What to do in Edinburgh this Winter

So winter has officially hit Scotland. Cold and dark at 4pm. NO THANKS! So to cheer up those dark days I’ve been doing some research and having a think about what fun things there are to do in Edinburgh this season. I kinda feel that I missed Christmas and winter last year spending my days in 35 degree sunshine and chilling on the beach in December! Therefore I’m looking forward to seeing how magical Edinburgh will be this year.

Edinburgh Christmas

Of course I can’t mention what fun things there are to do in the city without mentioning Edinburgh Christmas. The city just explodes about this time of year in to full on festive mode. The markets at Princes Street Gardens are always a highlight and you could spend hours exploring them and tasting all the festive food such as Dutch Pancakes (my fave) and German sausages. The rides are fun too, if a bit pricey. This year they also have ‘Silent Light’ which looks right up my street. Essentially its a silent disco to Christmas songs on George Street! Tickets are £4.50, so grab a pal and sing along to Mariah Carey. It’s also worth mentioning how busy the markets can get, so definitely head along on a week night to avoid the crowds.

winter 7Note: This was taken a couple years ago so may not look the same now, it’s probably bigger!

Christmas Film Screenings

What’s Christmas without rewatching your old favourites? The Three Sisters are hosting an outdoor festive cinema club and the tickets are free too. Home Alone, Love Actually and The Greatest showman are a few of the films on offer. Cosy up with a cider and get in to the Christmas spirit. If being outdoors doesn’t take your fancy The Filmhouse and The Cameo always show screenings of ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ on Christmas Eve.

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Grab a Hot Chocolate or a Winter Brunch

When it becomes cold and dark I literally crave hot chocolates and my quantity of these doubles at this time of year! I’ve mentioned them before but make sure to head to The Chocolate Tree in Bruntsfield for what I think is the best hot choc in Edinburgh. Chai hot chocolate YES PLEASE. Cairngorm Coffee also do a lovely hot choc and you can nip in between wandering the lights round George Street. Feeling peckish? Why not also head out for brunch to keep you warm. I recently visited Brochan, in Marchmont, which is the perfect spot to cosy up and eat some delicious porridge.


SKYBAR

I just saw this event on facebook last night and so thought I’d also pop this is on here! SkyBar, in the Grass market, is hosting a Christmas event on the 6th of December. Music, cocktails and views it sounds like it would be a great evening out to get in the spirit. This is also somewhere on my list I’m yet to have been too, so I would be able to tick this off. Head to their facebook for more information as this is where I found out about the event.

Winter Walks

One of my favourite things I love about winter are those nice, crisp, sunny days making it ideal to head out for some fresh air and a walk. Calton Hill or a hike up Arthurs Seat are handy if you’re in town and provide a good view. However if you’re able too, head along the coast for a beach trip. North Berwick is perfect and you can warm up at Steampunk after!

Visit to Peebles

So this is not technically Edinburgh, but it’s one of my favourite places to visit in winter (I pretty much only come here this time of year). Peebles is only a 40 minute drive from the city and it’s the perfect spot to see some Christmas lights, wander the streets and do some shopping. If you need a Christmas tree there’s also the Forestry Commission just outside the town!

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Celebrate Hogmanay

Lastly, I couldn’t not mention Hogmanay in Edinburgh. Similar to August the city just fills with people who visit the city especially to see the fireworks display and see in the New Year. Although I love the street party, it is a nightmare for the crowds! If you fancy seeing the fireworks somewhere a bit cheaper and quieter head to the Grassmarket or the Royal Mile; still good views and you can head straight back to the pub after.

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So there you have it, probably a bit Christmas based, but thats what this time of year is about. If any of you have some good ideas about what there is to do round the city message me on here or instagram at mairimackay_
Mairi x

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Edinburgh Brunch Spots: Part 1

Oh hello! Not doing too well at the moment keeping up the weekly blog posts as I’ve started working so a lot my time has been taken up. But I’m back and this time writing about one of my favourite things: BRUNCH. A mixture between breakfast and lunch, brunch has become something everyone just can’t seem to get enough of (myself included). I’m well known amongst my pals to scout out a good brunch so felt it was about time I wrote about some brunch spots in Edinburgh that I recommend.

