Eats | Ed’s Easy Diner Edinburgh

Ed's Easy Diner Edinburgh

Happy birthday to me (er… two weeks ago…)! For my birthday was back up in Edinburgh for the week. While I was there I managed to squeeze in a visit to the Fort to do a spot of birthday shopping and to check out one of the new eateries there. Ed’s Easy Diner is a chain of restaurants inspired by traditional 1950s American diners. The Edinburgh Fort restaurant was the first to be opened in Scotland but has since been joined by one is Glasgow with Aberdeen and Inverness to follow.

Ed's Easy Diner Edinburgh

We went along during a quiet Thursday lunchtime and enjoyed really quick service. I believe that the restaurant building was purpose built and I love that the included a bar and open kitchen area. And that the chefs have to wear those paper hats!

Ed's Easy Diner Edinburgh Ed's Easy Diner Edinburgh

Every table is adorned with a jukebox loaded with 50s and 60s music. Its 20p per song choice and all the money goes to Action Against Hunger which is a really great cause. We were definitely hogging the speakers with all the Beach Boys and Chuck Berry songs!

Ed's Easy Diner Edinburgh

I guess you’ll be interested in the book then? For a starter we went with the nachos to share and cherry cokes. For me, I was pretty happy that the guacamole came as standard (what is with guac always being extra?!) and that there was no jalapeños but spice fans might be a bit disappointed with the lack of heat.

Ed's Easy Diner Edinburgh Ed's Easy Diner Edinburgh

For his main, David went for the Pulled Pork Burger. It was a tasty burger with a decent amount of pulled pork but not overloaded. The pork was pretty saucy and had a lovely nutty flavour.

Ed's Easy Diner Edinburgh Ed's Easy Diner Edinburgh

I went with the original Coney Island treat – the Chilli Cheese Dog. It was loaded with spicy beef and bean chilli, creamy cheese sauce and diced onions. It was so, so good. A simple meal but done really well. It was very messy to eat though – in a good way of course!

The sides were coleslaw, onions rings and fries. All decent sized portions and well cooked. I especially enjoyed the onion rings.

Ed's Easy Diner Edinburgh Ed's Easy Diner Edinburgh

For dessert we decided on pancakes and of course we had to try their legendary milkshakes. The pancakes came with powdered sugar, vanilla ice cream and maple syrup and were lush! Thick, fluffy, proper American pancakes.

The milkshake I went for was the chocolate and oreo while David just had the oreo with a vanilla base. Both were really thick and delicious. They came in old school style  aluminium cups and each was two servings. Luckily, Ed’s have a supply of takeaway cups so you can save some for later – they are very filling!

Ed's Easy Diner Edinburgh

Overall, I really enjoyed our visit to Ed’s. It was a really fun environment with good, straightforward food done well. Luckily for us, there’s an Ed’s nearby in Gloucester so we’ll definitely be going again next time the hotdog and milkshake cravings hit.

OK, I’m hungry now….

Big thanks to Ed’s Easy Diner for inviting us along to enjoy a complimentary meal. As always, opinions are my own!

 

Book Review | We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves

Book Review We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves Karen Joy Fowler

Rosemary is an apparently introverted college student, a bit of a loner, reluctant to open herself up and share her life with anyone. She has some heavy baggage from childhood that she will absolutely not discuss. In fact, she won’t even allow herself to think about it, self-censoring her own thoughts. Until one day when a chance encounter with a suitably dramatic drama-major unleashes her deeply buried wild side. Harlow crashes into her life smashing plates and yelling, and in this, reminds Rosemary of her long-lost sister; her twin; her “whirlwind other half”; missing since the age of 5; Fern.

Suddenly Rosemary is unable not to think of Fern. She sees her in her classes, in Harlow and mostly, in herself. Realising that confronting the issue will never get any easier, she finally allows herself to revisit and re-interrogate her childhood memories of life with and without Fern.

From here the story dips in and out of present times and flashbacks. The memories are not always told chronologically and this is extremely effective in showing Rosemary’s state of mind as she races through the past having finally allowed the floodgates to open. The happy memories come first and easily while the more painful memories are eked out, forced through conversations with family members. As Rosemary was so young, the nature of the memories call for a good deal of self-reflection which is a really interesting aspect of the book. Are we capable of being self-critical enough to accurately recall past actions? Guilt and hurt are powerful emotions – do our memories self select in order to protect us from feeling them again? Can we trust our own sense of self?

