Dinosaurs Return at Edinburgh Zoo

Dinosaurs Return at Edinburgh Zoo

Dinosaurs Return at Edinburgh Zoo

Last week I went to another of Edinburgh Zoo‘s Zoo Nights – after hours access for adults only with extra food, drink and entertainment. As with the one I went to last year it was a fantastically organised night and we did enjoy a cheeky tipple, but the highlight was the Dinosaurs Return exhibition.

Dinosaurs Return at Edinburgh Zoo

Neatly coinciding with the release of Jurassic World, the Dinosaurs Return exhibition features realistic and almost life-size animatronic dinosaurs. It features well known dinos like the Triceratops (top) and lesser known beasts such as the… er… whatever the above one is called! Sorry!

Dinosaurs Return at Edinburgh Zoo

The Parasaurolophus had a whole nest of hatchlings – so cute! The zoo had gone to the extra effort of making sure that the plants used in the exhibitions were as close as they could get to what the animals would have really had. I think that was such a great touch, especially for a temporary exhibition.

Dinosaurs Return at Edinburgh Zoo

Our Canadian friend who was with us was excited to learn that there was a Canadian dinosaur there – the Edmontonia. The zoo also gave information on similarities to non-extinct animals, the obvious comparison here being an armadillo.

Dinosaurs Return at Edinburgh Zoo


The T-Rex was always going to be the star of the show and this one looked awesome! Even if it didn’t have feathers. 

Dinosaurs Return at Edinburgh Zoo

It was also pretty fun to run around taking #SelfieSaurus pics.

I really recommend heading down to Edinburgh Zoo before 1st November to check out the exhibition. It’ll go down a treat with all kids – young and old! It by far exceeded expectations and if I was still in Edinburgh I’d definitely go again before it closes.

Dinosaurs Return at Edinburgh Zoo

Not a dinosaur, but a bonus pick of one of the adorable penguin chicks at the zoo. As if you need another reason to visit!

Eat Drink Discover Scotland 2014

Eat Drink Discover Scotland

One thing I think we can all agree on is that Scotland has some pretty awesome food. Forget about your stereotypes of deep fried Mars Bars and Irn Bru (forgive me Bru, I love you really), Eat Drink Discover Scotland showcases Scottish cuisine at its best, it’s freshest and it’s most creative. For me and David, it was a chance to treat ourselves so we headed along to the Royal Highland Centre last Sunday with empty bellies and full wallets, planning to reverse this sharpish.

Eat Drink Discover ScotlandEat Drink Discover Scotland Eat Drink Discover Scotland

The exhibition hall was divided in geographical regions, from Orkney to the Borders, with a bonus island of “Chocolate Zone” as well as a couple of stages with chefs demonstrating recipes, an education area, and a masterclass area. We didn’t sign up for any masterclasses, but we did enjoy wandering through the stall, listening in to some of the presentations and chatting to the exhibitors. Between trying samples and filling our shopping bags we also stopped for a buffalo burger from The Buffalo Farm in Fife and a scoop of my favourite honeycomb ice cream from Mackies from the Grampian area.

Wanna see what we bought?

Eat Drink Discover Scotland haul

Predictably it includes chocolate, cheese and cake.

Eat Drink Discover Scotland Haul

This caramel shortcake cheesecake from the Handmade Cheesecake Company in Ayr is without a doubt, the best cheesecake I have ever eaten in my life. The BEST. EVER. IN MY WHOLE LIFE. Really. It was perfect. And that caramel sauce – oh holy hell, that was beyond perfect. It was dream-like. Luckily for us, they deliver nationwide. Who will send me a profiterole cheesecake for my birthday? Profiteroles! On a cheesecake! I need it!!

Eat Drink Discover Scotland hau

OK. I’ve calmed down now. But only slightly, because Mackies is making chocolate now! They had a wee deal so I got all four flavours. I would say that the traditional milk chocolate one is not that special but the rest are amazing, especially the dark and the mint. I can see the mint bar being a regular addition to my shopping basket.

Eat Drink Discover Scotland Haul

To Orkney and obviously I had to try some cheese and oatcakes. I can’t get enough smoked cheese in my life so we picked up some from The Island Smokery. Very nice indeed! But you can’t eat cheese by itself so we also purchased some rough oatcakes from Stockans and for a fancy addition, some pate from Castle MacLellan all the way over in Dumfries and Galloway.