The Pantry, Colinton and Stockbridge 

Top of the list for brunch in Edinburgh is of course The Pantry. They’re well known for doing a decent selection of brunch foods from avo and eggs to waffles, they’ve got it all! My favourite dish when I went recently was their homemade waffles with bacon, maple syrup and blueberries. So dreamy! Their avo toast also rates highly compared to Oz with pico de gallo and perfectly poached eggs. They have two locations so there’s one handy for either side of the city. I’ve only ever actually been to their Colinton branch, as it’s closer to me, although I’ve heard their original Stockbridge location is great if not super busy on weekends so I would book if you can.

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Urban Angel, Hanover Street
Although I’ve not been in a while Urban Angel is probably one of the best for a city centre brunch. Located on Hanover Street it’s a two minute walk from George Street so really handy to get to. Urban do everything you want from a good brunch, plus it’s served all day. They have eggs with all the extras, french toast and of course my fave eggs benny (their hollandaise is probably my favourite in the city). Their décor is nice and cosy and there are plenty of tables ideal place for catching up with pals.

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Papii, Hanover Street
I had to include Papii on the list as I actually went here today after not visiting in a LONG time and boy did they do a good eggs benny. Again, located just two doors up from Urban Angel on Hanover Street, this is an easy spot to get to. Their food was good value for money including their amazing waffles which my friend had. I’ve also discovered they do an iced chai which reminds me of Melbourne. Papii is ideal for meeting a pal for a midweek brunch but can imagine it gets super busy at the weekends as there’s not many tables.

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Bross Bagels, Portobello and Leith Walk
Ok so this isn’t maybe what you would typically think of as a brunch spot but I think it totally classifies and is an excellent spot for a brunch in a hurry. Bross Bagels, located in Portobello and Leith Walk, do AMAZING homemade Montreal style bagels which I talked about in my last post when I went and had a delicious smoked salmon bagel. They also do coffee, so grab one with your bagel and there’s a quick brunch sorted!

Leo’s Beanery, Howe Street
Lastly I also recently visited Leo’s Beanery on Howe Street and so it felt right it should also be on this list. Leos is popular amongst the New towners and for good reason. They have a decent brunch selection along with some yummy homemade cakes on offer so you can have pudding after! There were lots of tables so ideal for going with your family or a pal and then having a wander round Stockbridge.

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It’s important to note these are only a few of the many brunch spots there are in the city but I have a big list of place I still need to visit so I’m sure it won’t be long before there’s a part two. I especially want to try Brochan, a porridge café (hello).  Also does anyone else notice the theme of eggs benny?? Think I need to branch out a bit more!

Anyway hope you all have a lovely weekend, I’m away to Nairn to see my pal who I haven’t seen in a year!

Mairi x

Guide to: Portobello

Continuing on my ‘Guide to’ series, I made a little trip to Portobello at the weekend with my tour guide Christina. As I live pretty much on the other side of the city I’ve only been  to the East coast of the city a couple times. I was excited to try out some foodie spots I’ve heard about and of course see the sea!

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Eat
As soon as I hopped off the bus and met Christina we headed straight for Bross Bagels on Portobello High Street. I’ve been wanting to head here for ages and it did not disappoint. I had the Montreal (smoked salmon, cream cheese, pickled red onion and capers) on an everything bagel and it was LUSH. They’ve just opened another spot on Leith Walk which I can’t wait to go to. Twelve Triangles was next on our list where we got some take- away coffees and some delicious doughnuts. There were so many other places that looked good to visit along the promenade such as The Beach House and Miros. I also want to head back so I can go to the Espy and Skylark.

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Shop
We didn’t really do any shopping while we were here but one shop we popped in to while we were walking along the high street was COVE which was ideal for cards and gifts. There’s also plenty of charity shops around too.

