Category Archives: Scotland

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

south leith parish church

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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south leith parish church2

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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.

cocktail making equipment

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.

union terrace aberdeen

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.

beach front aberdeen

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.


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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 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 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 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

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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.

bruce inn view to falkland palace

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,

bruce inn breakfast

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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glen prosen

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

glen clova river

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.

glen isla pheasants

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.

glen isla ducks

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.

glens kilry church

Kilry Church

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 Stained glass window at Kilry Church

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

reekie linn waterfall

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.

grassmarket hotel exterior

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.

grassmarket hotel view from room

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.

grassmarket hotel map in room

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.

grassmarket hotel room

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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lower largo

Lower Largo in Fife

After a drive of around 15 miles south from a wet and windy stop in St Andrews, we were delighted to arrive in a sunny Lower Largo on the Fife coast.

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Lower Largo Harbour

There’s a fascinating sculpture, ‘Malagan’ by local artist Alan Faulds, in his garden by the beach. Faulds was inpsired to create the work after visiting Lithuania in 2007, where he saw many Roofed Poles, tall structures like totem poles by the roadside. The name Malagan comes from the wooden ceremonial sculptures made in the New Ireland region of Papua New Guinea.

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‘Malagan’ in Lower Largo

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 Close up of ‘Malagan’ in Lower Largo

I assumed that this gate, across the road from the sculpture, lead to Alan Faulds’ home.

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 Decorative gate in Lower Largo

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Looking north across Largo Bay

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Lower Largo Beach


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Review of Mercure Perth Hotel

I stayed at the Mercure Perth Hotel in Scotland for one night in November 2013, on a complimentary basis, when attending the Perth Chocolate Festival. The hotel is in the city centre and has a free car park for guests operated on a first come, first served system.

mercure hotel exterior

The exterior of the Mercure Perth Hotel

The building was originally a 15th century watermill; you can see evidence of this by the reception, where part of a large water wheel is exposed and you can see the water flowing underneath through a glass panel.

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 The waterwheel and glass viewing panels in the Mercure Perth Hotel

I was allocated a twin room on the first floor. I thought that I might hear some exterior noise through the single glazed panelled window, but I wasn’t disturbed. The room was quite plain  but very clean, with comfortable beds, an armchair and a high-backed chair at the desk. The free WiFi was very good. I liked the fact that the bath was large enough to lie in. There was an enormous built-in wardrobe.

mercure hotel room

My room at the Mercure Perth Hotel

There was warm water running from the cold tap in the bathroom. I know that you sometimes get this for a few seconds if the hot and cold water pipes lie close to each other, but this lasted for much longer. There was a keyboard, using the TV as a monitor, so that, in theory, you wouldn’t need to bring your own computer. However, the keyboard wasn’t much use as the letter A was missing. This didn’t affect me as I had my own laptop with me.

There were more remnants of the former watermill in the restaurant. The tables were well spaced; many restaurants have their tables so close together.

mercure hotel restaurant

Restaurant at the Perth Mercure Hotel

There was a buffet selection of cold items such as cereal, yoghurt and fresh fruit, but you had to order a cooked breakfast. Tea and coffee was served at your table, a good thing to avoid queues at hot drinks machines. The cooked breakfast was good, especially the tomatoes and mushrooms.

mercure hotel cooked breakfast

Cooked breakfast at the Mercure Perth Hotel

I enjoyed my stay at the Mercure Perth Hotel. All the staff are really friendly and helpful, creating a very warm, welcoming atmosphere in the hotel. The central location means that you can walk to a wide selection of shops, bars, restaurants and cafes, as well as the Fergusson Gallery, Perth Theatre and Concert Hall, the River Tay and the North and South Inch within a few minutes. My room was comfortable, it was good to have a decent WiFi signal and the breakfast was fresh with good quality, tasty food.

Although there’s plenty to do in Perth, you can read my tips for things to do in Perthshire to get some ideas for day trips.

