Lifestyle blog; Edinburgh, MS, food, beauty and chit chat.

Best places to eat in Edinburgh in 2014

Food has always played a huge part in my life – I love to eat out and my kitchen is most definitely my favourite room in my house.

New restaurants, bars and cafes open all the time in Edinburgh and 2014 has been no exception. Here is a wee look at what and where I’ve been eating in the city this year…

Tapas!

My favourite restaurant in Edinburgh is without a doubt Tapa.

Best tapas in Edinburgh? YES! Tapa not only offers the most delicious food but it is also the most lovely restaurant environment and a fantastic date or dinner with family/friends venue. The staff are super relaxed yet helpful and are so knowledgeable about the food and will go out of their way to help you out in any way they can.
It is a wee bit out of the way tucked away on a side street near The Shore, Leith. In my opinion this just adds to its charm. Plus I live in Leith so it’s in walking distance from our flat.
Which dishes should you try? Basically you need to visit at least 3 times so you can work your way through the whole menu and find your favourites. Below are just some of the dishes I’ve sampled; from deep fried white bait to black pudding with a friend quail’s egg – delicious!
Tapa, Edinburgh

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My Stamp of Approval – August

There has been so much going on this month. From buying new pet fish to eating all the cheese possible at Foodies Festival.

Our Breaking Bad fish!

One Saturday a few weeks ago I was walking along to the Co-op with my other half when I decided we should get pet fish. I few weeks, research and a lot more money than expected, we welcomed our new pets; three fish (Walter White, Walt Junior and Jesse Pinkman), two snails (Mike and Hank) and two shrimps (Saul and Gus). Our Breaking Bad fish Fast forward another few weeks and sadly Saul the shrimp passed away. We had to return Jesse Pinkman to the pet shop as he was bullying the two Walters (advice: don’t get a paradise fish as they have a bad reputation of not getting on with other fish). We then renamed Walt Junior to be Jesse Pinkman and bought another snail. This one was stripy so we named him Tiger after my late and great pet cat. Our Breaking Bad fish I then felt the one shrimp was a bit lonely so we bought another two and named then Dexter and Jon Snow – deviating from the Breaking Bad theme a bit. Now I love our little aquarium family, they all have so much character!

My super talented boyfriend

To be honest, I’m not sure my boyfriend and I could be much different. I am super practical and logical, whereas he is unbelievably creative. He is writing a novel, Bazookaville, and also draws (unbelievably well) and writes additional short stories. Below is his novel so far so if you fancy having a read of Bazookaville then I know he would love any feedback:

You can find more of his work under Joey Fantana on Wattpad.

Day at the Edinburgh Dungeon, Beer and Skittles and Pomegranate restaurant

As anyone who knows me will tell you, I jump out my skin at the drop of a hat! So when I was invited to go to the Edinburgh Dungeon to review it I jumped at the chance – literally! You can read all about our visit here. Afterwards we went for a walk along the Royal Mile to absorb some of the Edinburgh Fringe atmosphere. Here we saw a fantastic musician (pictured below) called Simeon Baker. His guitar skills captivated a huge audience and I strongly recommend you check him out. After lots of walking around we went to Beer & Skittles so my other half could watch the Arsenal game and we played a lovely chilled out Saturday afternoon game of Jenga. This went on for a very long time, had the bar staff cheering us on and resulted in my knocking over and accidentally smashing my prosecco glass (sorry!).

Edinburgh tourist day out

That evening we went to Pomegranate restaurant on Leith Walk. They offer a wide variety of Middle Eastern with delicacies from Lebanon, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Iran. Everything was delicious and the restaurant is decorated beautiffully and in-keeping with the Middle Eatsern theme. It is a BYOB restaurant so we took along a bottle of wine and left a couple of hours late very stuffed and happy

Lvndr

I have recently discovered my new favourite jewellery shop. I recently wrote a blog post about Lvndr but I couldn’t resist giving them another mention her. They jewellery is beautifully made and great value for money so you don’t even have to wait until pay day!

Lvndr jewellery

Foodies Festival (even in the rain)

I received free tickets to Foodies Festival from my lovely friend Nadine. Unfortunately we couldn’t make it on the lovely, sunny Saturday and we had to go on the torrential rain Sunday. Alas we still had fun, tasted all the cheese possible, ate a hog roast roll and bought cheese, ate a banana and strawberry macaroon and bought a champagne and strawberry macaroon for my lovely friend Robyn. A delicious day!

