This winter in Edinburgh has been a bit bleak this year. The weather has delivered the usual freezing, windy conditions that Edinburgh is well know for and we’re just starting to see the very first buds of new life coming to the trees. The storms this year have been given great names like Ciara and Dennis and we’re all getting a bit fed up with grey sky and rain lashing on our faces. Scottish winters definitely make you want to eat and hybernate so what better time to pay a visit to the many lovely eateries lining the high street in Morningside.
The latest addition to this lovely area of Edinburgh is Masti. An Indian restaurant, serving beautiful fresh food in unpretentious surroundings, where you can bring your own wine if you wish. The service is excellent and I must say, every mouthful of what I ate was absolutely scrumptious.
There’s something a bit decadent about eating a meal as lush as this in the middle of the day but if you can forgive yourself the indulgence, as I did, I don’t think you will be disappointed.
As soon as we entered we were seated at a table near the window. The restaurant was warm and cosy and we were able to take our time looking over the menu and were given recommendations by our waiter, who was courtesy itself.
During our meal, one of the party realised that his choice of food wasn’t what he’d thought it would be and, upon telling this to our waiter, we were immediately offered an alternative which was much more in keeping with the diner’s expectations. You really can’t do better than that.
Morningside is part of Edinburgh but it really is a place in its own right. In Morningside, you can find everything you need and the high street here is very much alive which is not the case everywhere these days. The many and varied small independent retailers do the area proud as do the people who are loyal and continue to shop local. Here, you can find a library, a supermarket, a post office, an antiques shop, an art gallery, boutiques, bridal shops, traditional sweet shops and florist and much more.
So, if you decide to pay Morningside a visit and have your lunch at Masti, you could also prepare yourself for a stroll around the shops while you’re there.
Edinburgh is a great place for both city lovers and those of us who love being amongst nature. The area has plenty to offer nature lovers on the outskirts of the city but sometimes, it’s nice to see other places too and Scotland has plenty to give in that respect. Being nice and central, Edinburgh and surrounding areas make it easy for us to travel to the parts that may seem far away.
One of those places in Pitlochry. A beautiful small town in Perthshire, surrounded by the most awesome green landscapes and lying on the River Tummel with a small population of approximately 3000 people.
Although Pitlochry seems small, there is a surprisingly active community there and endless things to keep you busy and interested. For example, in the winter you can visit The Enchanted Forest which promises us a dazzling sensory experience of sound and light in the midst of a beguiling forest setting.
With dazzling visuals and innovative design set against an original music score explore the stunning autumn woodland setting of Faskally Wood near Pitlochry. Using the forest as a natural backdrop, you will experience a lighting show that is, quite simply, out of this world. The Enchanted Forest is renowned to be Scotland’s premier sound and light experience.
Pitlochry is geared up for visitors all year round with plenty of accommodation to suit all budgets, from luxury hotels to camping sites to small guest houses, there’s definitely something to suit you should you choose to stay for more than one day. That being said, if you travel there from anywhere in the central belt, you can easily spend a day and return to base by nightfall.
Spending a day there is so enjoyable. The peaceful feeling of being somewhere with a slower pace of life, surrounded by nature and with such fresh air you can’t help but feel rejuvenated cannot be equalled for relaxation. You can go to all the spa days you like but nothing will be as therapeutic as being in a place of such natural beauty.
The sparkling water of the River Tummel flows from the hills and as you walk along the banks you will come to bridges that take you to the other side where the theatre sits with its gift shop and eatery and further along you can walk over the dam that provides the hydro electric power to the area. So you see, the River Tummel is not just a pretty face, it earns its keep by providing power and many, many exciting leisure activities such as white water rafting.
As if this wasn’t enough, the town centre of Pitlochry is full of all kinds of shops, cafes and restaurants. You can eat anything from traditional Scottish fare to a takeaway kebab. Be you a meat eater or a vegetarian, a high class diner or looking for something more down to earth, Pitlochry has it ready for you.
