Archive | July 2013

Hanna Cherrie’s Tearoom

The name Hanna Cherrie is such a happy, summery name for a Tea shop.   This friendly, welcoming and very cultural little cafe in Stockbridge, Edinburgh has been devised and designed by Sheila Skelly.

The story behind the name is simply delightful.

Hanna Cherrie was the grandmother of a friend of hers, and when Hanna died three years ago, aged 98, Sheila was given a collection of granny’s tea cups which she had bought over the years from browsing second hand shops in Stockbridge.

These beautiful old vintage tea-sets began the inspiration for a traditional Tea Room.  With half a dozen tables and comfortable, upholstered arm chairs, the decor is all about Cath Kidston-style, (but authentic) table cloths on which sit vases of  fresh flowers;  the walls are lined with book shelves as well as local art work for sale.

There’s a real literary mood in the air.  Visitors are invited to take part in a paperback book swap, and a Book Club session takes place over coffee and cake on Tuesday mornings, 10 – 12 noon.   Other novel ideas include English and Language classes with a private room available downstairs for a variety of meetings and events to bring people together.

The menu is extremely enticing, whether you call in for morning coffee, lunch or classic Afternoon tea.  A giant cake stand holds various plates of home made cakes, (gluten and dairy free available) as well as fresh scones and jam.  A great choice of herbal and speciality teas, such as a fragrant and refreshing Lemon balm, peppermint and fennel,  Japanese Cherry tea, and Lady Jane Grey (earl grey with citrus).   Tea of course is served in a pretty flowery cup and saucer from a mismatched teapot.  Not a teabag  in sight thank goodness.

I called in for lunch and sampled a very tasty Chickpea and Artichoke Salad: Sheila prepared the chunky, slightly spicy, hummus to order, (talk about fresh!), which was served with watercress, fat olives, cherry & sun dried tomatoes, a generous portion of  artichoke and a thick slice of home made rye bread.  This was a feast rather than a light lunch.  Delicious!.

My salad was served on a lovely bright yellow plate, patterned with birds and blossom, sourced from the smart and sassy home design boutique, Anthropologie.

Other foody options being enjoyed at the next table were Roast Beef and blue cheese sandwich with red onion chutney, and a Turkey, avocado and Jarlsberg toasted panini – an ingenious combination.  The menu also offers soup of the day, and platters of cheese and cured meats.

The ambience is all about relaxation –  music on the sound track ranges from ethnic pan pipes to classic romantic American ballads.

Sheila is not only the innovative chef in the kitchen, she is also a professional Holistic Homeopath and Shamanic practitioner, working at Gorgeous Therapies next door.

The ethos of Hanna Cherrie’s reflects this joint venture of health and wellbeing, the therapies complemented by wholesome, natural organic food, home made cakes and herbal teas.   What could be more relaxing than visiting Gorgeous Therapies for a haircut, a facial or relaxing massage, and then visit the tea room to chill out over a cup of tea and slice of cake or lunch while you read a good book from the tea room library.

On a shelf is a fine antique wooden clock which chimes the hour.  It’s a charming sound which reminds one of traditional British Afternoon Tea.

“Stands the Church clock at ten to three,  And is there honey still for tea”.  Rupert Brooke:  The Old Vicarage, Grantchester.

35 Hamilton Place, Edinburgh EH4 2DN tel. 0131 343 1152

Scones and jam at Hanna Cherrie's

Scones and jam at Hanna Cherrie’s

Hanna Cherrie's cultural tea shop with books.

Hanna Cherrie’s cultural tea shop with books.


Angel’s Share Hotel, Edinburgh

With a prime, central location at the West End of Edinburgh, this smart boutique Hotel with bar, bistro and nightclub, has been recently revamped as The Angel’s Share.  Now the all encompassing theme, design and décor celebrates all things Scottish, as indicated by its name.

the angel takes her share of whisky

the angel takes her share of whisky

The phrase, the Angel’s Share, derives from the Whisky industry, to describe the evaporation process as the whisky matures in the cask from which 2% of alcohol is gifted to the Angels each year.  (You may also have seen the recent movie of the same title, a comedy about a young Glaswegian lad who turns away from criminal pursuits to use his lucrative whisky-nosing skill.)

