Althought we like eating at the Grange when we visit North Berwick, we decided to try somewhere different, the Bella Italia in the High Street, on our most recent visit.
I was attracted by the three course set lunch for Â£8.95, which seemed to offer great value for money, as the average cost of a plate of fish and chips in a pub was around Â£8.
We both had the Meatball starter which was served with garlic bread.
My husband had Scampi, served with chips & salad, for his main course.
I had the Spinach & Ricotta Cannelloni.
We both ordered the Cheesecake for dessert.
As there was only one portion remaining, we ordered a Chocoate Fudge Cake. It turned out to be a good thing. Although the Cheesecake was good, it was more like a moist sponge and quite sweet. The Chocolate Fudge Cake was excellent; very chocolatey but not too sweet.
It was a good decision to eat at Bella Italia, as the food was really tasty and freshly cooked.Â If you’re visiting North Berwick, I recommend that you check if the Â£8.95 three course lunch is on offer, as it isn’t mentioned on the restaurant’s website.
The ‘Front Page’ exhibition of iconic magazine coversÂ runs until 8 June 2014 at the Old Gala House museum and gallery in Galashields in the Scottish Borders. The exhibition is made more fun by the various related masks and head gear that you can wear.
Â Dalek cover on Radio Times
Beth Ditto cover on NME
Â Margaret Thatcher cover on Sunday Times magazine
Marilyn Monroe cover on SEE
Â Me as Elvis by Elvis cut out cover on Time Out
Â John Lennon & Yoko Ono cover on Roilling Stone
Â Nixon Tapes cover on Newsweek
Tony Blair/David Cameron Face Transplant cover on Private Eye
Â Gene Tierney cover on everybody’s
Â Bjork cover on Dazed
Gail Porter cover on FHM (beamed onto Houses of Parliament)
It’s a good idea to double check the opening hours at Old Gala House by phoningÂ 01896 75261101896 752611 before you visit, as they vary from month to month.
March to May and September – Tuesday to Saturday 10.00am-4.00pm
June to August – Monday to Saturday 10.00am-4.00pm and Sunday 1.00pm-4.00pm
I had lunch with one of our sons at the Cosmo Restaurant, beside Edinburgh’s Omni Centre, on a Friday in late February. We’d tried to have lunch there on a Saturday a couple of weeks earlier, after it’d been recommended on Twitter, but gave up when we saw the long queue to get a table.
As I had to check out of the nearby Travelodge Edinburgh Central Waterloo Place at noon, I decided to walk straight to the restaurant to ensure we’d get a table by the time our son arrived at 12.30. When I arrived at 12.15 there was no queue. I was thoughtfully given a table by the wall so that my luggage would be out of the way.
Arriving early also meant that I could take photos without being in anyone’s way.
There’s a good selection of Thai, Chinese, Indian and Italian food. However, a couple of serving stations were empty with signs saying that they were only open in the evening.
With the exception of a fatty piece of lamb, all the chicken, beef and seafood that I ate were of very good quality.
By 12.45 the Cosmo restaurant was full, resulting in lengthy queues at all the serving stations. As it’s a large restaurant, it was getting a bit chaotic with so many people wandering around with platefuls of food. Both our son and I selected food with the easiest access, versus a considered choice, to reduce queueing time.
The desserts were good, with a selection of Profiteroles, Banoffee Gateau, Toffee Apple Tart, Chocoate Cake, fresh fruit and ice cream.
It costs £7.99 for lunch on weekdays. I’d recommend that you either arrive around noon or 13.30 on a weekday; lunch is served until 15.00. The price for lunch goes up to £10.99 on Saturdays (served until 16.00) and £13.99 to eat at any time on Sundays. The website says there is normally a time limit for table occupation of one hour and 45 minutes, which may be reduced to one hour and 30 minutes at busy times, but I don’t know if that’s enforced.
In summary, I thought that the Cosmo Restaurant offered excellent value for money for a tasty, quality selection. I’d prefer to have a larger plate, to reduce the number of times I’d have to queue up for food at busy times and to have more space between the tables.