Don’t take our word for it, though. Go yourself and find out. There are many ways to get to Pitlochry and whichever one you choose, we hope you have as great a day as we did. Car, bus or train. You choose.
Edinburgh could never be blamed for not offering choice. Every type of food can be eaten in every type of place and you can be quite spoiled for choice there. Mainly, when tourists come, they tend to stick to the areas in the city centre but what delights await them if they wander away from the main streets and into the quieter areas?
One of these open secrets is Nilgiri Spice in the Tollcross area. Sitting bold as brass on Brougham Street yet seeming to hide in plain sight, the unassuming front of the restaurant not really revealing the delights waiting for you inside.
We decided to venture in one evening after passing it several times, not expecting much. For some reason its modest attire made us underestimate its worth, which can often be the case however, we were wrong. The food we were about to eat would change our perspective.
We didn’t want anything too spicy and many of the menu items were new to us, we also had a child with us who loves Indian food but if you have kids, you’ll know that sometimes they like things very specific.
The staff who served us were wonderful, explaining all the dishes to us and putting up with all our silly questions about what was in it and how it was cooked and even though we sounded a bit unsure of our menu choices, the chef made sure it was cooked and presented just the way the waiter said it would be. Part of being a good waiter is managing expectations and we were certainly satisfied that we had been served with the same dish we had ordered.
Everything was perfect, right down to the mango lassi (a yoghurt based drink) recommended to the youngest member of our group and we will definitely be repeat customers.
Nilgiri Spice is a family run business serving authentic South Indian food. The menu features choices for both meat eaters and vegetarians and comprises starters, main courses, special dishes and desserts. Alcohol can be purchased there and the wine list had some good selections to accompany your meal.
We would highly recommend this restaurant and please let us know if you enjoy it as much as we did.
The Helix Park in Falkirk is a fairly new park for the area.
For many years the land on which it is now situated was a bit of a no-go area
for humans unless you had good wellies on. The idea was born in 2003 to develop
an eco park, link communities that had nothing but road networks between them and this site, with its 350
hectares of land was the perfect place. Sitting on the border between Falkirk
and Grangemouth with close proximity to both town centres, with easy access
from the nearby motorway, it has proven to be a very popular place to spend the
day with both locals and visitors flocking to it, especially on the nice sunny
days in the summer.
Many organisations were involved in the planning and development
of The Helix and in 2007, the project was
awarded twenty five million pounds in grant funding from The Big
Lottery. Fast forward to 14th September 2013 and The Helix celebrated its
opening day with many people in attendance. Since then it has gone from
strength to strength and on any given day, you can see walkers, families at
play, cyclists, skaters and all kinds of people enjoying the great outdoors
The area has two car parks. A free car park near the play
park area and a car park that takes a small fee nearer the back where The
Kelpies are. There is also sometimes a chance to park your car at Falkirk
stadium, from which you can then walk in a few minutes to one of the many
entrances to the park.
The Helix is essentially in two parts seamlessly lying together. The Helix North and The Helix South. The Helix North is the greener part with long path networks meandering through woodlands and along The River Carron and these paths give access to the area from surrounding communities such as Carron, Grangemouth and Langlees, Bainsford.
The Helix South has Over 12km (7.5
miles) of new and upgraded paths. These paths provide connections between
Grangemouth, Beancross, Polmont, Lower Braes, Laurieston and Westquarter. They
also improve links to the Falkirk Stadium and link to Helix Park, The Kelpies Hub and Helix North.
If you have children The Helix is like a dream destination for them. A fantastic park and boating pond takes centre stage and the apparatus is all constructed with natural materials which encourage young adventurers to explore safely. They can run, climb, balance, spin, jump and all in a very natural environment. While they’re having the time of their life, there is a cafe where you can enjoy some simple foods and get a coffee. At the side of the cafe, there are free toilet facilities so you don’t need to worry about accidents. In the summer months there are also water activities such as kayaking and padalos. There really is something for everyone. Keep up to date with activities at The Helix by pressing the link.