Enter the hotel through the spacious Angel’s Share Club Room with its extensive photo gallery of Scottish sports stars, singers and actors, brick walls, leather chairs, stools and booths.  This is a popular bistro-bar for hotel guests and city residents day and night.

Club room bistro and bar

Club room bistro and bar

Upstairs is the reception desk to check in for your stay.  Be warned, the layout of the building is a wee bit tricky to find your way around, but just ask a helpful member of staff!.  With a choice of 30 bedrooms each named after a famous Scot, who would you like to sleep with?  Sean Connery, Rod Stewart, Andy Murray, Emeli Sande, Kirsty Hume. ?

Whichever grade of room you select (Standard, Superior and Deluxe), all have the same homely facilities: en suite shower/bathroom, bathrobes, Egyptian cotton sheets, wool throw,  cushions, I pod deck, cooling fan, tea/coffee tray.  And of course, a large photograph of your personal Celebrity Scot.  Superior /Deluxe rooms are slightly larger with a few extras such as minibar and room service.

Bedroom with Chris Hoy photograph

Bedroom with Chris Hoy photograph

My partner Ken and I found our room (301 – Nicola Benedetti, the violinist), to be very comfortable, with chic, contemporary design – and appreciated the king size bed, soft pillows and duvet.   This is the city centre, so traffic could be an issue, but with double glazing, noise was minimal. Some bedrooms are at the back, away from the street.

My only quibble was the shower gel bottle fixed high up, OK for the shower, but out of reach at bathtime. A bar of soap would solve this problem. But the lovely lady at Reception sourced a bottle of bath bubbles for me. Thank you!

Breakfast the day morning was superb with great service from our Polish waiter. Expect a short but ideal menu to suit all tastes and appetites – fresh fruit, porridge, Continental platter, Eggs Benedict, full Scottish fry-up with,  I was most impressed to see, a Vegetarian option for a hearty, healthy feast to set us up for the day.

The Angel’s Share Club Room and Bar is a very popular venue for lunch, dinner, coffees, drinks and snacks, and we shall return soon to experience some good food and wine with a lively atmosphere.

Tables outside too for relaxing summertime meals and drinks.

Friendly staff and outside tables at the Angel's share hotel

Friendly staff and outside tables at the Angel’s share hotel

Downstairs, through a secret door, (entry with password), dance the night away too at The Devil’s Cut, a New York-style speakeasy with cool cocktails and music.

Staying at the Angel’s Share when visiting Edinburgh for a city break is so convenient. Walk everywhere from here – George Street designer shops, Old Town attractions, National Galleries, theatres and nightlife.   Make sure you reserve a bedroom well in advance – the word has spread through Trip Advisor that this is a cool and quirky place to stay, drink and eat.

Recent guest comments:

“ ….every member of staff we encountered was super friendly and welcoming.I can’t recommend this place highly enough – and perfectly located too”

“Stayed in room 202, Ewan McGregor. First class, cool and unique. Bar was so good we didn’t leave it. Gr8 live music and the food was excellent. Defo be back.”

What more can I say?








Fly KLM to Amsterdam – and around the world

For those of us living around the UK, one of the most convenient European airport hubs is Schiphol, Amsterdam.  Fly KLM from 17 UK airports (including Edinburgh, London, Bristol, Cardiff, Manchester, Newcastle),  to Schiphol from where you can jet onwards to 96 cities across Europe and 87 transcontinental destinations.

