Category Archives: Scotland

What to do in Scotland; attractions in Scotland and the best places to visit in Scotland.

Review of Premier Inn Edinburgh Central Lauriston Place

I stayed at the Premier Inn Edinburgh Central Lauriston Place on a Monday night in early November 2015. It cost £29 on the non-refundable Premier Saver rate, booked two months in advance. It’s unusual to find such low rates on a weekday night at a Premier Inn in Edinburgh, I assume that’s because it was low season.

premier inn edinburgh central lauriston place exterior

The Premier Inn Edinburgh Central Lauriston Place is in a great location. It only takes a few minutes to walk to the Grassmarket, the National Museum for Scotland and the Meadows. It’s around 15 minutes to walk to Edinburgh Waverley railway station.

You can get a reduced rate at a couple of fairly nearby multi storey car parks, at a cost of £12 for 24 hours. This is a big reduction, as my Dad told me he paid £23 at one of these car parks for around 7 hours. There’s pay and display parking from 8.30am to 6.30pm in the street opposite the hotel. It costs £2.40 per hour, with a maximum stay of four hours. As i planned to depart after the morning rush hour, I brought my car at 6.30pm and paid £2 to park until 9.20 the following morning.

The receptionists were very friendly. My room looked towards some traditional flats. There was a bit of traffic noise when the window was open, but I didn’t hear any exterior noise once I closed the window.

premier inn edinburgh central lauriston place view from bedroom

The room had air-con, which would be useful in the Summer, as I thought that the room was pretty warm for early November. The room was on the small side compared to most Premier Inns at which I’ve stayed at previously. The room was in pristine condition. It even had fluffy towels.

premier inn edinburgh central lauriston place

I didn’t try the free WiFi, as I prefer to set up my own WiFi hotspot as long as I have enough data left on my monthly contract. This is for two reasons, in most cities I get a faster signal through tethering, and I don’t have to give any personal details to register for the accommodation WiFi.

I was very happy with the standard of my room at the Premier Inn Edinburgh Central Lauriston Place. If you manage to find a room here for under £30 a night, it’s good value for money.

Wood Sculptures on Back Walk in Stirling

Weather permitting, I always have a wander on Back Walk when I visit the city of Stirling in central Scotland. During my recent visit, I took a different path, down to the right, just after passing the Commonwealth Graves. This route was a short cut to the Smith Art Gallery and Museum.

I was really glad that I walked that way, as there were several wood sculptures by the path. The first was a post box. An information board explained that Stirling once had a disproportionately large postal service due to the local printing industry despatching their products.

wood post box sculpture back walk stirling

Opposite the post box was ‘The Archer and the Deer’. I could only spot the archer, but maybe the deer was partially obscured in woodland below.  The information board explained that hunting was once popular in this area.

back walk stirling the archer and the deer wood scupture

Near the bottom of the path was a row of sculptures. However, I couldn’t see any information about these scupltures.

back walk stirling scultpures

At the front there was a rather apprehensive looking man.

wood sculpture of man on back walk stirling

The creature behind the man looked like gargoyles which I’ve seen on cathedral roofs.

back walk stirling wood scultpure1

I wasn’t sure if the unicorn’s horn was supposed to consist only of a large screw, or if the wooden horn had either fallen, or been pulled, off.

back walk stilring unicorn wood sculpture

The fox below looked like it was having a good stretch.

back walk stirling wood sculpture

I met a dog walker, whom I asked about the wood sculptures. He told me that they were pretty recent.

When I returned home I did an online search to find out about the sculptures. I found an article on Stirling Council’s website. Evidently, the sculptures were created in March 2015 by three chainsaw carvers using wood from unsafe trees which had been felled by the Ranger and Woodland services. The article said that the sculptures were based on local stories, but there was no further detail of these stories.

British Art Show 8 in Edinburgh

The British Art Show 8 is in Edinburgh until 8 May 2016. It’s spread over three venues; the Rice Talbot Gallery at the University of Edinburgh, Inverleith House in the Royal Botanic Gardens and the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art One.

I visited the exhibits at the National Gallery.

I loved the ‘Diagrams of Love: Marriage of Eyes‘ rug by Lender.

Diagrams of Love Marriage of Eyes by Lender British Art Show 8 Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art Edinburgh

The rug is used in the performance of the ‘Children of the Mantic Stain‘ by Northern Ballet. You can watch a video clip of the ballet.

Diagrams of Love Marriage of Eyes by Lenderat British Art Show 8

The ‘Feed Me‘ flim by Rachel MacLean is featured on the British Art Show 8 poster outside the Scottish National Gallery of Art. It’s a rather disturbing blend of fairytale, horror movies and TV talent shows depicting the sexualisation of children and the infantilism of adults.

british art show 8 poster

The sculptures by Magali Reus were inspired by interior mechanism of locks.

Sculptures by Magazine Reus at British Art Show 8 at Scottish National Gallery of Art Edinburgh

The ‘Dodo‘ installation by Adam Broomberg & Oliver Chanarin charts the changes in the coastline of San Carlos in Mexico brought about by the filming of the ‘Catch 22’ movie in that location. I liked the projection of the blades of a turbine onto a screen.

