Innovate with Barclays Eagle Labs [Ad]

The Barclays Eagle lab is a hub within CodeBase, the technology incubator. They provide technology and office space to local businesses and communities, as well as mentoring to help these businesses grow. The Barclays team have a variety of different skills so they can help resident business approach a whole range of challenges they face. I was invited to experience the Eagle Lab in Edinburgh to get an idea of the technology and innovation that local businesses can make use of. While this was a sponsored opportunity, I was blown away by the scope of what’s available.

The ultimate foodie guide to Edinburgh's Easter Road

To coincide with the Colony of Artists and Out of the Blue Abbeymount open studios weekend, I’ve pulled together a guide to some of the lovely places to eat and drink around Easter Road. Some of them are Edinburgh institutions, others, new faces drawn to the area’s burgeoning foodie reputation. There are more than 50 artists exhibiting at this year’s events, so you will definitely need to take time for a lunch, cake or coffee break at a few of these spots 

food, drinks, Edinburgh

A foraged feast - Nature Nurture Eat with the Buck and Birch

Rupert and Tom, aka The Buck and Birch are a pair of innovative chef-foragers, also responsible for award winning drink Aelder Elixir. They have a depth of knowledge and passion for plants far beyond the current trend for putting some wild garlic on the menu and calling it foraged. This year they are putting on a series of pop-up dinners combining seven courses of wild treats with matching botanical cocktails in collaboration with award winning mixologist Miran Chauhan.

a totally last minute gift guide - thoughtful local gifts and vouchers

The internet currently awash with gift guides (plus sponsorship opportunities and affiliate links for bloggers, excuse my cynicism!), so I've put together a list of gifts from £2 - £200 that hopefully not only will be well received but also that you can go and buy in Edinburgh, today, or vouchers that you can print and hand over if you don't want to brave the crowds or aren't actually in Edinburgh. There's nothing in it for me, these are just local businesses that I've come across and love to support and hope you will too.

Drinks:

Mr Eion Coffee hamper: pop into Mr Eoin's Stockbridge coffee roastery and shop where you can pick up a gift box containing an Aeropress, filters and a bag of his special Festive Blend coffee. The coffees are ethically sourced and carefully roasted in the shop. The blog is powered by his Moustache Twirler blend, without which I can barely function.  He also stocks a lovely range of coffee pots and whole rainbow of cups to make your morning coffee delicious and instagrammable! Open 10-5 most days, and 11-4 on Christmas Eve (or until the coffee runs out). Then he's closed until 3rd January, so don't forget to stock up or you risk a very large Hogmanay Hangover indeed.

Aelder Elixir: Tom and Rupert, the duo behind The Buck and Birch supper club have come up with this liqueur hand crafted in small batches combining foraged Elderberries and wild Scottish botanicals and spices, blended with Scottish whisky. Try it on its own or in one of the cocktails suggested on their site. My favouriteway to drink it is the Aelder Negroni with Rosemary. You should be able to pick up a bottle or two from  Vino or Royal Mile Whiskies (spoiler alert for family members who may be receiving a bottle of this in the next few days)

Old Curiosity Gin: there are so many new fancy gins on the market, but I really really love these floral spirits made with such care by the team at the Secret Herb Garden. Infused with botanicals grown at their Pentlands nursery, they almost have medicinal properties. Plus, the gins magically change colour when you add tonic! They pair very well with another favourite of mine, Bon Accord tonic which contains a lot less sugar than the usual brand. Of the three flavours; Chamomile & Cornflour, Apothecary Rose and Lavender & Echinacea, my favourite is the delicate rose. However, I recently made a gin and lavender sorbet which went down a storm and I'll pop the recipe here soon. Lots of stockists in Edinburgh, find your nearest one here 

Eteaket teas: I only recently discovered Eteaket teas. They have a lovely cafe on Frederick Street, but also a store on Rose St where you can sample their huge range of teas, Coco chocolates and accessories, there is something here for every budget and taste.  After a tea tasting session (recommended) I won a subscription to their tea club which I'm really enjoying trying a selection of different teas which arrive magically in the post each month. 

 

Vouchers and experiences: 

Afternoon tea at the Balmoral: absolutely the best afternoon tea in Edinburgh I think (and I've tried a few). The glamorous setting in Palm Court, plus the care put into making all the delicate pastries and sandwiches which can be served with an amazing silver needle tea grown in Scotland really makes this a special experience. From £40. you can book online 

Giant Lanterns of China at Edinburgh Zoo: this installation of over 450 dazzling giant lanterns illuminates the Zoo spectacularly each night and continues until February 25th if you are looking for something to do in that awkward week of school holidays after Hogmanay. I took the 6 year old to the opening night, and we both absolutely loved it. Created by 150 artisans and using 16,000m of silk and 20,000 low energy lightbulbs, the lanterns create a totally magical atmosphere as you walk around the trail, but also highlight the Zoo's work as a conservation charity. Tickets from about £10 and under 3s go free.

Narcissus Flowers: one of my favourite florists, you could pop into their shop in Broughton St, open until 4pm on 24th December, or you can buy a gift voucher and a flower subscription service from their online store. They also have a flower school where you can learn the art (and craft) of flower arranging. Note to Santa, I'd love to do this myself, if you could please also provide a babysitting voucher...

A tour with Rabbies, Edinburgh Photowalks or Iconic tours. I've lived in Edinburgh for 14 years, but whenever I've taken a tour with these folks I've had a brilliant time and come away having learnt so much and made some new friends in the process.

National Trust for Scotland membership: we've been making the most of the family membership gifted to us by the National Trust for Scotland. They look after 129 properties across Scotland. Membership gives you free access to those including 10 spectacular castles. They also look after large chunks of iconic Scottish landscape such as St Kilda and Glencoe, including 400 islands and 400 miles of footpaths, all supported by their members. There's also a reciprocal arrangement with other similar organisations so members can also access the English National Trust's properties for free, and others in the USA, Canada, or the Cayman Islands if you happen to be visiting.

A donut making course at Baba Budan. I didn't really get the whole recent donut obsession until I discovered Baba Budan. Their bakers come in at 3am to make the dough and their donuts are amazing. They also do really really good coffee to go with them. Now they offer a two hour donut making class for £55, plus you get to take home what you bake. I'll be booking it for myself in the new year...

So, happy shopping, and wishing you all a calm and merry Christmas. I'm about to sit down with a mince pie and glass of mulled wine - cheers!

 

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Family life, Italy, travel

My most unforgettable holiday moment and a chance to win a holiday from British Airways Holidays (sponsored post)

Do you have an unforgettable holiday moment? What I tend to remember from a holiday are the imperfect moments, the mini-disasters that we can (usually) look back on and laugh at, and, with the benefit of hindsight, enjoy. Share yours to be in with a chance to win a British Airways Holiday