and will be hosted by Scottish fashion designer and author Lynne McCrossan.

You’ll also receive an express beauty treatment in the pop-up beauty hall, including a choice of mini makeovers, manicures or massages, along with an Edinburgh Gin cocktail on arrival, an exclusive offers booklet and goody bag.

…WHAT NOT TO LOVE??

MORE DEETS

Choose from either a Saturday or Sunday full-day ticket, priced at £10 – exclusively available from www.edinlifestyle.co.uk.  (FYI – the first 500 customers receive an exclusive goody bag so get yer skates on.)

After buying your ticket, you can select your preferred time slot for a seat at one of (many!) fashion shows, and book yourself into a workshop and Lifestyle Stage talk. These will be available on a strictly first-come-first-served basis – so keep afore-mentioned skates on.

Edinburgh Life & Style will be from 10am-6pm on Saturday 5 and Sunday 6 May 2018, with doors opening from 9.30am.

 

♥ SEE YOU THERE! ♥

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Let’s be honest: achieving that carefree spring/summer look can be a bit of a challenge in Scotland (for any confused readers out there, I write this in early April, while watching the sleet from my window.) Slowly but surely though, with lighter nights, the odd sunny day and help from a few beaut accessories, I’m starting to feel excited about my SS18 wardrobe.

I’m not a hugely high maintenance fash girl, and tend to err on the side of comfort when it comes to everyday fashion. Sometimes though unplanned casual outfits can make me feel a bit ‘meh’ – which is why I LOVE any opportunity to vamp my outfits up with an accessory. Sunglasses are one of my major go-tos for this.

These ones from Powder are just the right mixture of casual and glam. Tortoiseshell detailing and cat-eye frames are also my absolute fave combination so I’ve been packing these into my handbag most days since I got them, in the hope for a glimpse of sun (or being mistaken for a celeb.)

 

 

Now. I love a good hat, but they’re usually of the cosy variety. During the winter I’m rarely seen without one of my large collection of bobble hats (perhaps a lasting ski season legacy) but for some reason I’ve always shied away from wearing ‘summery’ hats – including straw trilbies. But I decided it was time to experiment with my head coverings a bit, and ordered this cute little number.

Considering my previous hat hesitations, this one was actually surprisingly easy to wear. It’s a flattering fit and really comfy, and has a structure that would suit most face shapes.

I think it’s safe to say I can now proclaim myself a ‘summer hat’ convert. I realised it’s also a pretty versatile piece, which means I’ll be packing this guy on all future hols, for street wandering and poolside chillin’. Oh and also – bonus point – to avoid a burnt face which, as I have realised, ruins any outfit.

 

 

Anyone who knows me/works with me/has hung out with me for 2 minutes/has glimpsed me on the street (and honestly most other settings) will be aware of my love affair with scarves.

I mean, there’s maybe some unhealthiness to the love affair since there’s a definite element of reliance woven in there due to my perpetually cold state. But also I just like the way they add to an outfit, ya feel?

So you can imagine it didn’t take me long to pick this SUMMER scarf to aid my wardrobe’s seasonal transition. I love wearing grey and layering it with colour so I was loving that this scarf had it all in one. It jazzes up a plain outfit and just feels really nice and light too.

I of course have been wearing this in Scotland in April, but have been allowing myself to imagine I’m in a much warmer climate and have slung this around my shoulders while wandering quaint seaside towns. I’m sure one day this scarf will see such a setting, but in the mean time Edinburgh summer will have to suffice.

I’ve been super impressed with the quality and design of Powder’s clothing and accessories. It’s extremely good value for money and the sort of stuff you’ll wear on repeat during the summer months. 10/10. Would recommend. Check out the rest of their collection over on their wesbite.

 

 

All photos by KK Land-Boyd 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*Post sponsored by Powder. All views expressed are my own.

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The stretch between December and March/April can seem fairly eternal. With the excitement of Christmas behind us, the next cause for celebration is the distant promise of leaves on trees, the long Easter weekend and the ability to gorge shamelessly on chocolate eggs.

SO, this is precisely why it’s the perfect time to book a getaway and give yourself a little sumpn sumpn to look forward to and ease those Q1 blues. It was in this spirit that KK and I embarked on our little road trip up north for a stay at the Riverbed Lodges in Glencoe.

Glencoe is one of those places you drive through and each time feel completely in awe of your surroundings. From Edinburgh it took us about 3 hours to get there, but the drive is often heralded as one of the most beautiful roads in the UK, making it about 50 times more enjoyable than your average 3 hour shlep.