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See
After walking down Portobello High Street having a look around and enjoying our bagels we headed down to the Promenade and the beach to have a wander. It’s such a lovely view and when you’re there you can’t believe how close you are to the city. Have a wee seat on a bench, take in the view and the fresh air. We didn’t go but there’s also the Turkish baths which would be cool to visit.

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Although it took a couple buses to get there I definitely would head back again soon. If any of you live in the city and fancy a day out, Portobello is ideal and easy to get to. Enjoy the Autumnal sun while you can…

Mairi x

Edinburgh Coffee Shops: Part 1

I didn’t start drinking coffee until last year when I moved to Melbourne, literally the capital of coffee. When I moved there I was determined to try and like the stuff. Little did I know all I had to try was a weak latte and I was hooked. Since coming home I’m now trying to make the effort to revisit old coffee shops and actually now try their coffee rather than just their hot chocolates! Edinburgh has SO many nice cafes and coffee shops so this is just a very small list of some of the fab ones I’ve tried so far and would recommend to anyone visiting or who lives here.

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Cairngorm Coffee, Frederick Street and Melville Place

Cairngorm Coffee has always been one of my favourite places, even before I drank coffee, and it’s always where I like to take anyone visiting me. They have two locations, one right in the city on Frederick, and one in the West End in Melville Place. I kind of prefer the Frederick as it’s smaller and cosier but the Melville is lovely too and bigger so you’re more guaranteed a seat. Since coming back I’ve been a few times to try their coffee and it’s probably my fave. However if you don’t like coffee their hot chocolate is dreamy as well as their grilled cheese toastie which I try to recreate at home but never do justice. Get yourself one if you go here along with your latte.

Brew Lab, South College Street

This one is definitely for the students. My brother heads here all the time and raves about it so the other week I decided to head there after going to the museum (this is what I do when I’m bored). Brew lab is right behind the museum and next to the Uni so a good location and easy to get too. There’s plenty of seats and power plugs in here so ideal too if you fancy a place to get some work done. They also have their own training lab so you know their coffee is decent and well made. I also was impressed with their selection of cakes and they had some amazing doughnuts too from Baba Budan.

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The Counter, Union Canal

So the Counter isn’t just in one location which I love! They serve their coffee in a few spots round the city; Lothian road Police Box, Morning Side Police box and my favourite and the only one I’ve been to yet the Canal boat. If you head to the fountain park side of the Union Canal you’ll find the boat serving up delicious coffee. I love walking my dog down there mainly so I can get a coffee for the walk back.

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Project Coffee, Bruntsfield Place

I’ve mentioned them before in my Bruntsfield Guide but Project Coffee is also a good spot. They have lovely big windows for you to drink a coffee and people watch. I’ve not had one yet but their scones also look delish. Good spot for meeting a pal or for one with your parents.

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Filament Coffee, Clerk Street

Lastly I felt I should include Filament seeing as I’m sat here while I write this post! I’ve been here previously with my friend and have been wanting to come back ever since. Located in Clerk Street it’s nice and close to the Uni if you’re around there. It is pretty small so you might not get a seat if it’s busy but if you do it’s the perfect place to chill with a coffee and do some work or scroll Insta for a bit. The style is quirky with little planks of wood for some of the tables. Good coffee and from what I can see a nice looking avo toast. Think I’ll be making a visit back for that…

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I have some other recommendations which I’ll leave for future posts. Some other places I’m keen to visit include: Lowdown Coffee, Fortitude and Cult Espresso. If you have any other recommendations I’d love to know!

Next time

Mairi x

@mairimackay_

Travelling Blues

So I’ve been back for 3 weeks now (after being away for a year) and this week I definitely hit the post travel blues. After being away for such a long time and literally having the best year of my life it’s hit me that that time is over and it’s back to reality. The first couple weeks are always nice when you get back; you’re catching up with your family and friends; enjoying the little things you missed while you were away and it’s a bit like a holiday when you get back.