At it’s core, We Are All Completely Beside Ourself is an exploration of our human selves. Does anything separate us from our ape cousins, or do we just tell ourselves that it does? It’s an emotional ride – I not one who generally wells up at books but in particular the passage where Rosemary discovers what happened to Fern hits hard.

By it’s own admission We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves very much starts in the middle. It’s a slow start but it eventually hits it’s stride a few chapters in. Stick with it, it gets good. It gets really good.

Netflix Bad Movie Club

51He’s behind you! B-Movie extraordinaire 51.

David and I have started a new Sunday night tradition. We’re calling it Netflix Bad Movie Club. It’s fairly self explanatory but basically, we find the worst looking film in the horror section – the 1 star jobs – and commit to it. No flaking out if the script is terrible, no falling asleep or choosing some thing else – we’re in this ’til the bitter end.

I love horror movies, the good and the bad so as it’s Friday the 13th I thought I’d share what we’ve watched so far…

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This is a proper b-movie. Terrible acting, script, effects, premise and someone you vaguely recognise from TV in the 90s. And it was directed by Sean Connery’s son. I kinda loved it.

The-Dorm-2014-movie-The Dorm
Kinda like Death Becomes Her for college students. But not funny. And with no Bruce Willis. So crap. And look at that poor actress’ terrible wig. Shocking.

large_Preservation_web_2Preservation
It had Pornstache from OITNB in it! This was like an American version of the actually-very-good British film Eden Lake predictably done badly. Laughable but watchable. Expect the bit where they wake to find that someone has stolen their tents from around them and drawn X’s on their foreheads with markers. They should have drawn dicks. One of them is meant to be in the military FFS.

Chernobyl-Diaries-CastChernobyl Diaries
I actually thought this one would be good! However, the characters were so mind-numbingly stupid you wanted them to die. “Oh my God, the nearest help point is 10 miles away, I’ll just stay here ’til it gets dark and the monsters come back” Just walk to the fucking checkpoint! It’s not that far!! I think is is no longer on Netflix. Probably just as well.

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I can’t even remember what happens. Nothing I think. It was either a possession or a poltergeist. The still is scarier than the film.

grace_03_largeGrace
This was about a women whose baby died but then came back to life and needed to be fed on human blood. Somehow. I have no idea how it happened. There’s also an extremely uncomfortable side story about a mother-in-law obsessed with breast-feeding. The last 5 minutes are hilarious though. It all goes a bit Thelma and Louise.

The Quiet OnesThe Quiet Ones
“Based on true events” yeah, yeah, possessed girl, scientists, you know the drill. The difference is that this one was set in the 60s and you can’t really hear the dialogue. They took the title too literally.

What horrors (in both senses) have you uncovered in the depth of Netflix? Send me some recommendations please!

Adopting a Kitten | All About Tilly

Adopting a Kitten | All About Tilly

This is a post I’ve been meaning to do for ages, and since the warmer months and “kitten season” are on their way I thought this would be good timing. We adopted this little bundle of fluff in mid-September from the Scottish SPCA when she was 9-weeks old. She was from a litter of 7(!) who came in when the mother’s owner couldn’t look after them. The SSPCA were great and allowed us to take her as soon as she had her first set of vaccinations. There was a charge of £70 but we were given vouchers for free neutering and microchipping which actually costs about the same anyway. Tilly is the is the first kitten I have had so I’m no expert, but I have learnt a lot.

Adopting a Kitten | All About Tilly

As a teeny kitten Tilly loved snuggling, hiding under the sofa and farting. Oh my God, little kittens are stinky! The first week she was home we had people keep her company while I was at work (lots of volunteers for that!) so she met lots of people and has no shyness around new folk. For the next four weeks I went home every lunchtime to feed her as she needed 4 small meals a day. She needed as much company, playtime and attention as possible so a kitten is a much bigger time commitment than even an adult can is.