KLM aircraft at Schiphol

KLM aircraft at Schiphol

Schiphol was recently voted Top European Airport in the Skytrax World Airport Awards 2013, and also named the third most punctual airport in the world– despite welcoming 139,000 passengers travelling on 1,114 flights each day!.  More fascinating facts and figures: 10 thousand suitcases are handled per hour using robot machinery, in the largest baggage system in the world.

KLM (Royal Dutch Airline) is the oldest in the world, founded in 1919 when Schiphol Airport became its home base. Unusually, the terminal is just a vast building which has been developed under one roof, allowing for easy access to and from all the Gates located around a series of wings.

Schiphol has easy access to all gates

Schiphol has easy access to all gates

Getting to and from the airport could not be easier, with regular trains arriving from and departing to Amsterdam to the station at Schiphol airport.

The practical design and range of facilities have been developed to ensure that all passengers experience a pleasurable, relaxing time at the airport, awaiting their departure.  Windows rather than walls allow for natural light as much as possible.  Check In desks are quick and efficient, to reduce queues,  issuing self service boarding cards and baggage drops with modern ID security; the Medical centre deals with essential travel medication and injections; special assistance staff  cater for wheelchair users and travelling pets.

Once passengers have checked in, and on Airside, the aim is for a time of care and relaxation within the Plaza complex: Shopping mall, culture and entertainment, choice of bistros and bars, Business class/ KLM Crown Lounges.

The range of facilities is seriously impressive. Families with young children will appreciate the free Baby Care nursery, Kids’ Forest playroom and supervised Junior Jet Lounge for unaccompanied minors.

Kids' Forest playroom at Schiphol

Kids’ Forest playroom at Schiphol

Just off a long haul flight?  Have a neck /back/foot massage or soothing facial at the Xpress Spa.   Yotel and Mercure Airport hotels are located  in the Plaza, so that you can book a room for a few hours or overnight to catch up on sleep.

With time to wait, enjoy the mini Rijksmuseum to view the changing exhibition of Dutch Masters from the city’s art gallery, visit the first ever airport library with selection of books in most languages or download an E book;  you can also play the grand piano, open to all with (hopefully) musical talent.   Instead of sitting for hours doing nothing, this is cultural heaven.

The first ever airport library at Schiphol

The first ever airport library at Schiphol

Somewhere to drink and eat for all tastes, such as the casual Brasserie, Sushi Bar or Bubbles Seafood Bar for classic champagne and oysters.  Have a flutter at the Casino, or take some fresh air on the open Panorama deck. Here you can go on board a former KLM Fokker 100, a city hopper aircraft  which flew between 1989-2010.

And of course retail therapy with shops selling everything from Burberry bags and Bols liquor, Diamonds to Dutch tulips.

Last week I flew KLM from Edinburgh to Schiphol, leaving at 6am and returning at 4.25pm, – both flights departed exactly on the minute.  Excellent on board service, with an egg omelette sandwich and coffee for breakfast, and later selected a glass of wine from the full bar service, served with cheese nibbles for a late afternoon drink and snack.

The KLM Crown Lounge for Flying Blue/Executive club guests offers a spacious retreat between flights, with business facilities, Wifi, showers, and fine food and drink.

Next time you plan to fly from a regional UK airport to Budapest or Bangkok,  Singapore or San Francisco, (or dozens of other destinations),  fly KLM to Schiphol and do ensure you have a few hours stopover for a relaxing break before catching your onward flight.!

Leisure time at Schiphol for all the family

Leisure time at Schiphol for all the family

The Horseshoe Inn, Scottish Borders

There’s nothing more welcoming than a traditional country Inn, such as the Horseshoe in Eddleston village on the old Stagecoach road (A703) from Edinburgh to Peebles in the Scottish Borders.  Originally a Blacksmith’s shop, the Horseshoe Inn’s reputation goes back several years since named AA Restaurant of the Year for Scotland 2007-08.

