The city of Edinburgh – a review, part 1

Having recently returned from my travels to Scotland I felt compelled to share with you my experience of visiting a truly wonderful city.

The premise of this trip; to celebrate the fact my brother is tying the knot later this year and so I was in fine company best described as the ‘lads and Dad’s’. In our two night’s residence we made the best of what was a fantastic weekend in possibly the nicest city I’ve ever visited. Here’s a brief highlight style review of some things to do in Scotland’s capital.

After an early start (pre 5am) the majority of our group assembled at London Heathrow’s Terminal 5 for a 07:45 departure to Edinburgh Airport.

Side note: There is a whole British Airways saga that almost threatened to hamper our efforts for this trip, you shall hopefully see a very scathing review of their very below par customer service of what is not a bad airline or even flying experience; if you can get on a damn flight) 

Terminal 5 of Heathrow is the flagship home of British Airways and although it looks shiny and relatively new, it was busy and overall Airports have no way of looking particularly fancy for what they are. For the first twenty years of my life I did reside a stone’s throw away from the place so my bias is what it is. The terminal’s Wetherspoon’s (A budget chain of UK pub’s or the Walmart of UK pubs) was busy with some travelers beginning their trip with an early 6am beer. Me, I chose a cup of tea and not a lot else. I’m a nervous flyer so I’ll eat if I survive…

With a flight time of less than 60 minutes our time in the air I found to be relatively comfortable and short. We were on the ground again just before 9am, making what would be an 8 hour car journey from London seem a no brainer. Internal UK flights for the win!

Edinburgh Airport to the city Center via tram – 30 min or less

Located only half an hour from Edinburgh city center we made the short walk to the airport tram station and got ourselves a reasonably priced  return ticket (for our way back on the Sunday) for £8 – probably better than any taxi fare it’s as direct as a railway and more frequent (every 15 mins). An unlimited day ticket excluding airport travel is just £4.

tram

The tram system in Edinburgh is new and a spacious relaxing way to travel right into the very heart of this Victorian version of a smaller New York. Cobble side streets accompanied by wide avenues make this city a spacious and spread out gem. It feels like a regional town but has a certain charm, the hustle and bustle doesn’t seem overcrowded. There are large park sized gardens spread out amongst a city which was designed with some real thought.

Princes Street to the Hotel – 6 min walk 

After a thirty minute tram ride we had made our way into the very heart of Edinburgh, with the high placed castle to our right and the main drag known as Princes street amongst us. It has the usual shops and places all high streets do but just on a grander Scottish scale with that picturesque castle overlooking it all.

We made our way towards the newer side of town and only a few blocks over did we find Queen street and our digs for the weekend; a travelodge – cheap and cheerful no nonsense accommodation. Looking over some quaint gardens and a part of Victorian terraced street the hotel is a room only kind of deal but there is no need for a restaurant or a bar because they surround us. The rooms were spacious, clean and simple.

Brunch – ‘Browns’ located on George Street

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Our ‘lad’s and Dad’s’ tour started off relatively civilized and that made for the theme of the entire weekend. ‘Browns’ is pleasant ‘high end’ looking  bar and restaurant that happily took our table for 9 on both this day and the next for an extensive brunch menu that boasts not only eggs Florentine, Benedict and Royale, but there’s also a host of smoothies, vegetarian options and of course steak and eggs!

The service both times we visited was spectacular and we were even given a semi private table tucked away at the back of the place. Located just minutes from our hotel, it was a welcome treat after an already long day.

 

Afternoon drinks – ‘The Alexander Graham Bell’ – Wetherspoons 

Our second Wetherspoons of day consisted literally across the cobbles to this not to large and not too small watering hole where we had a handful of beers. The atmosphere was good, most of the punters were locals in rugby shirts laying in wait or preparation for the day’s game later on and overall this pub was on the better scale of Whetherspoons out there.

Whisky Tasting Experience – ‘The Royal McGregor’ – Located on the ‘Royal Mile’ 

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As Ron Burgundy once said ‘when in Rome’ and the same goes for Edinburgh when referencing to whisky. We found ourselves (as part of my best man organizing endeavors) booked in a quaint compact pub which not only offered a unique whisky tasting experience but they also provided great value for money food. Located in the older part of town and up a partially steep hill (non walkers may struggle) known as the ‘Royal Mile’.

