Wednesday, 25 January 2017

6 Little Known Gems to Visit in Edinburgh

I've only been to Edinburgh a couple of times so far but I have absolutely loved it and the stays have been far too short, so it would be great to get there again. Especially as my friend Kate lives there and I've not seen her for some time. As we chatted the other day I asked her to give me some recommendations of places to visit when I next go there and here are her six little-known gems in Edinburgh. Four free to visit attractions and two delicious eateries. Of course you'll want to easily get around the city once you are there so why not check out Capital cars for all your taxing needs, including airport transfers.

City Art Centre
This former Scotsman news building now houses six floors of art in large, light and airy gallery spaces. There is a huge variety of art from the 17th century to the modern day. Entrance is free to the main gallery and there are loads of exhibitions changing throughout the year, for which there is an entrance cost. The centre is currently closed on Monday and Tuesdays.

The extra fun part is that they have an ArtSpace which is open all the same times as the centre and you can have fun using their inspiring art materials to create some modern art, a landscape or perhaps a portrait. Or join them between 2 and 3pm on a Saturday when there is facilitator leading the session. I'd love to get stuck in.

2 Market Street, Edinburgh, EH1 1DE, Tel: 0131 529 3993

Image Credit: Edinburgh Museums

Dovecot Studios
This amazing Tapestry studio is housed in the former home of a Victorian swimming pool, the renovated building itself is stunning but actually the tapestry's on show in the gallery and the weavers themselves are the real treasure. For more than 100 years stunning pieces of tapestry have been created here. Make sure you get to see some of the weavers at work from the Tapestry Studio Viewing Balcony from Noon to 3pm on Thursday and Friday and from 10.30am to 5.30pm on Saturdays.

10 Infirmary Street, Edinburgh, EH1 1LT, Tel: 0131 550 3660

Image Credit: Dovecot Studio

National Museum of Scotland’s Rooftop Terrace
The National Museum of Scotland is of course the most visited attraction in the city so you may wonder why I have listed it here. Well, the hidden part is the rooftop terrace. Everyone knows that the museum itself is worth a visit but very few make it though the museum maze to the beautiful rooftop terrace which sports some stunning Scottish fauna but more than that there are views all across the city. Head up there early in the day to beat any crowds.

Chambers Street, Edinburgh, Edinburgh, EH1 1JF, Tel: 0300 123 6789

Image Credit: Wow 247

The Royal Observatory
It is totally worth heading off the average tourist track to go and pay a visit to the Royal Observatory Visitor Centre but only if you have booked a visit. During the winter months there are weekly Friday open nights and monthly in the summer. You'll get to see through one of the biggest telescopes in Scotland, learn a bit more about the night sky and be able to handle meteorites, The site itself is also stunning.

Blackford Hill View, Edinburgh EH9 3HJ. Tel: 0131 668 8100

Image Credit: Royal Observatory Edinburgh

The Gardeners Cottage
Someone who loves food as much as me couldn't possibly not suggest a couple of amazing restaurants. A favourite with my friend Kate is The Gardeners Cottage, which is in Royal Terrace Gardens at the foot of Calton Hill in the heart of Edinburgh's World Heritage Site. The beautiful restaurant is informal with all diners sitting at trestles tables but the factor that tells it apart from its competitors is the stunning local produce, as well as the home-grown veggies, leaves and legumes. The food really is of the best quality and an absolute joy to eat.

1 Royal Terrace Gardens, London Road, Edinburgh, EH7 5DX. Tel: 0131 558 1221

Image Credit: Gardeners Cottage

Mademoiselle Macaron
You'll be transported to Paris in the blink of an eyelid in this beautiful cafe. The owner trained in Paris after being mesmerised by her first taste of the classic French Macaron. You can choose from classic flavours like raspberry and pistachio or go for the more exotic like Scottish Whammy made with Irn Bu. You can't get much more of a french- Scottish fusion than that!

22 Grindlay St, Edinburgh EH3 9AP. Tel: 0131 228 4059

Image Credit: The Herald

I wish you an amazing time visiting this historic and amazing city. Do let me know in the comments if you have any secret gems that would like to add to this list.

Be blessed, Mich x

Monday, 23 January 2017

You have to see Sing Movie #SingMovie

My girls doing karaoke to the Sing soundtrack on Saturday night before we saw the movie on Sunday

Don't let your fear stop you doing what you love!