Eat Drink Discover Scotland Haul

Over in the Edinburgh section, David was drawn to these little sachets from Flavour Magic. The Chilli and the Smoked packets are flavour infused rock salt for jazzing up your cooking and they pack a lot of flavour in there. We’ve had the smoked rock salt on steak last week and it was lush! The Togarashi is a Japanese spice blend that is wonderfully complex and unique. Both the Togarashi and the Chilli have an intense afterburn! Great for spice lovers as the heat hits you after the flavour has a chance to build, so the flavour is not overpowered – very impressive.

Eat Drink Discover Scotland Haul

From Perthshire we got these absolutely delicious oils and dressings. It was a mix and match selection so we got a cold pressed rapeseed oil and two dressings – chilli and red pepper and apple and walnut. These are seriously good! I’ve been having the chilli dressing drizzled over spaghetti for a super quick dinner and it’s just lovely.

Eat Drink Discover Scotland Haul

Lastly I got some coconut ice from Handmade Tempting Treats in the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs area. Love coconut ice. Yum yum yum yum yum.

Didn’t we get a good selection? I was also tempted by the Edinburgh Gin stall, the cider and alll the meat, but I had to control myself. Overall, it was a great day out. Buy local! It’s good.

August Planning | Edinburgh Festivals

Festival brochures

I’m sure you’ve seen countless “Fringe Picks” and “Guides to the Edinburgh Festivals” over the past couple of weeks, but here’s mine. Slightly tardy to the party as usual!

Let’s start with my favourite August festival: Edinburgh International Book Festival. I’ll be heading to Charlotte Sq for ice-cream and book-shopping every sunny afternoon I get. I’m also looking forward to the Stripped 2014 strand which celebrates graphic novels and comics including Bryan Lee O’Malley talking about life after the Scott Pilgrim phenomenon and IDP2043, a new graphic novel depicting a dystopian vision of Edinburgh to launch at the Festival. Also, after completely failing to get tickets for George R R Martin, I super happy to hear that his interviews will be broadcast live on BBC Arts. EdBookFest, you are the bomb.

I always have a bit of a lax attitude when it comes to booking tickets for the Edinburgh Festival Fringe shows. I am definitely going to see Axis of Awesome,  21 Things You Should Know About Toronto’s Crack-Smoking Mayor (for the name alone right?!) and Object of my Affection by MurleyDance but for the rest of the month I’ll probably just go off friend’s recommendations. I do already have my eye on Bianco by NoFit State Circus.

The Edinburgh International Festival always brings shows of the very highest quality and this year I am dying to see the James Plays. These three new plays by the National Theatre of Scotland explore Scotland’s past, present and future through three of the Stewart kings. And of course, the [Virgin Money] Fireworks Concert is always a highlight.

I usually plan an Edinburgh Art Festival day where I’ll grab a guide and go round as many galleries as I can so I never have much of a plan for EAF. However, I do know I’ll be hitting up the Where Do I End and You Begin exhibition at the City Art Centre as my starting point.

So yeah, sure it’ll be a fun, busy month. Have I missed anything? What is your must-see show/exhibition/event this month?

Sunday Catch Up #12


This week I have mostly been burning through money like it’s going out of fashion. I’ve desperately been needing a new laptop for ages so I picked one up this week. It wasn’t expensive but I used this as an excuse to justify also buying a new satchel (mint of course), tickets for a comedy show, flowers etc. I may have to do a May spending ban…

Made Up


I went to a couple of Science Festival events this week. Last Saturday I went to Made Up? at Summerhall which was an exploration of the science of cosmetics. There was a bit of history thrown in with an 18th century live makeover. The foundation was a bit pale (white was the fashion to cover up sores) but the rouge used on the cheeks and lips reminded me a lot of Benetint – things haven’t changed that much! We also had the chance to make our own charcoal based facemasks.


My mask was a bit lumpy but seemed to work OK. Don’t think I’ll be giving up my Origins too soon thought!

I also popped along to the Wildlife Photographer of the Year Exhibition at National Museum Scotland which was fantastic. It’s on until the 1st of June and absolutely fee so I really recommend this for any animal/nature/photography fan. It’s based in one room so easy to get round even if you only have a free 15 minutes.