Foodies Festival 2014

Gone Girl on Audible

I recently downloaded Audible and it has revolutionised my ‘reading’. I have always been a painfully slow reader and usually fall asleep the minute I even open a book. So audio books was clearly the way forward! I am now flying through books – I listened to Fault in our Stars in a week and then moved onto Gone Girl. Now I can’t wait to see the films of both. I listen to my books on my commute to and from work on the bus and walking – Audible suits me perfectly!

Festival Day with my lovely mum and dad

Last but not least, my lovely mum and dad came up to Edinburgh from Northumberland for a visit as we’re going on holiday this weekend for a week and then they’re going on holiday so we won’t see them for a while. I love my parents to bits and although I’ve lived in Edinburgh for 9 years they’ve never come up and stayed during the Edinburgh Fringe festival is on. They’re going to rectify this next year but last weekend we fitted in as much as we could in one day. We hit the Royal Mile and saw juggling of weapons, musicians and some beautiful traditionally dressed people from Taiwan.Edinburgh Fringe FestivalTaken from the top of the big wheel on Princes Street. I love this photo and my Instagram filter does make it look like it is of Edinburgh way back when but if you look at the sign on the top of the galleries then you’ll see it’s not.Edinburgh Fringe FestivalAll in all I have had a spectacular August doing lots with the people I love. Thank you all! Now we’re embarking on new adventures in September, starting with Berlin this weekend!brunchandnaps.com

Deadly day at the Edinburgh Dungeon

Last month I was invited to check out the Edinburgh Dungeon Carnivàle show (#DungeonsCarnivale). I excitedly accepted their offer and my boyfriend and I decided to make a day of it, we love our touristy outings, and visited the dungeon last Saturday. I have been a couple of times before in the 9 years I’ve lived in Edinburgh, but he was still yet to venture in.

Edinburgh Dungeons
Scared, moi?!
Outside the dungeon were carnivàle like activities, including this fun ‘head through the hole’ cannibals…
Edinburgh Dungeons
Cannibal antics
We queued for a bit and then began our tour through the dungeon. This is the last photo inside as, for obvious reasons, photos are not permitted. One thing I would say is layer up! It is pretty roasty toasty down in the dungeon.
Edinburgh Dungeons
End of footage
Inside we were taken on a tour through the olden days of the city of Edinburgh, starting with a faux court case. This is great fun as they pick on people who have to go and stand in the docks to get tried for crimes such a cross dressing and dancing naked. The next few rooms took us through all sorts of gruesome Edinburgh history. My favourite room was where the cannibals resided. The actors were great fun, creepy and worked really well at involving the audience – many screams occurred.

Oh dear…

One thing that I was not very impressed by on the day was in the William Wallace room. The actor here was again great at interacting and getting us involved, however this did result in one member of our group losing an ear! The face of William Wallace was projected onto a head on a stick, which was quite fun… until we went to move onto the next room and this head made some remark that was clearly relating the the referendum. There’s a time and a place to mention this and this was not in. Slightly disappointed.
Edinburgh Dungeons
Spooky skull

The rides

The boat ride has existed in the dungeon for as long as I can remember. It is fun and scary because you’re in the pitch black. However, when I went this time it did feel a bit tired and old, like it needs a revamp. This might just be because I’ve been on it a few times but this was my other half’s first time and he felt the same.

New!

The first new section that I hadn’t seen before was the Burke & Hare graveyard. Everyone is seated down on their individual grave stone thrones and I’m not going to spoil it for you but put it this way, I screamed a lot!
They also have a new ride. One of those rides that drops suddenly to the floor from a height with the purpose of mimicking a historical public hanging. I thought this was really well done and photos are taken when it drops which are hilarious (but overpriced to purchase) to see at the end. Sadly, our photo never appeared at the end, some sort of camera malfunction, so we never saw ours.

Overall

The Edinburgh Dungeon is great fun, a must see for tourists in the city, or even locals (like ourselves) who fancy a touristy day out. I really appreciate being asked to visit, although I still don’t know what the ‘carnivàle’ had to do with anything as it was just the same theme as every other time I’ve been.
Still, it was a really fun day out and if you fancy a scream and a giggle then go forth to the Edinburgh Dungeon!

 

Edinburgh… I love you (most of the time)

Edinburgh is a beautiful and interesting city. To me, it is home. Yes it does rain a lot, it’s windy, it’s cold, it can be very miserable (or should I say ‘dreich’) – but I still love it (most of the time). I think this is reflected in the fact that I am forever sharing my Edinburgh life on Instagram – which is where this blog post comes in…

Here is Edinburgh through my eyes over the past few years. All of the following photos have been taken and shared on Instagram by me…

One of the many amazing view over the roof tops of Edinburgh.