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However the blues have definitely hit and the holiday is over. I feel in limbo if I’m being honest. After having so much independence being away it’s harder than I thought coming back, living at home and being unemployed. I did know this would happen after being told by others who had returned home that it’s just a depressing feeling. You feel so different and YET everything is still the same. I’m also a big worrier so now I’m home I just can’t stop thinking about careers and the future. I know everyone’s different and on their own paths etc but I still can’t stop comparing myself to where others are in their lives and where I am right now.

blues pic 3In more happier and carefree times (P.S the date is wrong in this pic)

Anyway to help me not feel so blue about being back I’ve come up with a few goals for myself to keep me busy and get me out of this limbo feeling!

1. Running
Ok so I have never been a big runner. I pretty much hate it. However when I was away in Oz I discovered the app Couch to 5K that essentially trains you up to running slowly and with intervals. I tried a couple times in Oz but couldn’t get in to a routine so now I’m at home I feel it might not only help in getting me up in the mornings but encouraging  me to get out the house too.

2. Explore the City
I know what it’s like whenever you’re working you wish you weren’t and doing something else. So although I really want and need a job I also should enjoy the time I’m not working too and explore Edinburgh when I can. When I lived in Sydney I had a list of all the activities and things I wanted to see when I lived there so I might try and do this for Edinburgh too. I’m hoping it will help me get out and about to see spots of the city I’ve not been to before.

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3. Keep up the Blog
I’m going to aim to write on the blog once if not more a week. I enjoy writing these posts and it’ll help to keep my brain working too! Stay posted and follow me for updates.

4. Plan some trips
I’m already keen to travel again and I think planning some trips over the next few months would help. Just sticking to the UK; I really want to head down to Nottingham when I get the chance to see some family and my friend Ella; Nairn, to see my other friend and her new house; and I’d also love to go to Dunkeld as I’ve heard about this amazing bakery and there’s some nice walks too round there.

Anyway getting a job is my main priority which I think will help keep me busy and more settled. Have any of you ever felt a bit blue coming back after being away? I’d love to hear how you felt!

Mairi x

Guide to: Bruntsfield

Being born and brought up in Edinburgh I know some of the areas of the city pretty well by now. However there are also some places I’ve barely visited! So I’ve decided since coming back from Australia, where I made such an effort to get to know and explore the cities I was living in, to do that in Edinburgh too. The plan is to create some guides on some of the best areas in Edinburgh letting you know where’s best to eat, sights to see and shops to go to in these spots. I’m hoping by doing these it will make me revisit old places I love and find new areas to enjoy in the city. First up is somewhere very well known to me and somewhere I visit all the time and that is Bruntsfield. Located in the South West of the city it’s super easy to get to by bus or car.

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Eat
The main reason I usually visit Bruntsfield is to head to one of its many amazing cafes and food spots. For a decent brunch or lunch there’s Montpelier’s and Honeycomb and Co (which I’ve not been to yet but it’s on my list as I’ve heard good things). Coffee lovers should head to Project Coffee, which has lovely big windows to gaze out on to the busy Street, and also Artisan Roast. When it’s cold and wet I crave a big mug of Hot Chocolate from the Chocolate Tree. You can choose from so many flavours of chocolate and you’ll probably find me in there as soon as winter hits. Cuckoos Bakery and Artisan Cheesecakes will hit the spot if you just fancy a dessert. Lastly I recently visited Meltmongers and this is reason alone to head over to Bruntsfield. I had their cheese and bacon toastie with sweet potato fries and I will be heading back ASAP for that Mac n Cheese melt they also do…

 

Shop
Bruntsfield is home to so many independent shops which is great to see! It’s also an ideal place if you want to get a gift for someone. My favourite is probably Curiouser. I mentioned them before for their amazing selection of prints and cards. I’d also recommend Clementine and Halibut and Herring if you need to buy a gift for someone. For fancy flowers there’s Snapdragon which even if you don’t buy anything just have a look at the flowers outside which always look so pretty and appealing.

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See
Just wandering down Bruntsfield Place will give you such a good feel for the area. Have a coffee and people watch! If you’re a film buff look out for the window where one of the scenes was filmed from Trainspotting 2. There’s also the Meadows and Bruntsfield Links right by so have a wander round there too if you can.

guide pic 5The Meadows (right by Bruntsfield and easy to walk to)

If you have any of your own recommendations for what to do in Bruntsfield let me know. Enjoy!

