Category Archives: Scotland

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

Photo Tour of the Fergusson Gallery Perth Scotland

The Fergusson Gallery in Perth showcases the work of the Scottish Colourist painter John Fegusson and his partner, dance pioneer and artist, Margaret Morris.

fergusson gallery exterior

The gallery, which opened in 1992, is housed in a former waterworks building.

fergusson gallery exterior sculpture

John Fergusson was born in Leith, Edinburgh. He spent a large part of his life in France in the company of other artists including Matisse and Picasso.

fergusson gallery10

‘At My Studio Window’ (1910) by Fergusson

fergusson gallery11

‘The White Dress: Portrait of Jean’ (1904)

fergusson gallery8

‘Two Nudes’ (1959) by Fergusson

fergusson gallery2

‘Danu, Mother of the Gods’ (1952) by Fergusson

There’s an Impressionist door as you enter the first floor gallery.

fergusson gallery impressionist door

Margaret Morris was born in London. By the age of 19, she had developed her own system for dance training.

fergusson gallery margaret morris

Margaret Morris

fergusson gallery dance

Typical Margaret Morris movement poses

She was frequently the model for Fergusson. ‘Megevian’ below was painted in 1931.

fergusson gallery3

The Fergusson Gallery is open Tuesdays to Saturdays from 10am – 5pm, and on Sundays from noon to 4.30pm from early April to late October. It’s free to enter.


Glass Exhibition in Perth Museum Scotland

I loved the ‘Dazzle: A Glossary of Glass’ gallery at Perth Museum. My favourite piece was a hare entitled ‘Glare’ by Rachel Mary Elliot.

perth museum glass exhibition hare

The Perthshire Blacksheep sculpture by Carrie Fertig had a serene yet quizzical expression.

perth museum glass exhibition sheep sculpture

I visited Perth Museum after dark. I think that the glass displays would look wonderful when the sun is shining through the glass dome of the rotunda above the gallery.

perth museum glass exhibition yellow and lilac pieces

perth museum glass exhibition1

perth museum glass exhibition

glass exhibition perth museum vases

Perth Museum is open Tuesday to Saturday 10 am to 5 pm and Sundays 10 am to 5 pm (April to October) with free entry.

Review of the Khublai Khan Restaurant in Edinburgh

I had lunch with our son Gary at the Khublai Khan restaurant in the Leith district of Edinburgh.

khublai Khan Edinburgh exterior

I’ve eaten the evening buffet a couple of other Khublai Khan restaurants in Glasgow and Newcastle, but never had lunch there.

The interior was large. As it was quiet, all customers were seated in area next to the fire.

khubai khan edinburgh fireplace

We selected a main course from the Lunch Menu, we both went for the Kangaroo Meatballs, served with Mushroom Sauce and either Mashed Potato or Tagliatelle, which cost £6.95. We added for the ‘Meal Deal’, which for an additional £2 each incluced soup and a soft drink.

We weren’t informed of the type of soup, but it was tasty and served with a slice of warm bread. I really enjoyed the Kangaroo Meatballs, The meat was tender with a slightly sweet flavour.

khublai Khan Edinburgh meatballs

I’d recommend lunch at the Khublai Khan Restaurant in Edinburgh. I thought that at £9 for a two course meal with a drink it was good value for money. The waitress was very friendly and the atmosphere relaxed.


Glasgow Versus Edinburgh: Which Gets Your Vote?

There’s a long standing rivalry between the Scottish cities of Glasgow and Edinburgh over which is top dog. Although Edinburgh is the Scottish capital, Glasgow is the country’s largest city. Reserve Apartments have entered the fray with their Glasgow vs Edinburgh infographic.

It you click on the infographic below, it’ll take you to the original article. There, you can vote for your favourite city under the categories of food and drink, attractions, music and culture by clicking on the score charts.

Looking at the current scores, Glasgow is winning on most fronts. But you can change that with your votes.

glasgow vs edinburgh

Here’s my opinion on each of the categories.