Scott’s View was a favourite viewing point of the Scottish writer Sir Walter Scott, author of Ivanhoe and Rob Roy. It’s located close to the village of St Boswells. It’s another of these places in the Scottish Borders which I’d been meaning to visit for ages. Seeing Scott’s View featured on a TV programme about walking St Cuthbert’s Way from Melrose to Holy Island spurned me into action. A couple of weeks later, we were admiring the view down over the River Tweed with the Eildon Hills on the horizon. There’s a fair bit of parking available, leading me to assume it could get rather busy on a sunny weekend. We were there in late February and had the place to ourselves. You can also visit Smailholme Tower when you’re in the area.
The ‘Field of Light’ installation by Bruce Munro in St Andrew Square Edinburgh runs until 27 April 2014. It’s an optic fibre display using 9,500 glass spheres which light up and change colour.
I visited the ‘Field of Light’ in late February. Although it seems strange to complain about the lighter nights, I was hoping it would be dark by 6pm, as I had to leave St Andrew Square at that time to attend an event at 6.30pm. However, with all the traffic and illuminated buildings surrounding the Square, it’s never going to be that dark there.
Although you can see the lights from the perimeter of the Garden, I’d recommend that you visit before 9pm when the Garden closes.
I thought that you’d be able to walk through the lights , but they were cordoned off. I wondered if that was because the ground was so muddy after all the recent rain. Maybe it was for health and safety reasons in case you tripped over the wires.
The lilac croci growing around the bases of the light spheres added a new dimension to the installation.
The lights were dwarfed by the 42 metre high Melville Monument in the centre of St Andrew Square Garden.
I stumbled across South Leith Parish Church on my way to the Raj on the Shore restaurant. The church was opposite a none too attractive shopping precinct.
The incongruity continued with a block of flats at the other side of the church yard.
There were several arched structures in the church yards built to house individual memorials, but their roofs and most of their gates were long gone.
There were lots of interesting grave stones, but as the rain was getting heavier, my photo session was cut short. Not for personal reasons, as I was clad in my waterproof jacket and trousers, but because neither my Samsung or mobile phone cameras could cope with much rain.
I’m planning to return to South Leith Parish Church on a brighter day to have a better look around.
Aberdeen, otherwise known as â€˜The Granite Cityâ€™ because of the material from which its buildings are made, is the most desirable place to live in United Kingdom and it shows. People from all over England are moving there because of its deep roots in history, low unemployment rate and low crime statistics. Itâ€™s little known, however, that Aberdeen is truly a young city with a diverse night life, making it the perfect spot for a weekend away. So read this guide, grab your girls and get yourself to Aberdeen. Weâ€™ve put together recommendations for whatever kind of night you want to experience, be it beach, hen party or musical.
Has he popped the question or are you sure heâ€™s going to? Well then, this is the section for you. If done properly, a hen do can be the best night of your life. We actually think it is much more fun than your wedding night! Make sure that you do it in style â€“ you are marking the end of an era after all. To ensure a fantastic transformation from singleton to married woman, prestigious hen events organisations like Hen Heaven have a variety of packages, from clay pigeon shooting to cocktail making lessons. Better yet, you wonâ€™t have to sort out a hotel as it is all included in the package, as is a queue jump to the local nightclub. Pretty good, huh? If youâ€™re interested, check out their website for prices.
As Aberdeen is surrounded by forests and sea, the city has many fine eateries, each selling fresh produce that visitors of the area adore. Bistro Verde, a localâ€™s favourite, is the prime location for the fresh catch of the day from Aberdeenâ€™s fresh waters.
After youâ€™ve finished wining and dining your girls, be sure to move to the nearest jazz club, The Blue Lamp. The club is a localâ€™s favourite, sponsored by Jazz Scotland, the prestigious music promoter. The Blue Lamp puts on nights from orchestra to experimental and people from all over Scotland flock to experience the internationally-renowned talent that perform on the prestigious stage such as the Aberdeen Jazz Orchestra. Donâ€™t believe us? Weâ€™ll leave you with one of AJOâ€™s top hits, Belly Roll:
I stayed at the Royal Hotel in Blairgowrie, Pertshire, Scotland for one night in October 2013. I searched the lowest price on HotelsCombined; a single room cost Â£39 including breakfast on LateRooms. There was traffic chaos in Blairgowrie; the access road from the east, Rattray High St, was closed and there were road works in the town centre. I decided to park the car at a supermarket and find the hotel on foot.