Our evening passed tremendously quick after tasting three types of whisky initially, all from different areas of Scotland. With reference to the map, the tastes and styles vary depending on where they are distilled and created. We then treated ourselves to another three rounds because as Rob Burgundy said…

I  highly recommend this place for anyone looking to get the full Scottish culture experience along with perhaps getting slightly merry for their efforts. Our hosts at the pub were fantastic and hospitable throughout.

And so that wrapped up our first day in Edinburgh, stay tuned for part two where I review a German bier keller experience! 

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Weekly Ramble #46

There is no shame in having anxiety. We should never beat ourselves up for what is essentially a reaction or a feeling to something. Like a suspension bridge the cables and struts of it’s anatomy only have a certain tolerance, own own cables and struts (emotions) are under the same stress.

It’s a natural normal thing to feel anxious and the triggers can spring up from anywhere. That big presentation, a speech, an important game and even getting on that plane (for me). Rationalization is hard thing to find in the murk and dark of anxiety, every little thing becomes heightened. It can be hell for sometimes days before and then the actual experience may turn out to have all been in our heads (but even after I still hate flying).

We can debilitate ourselves with thoughts alone, and maybe we were being silly in that moment, but that’s not tackling the issue, that’s just a dismissal. In this day and age especially we must talk about our emotions, they lead us through that murk. Depression, anxiety, nervousness, worry, they are all considered as bad feelings, but they are normal reactions to the life we live. It’s okay to have these feelings, sometimes every day.

The next time you lift something heavy or god forbid do a plank, your arms or abdominal muscles begin to shake, that’s because they are working and again that is something normal like emotion.

In a world where all of us strife to be different we all have one thing that is the same, our emotions, so let’s bloody talk about them more!  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dead Man’s Hammer by Christina Engela – Review

Suspense, drama and modern issues all of which are tackled in a fun but important way…

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As the Quantum series unfolds, it grows more and more impressive. Dead Man’s Hammer is proof that Christina Engela can build an established world and insert so many genres into it along with retaining a unique style of writing that not only tributes her influences but has a way of confiding in readers. We are back on the quirky planet of ‘Deanna’ home of the rather ominous sounding ‘Obsidian crows’ and more specifically ‘Atro city’ a place this time around we get to know a bit better while referencing the previous stories of the ‘Quantum series’.

Someone is targeting my favourite characters; an assassin enigmatically named ‘Villainessa Tittel’ who is after one person in particular and series regular; Cindy Mei Winter. ‘Villainessa’ proves to be quite a force in her field of work and does everything in her power to draw in ‘Mei’ whom share an interesting history. It is in this history where readers will find the true message and meaning of the story. While ‘Mei’ has moved forward in life she must face what is essentially a demon of her past and a life before she became ‘Cindy’ and it’s trying to torment her. This is a massive nod to modern issues that many people face in the transgender community and in life as a whole, sometimes it isn’t about who you were, but what you are now and what you truly feel. This concept is galvanised by another character ‘Danielle Grauffis’ who is in a process of transition in her young life compared to ‘Mei’. 

Of course other returning regulars such as ‘Beck the Badfella’ – who we get a name origins story from and special branch ‘Fred’ the arborian make appearances along with an extended appearance from ‘Sheriff Peggy Ann Muller’ who makes quite a team with ‘Mei’ and this is where a crime mystery element of the story truly shines.

Suspense, drama and even tragedy are ways that I would describe the journey this story represents not to mention that crime mystery theme along with some more important issues that these books are not afraid to tackle; as much as this sounds heavy, it’s a fun read. Throughout Engela’s writing style naturally flows and is fun to read. Revenge is a dish best served cold, you could even say as cold as ‘Winter’ but that’s only something ‘I heard through the grape vine…’ 

5 Stars

Weekly Ramble #45

It’s okay to do nothing sometimes. Even the inner workings of a creative mind needs to be rested every so often. Being between projects is a powerful place, a place where destiny is yet to be written, perhaps the thought of where to go next or what to do next is better than the path itself.

I’ve always been a dreamer so maybe things will always sound better in my head than they actually are. The true struggle comes with putting that vision onto a page and doing it in a way that’s justified – that is an artists true talent; translation of mood or thought into creativity.

Not that I am sitting idle pondering where I shall go next because I already know, and I probably know the project after that also. If all goes well we could possibly be looking at book number 5 to be released before the year is out. Then again as I said, I’m a dreamer….