Food and Drink

As I’m a teetotaller, I can’t comment on the beers. Foodwise, neither toffee or haggis get my vote. Regarding restaurants, we don’t frequent relatively expensive establishments such as the Devonshire Gardens or the Witchery. However, Glasgow gets my vote on the food front for a great selection of restaurants at very reasonable prices, e.g. Cook and Indi’s World Buffet in Sauchiehall Street which costs £10 per adult all day on Sundays.

cook and indi


While Edinburgh Castle is an intergal part of the city, the £16 adult admission fee is a bit steep.

edinburgh castle

Edinburgh Castle dominates the city’s skyline

Whereas, Glasgow’s Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum is free of charge and full of interest for all ages.

glasgow kelvingrove art gallery and museum

Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum

I prefer the intimacy of the Greyfriars Bobby sculpture in Edinburgh, to the tall Duke of Wellington sculpture wearing his traffic cone hat, in Glasgow.

greyfriars bobby

Greyfriars Bobby


I’m not a fan of any of the singers or bands mentioned in the infographic. Being a typical proud Mum, I have to mention our sons. Simon is a DJ in Glasgow and has written about the Glasgow music scene for Europe a la Carte.

simon bryan dj

Simon in action by Subcity Radio

Our other son Gary is in the heavy metal band Winter Lizard, based in Edinburgh.

gary winter lizard

Gary on guitar


Although Glasgow’s Robbie Coltrane may be best known as Hagrid in ‘Harry Potter’, my favourite Coltrane character is the lead in the ‘Cracker’ TV series.

robbie coltrane

Robbie Coltrane as Hagrid in ‘Harry Potter’ by Karen Roe

In my opinion, Edinbugh born Sean Connery was the best James Bond.

sean connery as james bond in you only live twice

Sean Connery as Bond in ‘You Only Luve Twice’

Review of Mr Basrai’s World Cuisines Restaurant Edinburgh

We had Sunday lunch at Mr Basrai’s World Cuisines Restaurant in Edinburgh’s Fountainpark Centre at the end of October 2014. The restaurant had been recommended to our son, who lives in Edinburgh, by one of his work colleagues.

mr basrai's view of edinburgh

I liked the fact that the tables had a bit more space between them than in other buffet restaurants in Edinburgh, e.g the Cosmo. There were also discrete sections in the restuarant, which made it feel less like a large canteen.

mr basrai's interior1

The way that the  buffet selection was laid out down two sides and in smaller central counters meant that it was easier to access the food.  The food displays were very attractively presented.

mr basrai's starter display

My favourte starters were the Goat’s Cheese Salad and the Butternut Squash Pate.

mr basrai's starters

You can order freshly cooked food. You place your order, giving your table number, and it’s brought to your table. I opted for the fish selection.

mr basrai's catch of day fish

However, putting a limit of two on the Tiger Prawns seemed to be in contradiction to the supposed “all-you-can-eat” buffet. Now you can return to the live cooking station to order more food, but if it’s busy you’d have to queue up again.

mr basrai's fish

My favourite main couse was the Prawns in Mongolian Sauce. I wish that the prawns had been shelled, as it was messy getting them out of the shells.

mr basrai's mussels and prawns

The dessert selection was impressive.

mr basrai's dessert display

The Passion Fruit Cheesecake was a bit disappointing, as it was a bit fluffy. I enjoyed the Apple Crumble with custard, and the Mint Ice Cream. The ice cream wasn’t self service. I can appreciate that it makes easier to keep the serving area clean, but we had a wait a while for a member of staff to appear.

mr basrai's desserts

It costs £13 per person all day on a Sunday. On Friday and Saturday,  lunch costs £10, Monday to Thursday it’s £7.99.

In summary, I thought that the quality and selection of food at Mr Basrai’s World Cuisines Restaurant was excellent. But I do think they should lift the restrictions on food at the live cooking stations. Next time I’ll go for lunch on a Saturday, to pay £3 less.

Review of Mr Basrai's World Cuisines Restaurant in EdinburghKeep It Real Travel Review – No Fluff

Review of Traveldoge Edinburgh Central Queen Street

I stayed at the Travelodge Edinburgh Central Queen Street on a Friday night (Boxing Day) in late December 2014. I paid £34 for a family room, booked in mid October on the Flexible Rate (which means you can cancel without penalty until noon on the day of arrival). It’s unusual to find a low price room in Edinburgh on a Friday night. I did think about staying for a couple of nights, but the price tripled for the Saturday night.

travelodge edinburgh central queen st entrance

It takes fewer than 10 minutes to walk to the hotel from Edinburgh Waverley rail station. The Ashoka Indian Buffet Restaurant is just around the corner in Hanover Street, where you can have lunch from noon until 4pm on Mondays to Saturdays for £7.

