5 Places to Eat in Edinburgh

In July, I visited Edinburgh for the second time… and fell in love with it all over again. If I could move my job to Scotland, I wouldn’t hesitate to rent a (much-cheaper-than-I-currently-pay) flat in one of Edinburgh’s beautiful buildings. It felt like a little piece of east and north London, but with much fewer people. To me, holidays mean food + friends. Lots and lots of food, so here’s five particularly yummy places I went to in this stunning literary city.

Ice Cream at… Mary’s Milk Bar

I love ice cream. I normally opt for Italian gelato, but Mary’s Milk Bar serves some of the best ice cream I’ve ever tasted. I had a tricky time picking flavours (as always) because they all sounded amazing. I chose dark chocolate & cinnamon and raspberry ripple, and Cathy had dark chocolate & orange and poppy seed. It was so delicious. We promised to come back… but didn’t get time! Cathy and I are planning a wintry Edinburgh trip, so we’ll be heading to Mary’s for more ice cream and hot chocolate.

Brunch and Lunch at… Loudons

I also really, really love brunch. If it were up to me, I’d happily eat breakfast all day, every day. For our first day in the city, we went to Loudons. I had a yummy bowl of rice, poached egg, avocado and chorizo. We shared haggis bonbons – haggis balls rolled in breadcrumbs – and they were surprisingly delicious. I’d always thought that eating haggis would be a strange experience, but it tastes like herby sausages. I am a fan.

Brunch at… Spoon

Spoon was recommended to us on our Harry Potter walking tour – it was technically the place where J.K. Rowling wrote chunks of the series, but back then it was known as Nicolson’s Cafe. You may have heard of The Elephant Cafe (the ‘birthplace’ of Harry Potter), but I’d personally pick Spoon, which has much fewer tourists. We had the mixed grill: bacon, sausage, black pudding, haggis (again!), beans, and a fried egg. Yum!

Meze at… Meze Meze

Meze Meze was one of the first places I came across whilst holiday planning. We got there at 8pm, but as we hadn’t reserved, we had to wait another hour for a table (totally fine with us as we were still full from brunch!). Meze Meze does the most amazing Mediterranean food – we had the chef’s selection of 5 cold and 5 hot dishes served with warm pitta bread. We loved it.

Coffee at… Brew Lab

Edinburgh has so many pretty coffee shops, it’s quite unfair. We were never surrounded by Prets (we counted three, which is quite impressive since I’m within a few minutes’ walk from five) and from what we could see, indies far outnumbered Starbucks, Costa and Caffe Nero. Brew Lab serves strong coffee, although my Aussie travel buddy would disagree, and was perfectly cosy. I could see myself blogging here every weekend.

And don’t forget to try Scotland’s tap water!

Which foodie places should I add to my list for next time?

Friendship Breakups

Let’s chat about breakups. Not the romantic breakups that usually feature in the myriad of gorgeous YA novels we all know and love. No, breakups of the friend kind.

If you asked me what my favourite genre was, I’d immediately say YA contemporary. It used to be science fiction. It was middle grade mysteries for a bit, and it’s never been fantasy. But contemporary has appeared at the top of the list since the spring of 2012. I cannot resist those summery, poignant and relatable stories. I love adorable couples who are just right for each other (I’m looking at you, Anna and Etienne) and the thrill of discovering a new book boyfriend. And I love to read about female friendship. It’s the most important kind of relationship in my life and it’s been that way for years now. I’m shy and introverted – and social.

If you’re like me, you’ll have friendships that are comfortable and stable; the sort of friendships that seem to stick for years even when you haven’t seen or spoken to each other for months. You might not send a message for what seems like a lifetime and yet, when you do finally meet up, it’s like you’ve never been apart. I’ve known one of my best friends for over 20 years and our relationship has barely changed within that time. It’s a great kind of friendship.

And then there are the friendships that are all-encompassing, the kind that you couldn’t possibly survive a day without (that you wouldn’t want to survive a day without). The friends who may just as well have known you a lifetime, even if they’ve only been around for a fraction. The friends you message every day because you just love talking to them. Because it’s cold outside and you need to tell them that your hands are frozen (complete with appropriate emojis ❄️), because the world is pretty unbearable at the moment and you need to rant about what Trump’s done this time, and because you just fancy knowing what they’re having for dinner. And let’s hang out tomorrow. And hey, let’s have brunch next week. And let’s go to the cinema the week after. And I miss you, even though I just saw you yesterday.

It’s not only about the companionship you’ve had every day for the past few years, but also the plans you’ve made for the future. It’s about enjoying that friend’s company, no matter what you are doing together. It’s about laughing, all the time.

It’s about the friend you enjoy talking with most, even if the topics of conversation are rarely that significant. You talk about Netflix and the newest dessert pop-up and what to read next. It’s comforting, especially in this daunting time of uncertainty.

It’s about the friend who takes you on adventures, makes you challenge yourself and forces you out of your comfort zone, but is always there in case you fall. It’s about the friend you really care about and root for when they accomplish something incredible, no matter how tiny. It’s about the friend you turn to when you’ve had a bad day and when you’ve had a good day, in equal measure.

It’s about the person who knows you better than anyone else (even if they don’t really know who you were before) and who you want to know everything about. It’s about the one who can always tell when you’re not fine, even though you assure everyone else that you are. It’s about the person you love so, so much.

But what do you do when that isn’t enough?

Society doesn’t have much time for friendship breakups. It’s not something that’s as prolific in books, in music, in film and in television as romantic breakups, but ask anyone and they’ll probably tell you that their friendships made them who they are. We radiate sympathy and dole out encouraging advice and support when romantic relationships end, but for most people, friendships have lasted much longer and have meant much more.