‘The ‘Kipper and the Corpse’ by Stuart Whipps is composed of parts of a Mini built at Longbridge in 1979, laid out on pages of the Sun newspaper dating from that year. The car will be rebuilt during the final stop of the British Art Show in Southampton later this year.

Parts of Mini made at Longbridge in 1979, exhibit at British Art Show 8

Below are my two favourite paintings from the collection by Lynette Yiadom-Boakye.

twice done at biritsh art show 8

‘The Twice Done’

Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, British Art Show 8

‘A Radical Under Beechwood’

Mikhal Karikis ‘Children of Unquiet’ is an intriguing film about a former geothermal power station and the now deserted adjacent worker’s accommodation in Italy. The sounds produced by the geysers and the water in the factory’s pipes are reproduced by children playing around the site.

Review of Premier Inn Edinburgh City Centre Haymarket

I stayed at the Premier Inn Edinburgh City Centre Haymarket on a Sunday night in November 2015. It cost £29 for the night on the non-refundable Premier Saver rate, booked a couple of months in advance.

premier inn edinburgh centre haymarket exterior

It’s the largest Premier Inn at which I’ve stayed. It’s located a two minute walk from Haymarket Railway Station, where you can take a bus or tram to and from the iairport. There’s onsite guest parking, on a first come first service basis, charged at £8 per 24 hour period. This is a reasonable price for the convenience.

I was allocated a room at the back of the hotel, overlooking the car park and the back of traditional apartment blocks. This suited me, as it was nice and quiet.

premier inn edinburgh centre haymarket view from my room

The room was large, but looking slightly tired compared to some of the newer, or recently refurbished, Premier Inns at which I’ve stayed.

I liked the fact that the room had two armchairs, as well as a chair at the desk. Premier Inn now offer free WiFi. I didn’t try it, as you had to register to use it, and I had enough data available that month to tether through my Three Mobile monthly contract.

premier inn edinburgh centre haymarket desk area in bedroom

The bar and restaurant area on the ground floor was pleasant. I hung around there for a few minutes after the noon departure time, as the nearby restaurant at which I planned to have lunch, Mr Basrai’s World Cuisine, didn’t open until 12.30

premier inn edinburgh centre haymarket restaurant

In summary. I thought that the £29 room at Premier Inn Edinburgh City Centre Haymarket offered good value for money for comfortable, quiet, centrally located accommodation.

Review of Kalpna Vegetarian Indian Restaurant Edinburgh

The Kalpna Vegetarian Indian Restaurant, in St Patrick’s Square Edinburgh, offers a daily lunch buffet for £8 per adult between 12 – 2pm.

Although I’m not a vegetarian, I don’t eat much meat, so I thought I’d give the Kalpna a try.

kalpna vegetarian indian restaurant edinburgh exterior

Exterior of the Kalpna Vegetarian Indian Restaurant

The Kalpna is attractive inside with mosaics on the wall.

kalpna vegetarian indian restaurant edinburgh the interiorjpg

Interior of the Kalpna Vegetarian Indian Restaurant

I knew from reading the restaurant’s website, that the buffet selection was limited ; two starters, three main courses, two salads, rice and bread.

lunch buffet at kalpna vegetarian indian restaurant edinburgh

Lunch buffet at the Kalpna Vegetarian Indian Restaurant

I enjoyed the broccoli pakora starter.

starters at kalpna vegetarian indian restaurant in edinburgh

Starters at the Kalpna Vegetarian Indian Restaurant

My favourite curry was the spinach and mushroom.

kalpna vegetarian indian restaurant edinburgh main coursejpg

Main course at the Kalpna Vegetarian Indian Restaurant

There was some kind of milk pudding at the right hard side of the buffet with a sign saying that it cost an additional £1 each. I thought that, for the price of £8, desserts should be included in the price.

I found the food at the Kalpna Vegetarian Indian Restaurant to be very tasty and nothing was too spicy for me.

I’m not sure that I’d return to the Kalpna. The (non vegetarian) lunch buffet at the Red Fort Indian Restaurant in Drummond Street, which also costs £8, offers a wider choice of starters and main courses. The price also includes a soft drink, plus the choice of ice cream or a coffee to finish.

Art Inspired by Travel: St Ninian’s Beach in the Shetland Islands, Scotland

St Ninian’s Isle is joined the Shetland mainland by a tombolo, a sand bar, which has sea on both sides. It’s one of the most beautiful beaches that I’ve ever visited.


I created a collage inspired by this photo, using felt, metallic crepe paper, mirror card and watercolours.

st ninian's beach collage by karen bryan

This piece started life as a painting, but I wasn’t happy with the colour of the sand. I started off creating a collage of the beach. But then it looked too bright compared to the rest of the seascape. So I decided to transform the whole piece into a collage.