The hotel receptionist was very pleasant. I was allocated a room on the first floor overlooking an internal courtyard. I was happy with this as it meant that that I couldn’t hear any traffic from Queen St, althought the one small window did make the room a bit gloomy.

travelodge edinburgh central queen street

The room was large, clean and comfortable. This Travelodge had been madeover, which meant a new ‘Dreamer’ bed and pillows.

In summary, the Travelodge Edinburgh Central Queen Street is in a handy central location for exploring the city. However, you’ll probably need to book well in advance and stay in the low season to find a cheap room there.

Visiting Floors Castle in the Scottish Borders

Floors Castle in Kelso, is the largest inhabited castle in Scotland. It’s the home of the Dukes of Roxburghe. It was designed by the Scottish architect William Adam in the early 18th century. It was remodelled by William Playfair, another Scottish architect, the following century.

floors castle san carmen

Although we visited in late September, it was a warm day so we were appreciative of the shady carpark.

As we arrived in the early afternoon, we walked straight to the Terrace Cafe as we’d been offered a complimentary lunch. The Cafe was very busy and the staff were apologetic about the estimated 20 minute wait for food.

We decided to eat inside as it was a bit breezy. However, the outside area offers larger tables and a lot more space that the interior seating.

floors castle terrace cafe

My pear, walnut and blue cheese starter was worth the wait. The filling in my husband’s salmon fishcake starter seemed to be a bit runny. I loved the spotted teapot, milk jug, saucers and cups and the freshly baked bread which was served in what looked like a flowerpot.

floors castle terrace cafe starters

My husband’s venison sausages were tasty.

floors castle terrace cafe venison sausages

My pork casserole was very filling.

floors castle terrace cafe pork main course

We didn’t have any space left to sample the tempting desserts.

The Terrace Cafe is open all year round from 10am to 5pm daily.

Unfortunately, it’s not permitted to take photos in Floors Castle. There are some beautiful 15th century tapestries and a collection of porcelain. We found the collection of stuffed birds very interesting. It allowed us to see the difference between various members of avian families.

The courtyard at the exit to the Castle contains a lovely sculpture.

floors castle courtyard

From the flower beds at the back of Floors Castle, there’s good view of the castle’s turrets and chimneys.

floors castle flower bed

Floors Castle is closed until Spring. You should check the opening hours before visiting.

Review of Ibis Edinburgh Centre South Bridge

I stayed at the Ibis Edinburgh Centre South Bridge for one night in early June 2014. I originally booked the Ibis Budget Edinburgh Park priced at £35 a night on an unrestricted rate (which could be cancelled without penalty up until 2pm on the day of arrival). I planned to drive up to the hotel the afternoon before my flight and then take the car to an airport car park the next morning.

However, when the opening of the Ibis Budget Edinburgh Park was delayed, I received an email offering to transfer my booking to the Ibis Edinburgh Centre South Bridge for the same price of £35 for the night. It’s usually a lot more expensive for a room in the Ibis hotels in Edinburgh city centre.

I decided to go to Edinburgh the day before my flight to stay at the Ibis Edinburgh Centre South Bridge. I reckoned that walking from the hotel to the express airport bus and the bus journey straight to the airport terminal would take 30-40 minutes. This would be around the same time as driving from the Ibis Edinburgh Park hotel to an airport car park and the transfer to the airport terminal.

ibis edinburgh centre south bridge exterior

Check in time at the Ibis Edinburgh Centre South Bridge is noon, much earlier than most other hotels. This was great, as I could drop off my luggage on arrival in Edinburgh. You have to pay £2.00 per item to use the left luggage facility at the hotel.

The lobby area was pretty small for a such a large hotel.

ibis edinburgh centre south bridge lobby

At check in I requested a quiet room. The receptionist informed me that I’d already been allocated a quiet room on the top floor. The views to Arthur’s Seat and over the Forth Estuary to Fife gave the room the wow factor.

ibis edinburgh centre south bridge view of arthurs seat

The room was fresh and bright. Initially I could only find one electrical socket, but then I noticed a double socket at at the side of the wardrobe. There’s free WiFi throughout the hotel. You have to give your name and email address to get connected . I found the signal in my room to be excellent.

There was only one chair in the room. There wasn’t a desk area, but I used the coffee table to work on my netbook.