The Helix park is very accessible, if you’re coming from out-with the area, here’s how to get here. We Falkirk people hope to see you at The Helix soon.
The Meadows in Edinburgh is a popular, large green space in the City of Edinburgh that has parkland, children’s play parks, a running track and a cycling track, tennis courts and more. It is always brimming with life and all year round you can see locals and tourists alike enjoying all that it has to offer. However, once a year there is a very special occasion; The Meadows Festival, a free annual event run entirely by volunteers. To name but a few, the event hosts live music bands, dog shows, charity awareness stands, sports events, local food and service providers, bric-a-brac stalls and, not forgetting the fairground; a selection of fairground rides and attractions to suit young, old and everyone in between.
The Meadows Festival, 2019
This year’s festival has been tremendous. The Scottish weather has been kind and the volunteers, stall holders and musicians have all provided Edinburgh with a wonderful, positive atmosphere in which to enjoy the best of what this area has to offer. This year is the 45th year of this festival and the programme has been so varied and interesting that you can’t help but notice the diversity of Edinburgh, from those campaigning and raising awareness for a free Palestine to those campaigning for an independent Scotland.
There were also food vendors representing the various regions of the globe, such as Slumdog, the Indian Street Food restaurant and those promoting a healthy, plant based lifestyle, such as The Sly Fox and their vegan menu. Then there was the more traditional burgers and other Scottish fare.
We had a chance to chat with some of the people there who were campaigning or selling their products. A very friendly lady called Jean who was campaigning on behalf of Pensioners for Independence, wearing her Scottish Viking hat and giving information to those who wanted it about the great benefits of being an independent country. We had a very informative chat and we hope that her dream comes true.
We also spoke with Tony who was selling traditional sweets, such as soor plooms and cola cubes. We happily bought two packets at 2 pounds each and they sent me back to my childhood when we used to go to Peter Pender’s corner shop in Rumford and get a quarter of whatever he had available for a few pence. Of course, the cost is a bit different these days but well worth it. Tony has a shop in Portobello called Cake and Candy Tea Room and these lovely sweets and many like them can be purchased there.
The ethos seemed to be
very much on eco awareness raising. Stall holders have to sign a promise that
they will endeavour to use eco friendly, bio degradable containers when selling
food items, etc and we did notice that there were many stalls selling plants
native to the local countryside and also giving information about horticulture
and advising how to get the best out of your garden.
There were various charity stalls there too; Save Palestine, Sands, Cancer charities, etc. All raising awareness and collecting for a good cause. I had the pleasure of speaking with Kevin who was promoting his charity for single dads and dads with contact. Kevin’s charity was raising funds to help single and separated dads on a budget to take their kids on days out. He was telling me that he also volunteers at Bridgend Farmhouse and has even been nominated to receive an award for his voluntary work there. We wish him the best of luck and hope that he wins the award.
There is so much more to
the festival than can be written here, so please visit next year and experience
this wonderful event for yourself.
The Meadows Festival Association was founded in
1974 and the members, who are all volunteers, meet fortnightly throughout the
year and work towards organising this wonderful event that is there for all the
community. Everyone is free to attend their AGM and if you wish to be involved
as a volunteer, either on the day or to help with the organisation, you can
make an enquiry via their website.
If you visit Edinburgh, you will surely have heard the name
Arthur’s Seat. A famous landmark, visited by tourists and locals alike and a
great view point to see all around Edinburgh, if you manage it all the way to
the top. It lies East of the city centre, approximately 1 mile from Edinburgh
Castle and is 250.5 metres in height.
As well as being a popular site to visit for walking and
hiking, Arthur’s Seat is also a site of special scientific interest, being
important for its geology, various species of plants and animals and also their
habitats. Indeed, if you have an interest in volcanoes and how they change the
landscape, you should definitely visit and do a bit of research on Arthur’s
Seat and the surrounding areas.