This is probably my favourite line from the movie and to be honest spending £37 for the five of us to see it will be well worth every penny if my kids take this sentiment with them into adulthood. I think we often miss out on things we would enjoy and even love as we allow ourselves to be held back by a fear or the unknown. We all need to embrace the unknown sometimes and remember 'what is the worst that can happen?' The worst case scenario is never really that bad, is it?

You don't expect to come out of a family movie with a big life statement like that but that is what I love about films aimed at all the family nowadays. They have the innocent story line, the fun characters, the amazing graphics but also the humour and depth to reach the adult audience too.

SING is a fabulous movie, with a rating of U and a run time of 1 hour and 50 minutes. If you like watching things like The Voice, Britain's Got Talent and the X Factor then you'll love this movie. The singing talent in it is amazing, who knew that Reese Witherspoon could sing like that? And I had no idea who the American singer Tori Kelly was before watching this but now both my girls and I are mesmerised by her stunning voice.

I think my favourite character had to be the very dapper koala Buster Moon as I have a not-so-secret crush on Matthew McConaughey who voices him and whilst I might not be able to see Matthew in the film, that beautiful southern lilt is so unique to him and makes my heart melt.

There is something in the film for everyone, our whole family went to see it and my 13 year old son said he was surprised how funny it was and 'so much better than I expected Mum, a bit like Shrek as it has loads of adult funny bits in it'.

SING is certainly one of those films that we will be watching again when it comes out on DVD, it is sure to become a classic family movie like Toy Story, Happy Feet or Madagascar.

SING has gained a 70% fresh tomato score on Rotten Tomatoes and all the critics seem to agree that Illuminate Pictures (the film animators behind Despicable Me, Minions, The Lorax and Secret Life of Pets to name just a few) have again made a fabulous tale

Have a look at the trailer yourself and see if this film might be for your family. I'm sure it will!

Have fun, Mich x

Oh and just in case you are interested here are my couple of loons having fun with Taylor Swifts 'Shake it Off'.

Disclosure: We wee sent a karaoke pack for us to enjoy as a family to celebrate the release of SING at the cinema.

Sunday, 22 January 2017

7 Great Venues to Host your Work Team Building Day in the South East

Team building days at work - you either love them or you hate them!

Done well, I think they are pretty amazing and definitely a way to help you get to know your fellow workers and start to understand what makes them tick. Prior to leaving the University when we moved here I organised a team-building day for our busy HR and development department and it was a tad daunting as so many people were specialists in developing others but luckily all went well and it was probably one of my greatest achievements in my ten year career there.

Our Director had said we had to have at least half a day spent doing work based activities and then half day of pure fun. So the morning was spent doing various team tasks and working with some fabulous facilitators to help us all think through the customer experience. Who was our customer and what did they expect and how could we impact the wider aims of the University?

For lunch we went to the student refectory and ate with the students as I wanted everyone to be able to experience the service our ultimate customers receive. Luckily I was able to choose this option as the eating facilities we excellent and this meant we could all have a really enjoyable meal from the very wide variety serviced.

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

8 Top Tips When Recycling

Recycling Image: Shutterstock

I'm so glad that my children are growing up in an age when they don't know any different than recycling everything they can, nowadays it is about 70% of what we no longer want that can be recycled or reused. How different life was when I was small and it all just went into tons of black sacks and then the bin-men came and collected it from your back garden and left you more sacks too! We have to be a bit more proactive nowadays sorting and taking the recycling out but the long term benefits to our small island and ultimately the whole world will be worth it.

In case recycling doesn't float your boat and you are not bought into it as yet, let me share with you some tips to make it easier and more manageable -

1. Get all the family involved. For a while I bored myself silly telling the kids to wash their yogurt cartons or squash the tin cans but now it is just second nature for them to do it and put it in the recycling rather than leaving it on the side for me. It is also the children's job to take the recycling to our designated point and to sort it into the right areas; it is a nice easy way for them to earn some tech time.

2.  Educate yourself. You'd think that recycling across the UK would be pretty universal wouldn't you? But sadly not, there doesn't appear to be any joined up thinking, So some councils will take tetra packs, others plastic carrier bags, some cooked food waste. So as soon as you move to a new area check out the councils website and ensure you know what to do and when to do it and if they don't have kerbside collections for all the things you want, don't throw in the towel, see if there is a collection point you pass on the way to work/ school etc and could easily fit that drop off into your life.