The hotel looks impressive from the exterior. Unfortunately it’s another example of a hotel giving a misleading impression on their photos. My standard room was in a 1980s annexe at the side. There is a small car park at the hotel, but was full so I thought I’d move the car up a parking space closer to the hotel after the parking restrictions finished at 5.30pm.
I was asked at what time I’d like breakfast upon check-in. I’d rather not be tied to a specific time.
On entering my room I felt like I was stepping back a few decades into a Butlins chalet. At least the bedroom was warm. Although as the bathroom had no heater, it was on the chilly side. There was mould along the base of the shower cubicle. I didn’t like the fact that instead of changing the duvet, there was a top sheet.
The worst aspect of the room was the armchair, which was in a disgraceful state. It’s not acceptable to have grotty chair like that in a hotel bedroom. Especially when the hotel’s website claims that “all rooms are furnished to the highest standard”. Now I did think of going back down to reception to ask for another room, but I couldn’t be bothered. I checked that the bed and the towels were clean and didn’t use the armchair, there was another chair I could use to work at the desk..
I reckon that it’d have been easy for a thief to get in through the bedroom window as the catch felt quite wobbly. I certainly wouldn’t leave anything valuable lying in the room when I went out.
I’d requested a quiet room; my room overlooked some kind of garage. I did have a good night’s sleep, ,which is unusual in a town centre on a Saturday night.
The breakfast buffet consisted of cereal, watery low-fat yoghurt and fruit juice, Some fresh fruit would’ve been a welcome addition.
The breakfast was cooked to order and you could have porridge instead of cereal.
I couldn’t take a photo of the restaurant. as there were other guests there. The photo below is of the cafe area. The restaurant was certainly much more stylish than my room.
When I checked out I wasn’t asked how my stay had been, as I was ready to launch into a tirade about that chair but i thought that could wait for my review.
In summary, I wouldn’t recommend a stay in a standard room at the Royal Hotel in Blairgowrie. I thought it was poor value for money; my room was dreary ,old-fashioned and that armchair should be either binned or re-covered. The breakfast was nothing to write home about.
I stayed at the Bruce Inn in Falkland in Fife in east central Scotland for one night in October 2013 .I searched for the lowest price on HotelsCombined – a single room with breakfast cost Â£45 on Booking.com. The hotel is located in the High Street opposite Falkland Palace.
I found out that there is a family connection with the Bruce Inn. When I told my Dad that I was staying there, he said that my Mum’s cousin and her husband ran the Inn around 50 years ago.
The entrance to the Bruce Inn
When I checked into the hotel, I was taken aback that there was a shared bathroom. I didn’t say anything until I checked it out on the booking.com site. Right enough, when I clicked on the individual room description it did say shared bathroom. I have to take some responsiblity for not carefully checking the room details, but at Â£45 a night it never crossed my mind that it wasn’t an ensuite room. However, I think it that the shared bathroom should be made a lot more obvious in the hotel description page on the Booking.com. Free parking and WiFi were certainly prominently featured in the description, although it’s not the hotel’s own car park, and the free WiFi didn’t work in my room due to the thick walls. My advice is to make sure that you check out the individual room description before booking any room on Booking.com.
My room at the Bruce Inn Falkland
My room was at the front of the building directly opposite Falkland Palace and I loved the aspect of the room. The room was cosy when I arrived.Â I was glad that it was only me in the double room which I was allocated. The TV was on a coffee table at the window, so when you shut the curtains, you had to move the table and TV into the middle of the room. There wasn’t a teaspoon on the tea and coffee tray. I could’ve gone down to the bar to ask for one, but I carry a spoon in my handbag.
Falkland Palace from my room at the Bruce Inn
The bed was comfy, but I didn’t sleep well as I could hear quite a lot of traffic noise through the single glazed window. The shared bathroom was clean but cold, as it didn’t have a heater. I couldn’t get the shower door to close properly, so the floor outside the shower cubicle was pretty wet by the time I’d finished showering.
Breakfast was good with Muller corner yoghurts and Special K with Red Berries cereal. The cooked items were freshly prepared to order,
Breakfast at the Bruce Inn
Overall, I was disappointed by the Bruce Inn, predominantly by the cold, shared bathroom. If I’d been aware of the shared bathroom, I wouldn’t have booked the room.
If the weather’s reasonable when you’re in the area, you should climb Falkland Hill.for great views over to Edinburgh.