Category Archives: Scotland

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

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Review of Cosmo Restaurant in Edinburgh

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.

cosmo buffet exterior

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.

cosmo buffet interior

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.

cosmo buffet main course selection

With the exception of a fatty piece of lamb, all the chicken, beef and seafood that I ate were of very good quality.

cosmo buffet starters

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.

cosmo buffet main course

The desserts were good, with a selection of Profiteroles, Banoffee Gateau, Toffee Apple Tart, Chocoate Cake, fresh fruit and ice cream.

cosmo buffet desserts

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.

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Scott’s View near St Boswells in the Scottish Borders

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. scotts view1 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. scotts view bench 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.

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Field of Light in Edinburgh’s St Andrew Square

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.

field of light edinburgh

Although you can see the lights from the perimeter of the Garden, I’d recommend that you visit before 9pm when the Garden closes.

field of lightedinburgh information board

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.

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The lights were dwarfed by the 42 metre high Melville Monument in the centre of St Andrew Square Garden.

field of light edinburgh meville monument

Get more ideas for planning your trip in our tips for things to do in Edinburgh.

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Photo Tour of Falkland, Fife, Scotland

If you’re a fan of the Outlander TV series you’ll see the Scottish vililage of Falkland, masquerading as Inverness in the 1940s, featured in a forthcoming episode.

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The High Street in Falkland

I had a wander around the village in the late afternoon before checking into the Bruce Inn. Heavy rain was forecast for the next morning, so I thought I’d better get my photos taken there and then,

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The Bruce Fountain in Falkland

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Burn by Falkland Parish Church

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Floral cart in Falkland

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Close up of one of the lion’s heads on the Bruce Fountain

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Mill Wynd in Falkirk

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House in the High Street in Falkland

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The Bruce Fountain in Falkland

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Falkland Palace

Falkland Palace

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Sculpture in grounds of Falkland Palace

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Autumn colours in grounds of Falkland Palace

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Crown on roof at Falkland Palace

If you’re in the area on a dry day, take a hike up Falkland Hill for views over Fife and over the Forth Estuary to Edinburgh.

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South Leith Parish Church Edinburgh

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.

south leith parish church ventura

The incongruity continued with a block of flats at the other side of the church yard.

south leith parish church with flats in background

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.

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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.

south lieth parish church headstones

south leith parish church skull

south lieth parish church sign

I’m planning to return to South Leith Parish Church on a brighter day to have a better look around.

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Girl’s Weekends: A Guide to a Night Out in Aberdeen

Aberdeen, otherwise known as ‘The Granite City’ 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. It’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. We’ve put together recommendations for whatever kind of night you want to experience, be it beach, hen party or musical.

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Union Terrace in Aberdeen by Library of Congress

Beach Night

If you fancy a higher-class do or something a little different from the standard drink and dance, look no further than Aberdeen’s beach. Located within the city, it’s a great spot to spend with your ladies. You could make your own party, by cracking open the champagne, getting a good quality food hamper, and plugging your phone into a mini-amp to play your favourite Beyoncé Spotify playlist. You don’t have to spend tons of money to have a fantastic time. There have even been sightings of dolphins in the sea, so bring your binoculars, kick back and relax, unless you’re brave enough to actually attempt to ride them.

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Aberdeen Beach Front by Gordon Robertson

Hen Do

Has he popped the question or are you sure he’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 – 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 won’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 you’re interested, check out their website for prices.

cocktail making equipment

Cocktail making equipment by Callum Mckain

Posh Night

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 local’s favourite, is the prime location for the fresh catch of the day from Aberdeen’s fresh waters.

After you’ve finished wining and dining your girls, be sure to move to the nearest jazz club, The Blue Lamp. The club is a local’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. Don’t believe us? We’ll leave you with one of AJO’s top hits, Belly Roll:

We’ve more tips on fun things do in Aberdeen.

Review of the Royal Hotel in Blairgowrie

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 £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.

royal hotel exterior

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.

royal hotel room

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..

royal hotel chair

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.

royal hotel breakfast buffet

The breakfast was cooked to order and you could have porridge instead of cereal.

royal  hotel breakfast

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.

royal hotel cafe

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.

If you’re ei in Blairgowrie, take a walk along the River Ericht to admire the sculptures included in our ten things to do in Perthshire.

blairgowriefishsculpture

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Review of the Bruce Inn Falkland

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 £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.

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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 £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.

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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.  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.

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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,

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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.