The windows were sealed, but the room had air conditioning. I would’ve preferred to have been able to open the windows. I needed to switch on the air conditioning, as it was a warm June day (by Scottish standards).

ibis edinburgh centre south bridge room1

Although the prefabricated plastic bathroom unit was small, I thought that there was more room in the shower than in many standard hotel shower cubicles. I did think that the step up the bathroom door could be a trip hazard.

I was very happy with my room for £35 a night. However, I noticed that rooms were advertised at £134 for that night when I checked in. I think that this was way overpriced for a rather basic room which didn’t even have a safe or include breakfast.

I’d only recommend staying at the Ibis Edinburgh Centre South Bridge if you can find a low rate.

Review of Ibis Edinburgh Centre South BridgeKeep It Real Travel Review – No Fluff

Edinburgh Airport’s New Lounge Should Aspire to Having Toilets

I won two United BusinessFirst return tickets from Edinburgh to Chicago in a business card prize draw. These tickets offered us free-of-charge access to the new Aspire Lounge in Edinburgh Airport prior to departure.

aspire buisness lounge exterior

As our flight departed mid morning, we were looking forward to breakfast in the Aspire lounge. There was fair selection of food including cereals, yoghurts, bacon rolls and croissants. The staff were very friendly.

aspire business lounge drinks selection

The lounge had a good mix of seating; comfy sofas, seats at tables, work stations and bar-type stools with plenty of electrical sockets. The WiFi signal was good.

aspire business lounge interior1

However, I was amazed that the Aspire lounge didn’t have its own toilet facilities. You had to exit the lounge and walk down to the nearest public facilities.

I thought that this coming and going of users must be confusing for staff at the lounge reception. I suggested to the receptionist that users’ hands should be stamped on arrival,  a bit like when attending a gig, to provide a quick and easy way to verify legitimate re-access.

In opinion, lack of internal toilet facilities lets down this new lounge at Edinburgh Airport, which should aspire to get its own toilets.

Review of the Roxburghe Hotel in the Scottish Borders

We stayed at The Roxburghe Hotel near Kelso in the Scottish Borders for one night in September 2014 on a complimentary basis. The hotel is located around three miles south west of Kelso.

roxburghe hotel exterior

The public areas are very impressive.

roxburghe hotel lounge

We stayed in a four-poster feature room. When I checked into the room, I didn’t want to go out again, but we’d arranged to visit Floors Castle.

The large double bed was comfortable. The room had an open fire. Although it was late September, it was warm outside, so the room didn’t require any heating. I liked the fact that there was a sofa to sit on to watch TV or read.

roxburghe hotel room1

The room had a balcony overlooking the garden. As the room had two large windows, you could see the views when sitting on the bed or the sofa.

roxburghe hotel balcony

The bath was large enough for me to lie in. My husband said that he had one of the most enjoyable showers ever under the rainhead shower.

I had a couple of minor niggles with housekeeping. There wasn’t enough toilet paper in the bathroom, fortunately there were tissues in the room.  There were only sachets of Nescafe instant coffee and Tetley teabags and no biscuits, I thought there should have been a bit more choice of drinks, e.g. hot chocolate and herbal tea. Some biscuits would’ve been nice too.

We had a pick and mix selection from the three course set and the a la carte dinner menu. My husband started with mussels from the set menu.

roxburghe hotel mussel starter

My scallop starter, from the a la carte menu, served with cauliflower, golden raisins and olive tapenade was delicious.

roxburghe hotel scallops

My husband’s main course was bass served with vegetables, from the set menu. I had chicken with beans, also from the set menu.

roxburghe hotel bass

My husband’s selection of six UK and French cheeses served with quince jelly and walnut bread, from the a la carte menu, was almost a meal in itself. Although I was tempted by the raspberry and chocolate trifle, I went for sorbet selection from the main menu. But I did try all my husband’s cheeses too.

roxburghe hotel cheese board

For breakfast there was a buffet selection of cereals, dried fruit and nuts and fruit juice.  Freshly baked croissants, pastries and toast was brought to our table. From the menu, we both went for the smoked salmon and scrambled egg.

roxburghe hotel breakfast

I’d rate the food at The Roxburghe Hotel very highly for quality, flavour and presentation.

All the staff at the hotel hit the right balance of being attentive, professional and friendly.

In summary, I really enjoyed our stay at The Roxburghe Hotel. Our room was a perfect example of a Scottish country house hotel, spacious, beautifully furnished and with an open view.

Review of The Roxburghe HotelKeep It Real Travel Review – No Fluff