Adopting a Kitten | All About Tilly

She really loved snuggling! I would say that cat beds are fairly pointless, they’ll never sleep where you want them to. My advice would be to just buy a couple of cosy jumpers, I got really good fluffy ones from Asda.

Around this time she also got into the very bad habit of climbing up people. Me, visitors, the vet – everyone was a climbing frame. All the scratches. This was really frustrating, not to mention painful. But honestly, if you have a climber, don’t worry, they do grow out of it. The vet did trim the very tip of her claws so that she could still climb but it wasn’t as painful for her victim.

Adopting a Kitten | All About Tilly

The Big Move. In December we moved to Gloucester – a 7 hour drive and a new house to cope with. Tilly was a total star. She mostly slept on the journey down because we left mid-afternoon. If you’re having to do an unavoidable journey with a kitten I’d say that medications etc aren’t necessary, just plan it for when they usually have a sleep. There will be moaning but it won’t be as bad as with a wide-awake cat. I was surprised (and proud) at how well Tilly coped with it all.


Adopting a Kitten | All About Tilly

 

A fun thing we learnt this year – kittens loose their teeth! Yep, like kids, they have baby teeth that fall out around the age of 4-6 months. We discovered this after an incident with a stuffed panda and some frantic Googling.

Tilly’s adoption story shows how important it is to neuter your pets. We definitely didn’t want her to end up like her mum with seven babies. Cats can get pregnant from four months so it’s recommended that you keep them in until they can get neuter at 5 months. As far as I understand, the operation is really straightforward for boys and doesn’t require stitches but it’s a more invasive for the ladies. Tilly snookered herself by immediately chewing at her stitches so had to wear the cone of shame for a week. She was obviously very uncomfortable for a couple of days but was back to her usual self by the end of the week.

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But neutering is necessary if you want to let your kitty outside. Tilly now has access to the great outdoors although she’s restricted to our back garden for now as she’s too wee to jump the fence. After a very shaky (trembling with fear/cold) she now loves being able to investigate all the new smells, sights and sounds outside.

Adopting a Kitten | All About Tilly

She’s getting bigger and more grown up every day but she still loves a cuddle. She also hasn’t yet grown out of her suckling habit from babyhood and those Asda jumpers are basically her surrogate momma.

Adopting a Kitten | All About Tilly

So looking after a kitten is definitely hard work. It takes a lot of time, patience and money. I’ve had a lot of scratches – some quite bad, broken ornaments, chewed bags, my sofa has been wrecked. As well as food, there is insurance, vet bills, litter, toys, flea treatment and holiday boarding to be paid for. But she is worth it all. She’s part of our family now.

Lastly, I would urge anyone thinking about getting a kitten to adopt not shop. Sadly people sometimes let their pets breed indiscriminately and if they can’t sell the kittens on Gumtree, they end up in shelters like the SSPCA. Don’t give them your money.

If you have any questions about the adoption process or looking after a cat or kitten, please just ask below. As you can tell it something I’m always happy to talk about!

 

Book Review | This One Is Mine by Maria Semple

Book Review Marie Semple This One Is MineThis One is Mine by Maria Semple

Violet Parry is bored. Bored, depressed and on the verge of of doing something reckless. Once a well-known TV writer, she gave up her job to become a stay-at-home mother to baby Dot and wife to hot-shot music exec David. However, she feels isolated by David’s busy career and apparent indifference to her, she feels unable to cope with Dot and leaves her with their nanny as often as possible and she has given up on the home improvements she imagined making. Instead, she drives listlessly around LA, constantly on the brink of tears, impulse buying designer hats and artisan chocolates. Then she meets Teddy Reyes. A down-and-out “musician”/drug addict who has an irresistible appeal to her. The sudden jolt of excitement throws her into a tailspin, desperately chasing an affair with Teddy, risking her marriage and her comfortable life.

Meanwhile, David’s sister Sally is chasing her own dream. As a diabetic she had to give up her ambition of dancing for a professional ballet company and relies on David to pay her doctors bills. Drifting along as a ballet coach to little girls, she sees her only way out of debt, and dependence on David, is to find a rich husband. And fast. So when she is introduced to up-and-coming sports reporter Jeremy White, the dollar signs flash in her eye and she immediately hits fast forward on their relationship, turning a blind eye to the fast emerging flaws.

