How To Be a Tourist in Your Own City

28.10.15

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I'm pretty spoilt, getting to call Edinburgh home. It has recently been named the best place to live in the UK and it's also a world-famous tourist destination. But, it's easy to forget just how lucky you are when you spend every day here. That's one of the reasons I wanted to start my side project, Every Edinburgh, and also one of the reasons I decided to have a day of being a tourist in my own city. Tune Hotels recently got in touch asking if I would like to review their Edinburgh hotel, so I thought it would be the perfect opportunity for a mini holiday.

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What To Do
After a long lie at home (the perks of not having to travel to your holiday destination!), we headed over to Camera Obscura. I had been once before, but it was quite a few years ago so I was looking forward to taking in all the sights again. As the name suggests, there is a 18th century camera obscura right at the top of the six floor tenement building which gives you a 360 degree view around the city. After a short guided tour of the city from the camera obscura, you're left to explore the rest of the building yourself. It's full of optical illusions, photography tricks and hands-on magic. From the mirror maze to the vortex tunnel and holograms to face-swapping computer programmes, there's lots to see and do. Camera Obscura also boasts some of the best views in Edinburgh from its rooftop terrace, and there are plenty of binoculars and telescopes up there so you can get an extra good look at the scenery. It's a bit silly, lots of fun and well worth a visit.

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Where To Stay
After we'd had our fill of optical illusions, we wandered over to Haymarket to check in at Tune Hotels Edinburgh. Tune Hotels are a budget hotel chain with a difference - you only pay for the things you actually want. The rooms all have high quality basics, like comfy Hypnos beds and powerful showers, but you can choose whether or not to add in extras like TV, wifi, toiletries, breakfast and so on. So, if you're on a business trip and know you'll need to use the wifi but won't have time to watch TV you don't need to pay for both. Or if you're on holiday and would rather try out a different local cafe for breakfast each morning, just leave out the breakfast option when booking your room. I thought this was a great idea and we opted for the Comfort package which got us everything we needed for the night. The rooms themselves are quite small but perfectly designed, and everything looked very clean, modern and stylish. I really love Tune Hotel's branding with the wee emoji style graphics which appeared in the decor throughout the hotel. After a long day of walking around Edinburgh, the big comfy bed was very welcoming (with some added snacks and something good on TV, of course).

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Where To Eat
After our original dinner plans were foiled due to a lack of available tables, we wandered past Mumbai Mansion near the hotel and decided to give it a go. It doesn't look particularly exciting from the outside, but this turned out to be a great choice as the food was really good. They had a pretty nice looking tasting menu with interesting dishes, like scallops and lobster, that you wouldn't usually find in your run-of-the-mill Indian restaurant, but in the end I opted for my failsafe favourite of butter chicken with a garlic naan. Deeeelish! It was really nice to stumble upon somewhere new like this, I felt like I was being a proper tourist.

Our final stop of the "trip" was breakfast at Mallow Valley the following morning. This has been on my to-visit list for a while (when somewhere describes themselves as a "cheesecake cafe" you can't really say no, can you?) so I was looking forward to tucking in. I chose French toast with bacon and maple syrup, plus two slices of cheesecake to takeaway for later. There were so many varieties that it was quite hard to narrow it down, but in the end I went for raspberry milkshake cheesecake and Irn Bru cheesecake. Both flavours (and the French toast) get the thumbs up from me!

Have you ever had a day of being a tourist in your own city? Where are your favourite places to go sightseeing?

Gillian x

Wishlist: Rainy Day

24.10.15


The weather seems to have been unseasonably good lately, but it's always good to be prepared for a rainy day (well, this is Scotland after all). I love the classic combination of navy stripes, red wellies and a lovely little yellow rain coat. The Coast Jacket from Joules is just perfect, and I'm making it my mission to get my hands on one this winter. Seriously, all I want in life is a nice hooded jacket so I don't have to battle with umbrellas in the wind and rain. Although saying that, I love the floral bird print on this John Lewis umbrella!

Wellies are a rainy day essential, and Joules wellies are well known for their bright colours and pretty patterns. Fancy having a go at designing your own? Well, you're in luck! They're currently running a Design Your Own Joules Wellies competition where you can get creative and come up with your very own design. The winner will see their wellies put into production and they'll be available for sale on the Joules website, with proceeds being donated to charity via Charitably Joules. As well as that, you'll win a luxury forest holiday break worth £5,000 which includes three nights in a golden oak treehouse cabin, and 10 runners up will also win a £250 Joules gift card. Not bad! Check out the Joules competition here to find out more and design your entry. Good luck!