It’s all change for 2013. A new Head Chef, Alastair Craig has arrived from the Michelin-starred Montagu Arms in Hampshire, while the General Manager, Mark Slaney has experience working at two country house hotels in Scotland, Isle of Eriska and Boath House.   The aim is to establish the Horseshoe as an upmarket, fine dining Destination Restaurant with Rooms: it currently holds two AA rosettes.

With an ideal location just 20 miles south of Edinburgh it’s an easy drive. The 62 bus (Melrose to Edinburgh) conveniently stops right outside the Inn.  The cosy Lounge Bar has leather Chesterfield sofas and wood burning stove, where diners can relax over an apertif or digestif.  The bar serves wines, champagne, several good malts, Scottish gins and  real ales including from the local Traquair House brewery.

The Restaurant has an intimate setting with antique tables, crisp white linen, gold walls and claret red carpet.  The modern Scottish cuisine emphasises organic lamb and game from Border Farms, Scottish seafood, fresh herbs and vegetables from the kitchen garden.

I sampled a starter of  succulent scallops and then tender grilled Hake well partnered by salty samphire and crab salad for a fishy feast.  My partner enjoyed Pigs Trotter croquette with delicious raisin puree, followed by Roast fillet and confit belly of pork which was perfectly cooked. To finish, a cheese board, and a creamy Pannacotta with raspberries.

The Inn has eight contemporary bedrooms in the Old Schoolhouse next door – smart décor, tea/coffee tray with home made cake.  I stayed over to experience a comfortable night’s sleep. Breakfast next morning was exceptionally good, with fresh berries, scrambled egg and smoked salmon from Ettrick Valley smokery, wholemeal toast, pastries and fine preserves.

Open for Lunch and Dinner from Wednesday to Sunday, take a trip to the Horseshoe Restaurant to experience a feast of good food soured locally around the Borders.   Or reserve a room at the Inn to turn a meal out into a mini- country break.

The Horseshoe Inn,  Eddleston, Peeblesshire, EH45 8QP.

The Restaurant, Horseshoe Inn

The Restaurant, Horseshoe Inn

A bedroom at the Horseshoe Inn.

A bedroom at the Horseshoe Inn.

The outside of the Horseshoe Inn, A Restaurant with Rooms

The outside of the Horseshoe Inn, A Restaurant with Rooms

The Lounge Bar,  Horseshoe Inn

The Lounge Bar,
Horseshoe Inn


Gorgeous Therapies, Stockbridge, Edinburgh

The Stockbridge district of Edinburgh, just a short stroll down the hill from the New Town, is an upmarket Bohemian urban village, around the Water of Leith.

It’s the perfect place to live and also to visit and stroll around with an attractive range of restaurants, bars, cafe, quirky gift shops, art galleries, Sunday food and crafts market, quality charity clothes and book shops, as well as fashion boutiques,  hair and beauty salons.  Stockbridge is a mini city within a relaxing riverside environment away from the city centre.

New on the scene is Gorgeous Therapies, the creative brainchild of Rachel Kidd, who is a hair stylist, an organic cosmetic entrepreneur and homeopathic practitioner.  Working with a team of other hairdressers, health and beauty therapists, the spacious multi-functional salon offers head to toe pampering.

“Feeling gorgeous is as much a state of mind as it is a healthy body – elegant and eco-friendly, that is the Gorgeous Therapies’ philosophy.”

The Salon offers a menu of natural therapies (including massages, reflexology, facials, reiki, herbal, holistic and homepathic treatments, podiatry and nutritional advice), a Hair salon, a shop selling Rachel’s organic skincare products, and Hanna Cherrie’s Tea Room.  This is definitely the place to stay all day for a few indulgent treats.

My first experience was for a new look hair style and colour.  Rachel discussed what I would like and suggested a rich copper shade with blond highlights, perfect for the summer sun. Then she neatly trimmed my hair into a funky pixie crop. I love it!