You arrive up a little track road and see the lodges nestled among the trees, each with their own little set of steps and veranda. There are 8 of them in total, seven of them with a hot tub and one without. They’re 12 sqm so totally teeny, but so cute and cosy. The first thing we did was get into our comfies, take some photos and just chill out which was so nice and relaxing.

I’d be wholly behind getting a lodge with a hot tub because as far as I’m concerned there’s very little better than climbing into one on a cold day, armed with a bottle of chilled prosecco. It was pretty much an example of us living our best lives.

No it’s not a floating black bikini – if you look closely there is in fact a very translucent bod in it.

It got dark pretty quickly by the time we climbed in so we don’t have many photos of it from the first night, but rest assured that bad boy is just as great to relax in come morning with a cup of cawfee from the lodge’s nespresso machine (ugh can I just live there already).

We chose to spend our time there hanging around in either our pyjamas or in the hot tub, because quite frankly we were there to laze around, but if you wanted to actually branch out of your lodge there’s loads of stuff to do – including hill walking, skiing at the Glencoe range nearby, Segway tours, cycling, mountain biking and golfing. There are a few local restaurants you can check out too.

Included in the stay is breakfast, which includes granola, porridge, fresh milk, orange juice, croissants (with butter and pots of jam) and fruit. The bed frame folds into a little table you can eat it at or if it’s dry outside, you can have it out on the veranda – pre or post morning hot tub dip!

Whatever you choose to do there, you won’t be disappointed by the lodges and their surroundings. It was such a novelty staying right amongst the trees and mountains but in the safety of a warm little lodge haven. They’re a perfect weekend getaway for a group of pals or your other half.

If you’re thinking of booking a stay at the RiverBeds, make sure to use the code ‘kkland’ so you can enjoy prosecco, chocolates and bath robes included in your lodge.

 

Photos by KK Land

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Prague: a city known for its architecture, history, gastronomy and magnetism for British stag dos. The latter being, oddly, the reason I came to this city second time round (the first I was interrailing aged 20 with my best friend – enough said.)

No, I wasn’t on a stag do, the boy was – and since flights were insanely cheap he suggested I join him after the lads had returned (and his broken body remained in a state of beer-induced disrepair.)

So, in negligence of the fact we’re meant to be saving, my inner travelista remains a force to be reckoned with. And off to Praha I flew last Sunday.

I’m not so much of a rigid plan-maker when I go to new cities, I prefer to mostly just wander and see what I can find, though there were some particular sights and activities we were recommended. So I give you a list of highlights from 4 days in the Czech capital…

Charles Bridge

Yes it’s an obvious one, but missing this out on a trip to Prague would be pretty sacrilegious. The bridge itself provides a glimpse into medieval Prague (pre-cartoonists and postcard vendors, obv) and there’s nothing like a bit of history on your holidays to make you feel cultured.

It connects Prague’s old and new towns and is just a lovely space to wander around. Leading onto the Old Town’s gorgeous old cobbled  streets, which are lined with old beer houses, squares and medieval buildings, the piece de resistance is the multitude of bakeries selling Trdelniks – or ‘Chimney Cakes’.

Oh god the Chimney cakes.

Round pastries coated in butter, rolled with cinnamon sugar and almond and filled with nutella, jam, ice cream or fruit, trdelniks are everywhere in Prague and were the sweet lining to my hol.

 

Hemingway Bar

If you want to feel like Daisy Buchanan for the night, this is ya place. I’m a total sucker for anything novelty/vintage/retro – anything that reflects a different time period, basically.

So when I heard about this little speakeasy tucked among the cobbled streets of the Old Town near the river Vltava, I took little persuading to go in and sample a cocktail or two.

Entering through a thick, velvet curtain, you’re led into a small, candlelit bar. There’s classical music playing and the waiters wear bow ties. The cocktail list is immense, and the drinks are served in a variety of oddball container. I had the “Magic Moment” cocktail of Beefeater gin, mallow and nettle cordial.

“Part of the magic is made by you” the bartender told me (flirt), before presenting me with an odd looking little potion bottle with 2 different openings. You mix the gin and then the cordial and the drink changes colour, which provides a lot of excitement for a simple gal like me – especially after a couple of wines already. It also tasted pretty dang delicious. I could’ve inhaled any of the cocktails on their list – peruse it for yourself here.

Oh and just in case you require any further persuasion, Hemingway Bar has been listed as one of the top 50 best bars in the world. In short, you gots to go.

 

Cafe Imperial

We heard about this art deco place through my dear old dad as a jazzy little spot for lunch or dinner so we thought we’d check it out. With over a century’s history behind it as one of Prague’s best-loved restaurants, I knew we’d be in for a bit of a treat.