What are your essential accessories for a rainy day?

Gillian x

A Realistic 25 Before 25

17.10.15

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So, it's my birthday in three weeks and I'll be 25. Twenty five. I am not prepared for this. I feel like by the time you get to this age, you're supposed to kind of have your life together or at least kind of know how you want to get your life together. I, however, am completely failing at being a proper adult and I have no idea what I'm doing with my life. LOL. Anyway, motivational "25 Before 25" type lists are really not my thing (you know, the type that are like "go backpacking in Thailand" and "learn to abseil" and "buy a house", no thanks) so here's a slightly more realistic version...

1. Start doing laundry regularly because you just should do it regularly (not because you have run out of clean pants).
2. Save money to go on nice holidays and eat nice food and do nice things.
3. Throw out the pair of Primark shoes which have been loitering around under your bed since you were 18.
4. Clean out the fridge (it smells weird).
5. Plan a camping adventure in the Highlands.
6. Find out what skin type you actually have so you don't need to apply all the products.
7. Switch the heating on. No, it's not unnecessary. Yes, you can afford it.
8. Buy yourself a birthday present or a bunch of flowers or something.
9. Start telling people how you feel and stop being such an ice queen.
10. Just kidding, never change, you're the best. *snowflakes*
11. Stop buying so many notebooks which you never write in because they're "too nice".
12. Don't order a takeaway for at least, oh I don't know, four days?
13. Back up your computer, like you've been meaning to do for the last two and a half years.
14. Finish the book you started a few weeks ago and then forgot about.
15. Catch up with friends you haven't seen in a while.
16. Watch Say Anything (again) because 15 year old you had great taste in 80s teen films.
17. Look into taking driving lessons, work out how much it would cost and how much effort it would require, then don't think of it again for at least another year.
18. Buy tickets for a gig you really want to go to.
19. Cut your fringe. Maybe the rest of your hair too.
20. Actually read some of the many recipe books you have collected and cook something new.
21. Delete some people from Facebook. You know, people you met once at a party 7 years ago and idiots from school you didn't even talk to at the time.
22. Think about getting a puppy, before realising you are still way too selfish and lazy for such a commitment.
23. Wear some heels and a pretty dress to remind yourself you don't look like a swamp creature all the time.
24. Make peace with the fact that you now have to enter in the Overs category on X Factor.
25. Persuade someone to take you out for a fancy birthday dinner.

So, I wonder how many of these I'll actually get round to doing within the next three weeks? Probably very few. Oh well, there's always next year.

Gillian x

Outfits: Off Duty Denim

9.10.15

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A couple of years ago, you would never have caught me dead in a pair of jeans. But these days I find my rather large collection of black skater dresses are somewhat neglected, and most of the time I opt for a pair of skinny jeans instead. So when George at Asda challenged me to wear their jeans for a whole weekend as part of the #OffDutyDenim campaign. I was tasked with dressing up and dressing down my new jeans to come up with a few different outfits to take me through the weekend. I picked the Wondersculpt High Waisted Skinny Jeans* which are really comfy and flattering, and are the perfect base for a range of different outfits.

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Outfit 1: Friday Evening
To kick things off, I chose a smart-casual look which would be perfect for after-work drinks on a Friday evening. Luckily my work is very casual when it comes to dress codes so jeans are my go-to workwear, but even if your office is a bit more dressy this outfit is definitely smart enough for a "casual Friday". The light blue Longline Shirt* is a classic piece which is smart but not too formal, so it's great for wearing to the pub or for going shopping or having lunch at the weekend. I've paired it with some brown Block Heel Ankle Boots*, also from George, and my trusty beige mac which I bought in New Look about 5 years ago. It's still going strong, although it's definitely long overdue for a dry clean! To finish it all off, I wore my mini tan satchel bag and Runaway Fox stag necklace, both of which are from Godiva.