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quality hotel edinburgh airport1

Review of Quality Hotel Edinburgh Airport

We stayed at the Quality Hotel Edinburgh Airport, now the Holiday Inn Express Edinburgh Airport, for one night in December 2013. I booked the room through the Superbreak site. It cost £86 for a double room including full breakfast and up to 15 days parking. Unfortunately, we couldn’t leave our car in the mono-blocked hotel car park, but had to put it in the long-term car park opposite the hotel, which was icy and full of potholes.

quality hotel edinburgh airport exterior

The hotel is re-branding to the Holiday Inn Express Edinburgh Airport in January 2014. The lobby was being renovated during our stay.

quality hotel edinburgh airport lobby

Our first floor room felt as if it had been recently refurbished; the downside of that was that there was some residual smell from the redecorating, probably due to the room not being aired enough. The bathroom was lovely with a large shower. It was disappointing that the water flow varied in temperature. There was a neat little shelved area with the tea and coffee making facilities leaving the desk space free. The office chair by the desk was so comfy, I wished that I had one like that at home.

quality hotel edinburgh airport

Although the hotel offered free WiFi the signal in our room was awful, so I had to use my USB modem. It didn’t feel as though the bed was new, it was a bit soft and lumpy. The duvet wasn’t large enough to cover us both properly. We could hear planes taking off through the double glazing. With decent sound insulation, e.g. as used at the Citizen M hotel at Amsterdam Airport, it is possible to have a quiet room close to an airport.

We had breakfast in the Auberge Restaurant. There was a continental buffet with cooked breakfast to order. However, when the hotel re-brands to Holiday Inn Express, it’ll be a standard Holiday Inn Express breakfast on offer.

In summary, the Quality Hotel Edinburgh Airport was a mixed bag. I liked the room size and decor and the price was reasonable. But they really should’ve aired the revamped rooms before letting to guests, fitted a decent thermostat to the shower, bought new beds and some larger duvet covers, and filled in the potholes in the long-term car park.

Review of the Macdonald Kinloch Rannoch HotelKeep It Real Travel Review No Fluff

loch rannoch hotel exterior

Review of Macdonald Loch Rannoch Hotel

We stayed at the Macdonald Loch Rannoch Hotel in Kinloch Rannoch, near Pitlcochry in Perthshire. on a Saturday night during October 2013. I had a 10% discount code for which brought the price of a double room including breakfast down to £76. I checked that I couldn’t find a lower price with another accommodation site using the HotelsCombined price comparison site before booking with

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Madonald Loch Rannoch Hotel

I liked the stags etched onto the entrance doors. The first thing that I noticed upon entering was that it was lovely and warm. Some hotels in the Scottish countryside can be distinctly chilly.

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Stag on glass of door at Macdonald Loch Rannoch Hotel

The lobby is traditional, there’s a beautiful staircase with stained glass windows.

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Stained glass window in stairwell at Macdonald Loch Rannoch Hotel

I had requested a room with a loch view on a high floor and this request was fulfilled. Unfortunately, we checked in after dark so couldn’t appreciate the view that evening. The double bed was two single beds joined together. The beds were comfy and the room was very clean.

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Double room at Macdonald Loch Rannoch Hotel

Our room was on the small side, especially the bathroom which was like a corridor. Both the sink and bath plugs had fallen off their chains. This made it hard to pull up the plug to empty the bath. I don’t know who fitted the bedroom carpet, as it was all rumpled. There were a limited number of TV channels.

The hotel charges a ridiculous £10 a day for internet access through BT OpenZone. As a BT broadband customer, I was able to connect free of charge. The WiFi signal in the room was excellent. I was surprised that I was able to pick up a good Vodafone mobile broadband signal on my phone.

When we opened the curtains the next morning Loch Rannoch was shrouded in mist, which lay there for a couple of hours.

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Sunrise over Loch Rannoch from our room

The deer antler chandelier in the restaurant was unusual.

loch rannoch hotel deer antler chandelier

Deer antler chandelier in restaurant at Macdonald Loch Rannoch Hotel

The breakfast was really good for a three star hotel. The buffet included fresh fruit salad, water and honeydew melon, fruits of the forest compote and freshly squeezed orange juice. You’d to order cooked breakfast. I thought it was bad form to charge a supplement for any of the fish options. They should’ve either been included in the breakfast price or left off the menu.

locg rannoch hotel breakfast buffet

Breakfast buffet at Macdonald Loch Rannoch Hotel

Overall, I really enjoyed my stay at the Macdonald Loch Rannoch Hotel; I found it quirky and charming with much better breakfast than in many three star Highland hotels. Yes, the rooms could do with a refit, but the location is fab and the hotel is full of character.

Review of the Macdonald Kinloch Rannoch HotelKeep It Real Travel Review – No Fluff