See my other Art Inspired by Travel pieces:

Review of Shamoli Restaurant in Royal Mile Edinburgh

We had lunch at the Shamoli restaurant in Edinburgh’s Royal Mile. It’s somewhere that I’ve been meaning to try for years, after seeing a person with a board advertising the restaurant at the crossroads between the Royal Mile and North Bridge.

The Shamoli is located above the Rabbie Burns bistro and whisky bar. An Indian and Thai lunch buffet costs £7.95 per adult. It says on the sign outside that kids eat free, but I couldn’t see the details on that. I liked the fact the lunch is the same price every day and is served until 4.30pm.

exterior of Shamoli buffet restaurant in Royal Mile Edinburgh

The interior is light and welcoming.

shamoli restuarant edinburgh in the royal mile

I loved the leaded glass windows.

interior of the Shamoli restuarant in Edinburgh

There’s not a very wide selection of food on the buffet.

buffet selection at shamoli restaurant in edinburgh

It was quiet in the restaurant when we ate there, so the fried starters were past their best.

starter at shamoli restaurant in edinburgh

I found all the main courses to be a bit too hot for my taste, even those labelled as medium. My favourite was the Thai Chicken, which although it was labelled as hot, wasn’t as hot as the supposedly medium Vegetable Bhuna. The Nan Bread was good, it wasn’t freshly cooked, but was well preserved.

thai main course at Shamoli buffet restaurant in Royal Mile Edinburgh

There was no dessert included in the buffet

After our buffet lunch at the Shamoli restaurant, we discussed if we’d eat there again. I really liked the ambience, but the food was too hot for my taste, and I missed having a dessert. Therefore, I’d prefer to eat at either the Ashoka Buffet in Hanover Street, or the Red Fort in Drummond Street. My husband also liked the interior. As he enjoyed the Thai food, he said he would go to the Shamoli again.

Art Inspired by Travel: Silver Sands, Aberdour, Scotland

I’ve recently started creating art. Much of my art is inspired by travel. I say inspired because I’m not attempting to recreate reality.

I visited Sliver Sands Beach in Aberdour on the Fife coast in Scotland one evening in late Summer.

I was surprised that there were still so many poppies in bloom. The sun was shining when I arrived, but I had to make a dash for the green beach hut during a heavy shower.

sliver sands beach in aberdour scotland

Below is my painting inspired by that view, created with oil pastels, watercolours and glitter paint.

my painting of sliver sands beach in aberdour scotland

There were also lots of pink hydrangea in a flower bed.

hydrangae at sliver sands in aberdour scotland

I thought that the hydrangea in my painting turned out quite well. I used a few different shades of pink watercolours, applied using a circular foam brush.

my panting of hdydrangae at sliver sands aberdour scotland

The Pineapple Folly near Airth, Scotland

The Pineapple is a folly. It was built in 1761 by the 4th Earl of Dunmore as a gift to his wife, from which she could view the estate’s walled garden. It’s located up a pot-holed access road off the A905 to the west of the village of Airth.

the front of the pineapple in airth scotland

It was gifted to the National Trust by the Countess of Perth in the 1970s. It’s now a holiday home run by the Landmark Trust.  The Walled Garden in which The Pineapple site is maintained by the National Trust.

close up of the pineapple in airth scotland

There’s a door at the rear of The Pineapple, leading out into the private back garden.

back door of the pineapple near arith in scotland

There’s a pond in the walled garden.

the pond at the pineapple in airth

During my visit in May, I spotted some ducklings in the pond.

ducklings in the pond at the pineapple in airth scotland

There’s a woodland walk signposted from the walled garden. The wood was full of bluebells when I walked there.

woodland walk at the pineapple airth scotland

The Pineapple is a un place to visit if you’re in east central Scotland. Unless there’s been a long spell of dry weather, I recommend that you take wellies with you.


Pickering’s Gin Made in the Summerhall Distillery Edinburgh

We visited Summerhall with our son Gary during the Edinburgh Open Doors weekend in late September.

Until 2011,  Summerhall was home to the Royal Dick Veterinary School. I have family connections with the Vet School;  my brother studied there and my husband worked there.

I already knew that Summerhall has been transformed into a creative art hub, as Gary had been to some gigs there. Gary was also aware that there was a brewery at Summerhall.  But we didn’t know that since last year there’s  been a distillery making  Pickering’s Gin at Summerhall.

pickering's gin at summerhall distillery edinburgh - scooter

The head distiller Chris gave a presentation, and then offered some neat samples. As a teetotaller, I didn’t try any. Gary who isn’t a gin drinker, thought it was very good.

pickering's gin at summerhall distillery edinburgh - display cabinet

It’s a pretty small distillery with the bottling done by hand.

pickering's gin at summerhall distillery edinburgh - bottling

There was a vintage Pickering’s Gin delivery van parked outside Summerhall Distillery.

pickering's gin at summerhall distillery edinburgh - vintage delilvery van

I can imagine the trailer, parked in the courtyard, proving very popular at outdoor events.

pickering's gin at summerhall distillery edinburgh - vintage trailer

Usually, you need to contact Summerhall Distillery to book a tour, which costs £10.