So, let’s chat about them. 👭

Hello, Kew

I visited Kew Gardens for the first time in 2013, just as summer was leaving. I was blown away by its beautiful grounds and I have wanted to go back ever since, especially when it was more autumnal. So, once it hit mid-October, I bought a ticket to one of my favourite places in London.

Autumn is also my favourite season. It’s normally a time of happiness and excitement at the prospect of all the fun things to do (and eat and drink…). Unfortunately, it hasn’t been a great one for me this time, but I’m glad I got to go back and experience this beautiful retreat once again. 2016 has not been a forgiving year. With one thing after another – both globally and personally – it’s been tough. But wandering slowly through the botanical garden’s glorious fiery trees, colourful flowers and secret pathways gave me a chance to focus on myself and forget about everything else, even if just for a few hours.

Hello, KewHello, Kew Continue Reading

Things to Do in Copenhagen (Part 2)

Last month, I had a wonderful time, visiting the beautiful city of Copenhagen in Denmark. Here’s part two of ten things we enjoyed and would suggest you give a go too – read part one here

Go on… a canal tour
I’ve been on canal tours in Bruges and Amsterdam, so it was a ‘must do’ for me in Copenhagen! It’s a great way to explore the city, especially if you’re exhausted. You can just sit there and soak up the sun and sights (in my case, a little too much sun – I got burned!). We passed The Little Mermaid statue, the Black Diamond (Royal Library), Nyhavn and lots more.

Eat at… Höst, Granola and the Andersen Bakery
If you’re not a foodie, look away now. One of the best things about going on holiday, in my opinion, is eating lots of food. We treated ourselves to a stunning Nordic tasting menu at Höst (six fancy dishes, from lobster sauce and venison to lemon & thyme juice and beer ice cream), ate an amazing ‘sweet plate’ breakfast at Granola (including a mini cinnamon snail and chocolate spread) and had delicious hot chocolate & cakes at the Andersen Bakery. I wish I could do it all over again!

Visit… the National Museum
The National Museum is a bright and airy (free) museum! I enjoyed visiting the toys exhibition, wandering around old dollhouses and vintage toys, and exploring the modern history of Denmark. There’s an impressive amount of museums in Copenhagen and sadly we couldn’t visit them all. We also took a trip to Christiansborg Palace and visited the royal kitchens and palace ruins, but unfortunately the lift to the tower was broken so we didn’t get to go up. VisitCopenhagen.com is a superb resource that I found immensely helpful when planning our trip.

Eat at… Slice of San Francisco
All right, so it’s not Danish, but it serves the most amazing cheesecake in Copenhagen. It’s owned by San Franciscan Miriam, who bakes all the cheesecakes herself. She also makes an incredible chicken burrito, which we shared before tucking into creamy cheesecake – I had cherry and cinnamon compote and Debbie had blueberry-rose. It was a lovely place to relax before heading to the Tivoli Gardens. But trust me, don’t go on a spinning ride straight after! Check out scandinaviastandard.com for a longer review and more mouth-watering photos.

Visit… Christiania

If you’re on a budget, simply walking around the streets of Copenhagen is a treat in itself. Christiania was a neighbourhood that I was told I must visit, and I’m glad we did. It’s Copenhagen’s famous freetown, super quirky and chilled – possibly due to there being hash dealers everywhere! That’s not to say it’s legal, however. It was fascinating to walk around, but you need to follow the rules, such as not taking photos inside the community or running (it causes panic!). Despite this, we felt safe exploring the area.

I loved Copenhagen so much and would definitely go back. You can never have too many cinnamon snails.

Things to Do in Copenhagen (Part 1)

Only a few days before the upsetting and unbelievable Brexit madness, I had a wonderful time in Europe, visiting the beautiful city of Copenhagen in Denmark. Here are five things that I enjoyed and think you might too.

Visit… the Tivoli Gardens
The amusement park that inspired Walt Disney is tourist staple and it’s easy to see why. Buy the unlimited wristband so you can go on as many rides as you like – we went on the same one five times. And there are no queues! At the end of the evening, they put on a fantastical light and sound show with fire and smoke. It was magical.

Climb… Vor Frelsers Kirke (Church of Our Savior)
If you’re looking for an amazing view and love to climb, go up the 400 steps of this stunning spire. There’s a mixture of tiny wooden steps inside and wider metal steps outside. It’s such a great climb and considering that it has more steps than Covent Garden station (193), it doesn’t tire you out too much.

Visit… the supermarkets and convenience stores
If you want ‘local’ snacks, always visit the supermarkets. It’s fun to walk around, discovering all the Scandinavian brands and unusual snacks (like Skumbananer). We shopped in Netto and I bought chocolate biscuits for my colleagues instead of going to a fancy tourist shop – they went down a treat! And 7-Eleven had the best cinnamon snail we tasted. Hands down.

Eat at… Paludan BogCafe (Book Cafe)
You won’t find this beautiful cafe in many guide books. I came across it while looking for bookish places to visit. It’s a former university library turned student cafe and it was an excellent place to grab a delicious sandwich with new potatoes and the best hot chocolate we had on the trip. It was one of the best (and cheapest!) meals we had – being surrounded by books also helped!

Ride… the City Bikes

But only if you’re tall! Copenhagen is famous for its cyclists and bike-friendly streets. One evening, after eating gelato by the canal, we thought it would be an excellent idea to grab a City Bike and cycle home. That is, until we realised we were way too short – even when we made the saddle go as low as possible. It was too difficult for us (read, me) to stop the bikes, so we ended up cycling around the bike stand for an hour instead. It was hilarious and the motor on the bikes made it so much fun.

Stay tuned for part two!