Beautiful_view_number_2___Edinburgh

The pinkest of pink cheery blossom on Pilrig Street, Leith.

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A derelict factory in Leith.

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The rainbow view from our balcony over a graveyard. 

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Field of Light in St. Andrew’s Square, spring 2014.

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 One of many beautiful Edinburgh sunsets.

Amazing_fiery_pink_sunset_in__Edinburgh_for__ValentinesDay_this_morning.

A barely used railway track that runs through Leith.

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Edinburgh castle from an unusual angle.

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The Forth Railway Bridge.

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The somewhat snowy Meadows.

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Derelict factory again, this time taken from Leith Walk.

Derelict__Leith__Edinburgh

View of the Firth of Forth from the Old Chain Pier.

And_another___Edinburgh

The Lanterns of the Terracotta Warriors exhibition, spring 2014.

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Some random yarn bombing – ‘All right there pal?’

Alright_pal__Leith__Edinburgh__Scottish__crochet__knitting

The big wheel at Christmas!

I_love__Edinburgh_at__Christmas

I’m sure it will only be a couple of weeks before I have another 50 photos of Edinburgh to share. I hope you’ve enjoyed these and you can also see more of Edinburgh in my Discovering Edinburgh posts.

Finally I’d like to say thank you to my other half for always patiently stopping and waiting while I take 20 photos of every flower, cake and building in order to get the perfect Instagram photos – you’re a keeper!

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My Stamp of Approval – July

I’m always discovering new things; places to eat, websites, new shops, etc. so I thought I would start to share them with everyone else every now and again. So here goes- here is a list of things that I love at the minute…

Our home

Although we moved in back in April, I still forget that we are actual home owners. I absolutely love our home, more and more every day as we gradually put our stamp on it. We’re getting rid of all the horrible floral wallpaper (I never knew there were so many varieties) and painting it with our choice of colours. The living room is the only room that is finished but it looks great and is perfect to relax in the evening. Three of the walls are cream and we have a ‘Proud Peacock’ feature wall, as you can see below. There is still so much we want to do and lots of bits and bobs that I would like to get to make it more cosy but this is part of the fun and I’m quite happy to do this over time.
Home sweet home

The Great Gatsby Soundtrack

I was never particularly fussed on seeing the film but my other half was watching it when I got home one evening so I sort of fell into it. Most people aI’ve spoken to seemed to have read the book at school but I never did. The film was surprisingly good, however that could be because I had such low expectations. The best bit about it was, in my opinion, the soundtrack. Now I can’t stop listening to it when I’m at work so I recommend you give it a go!

My new hair

Although now, my new hair is not so new. I just love all the layers that I had cut into it. I am desperately trying (and failing) to blow dry it myself but I just don’t have enough arms! My default setting now is to put it in a french platt when it’s still a little damp and then I have 2 days of messy, wavy hair which I love. Since my trip to Dean Jones Hair Dressing I really understand the importance of a good blow dry and I will keep persevering to achieve this myself!

Getting my walk on

At work we have been taking part in GCC (Global corporate challenge) which has the aim of getting people more active and healthy and this is tracked by wearing a pedometer every day. This has fed my competitive side and although I don’t go running or ride a bike, I am more than happy to just keep walking. As part of this I have started a series of Discovering Edinburgh blog posts. I have the walking bug and can’t stop. Although it does help that there are so many pretty walks just on my doorstep in Edinburgh.
Last weekend, however, was different. We had a new challenge in which we had to beat our personal best step count. My PB was achieved when I was in Rome last month so I knew that to beat this I’d have to do some serious walking. My boyfriend kindly agreed to join me on a super walk on Saturday morning. We walked up Leith Walk, around Arthur’s Seat, up Calton Hill and back down to Leith. This didn’t quite beat my PB but with some dancing in the evening at my friend’s birthday and walking home after, I ended up with a new PB of over 31,000 steps and blisters on the soles of my feet – it was totally worth it!
Edinburgh walks

Indigo Aana Jewellery

I’m from a very small family, one sister and no cousins. My boyfriend however is from a huge family – he’s one of five. He has some super talented siblings (including himself) and today I thought I’d give a wee shout out to Steph. She has been building up her own company making and selling jewellery. From necklaces using bottle caps to earrings and bracelets. She shares what she is making on her Facebook page, Indigo Aana jewellery, where you can also find prices and details of how to buy. I’m sure she would love it if you had a wee look around so please do!
Indigo Aana jewellery

