A trip to the Countryside. Pitlochry

Pitlochry
Nature in Pitlochry

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.

Along the banks of the River Tummel

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.

Woodland walks just a stone’s throw from the town centre of Pitlochry.

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.

Wonderful play parks for the kids to let off steam.

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.org
The hydro electric dam where you can see salmon jump the salmon ladder and visit the wonderful visitors centre.

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.

Some of the lovely goods available to purchase at the Festival Theatre’s gift shop.

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.

Nature’s bounty.

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.

Unrivalled scenery.

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.

The local wildlife?

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.

The Helix, Falkirk

Relax at The Helix

The Helix, Falkirk.

Beautiful greenery in The Helix

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.

Wetlands have been preserved and maintained for the wildlife to enjoy and build their habitats in.

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 there.

There are many beautiful walkways at The Helix and all are wheelchair user friendly.

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.

Free car parking at The Helix

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 Lake at The Helix. In summer you can enjoy pedalos and kayaking or just sit at the cafe and enjoy the peace and beauty

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.

Some of the wonderful apparatus available to children at The Helix

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.

One of the many visitors to The Helix

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 Festival, Edinburgh.

The Meadows Festival

The Meadows Festival is free to enter for everyone. (money is required if you wish to purchase from one of the many stalls or ride on the funfair.

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 Fairground has rides and attractions for all ages.

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.

The ever important campaign for freedom and human rights for the Palestinian people comes to The Meadows Festival.

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.

The Sly Fox serving their vegan menu.
Some of the vegan goodies in offer from The Sly Fox

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.

Jean feels passionately that Scotland should be independent of the UK and campaigns at The Meadows Festival , meeting people with a friendly face, a nice chat and some facts about the campaign for Scottish Independence and her organisation, Pensioners for Independence.

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.

Tony from Cake and Candy Tea Room in Portobello serves us with a happy face and a friendly chat

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.

Some of the plants on offer from Solar Ripe, who also do Scottish Medicinal Herbs workshops. Contact on herbs@solarripe.eu

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.

Kevin running his tombola stand to raise funds for Edinburgh Lone Fathers. A very worthy cause that seeks to fund great days out for kids and their dads.

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.

Last but not least, please respect The Meadows. Pick up your rubbish and treat this lovely space with the respect it deserves.

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.

Arthur’s Seat, the view that can’t be beat.

Arthur’s Seat.

Climb to the very top of Arthur's Seat and this will tell you everything you're looking at.
Climb to the very top of Arthur’s Seat and this will tell you everything you’re looking at.

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.

Arthur's Seat showing the famous skyline of the extinct volcano.
Arthur’s Seat – The famous skyline showing off the extinct volcano.

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.

History on Arthur’s Seat

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.

You’re never alone on Arthur’s Seat. The view towards Calton Hill and the City from the foot of the hill behind Holyrood Park.

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.

A view of the loch and part of the city from a mid-point view.

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.

Looking over to Portobello.

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.

As we said, you’re never alone on Arthur’s Seat.

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.

Red Nose Day – The Steiner Way.

Red Nose Day – The Steiner Way.

Red nose day was launched in the UK by the charity Comic Relief in 1988 as a day of fun and events aiming to raise money for charity, both at home and overseas. The comic relief charity was founded in 1985 by the comedy scriptwriter Richard Curtis and comedian Lenny Henry in response to famine in Ethiopia, which was brought to our TV screens via news reports and the plight of the starving people heightened the awareness of the wealthy world to the inequalities in the world. The highlight of Comic Relief’s appeal is Red Nose Day, a biennial telethon held in March, alternating with its sister project Sport Relief.     Its success is not in question, having raised more than 1 billion pounds for deserving causes.

How did Edinburgh do Red Nose Day?

Across the city there were many events being held, people were allowed to wear red nose T-Shirts to their work and an example of this was Specsavers   in Cameron Toll Shopping Centre and some schools in the city invited the pupils to wear red instead of their uniform  and give a donation. Broughton Primary School held a ‘design a nose’ competition.  It’s also nice to see local initiatives benefit from these efforts and one of the previous local beneficiaries of Red Nose Day was the Broomhouse Centre in Saughton  which helps older people who are experiencing social isolation. With such worthy causes gaining the benefit, it’s hard not to join in.