The other major event this week (aside from being crazy busy at work) was introducing my parents and David’s parents. After 5 years this shouldn’t be a big deal but as we were meeting for lunch it seemed a bit formal. Went very well though – phew! We went to the Sun Inn which is local to the village my parents live in and is really nice. It’s a fairly standards Scottish gastro-pub style place but has won lots of awards so definitely worth a visit and not too far out of the city.

Tulips and Mini Eggs

Happy Easter everyone!

Science Festival Exhibits

PiscesAs you probably know, I’m a big fan of the Edinburgh International Science Festival. One of the great things is the pop-up, free events such as exhibitions. This year there are two that stand out.

Pisces by Jason Hackenwerth PiscesSuspended from the Grand Gallery roof of the National Museum Scotland, Pisces is an epic feat of balloon art. Hackenwerth’s inspiration came from the legend of Eros and Aphrodite who disguised themselves as intertwined fish – the namesake Pisces. The 10,000 balloons spiral downwards, a giant open maw hovering above your head, invoking the myth of the Leviathan and the mysterious creatures of the deep. Pisces is complemented by exhibits around deep-sea exploration, including the Falcon, a remote operated vehicle. FalconNot sure I would have named a sea-faring camera after a bird by hey-ho.

PiscesPlayful, mesmerizing and awe-inspiring, Pisces is an exciting additional to an already fantastic museum. It is on display until 14th April so don’t miss it!

Patterns in Nature patterns in natureThis year, the annual outdoor exhibition at St Andrews Square looks at the beauty of naturally occurring patterns, colours and shapes. Each subject is wonderfully photographed and accompanied by an explanation of the occurences, as well as often explaining how the photograph itself was taken.

EISF Patterns in natureEISF Patterns in NatureEach stand is double-sided so I’d recommend that you give yourself a good half hour to fully experience the whole exhibition in one, or if you’re a regular to that part of town, it also lends itself well to dipping in and out of. And don’t forget to wrap up warm since we’ve been seeing a lot of the above pictured snowflakes!

Exhibition Review – John Bellany: A Passion for Life

Scottish National Gallery, Edinburgh from 17th November 2012 to 27th January 2013

I’ve been a big fan of Bellany ever since first year at high school when I was introduced to his work by my art teacher. Bellany is not part of the traditional school curriculum, but he should be, especially in Scotland. My teacher hailed from the same part of East Lothian as Bellany and he spoke of visiting his studio as a student and witnessing him frantically painting a triptych halfway up a ladder and half cut. He used Bellany’s paintings to teach us about everything from symbolism to leading the eye around a frame. But the most important thing that these lessons taught us was about passion. Whether it was Bellany’s passion for creating art, his home, his loved ones, or finding inspiration from other artists, it was clear that when it came to art, passion was key. It was with this in mind that I went along to the aptly named retrospective: A Passion for Life.

This is the National Galleries Scotland’s second retrospective of Bellany’s work, the first being over 20 years ago. Prompted by an event which I’m sure Bellany himself often didn’t think he’d see, his 70th birthday, this exhibition spans from his early work as a student at Edinburgh College of Art right up until the habour-scapes that he is painting today. Bellany has distinct periods of work and the exhibition is laid out chronologically, something which suits Bellany’s work. For me personally, the most interesting period of Bellany’s work was the 60’s in which he was painting lot of figurative work such as fishermen in ‘The Obsession’ (1966) and holocaust victims such as ‘Pourqoui?’ and ‘Pourquoi? II’ (1967), all of which are on display in this exhibition. The 70’s brought the impressive triptych of my art teachers stories, while we see the deterioration of Bellany’s mind and health reflected in the wild brush marks in paintings of the 80’s. My mum, herself a nurse, was especially moved by the Addenbrooke Hospital Series and in particular the mere scribbles that Bellany managed at his most weak, following his life-saving liver transplant operation in 1988. It was reported that Bellany asked for a pencil following his operation stating that he would know he was alive if he could draw, testament to his passion for his work. Following this we see a new lease of life with bright, lively paintings that have characterised Bellany’s work since. The changing styles are all well represented in this retrospective with no one period gaining dominance of any of the others.

Even if you’re not a fan of Bellany (really!?) this exhibition is a must see. Spanning five decades and the whole spectrum of human emotion, A Passion for Life offers the chance to see the development of one of Scotland’s finest artists and reminds us how powerful painting can be.