I didn’t get any photos of the inside (one food pic on my phone was already pushing the bf’s limits), but the ornate ceiling, golden intricacies of detail and bow-tied waiters (do I have an underlying fetish for this?) made for a very luxurious restaurant experience.

I had a “US Hanger” steak – nope, not entirely sure what it is either, but I can tell you it was unbelievable! Good house red wine too.

 

Lennon wall

Who knew the Czechs held such an affinity with the Beatles’ bespectacled lead singer?  On the other side of the Charles bridge, into the Old Town, there’s a whole graffitied wall which serves both as a shrine to JL and a canvas for the city’s enthusiastic spray-painters.

Random to us, yes, but apparently after his death, the music icon became a pacifist hero for oppressed young Czechs living under communist rule.

It’s a mish-mash of JL imagery and the words he stood for – peace, love… also now ‘beer’, which you can see emblazoned on his forehead – but the common theme that belies it all is one of inspiration and political freedom. It’s a pretty cool place to visit.

It’s also really close to the Trdelnik street I mentioned earlier.

Just saying.

Lokál Dlouhááá

Want to be where the [Czech] people are? Then this is ya boy.

A friend of ours who lived in Prague for 6 months told us about this place and it was just as she described – lively, full of young locals and with a gigantic list of different craft and local beers and wines, I felt like this one one of our more ‘authentic’ Prague experiences.

We got probably the most lethal “Grog” I’d ever tasted – as in, probably could’ve got drunk from the fumes alone – and a pint of raspberry beer which was (dangerously) tasty. There’s an array of local food as well, i.e., potato dumplings and sausages, but we were content with our novelty bevvies.

Great little spot for day or night drinking (I don’t discriminate), and probably your best bet to sample some of what the Prague locals eat and drink.

Beer spa

So it seems the Czechs love beer so much they bathe in it. After a heavy night but with a determined “when in…” attitude, we marched to the nearest available spa. Mainly for the lols, if I’m honest.

And lols it did bring.

We were led into our own private spa room with two deep, wooden baths at one end. These were filled with hot water and a mixture of malt and hops. In the corner there was a little fire and a “traditional hay bed” (no we didn’t really know what that was about either).

When our host eventually left and we had recovered from our laughing fits, climbing into a bubbly bath of beer with access to an unlimited beer tap next to you proved to be one hell of a way to spend an afternoon.

And yes we eyed each other cynically when the host started talking about the benefits of malt and hops on your skin, but I gotta say we were softer than a couple of peachy baby bums after that sesh. With the added benefit of finely sculpted abs from laughing for an hour straight….

 

It’s a city I’ve now experienced in both summer and winter and both times it’s been equally as beautiful – and very good fun. If you visit, there’s no other way for me than an air bnb – we got this beauty for £23 a night. Praha, I’ll be back again some day.

 

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Back in August, myself and fellow blogging comrade KK (whose photos I have appropriated for this blog post, FYI) were invited to try Hemma’s brunch menu for the first time. I’m sure you all remember me waxing lyrical about the unforgettable Eggs Brando, and if you don’t, here’s a reminder – IT IS EXCELLENT (no I won’t make that tired old pun. So don’t tempt me. Ok fine. IT WAS EGGCELLENT) and you must try it.

So when we were invited back to sample the restaurant’s new additions to the menu, we quite literally ran into the place. Joining fellow bloggers Leanne, i.e., L’appetite foodie and the girls from Edinburgh Food Club, we sat down to an array of foodstuffs I can only describe as positively saliva-inducing.

First off, we had a couple of sharing plates. The first was a simple but tasty mini bread tower with mixed olives, red pepper pate and pea and avocado smash.

The other sharing plate had fishcakes, mushrooms on toast and terrine (which I didn’t try as I have an inexplicable mental block about it and can’t eat it, but it seemed to be pretty popular!). Lastly there were molten wedges of deep-fried brie, served with cranberry sauce.

Yes, it was as good as it sounds. I have in fact been returning to that brie in my dreams for many nights since. Joking, joking. Okay maybe like once or twice.

So although Hemma does a great range of healthy foods, including salads and vegan/gluten-free dishes, I of course chose a less healthy but more glorious Croque Madame. I am obsessed with these things. Especially when they’re done well – and I’m pleased to report back that Hemma has indeed ticked that box.

In case you’ve been living under a rock until now, a Croque Madame is the piece de resistance (imo) of traditional French bar cuisine, and is basically a ham and cheese sandwich covered in bechamel sauce and crowned with a fried egg. It can also be referred to as the Meal of Hungover Dreams.