Mairi

Guide: A Week in Bali

On my way back from Oz I decided to go via Bali in Indonesia. Bali is super popular amongst backpackers these days and I heard a lot of good things. It also isn’t too expensive to fly from Oz. Here’s a rundown of my week if you’re ever over that part of the world…

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Seminyak

Seminyak was my first stop and is only a short drive from Denpasar airport. I decided to miss out Kuta (one of the popular spots) as I hadn’t heard the best things. I stayed at Capsule Hostel which had a good location being close to the main streets so I could walk everywhere. However, the hostel was super ‘PARTY’ with loud music every night. This would have been ok if I was in the mood but I had received some bad news on my first night so I was pretty miserable and didn’t want to socialise. If I came back to Bali I would find somewhere a bit quieter (I’m officially old). Seminyak did have some fab food spots though. My favourites included Kynd for an amazing smoothie bowl, Coffee Cartel for instagrammable chai with your name on it (so basic) and Tamade which did my favourite Indonesian dish Nasi Goreng (fried rice). Apart from eating I mainly just walked about Seminyak, going to the beach and also had the best cheap massage.

Canggu
After a couple days in Seminyak I then moved to Canggu and stayed at Lay Day Surf Hostel. This hostel I really recommend. Again, it is a party hostel but this time I felt a lot better and ready to socialise. I had some lovely girls in my room who took me under their wing and had the weirdest night out. In Canggu everything is a bit more spread out so me and my friend Gen, who I met in Seminyak when walking down the street, decided to try out renting scooters. I literally rode mine for about 5 minutes before I brought the bike back to the owner as it was so much harder than I thought and didn’t trust myself! Luckily there’s lots of taxis around and as long as you haggle they’re pretty cheap. Over the couple days I was there I spent time at Echo Beach and visited Finns beach club too. Canggu also probably had my favourite brunches when I was there including Crate where you could get avo toast with all the trimmings for £3!! I went back twice. Copenhagen was also fab where you tick what you want and they bring it to you all on a board.

Ubud

Ubud was my last stop in Bali but turned out to be my favourite place out of the three. Me and Gen shared a taxi so it worked out cheaper and we checked in to GoGo backpacker hostel which is right on the main road in Ubud. This was recommended to us and it turned out to be such a nice hostel. It was a pretty small hostel but the rooms were nice and the staff were so friendly. They help you book all the tours you want to do and their free banana pancake at breakfast was delish. When I’m on holiday I like to keep busy and Ubud was not short of fun activities to do. First up as soon as we arrived we had booked on to a cooking course. The course was run by Paon Bali and it was a highlight of the trip. Picked up from our accommodation they take you to the home of the lady who runs the course. We all prepared and cooked together making chicken satay, curry, baked tuna in banana leaf, peanut sauce and fried tempe. Such a feast and everything tasted so fresh!

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After the course we headed straight to sleep as we then had a wake up call of 2am to be picked up and driven to the start of our Mt Batur sunrise hike. The hostel booked the tour for us so I can’t remember the exact name of the tour however there are a lot of tour operators who do the same kind of tour. The hike was super hard and tiring. Don’t think I’ve ever been so sweaty! Once you make it to the top you’re meant to see an amazing sunrise but unfortunately for us it was cloudy so we barely saw anything. However it’s still such an accomplishment to get to the top so you don’t care! The monkeys on the way down are a highlight too. The rest of the time in Bali I just walked round the town, ate some nice food (Watercress Cafe and Tukies for Coconut Ice cream) and also did a tour the hostel itself ran with the legend Dedy. I didn’t know what to expect from the tour but it was amazing! There was only myself and one other girl so we basically had a private tour where we went to a local market (my fave part), the famous rice fields (we were there so early no one else was), the holy water temple and a waterfall.

 

 


And then before I knew it I was back at the airport and heading for home. The week flew by and if I had more time I would have loved to have visited Ullawatu. Hopefully another time if I’m ever back!

Mairi