In history, Arthur’s Seat was used as a hill fort. Indeed, Hill fort defences are visible round the main massif
of Arthur’s Seat at Dunsapie Hill and above Samson’s Rib.
As you walk up the hill, the first thing that strikes you is how
many people are visiting this area. Very easy to get to, with Holyrood Park
just below, the Scottish Parliament building, Dynamic earth and The Palace of
Holyrood House are also very near, public transport regularly passes this area.
As well as this, there are car parking spaces at the Holyrood Park side. You
are never alone while walking up Arthur’s Seat, there’s always someone to nod
hello to as you pass.
The climb from the Holyrood Palace side is fairly easy up until
the higher points, where it becomes rocky and not for those who aren’t sure
footed, however, even if you only manage to go partway up, you can still be
stunned by the lovely views of Edinburgh.
If you’re a budding writer or film maker, Arthur’s Seat is
inspiring, being the focal point of many famous book and films such as The
Underground City by Jules Verne and One Day by David Nicholls.
Whoever you are, if you are coming to Scotland and you have the
ability to use your legs, Arthur’s Seat should be on your go to list. You won’t
be disappointed and you’ll be able to take photographs to impress your friends.
Having spent some of my formative years in the Falkirk area, Callendar Park has a special place in my heart. As a child, a trip to Callendar park was quite an event. A picnic would be prepared, we would make sure that the bag was packed with all the food and, if we had pocket money, we knew we would be able to buy an ice-cream cone from the kiosk that still stands there today. Back then, some 45 or so years ago, there was more for children in the park than there is today. I remember the play park there for its merry-go-round and just across from the kiosk, there were rectangular trampolines set into the ground. You could bounce to your heart’s content and the only thing you had to worry about was someone ‘stealing’ your trampoline while you nipped away for a minute.
We used to have a go on the rowing boats and row around the beautiful, scenic lake there for 20 minutes or so then go and find a place on the grass to eat our much awaited picnic. Now there are swan pedalos instead of rowing boats and the trampolines are long gone, consigned to the memories of people like me. However, time moves on and the park has stood the test of time. The play park has been modernised and, a sign of the health and safety times, it has a huge fence around it to prevent dogs from coming in where the children play and, of course, the equipment there is much different from 45 year ago. Although there are no trampolines, in the summer months a bouncy castle is sometimes in situ and parents can pay for young children to have a bounce under supervision. The crazy golf is popular with families and there is also a 9 hole, 3 par golf course for the enthusiasts who are not satisfied with 10 minutes on the crazy golf.
The park is home to the beautiful 600 years old mansion, Callendar House which throughout the ages has hosted many famous people including Mary, Queen of Scots and Oliver Cromwell. Today it is a tourist attraction, like so many historical buildings but the difference is, it is free to enter and wander around its rooms and corridors which host exhibitions of various kinds and a lovely tea room that overlooks the gardens to the rear through huge sash windows. You can even have a taste of what it was like to be a scullery maid in the basement kitchen which retains its original features and kitchen utensils. If you’re lucky, the ‘cook’ in full period costume will allow you to taste a biscuit just like the ones they used to cook there long ago.
The best thing about Callendar park, though, is its beauty. With lots of walking and bike paths, the natural beauty of the mature woodlands can be enjoyed for days at a time and if you’re coming by car there are many free car parking spaces in public areas.
While you’re wandering through the grounds and woodlands of Callendar Estate, you will understand just how much this park and its surroundings means to the area. At most times of the day and into the evening, you will see people walking, jogging, cycling and horse riding and you will mostly be greeted with a nod or a hello. Dogs are welcome too and they bring their own kind of social scene, with dog owners standing around and chatting about their furry loved one as their dogs play together.
There’s nothing like trees and nature to bring out the best in folk and in this era of technology and being stuck at a desk, a natural area that is free to all and easy to access, is just what the doctor ordered.
Don’t make a trip to Falkirk and Central Scotland area without keeping a day free to spend at Callendar Park. There’s always something going on.