Friday, 20 June 2014

Event: #GoogleCityExperts Dine The Decades

When the email came through to Google's City Experts announcing that their next event would be  called "Dine The Decades", I did a little out loud squeal. Food? History? In the same place? Yes please! Instructions were mysterious: meet underneath the Castle, and be transported back in time (via a vintage red bus and a magical mystery tour) to a secret location.
So much guessing. Excited giggles. Cheers as the bus made it up the biggest cobbled hill in Edinburgh without needing a push. And we arrived... at a factory on an industrial estate near the old harbour. 
But inside this converted lighthouse, a vintage fan's dream... 
Through the curtains to gasps of delight. Three tables, three zones, three decades. 

First up: 1910s. Bowls of fruit, glass vases, and entertainments. Flowers. Red wine punch. Beef shin pie, pickled vegetables, asparagus soup.  
Second round: 1940s. Rationing, garden flowers and memorabilia. Bunting. Millionaire's cocktails. Pork terrine, allotment vegetable salad, chutney and brown bread.
Third round: 1970s. Sideboards, floral patterns, board games. Sheepskin. Ramos Gin Fizz. Fondue, crudités, pineapple and cheese hedgehogs. 
To finish: a trio of mini deserts from the eras. Bakewell tart, jelly pots,  Black Forest gateau chocolates. 
I was in geek heaven. Jelly and Gin's food was delicious, the hosts (actors in period costume) were hilarious and the attention to detail was amazing - right down to the soda syphons behind the bar. Brilliant night.

Friday, 6 June 2014

Lake District: Scones with a View

When I was a student, my mum and stepdad moved away from Leeds where I grew up, and settled in the Lake District. At that point I was living in London, and the contrast between the big city and rural countryside - neither of which I knew very well - was a bit overwhelming. Mum also didn't know either very well, so we spent weekends visiting each other and exploring. London was museums, architecture and walks. The Lake District was cream teas, scenery and walks. Now I see the Lake District as "home", nearly as much as Yorkshire. There's a familiarity to the winding roads and the picturesque towns.
The hills, from the bottom of the garden
Every time I visit, mum and I still try to explore somewhere new. This time we visited a the perfect scone spot, up in the hills. It's a farmhouse tea room and B&B - there's quite a few of them in the Lakes, catering to walkers, with lovely fresh food and home baking. I fell in love with the spot on first sight. Who wouldn't?

Monday, 2 June 2014

Edinburgh: Shutter Art

Considering how much time I spend walking around Edinburgh, it's rare that I see much street art. I'm not sure why it's not as prevalent as in other cities - even Glasgow is getting on board nowadays. Maybe I just don't spot much of it because it's tucked away down side streets. Although there has been a lack of guerrilla talent popping up on Edinburgh's streets, there has been a more concerted effort to bring condoned, authorised colour into the city.

I really love the painted shutters along Leith Walk, they're a brilliant way of adding a bit of extra colour to one of the city's busiest main roads. Leith is one of the most densely populated areas in Scotland, with tightly packed tenements squeezed in between two main thoroughfares in and out of town. It used to be a separate town, and still retains a strong sense of community, complete with its own mini arts festival, LeithLates. The Shutter Project was part of the festival in 2012, and has slowly been added to ever since. Such a fantastic way of celebrating the increasing artistic nature of the area, while adding vibrancy to what would otherwise be a standard city street.
I've also spotted painted shutters in a different part of town. Dumbiedykes is a small estate, squeezed in between Holyrood park and Old Town, with beautiful views of Arthur's Seat. Despite the city centre location though, the area has developed a bit of a negative reputation over the years. As part of a local regeneration scheme, a local designer worked with youth groups during school holidays to create a mural on an unused shopping parade. 
I love this idea. Giant canvases for community projects, reducing the likelihood of graffiti and damage to the buildings, and adding personality to otherwise grey and somewhat generic estates. It's impossible not to see them and smile.