I mean just look at it.

KK went for the avocado, pea and mint smash on brown bread with crumbled feta on top. It may be more photogenic than mine but I think the two performed pretty equally in terms of taste and textures. (Getting a bit giddy poring over these photos again…)

I imagine at this point in the post you’re starting to worry we won’t have room for dessert. Well let me allay those fears, dear reader.

Champs that we are, we fitted in an array of delicious sweet treats, including vegan chocolate brownie (yum), carrot cake (yummier) baked vanilla cheesecake (ooooft, so good) and a new one for me – “Kladdkaka”, a Swedish cake whose name translates to English as “sticky cake”. It’s made with chocolate and served with caramel sauce. So of course it got a 10/10 from me.

Finally, we were treated to one of Hemma’s new range of winter cocktails. I can’t remember the name of ours, but basically it was (heroically) modelled on the taste of a Terry’s Chocolate Orange. We expected it to be really rich and creamy but when it arrived it was transparent and tasted absolutely gorgeous. The fact it wasn’t really heavy was potentially dangerous, as I could’ve quite happily sunk half a dozen of those bad boys.

Thanks, Hemma, for another beautiful meal, and the welcome opportunity to escape a few hours of the day in your cosy, homey, delicious surroundings.

If you haven’t checked them out yet you are, quite frankly, mad.

We will be back v.soon….

Skål!

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The fading of tans, layering of clothes and packing away of novelty inflatables make Autumn a bit unpopular to die-hard Summer fans. Sandwiched between summer (yay!) and Christmas (double yay!), Autumn, for some, is probably a bit like puberty: awkward, unpredictable, neither here nor there… Lots of people probably want it to just end already so they can get onto the good stuff (Santa. Or his damn beard.)

Personally, I love the Autumn. It’s something to do with the intangibility of it – the shifting of colours and smells. Living in Scotland, that tired old villain Rain will predictably be a force to contend with too- but for me that’s a small price to pay for the ability to layer up, crunch through leaves, consume hot beverages (alcohol optional but generally recommended), carve pumpkins, and finally light that spiced-something candle you bought in July.

Before I get too carried away in my romantic Autumn daydream, let me share with you 5 things that can convince any fence-sitter to “fall” in love (sorry not sorry) with this cosy season.

So here’s what’s on my Autumn ’17 to-do list.

 

ONE. The Enchanted Forest, Perthshire

I’ve been wanting to go here for years, but have never actually made it. So I’ve decided. 2017 is my year.

In case you haven’t heard of it – from 28 September to the 29 October, Faskally Wood near Pitlochry is transformed into an “Enchanted Forest“, with incredible lighting, visuals and music. I plan to go, buy many glasses of mulled wine, perhaps eat some sort of unhealthy burger thing, and appreciate the glory of nature in the Autumn (and some cool jazzy lights).

TWO. The Botanic Gardens, Edinburgh

I’d just moved to Edinburgh when I made my first trip here in 2014, and it was one of my boyfriend and I’s first dates, so I’ve got a particular fondness for this spot. I’ve been to the Autumn light show here for the past two years, but this has now been trumped in favour of a Christmas event. The gardens are still one of the most beautiful places you can be on a sunny day in Autumn, though. Go at night and you can get a mulled vino from their booze van, too… (do I have a problem?)

THREE. Oktoberfest

As if I need to convince you that drinking beer and eating bratwurst is a great idea. (I have a problem, don’t I?)  OK so it’ll never be Munich, but Edinburgh’s got a wannabe in Princes Street Gardens and that’s good enough for a non-German, non-beer connoisseur, comme moi. Although I’m in London later in October so will be hitting up Erdinger Oktoberfest at the Greenwich Peninsula. Prost!

FOUR. Samhuinn/Beltane fire festival

So I feel like this is regarded as one of those Edinburgh myths, much like that well-known “best place in the world for new year” patter. My reasons for this? No Edinburgh local seems to have actually heard of, or been to it. But this is the year I plan to test this “Celtic New Year” out for myself and get lost among the, er… fire sticks and hooded people. (It’s not a KKK gathering, I swear.) Read more about it on their page….

FIVE. Jupiter Artland 

Okay fine so technically this isn’t an exclusively “Autumn” experience, but the grounds look absolutely beautiful and I’ve been meaning to go for ages. And what better season to feel smug and cultured than in the arms of a crisp, autumnal day, in somewhere that alarmingly resembles Tubby land. No, YOU’RE uncultured. https://www.jupiterartland.org/

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