I picked up this book because I loved Semple’s second book, Where’d You Go, Bernadette?  so I was sure her debut novel would have the same mix of sassy humour and warmth. However, This One is Mine falls far short of it’s successor. The key plot points are ridiculous and full of holes so the story falls flat on it’s face before it even starts. For example, Jeremy clearly has Aspergers Syndrome, it’s blatantly obvious to the reader, and indeed all the other character in the book except Sally. She doesn’t find out until after their wedding and then feels betrayed by the fact that no one told her. Er….OK.

Even worse is the fact that all of the characters are repellent. Perhaps this is done on purpose, as a side-eyes look at the privileged lives of the LA media types. However, it really doesn’t come across this way. The casually racist way David and Violet refer to their nanny, the selfish, single-minded personality of Sally, Teddy Reyes. Teddy is another major sticking point for me. He is just gross. It is simply unbelievable that Violet would be attracted to him – she even says herself at several points that he is unclean with bad teeth, filthy fingernails and greasy hair. He has literally no redeeming features yet we are expected to buy that Violet loves him, that David accepts this and that Sally forgives him for giving her Hep C. Oops, spoiler alert – he uses one of her insulin needles AT HER WEDDING and infects her. But it’s OK ‘cos he’s a loveable rogue. Apparently. Ugh.

Sorry, that turned into a bit of a rant, but I was so disappointed in this one. Skip it and stick to Bernadette, it’s like night and day.

#HillarysCrafternoon with Joe Blogs

#HillarysCrafternoon with Joe Blogs

 

Last weekend I headed up to Birmingham’s Custard Factory to spend the afternoon doing some crafting courtesy of Hillary’s Blinds with Joe Blogs and The Crafty Hen. Using fabric from the new range at Hillary’s we were shown a couple of beginner’s sewing projects.

#HillarysCrafternoon with Joe Blogs

First up were some notebook covers. I selected a bold blue and white patterned fabric, as I liked the painterly quality of the print. The project itself was really simple – a few folds, couple of stitches, some hot glue for the button detailing and you’re done. Now most bloggers love their stationery so this project definitely appealed and it had the benefit of inspiring confidence in our crafting  abilities.

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#HillarysCrafternoon with Joe Blogs

The next project was a bit trickier. This time we were making a stuffed bird. I choose a yellow leaf pattern for this (I think it’s called Isra Linden) and a contrasting grey geometric pattern for the belly. Mine frayed a bit when I was stuffing it but I’m happy to call that one ‘feather detailing’. I don’t think I’ll be joining the leagues of master toy makers any time soon, but it’s good enough to become a cat toy! The kitten hasn’t managed to undo all the stitching yet so I’ll take that as a win.

#HillarysCrafternoon with Joe BlogsPhoto courtesy of Joe Blogs

At the end of the day we were able to take our craft projects home with us (with instructions if we wanted to DIY at home again) along with a really cute tote bag made from Hillary’s materials – mine is the red version of my notebook fabric – and some other goodies.

It was a really fun day and superbly organised by Joe Blogs. The tutors from The Crafty Hen were really friendly and happy to help crafters at all levels of skill. Big thanks to everyone and to Hillary’s for having us. Alongside the Birmingham crafternoon they also hosted events in Cardiff, Newcastle and Glasgow and you can read all about their adventures on their blog here.

Lucky Dip Club | Love Hearts and Lipstick

Lucky Dip Club February Lovehearts and Lipstick

I do love Lucky Dip Club days. As you most likely already know the score with them now I’ll just skip straight to the contents.

As February is the month of love (Valentine’s Day being slap bang in the middle and all), the theme was “Love Hearts and Lipstick”. The collaboration was with LaLaLand so featured a personalised pencil from PopCult Pencils. It also included a glittery pout badge, washi tape with sweet slogans, a love letter necklace and a patch DIY kit.

Lucky Dip Club February Lovehearts and Lipstick

The necklace is so dainty and pretty!

Lucky Dip Club February Lovehearts and Lipstick

I made some nautical themed patches with the DIY kit. Not perfect but I like them. I’m enjoying doing some basic sewing so I might try and get some more practice in and learn a few more techniques.

‘Til next month, S.W.A.L.K!