Serrano Manchego

If it wasn’t for the heat and the fact that I can’t speak Spanish, I would totally live in Spain. Okay, so the only reason I want to live in Spain is to drink wine and eat tapas. When I heard about a new bar/cafe/restaurant opening on Leith walk, a matter of minutes from our flat, I couldn’t wait to visit the new Serrano Manchego. When we did finally go, nearly a week after they opened, I was not disappointed. Inside it is beuatifully decorated with leather seats and bare brick walls. They even have a few seats which are perfect in the sunny summer evenings to sit in the sun. We ordered a variety of dishes which you can see below and everything was absolutely delicious. Of course, the serrano ham and the manchego cheese were top notch. My only criticism would be that they don’t take bookings which was a little frustrating. However this does fit in with the relaxed and chilled out Spanish vibe they have perfected.
I cannot wait to go back and try their churros and hot chocolate – ever since they posted a photo on their Facebook page I can’t stop thinking about it!
Serrano Manchego, Edinburgh
So as you can see, I really do love so much at the minute. I hope you enjoyed my little peak into my life in Edinburgh.
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Hair haven at Dean Jones Hairdressing

The lovely Dean Jones very kindly invited me for a complimentary cut and blow dry in his new salon, Dean Jones Hairdressing, on Elm Row in Edinburgh. I was delighted with this offer as it is just a 20 minute walk from my flat and anything to do with pampering or treating my hair makes me very happy!

Just a month or so ago I decided enough was enough and I had 5 inches cut off my hair by my boyfriend’s lovely sister, Chelsea. As you will be able to tell from the photo below, my hair was SUPER long as it is still long now. So in my appointment with Dean I wasn’t keen on getting much cut off but I told him my hair woes and together we decided on a plan of lots more layers to give it the volume and texture I’ve been craving. The result… I love it!

Dean Jones Hairdressing

From the beginning…

From the outside you could be forgiven for completely missing the salon. As Dean explained, they don’t have a sign on the outside as it is a listed building. They do however have a wobble board on the pavement and the name in frosting on the glass door. I quite like this, it makes the salon somewhat of an Edinburgh hidden gem and adds to the exclusivity of it.

Dean Jones Hairdressing

I was greeted at the reception desk by a lovely young girl and asked to take a seat on the cute wee sofa in the window. Here I was offered tea/coffee while I waited and so I opted for a cappuccino. The decor inside is lovely; very minimalist which might not be to everyone’s taste but I found it really bright and fresh. Dean assured my that they will have images from their recent photo shoot up on the walls soon which will add more personality.

Dean Jones Hairdressing

Dean came in and gave me the warmest welcome. We sat down and had a chat about the brief history of the salon, his hairdressing history, my blog and most importantly, my hair! I explained my hair past of getting it all cut off when I was about 19 and regretting it deeply and vowing never to get it cut again – well, an inch off here and there. Luckily my hair is thick and grows fast so although I recently got 5 inches cut off it, it’s still long. I explained that I always struggle to get volume and don’t like when hairdressers blow dry my hair flat to my head. He whipped out his iPad and we had a look together at a variety of hair styles on Pinterest so he could explain what he thought we be the way forward.

We decided on not really taking anything off the length, just tidying it up, and adding lot of layers. I was taken to get my hair washed by one of the girls. Dean advised her to use a hydrating shampoo and I enjoyed a relaxing wash and massage.

Dean then chatted some more to me and started to cut my hair. Before cutting a chunk off he showed me what he was cutting first so I didn’t have a heart attack when I saw the hair fall. This was a really considerate touch and showed what a professional he is and how much he cares about his work.Whilst working on my hair he was also keeping an eye on the other appointments around the room that were in full swing, gently giving advice to the girls as they completed cuts and colours.

Once the cut was done he blowed dried my hair. This was a blow dry unlike any other blow dry I’ve ever had before! The amount of volume and live he gave my hair was unbelievable. What’s even better is that from watching him do this and chatting to him, I now believe I can do this myself too.

Dean Jones Hairdressing

After my appointment I walked home with a spring in my step. As I said at the beginning, I love what Dean has done to my hair. He listened to me and I ended up getting exactly what I wanted. Thank you so much to Dean and all of his lovely staff for a wonderful experience.

If I am ever given freebies or asked to review somewhere, I am always 100% honest. I genuinely did love this salon and Dean kindly gave me a few discount vouchers which I’m handing out to my friends as I will definitely be going back so I think they should too.

Check out Dean Jones Hair on Facebook or on Pinterest and their website (links earlier in the review). I also added the salon to Yelp so I’m sure he’d love a review if you visit. If you do pop into this salon then I’d love to know how you get on!

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