What did Steiner Do on Red Nose Day?

On Red Nose Day, Friday 15th March 2019, Edinburgh Steiner School pupils gave donations to have their noses painted and , for a little extra, their eyebrows too. However, the face paint was a little different; the lovely lady, Netty McLeod, painted the faces using eco, toxic-free, allergen-free paint with all natural (non-synthetic) sponges. This is better for the little faces and also in keeping with the school’s ethos of working with natural products as much as possible. Steiner schools encourage holistic natural development and this concept can be seen throughout the whole of the school and their activities.


Steiner described his ideal of a comprehensive education as one that encompasses everyone regardless of of social or religious background. The basis of this ‘art of education’ was  – and still is – a deep understanding of the physical, emotional , intellectual and spiritual needs of the developing human being.

Edinburgh Steiner School website.
A Steiner Pupil Contributing to Red Nose Day.

Friday was also the perfect day for Red Nose Day to fall on because Edinburgh Steiner School have their Friday market just inside the school gates every week where students and parents can set up stalls to fund raise for their class funds which supports trips and treats for the children and also for external good causes, such as medical detection dogs which was one of the good causes they were raising funds for on the same day as Red Nose Day. Garvald Farm also provide a stall full of vegetarian and organic baked goodies at very reasonable prices and Friday at around 1 pm is when you can see the happiness and community spirit of Edinburgh Steiner School in full and natural swing, buy some tasty treats and contribute to the various fund raising initiatives which inevitably take place at that time.

Garvald Farm, West Linton.

If you would like to know more about Edinburgh Steiner School or you are considering this school for your child, see their website where you will find relevant contact information. They also have a facebook page if you wish to keep up to date with the latest events via social media.

Going for a Mexican – in Edinburgh

Sombrero a la Chiquito

Going for a Mexican – in Edinburgh

Edinburgh is full to the brim with great eateries of all kinds. You can buy fast food, traditional Scottish food, food from all over the world and it doesn’t matter if you eat meat, are vegetarian or vegan, there will be something for you in Edinburgh.

Tourists tend to stick to the city centre which is great, has everything you need and you will be spoilt for choice but what if you want to see something else? When we wanted to have a business meeting with the team from Keyholders International we went for a visit to Fort Kinnaird Retail Park which is in the Newcraighall area of Edinburgh. Just off the city bypass if you are travelling by car or, if you are using public transport to plan your trip, there are plenty of options. Either way, this large shopping and entertainment site is very accessible.

Comfortable seating arrangements allow small or large groups to enjoy a relatively peaceful dining experience.

Whilst there, we decided to eat in Chiquito , a very popular Mexican themed family restaurant. When we first entered, we found the staff who greeted us very friendly and our first impression was certainly promising. Guiding us to our table, our waiter handed us the menus and made sure we were comfortable before getting our drinks order which arrived in double quick time. Although part of a chain, the service felt very personalised and the staff were cheery and actually looked as if they enjoyed their work. The food menu was very good and varied. So much to choose from, we had to ponder for a while before settling on chicken fajitas .  We also noted that there were gluten free options as well as vegetarian; well worth remembering if you are a large group trying to cater for various needs.

Warm earthy colours and comfortable seating booths make you feel right at home.

When our meal arrived, it looked mouth watering and it was a very generous portion so, for those among us that like a bit extra, this is definitely the place.  The dips given routinely can be changed, which we did, requesting more sour cream and guacamole rather than salsa. Things like this seem small but you’d be surprised at how many eateries refuse to change even the slightest thing about their menu so, when we find somewhere that accommodates a  request with a smile, we tend to go back again. Suffice to say, our meal was delicious, filling and the waitress even came to ask us if we needed any more dips or tortillas even though we had ample. It’s this kind of customer service that brings people back in your door and we will certainly be back to Chiquito at Fort Kinnaird.


disfrute de su comida

How to find Chiquito

https://www.fortkinnaird.com/fort-kinnaird-map

Look for Odeon Cinema and Chiquito is just 3 units along from there. The local bus stops very nearby and there are ample car parking spaces.

Winter has Come.