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Outfit 2: Saturday Night
Night-out outfits are probably the one time I'm least likely to put on a pair of jeans, but when dressed up with the right accessories I think jeans can be perfect to wear out for dinner and cocktails. In this outfit, I've paired my Wondersculpt jeans with a bright coral Duster Jacket* from George. I think this coral colour looks so nice with the dark navy wash of the denim, so I've kept the theme going with my favourite navy top from French Connection and lots of gold accessories. I bought these Asos Summer Heels a couple of months ago to wear to Lynne's wedding and they turned out to be soooo comfy. Before I ordered them I was a bit worried they were too Strictly Come Dancing-esque, but they're actually really nice and I love them just as much with jeans as I do with a fancy dress. The Crystallized Necklace by Wolf & Moon was also purchased for that same wedding outfit, but I've worn it loads of times since then already. The striped clutch bag is from New Look and I really need to start using it more often as I love it but always seem to forget about it!

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Outfit 3: Sunday Afternoon
And finally, to round off the weekend, I've got a comfy, cosy, no-effort outfit for a Sunday afternoon. I wore this last weekend to go out for a late brunch and a wee wander round the park, and it was the perfect thing to throw on quickly before heading out. Along with my George jeans, I've worn a striped jumper which I got from Primark a couple of weeks ago. This is basically the perrrrrfect jumper and I went back to buy it in a couple more colours after I realised how good it was! It was only about £4.50 and it's super soft, is nice and slouchy but not too oversized, it's great for layering and, well, I just love it. For a lazy day outfit, I've worn my navy striped jumper and jeans with some old ballet flats from New Look, a deceptively spacious wee bag from Primark, a pair of Sheriff and Cherry sunglasses* and my favourite Kirsteen Stewart necklace.

What's your favourite way to wear denim at the weekend?

Gillian x

Edinburgh: Civerinos

4.10.15

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If you like Italian food and casual, street food style dining then there's only one place you need to know about in Edinburgh: Civerinos. Calling themselves a street food and pizza slice bar, Civerinos have taken all the elements of Italian food that we know and love and have updated things to make it a bit more laid back and modern. I visited Civerinos for the first time a couple of months ago and really enjoyed the food, so I was delighted when they invited me back to try out some more of the menu.

After perusing the menu, we decided to start off with some bruschetta and calamari to share. Forget everything you know about bruschetta, because this is the real deal. No soggy baguette slices topped with tinned tomatoes here! A thin and crispy focaccia flatbread is topped with a delicious fresh mix of tomatoes, basil, red onion, garlic and olive oil, served on a board with its own pizza slicer so you can divide it up and share easily. It's hard to choose a favourite dish, but this just might be my top pick from Civerinos as it's so simple but done really well. The calamari was also really good; nice and crispy with a garlic & parsley aioli for dipping.

Next up, we moved onto main courses and our eyes were definitely bigger than our bellies as we ordered a lot of food. Seriously, the portions here are very generous so I'd definitely recommend sharing a starter and maybe even a main course between two. Civerinos really encourage sharing your food and making it a sociable experience; the tables are big long communal ones with benches so you can all gather around, and food is served on boards and platters with a stack of paper plates so you can share it out however you like. We opted for the meat & cheese platter which came with a variety of spicy sausages, proscuitto ham, mozzarella, gorgonzola and goats cheese, as well as salad and focaccia bread with a rich tomatoey beef sugo sauce for dipping. I think the focaccia and sugo was actually my favourite part of the whole platter - will definitely need to try out some of the pastas with sugo on my next visit! We also shared a pepperoni pizza which was perfectly crispy with a nice thin sourdough base and gooey mozzarella and sliced Italian sausage topping. I'm not really a fan of thick, stodgy pizza bases so I love Civerinos pizzas. And I've just discovered they're available on Deliveroo so no more horrible takeaway pizza for me!

By the time we got to dessert, we were pretty much stuffed full but we managed to squeeze in another course for the purpose of a well-rounded review (well, that's what I'm telling myself anyway). A nearby table had ordered the Nutella calzone which looked and smelled amazing, but sadly we couldn't manage this and instead decided to opt for the slightly lighter Italian zeppole hot doughnuts with cinnamon sugar. Drizzled with a little bit of Nutella, these were delicious and the perfect end to the meal - a little bit like an Italian version of churros. Yum Yum Yum.

To celebrate their first birthday, Civerinos are launching some new dishes so keep your eyes peeled for them on the menu soon. If you're a fan of Italian food then I would definitely recommend paying them a visit!

Gillian x