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Exploring the Angus Glens

The Angus Glens in Scotland are very dear to my heart. I spent many happy childhood Summer holidays in my grandparents hut in Glen Prosen.

I only made it round three of the five glens during my recent visit.

Glen Clova

You can do a circular drive around Glen Clova.

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View of Glen Clova from Gella Bridge

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Looking down on the River Clova

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Glen Clova

Glen Prosen

My first stop in Glen Prosen was at the Scott Wilson Memorial Sculpture, unveiled in 2012 to commemorate the centenary of the Terra Nova South Pole Expedition.

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Scott Wilson Memorial Sculpture

The original memorial fountain, destroyed in a car accident, was called ‘Scott’s View” – and what a view.

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‘Scott’s View” of Glen Prosen

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Glen Prosen Church

Glen Isla

I stopped in Glen Isla village.

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Glen Isla Parish Church

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Gravestone in grounds of Glen Isla Parish Church

I took the minor road to head back south to Alyth at Bridge of Brewlands. I thought that I spotted a couple of red squirrels crossing the road.

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Autumnal colours in Glen Isla

There were so many pheasants crossing the road.

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Pheasants crossing the road in Glen Isla

When I stopped the car to take a photo of all the ducks at the roadside, I had a definite spotting of a red squirrel running along the dyke.

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Ducks by the roadside in Glen Isla

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Looking back towards Glen Isla

A few miles before joining the B954, I stopped at Kilry Church.

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Kilry Church

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 Stained glass window at Kilry Church

My last stop of the day was at the Reekie Linn waterfall.

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The Reekie Linn waterfall

I hope that you’ve enjoyed exploring the Angus Glens with me.

grassmarket hotel dandy room

Review of the Grassmarket Hotel Edinburgh

I stayed at the Grassmarket Hotel in Edinburgh for one night in November 2013 on a complimentary basis. The hotel is at a central location, close to Edinburgh Castle and the Royal Mile.

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The exterior of the Grassmarket Hotel

The receptionist who checked me in was charming. I was allocated a double room on the first floor. I liked the view from my room. The secondary double glazing shut out most of the exterior noise.

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View from my room at the Grassmarket  Hotel

I thought that my room was quirky and fun. There was a large map of central Edinburgh on the wall opposite the bathroom door.

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Edinburgh map in room at the Grassmarket Hotel

The wall above the desk had Dandy comic front pages as wallpaper. The red kettle, teapot and colourful mugs all added to the upbeat atmosphere. There were a couple of single-serving ground coffee packs, herbal teas and Tunnock’s Teacakes. The bathroom was very swish with dark tiles and a walk in shower with a rainhead fitting. The towels were fluffy and the toiletries lovely. The bed was very comfortable, with excellent quality linen and pillows.

Although the WiFi in my room was reasonable on the afternoon of checking in, it became awful that evening and the next morning. I didn’t want to go down to the lobby to work, so I connected to mobile broadband with my USB modem. I was awakened at 7am by the TV in the neighbouring room. I don’t know if the occupants had the volume high or if the TV was on the adjoining wall, meaning that the wall acted like an amplifier.

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My room at the Grassmarket Hotel Edinburgh

I was told at check-in that breakfast was served in Biddy’s Bar, the pub next door, until 12.00. I went down for breakfast around 10am. There were a few items out buffet-style, some melon, cereals, ham and cheese that looked a bit dried out, fruit juice, bread to make your own toast with and croissants.  I ordered the bacon, French Toast and maple syrup.

When there was no sign of my cooked breakfast after around 20 minutes, I went over to the bar to enquire when it would arrive. That member of staff said I’d need to speak to someone else. I spotted the member of staff who had taken my order and went over to ask her. She told me that, when she asked me if I wanted to order a cooked breakfast, I said I didn’t want anything. I was taken aback by this response which was shifting the blame to me. I just left the pub, as I wanted to check out soon and wasn’t prepared to beg for my breakfast.

There must have been some misunderstanding/confusion about my order, mistakes do happen, but the responses from both staff were very unsatisfactory and inappropriate.

In my opinion, the first member of staff I approached should have said she “would find out what was happening”, instead of taking the stance that it was nothing to do with her. The member of staff who I thought had taken my order should have said, “sorry about that, what did you order, I’ll get it for you as soon as possible”.

In summary, I was left feeling very ambivalent about the Grassmarket Hotel. I loved the location and most aspects of the room, but the poor WiFi, the noise from the adjacent room and the issues over breakfast spoiled my stay.

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