Edinburgh has visitors all year round from all over the world. The busiest time, of course, is the late summer when the Edinburgh Festival https://www.eif.co.uk/ is in full swing however, when that frenzy has ended until next year, the city is a bit calmer and this gives visitors the chance to explore with greater ease.

Art Galleries in Edinburgh

We decided to do just that and from the bus stop at Polwarth Church we discovered from a lady called Elsie that we could get the number 10 or the number 27 and that would take us to the city centre, where we could get off at Princess Street. The bus ride was entertainment itself, with the majority of the people making their way to hear Doddie Weir, a famous Edinburgh Rugby Player, say a few words in the centre of town. The bus ride was full of lively people, mainly enjoying life and I must say, I enjoyed the buzz and the chat and so did Elsie. In fact, she was very animated and said “it’s jist like the auld days when it’s like this, it’s awfy braw tae huv a blether”. And yes, it was braw.

In the City Centre and Down Leith Walk.

We disembarked from the number 27 bus and found ourselves in Princess Street. It really is the most beautiful street, with the wonderful Princess Street Gardens on one side and on the other side, shops still housed in the beautiful buildings that are famous throughout the world. In spite of the colder weather having arrived, the street was still busy with shoppers and we decided it was time to venture further, to slightly less busy places.

With a keen interest in saving the planet, like most folk these days, I have taken a liking to recycling. Not just plastic bottles and the like, but furniture and other larger items. I’ve always loved antiques and curiosities and the furniture our grannies used to have but due to this love not being shared by all of the household, I invariably don’t get my way. However, now it’s all the rage and growing in popularity, with many more people seeing the point to repairing rather than replacing. So, without hesitation, I made my way down Leith Walk as I sought out The Edinburgh Remakery who, in their website, say Learn, Fix, Shop. https://www.edinburghremakery.org.uk/  

Basically, you can go there for lessons to learn how to repair all manner of things or you can just get your broken things repaired at a reasonable cost or you can purchase the things that they sell there. It’s very impressive, the work that they do there; inclusive and benefits the whole community.


What is the Edinburgh Remakery?
The Edinburgh Remakery is a social enterprise, community repair hub and second-hand shop based in the Leith area of Edinburgh.
Our vision is to create an alternative to a disposable society by making repair education accessible to all, to build a stronger, waste-free community and support vulnerable people within our city.
We run workshops and teach different repair techniques and skills around sewing and textiles, IT, phones and computers, and furniture and woodwork.
We also refurbish and upcycle second-hand furniture items, textiles, and IT equipment, rescuing these from becoming waste and giving them a new lease of life. We then sell these quality and affordable refurbished items at the Edinburgh Remakery.
 

This had taken more time that we thought it would. If you ever feel like walking down to the end of Leith Walk, I suggest sensible shoes; it’s a long street. The good thing, though, about walking there is you give yourself the chance to see what’s on offer. Edinburgh Art Shop http://www.edinburghartshop.co.uk/ proved to be a real Aladdin’s cave for the budding artist and we managed to purchase a few goodies there that will keep us busy on a rainy day.

Edinburgh Castle
Edinburgh Castle

Food

Shopping all done, we decided we needed food so, as we travelled back towards Princess Street, we looked at the various places offering an array of world foods. We didn’t know what we fancied but eventually came across Slum Dog https://slumdogdelivered.com/ , a takeaway with a small seating area that advertised Indian food. The premises looked unpretentious and we hoped the food would be the same. We weren’t disappointed; delicious, freshly cooked food came to our table. The price was very reasonable and the portions so large that we had to take some home and the waiter was the friendliest man ever; he couldn’t do enough for us. What more do you want when you eat out?

Our bellies filled, doggy bag in hand, we decided it was now time to retire and call it a day. Back to Princess Street to try to find the bus back to Polwarth; this was harder than it seemed. We walked along Princess Street and went from one bus stop to another until we were at the end and we still hadn’t unravelled the mysteries of bus catching to go back to our starting point. But, at last, we found a bus stop on Lothian Road and a very nice woman who advised us that our desired chariot would be along shortly. We even managed to download the Transport for Edinburgh app under her friendly supervision which came in very handy indeed. All in all, a good day with lots of good discoveries.