Over the past week, I have been trying out a few of Rachel’s hand made organic Gorgeous lotions and potions: a silky Eye cream with soothing avocado, aloe vera and cucumber; a creamy facial cleanser, enriched with almond oil, cocoa butter and scented with lemongrass and mandarin; refresh the face with a cooling Toner, a blend of rose, lavender, ylang ylang floral waters;  the light Facial moisturiser is indeed gorgeous to use –  the rich yellow buttery mousse is made of organic evening primrose oil, avocado and rosehip to rejuvenate the skin.

These Gorgeous lotions are pure and made from natural organic ingredients – smoothing these magic potions over my face just makes me feel cleansed, moisturised and definitely 10 years younger.

I shall return to Gorgeous Therapies next week to experience a couple of body and face treatments and I shall let you know all about it.

Gorgeous Therapies, 29 Hamilton Place, Edinburgh EH3 5BA.

Gorgeous Potions - organic skincare products

Gorgeous Potions – organic skincare products






Oriflame Instant Nail Protector

If like me. you have soft, weak nails which occasionally crack and split, then a new nail care product from Oriflame Cosmetics will help you grow stronger nails with one simple stroke of the brush.

That is not marketing speak, but my personal opinion too, having tried and tested a sample bottle.

Made in France,  Oriflame Instant Nail Protector is more like a soft pink nail polish than the usual clear protective undercoat, and it really does create a supporting shield for brittle nails.  I have experimented with this polish over the past week, giving myself a couple of manicures and my nails are stronger and smoother, (covering ridges on my thumb too), creating harder tips which have not split at all.

Over recent years I have tried other, more expensive, brands, such as Sally Hansen, but they do not work.

I can guarantee that Oriflame Instant nail care polish does strengthen your nails immediately from the first application.   I like the light silky texture and it works as both a nail strengthener as well as a glossy polish to use on its own, or add a top coat of your favourite shade of colour.

Oriflame’s Nail Protector, RRP £4.95, is now available in the UK.  A special launch price of £3.45 is on offer until 2 August.
Purchase on line at  or through a network of consultants,

Oriflame Instant Nail Care protector

Oriflame Instant Nail Care protector


Get Fit this Summer

Summertime – the season to tone up, lose a few pounds and enjoy a healthy, active holiday and outdoor fun wherever you may go.

I recently joined Curves, the women-only gym, which was founded in the United States, but now has franchise branches worldwide, with 200 venues around the UK.  It’s a brilliant concept for a 30 minute exercise routine on a circuit of machines to stretch and tone the body, with optional fast paced Zumba and Body Blitz classes as part of the membership package.

Motivated by the friendly team of young instructors, it’s fun to keep fit at Curves.

Join Curves women-only gym to get fit this summer.!

Join Curves women-only gym to get fit this summer.!

Edinburgh Book Festival

In just one month’s time the Edinburgh International Book Festival 2013 begins once again as part of the fabulous feast of  International Arts Festivals which take place across the city.  It was in August 1983 when the gates to Charlotte Square Gardens opened to visitors for the inaugural Edinburgh Book Festival, featuring 120 authors including John Updike and P.D. James.  Until 1997 it was held biennially, and since then has colourfully blossomed into the largest festival of literature in the world.

The 2013 EIBF  programme has 750 events at which an impressive 800 authors will be discussing every subject and literary genre from crime and science fiction, music and theatre, travel and world affairs.

To celebrate 30 years of the Festival, it’s timely to look back at the careers of our nation’s successful writers.  In 1983, Granta magazine announced the first Best Young British Novelists, with a new list published every decade.   Several of these writers will be here, including Salman Rushdie (1983), Candia McWilliam (1993), A.L Kennedy (2003) as well as newcomer Evie Wyld (2013).

As Scotland is famed for creating legendary comics, such as Dandy and the Beano, it is fitting that a series of events called Stripped will focus on the popularity of graphic novels.   Global adventures, past and present is the topic of many events: Julie Davidson has researched the intrepid travel experiences of Mary Livingstone, wife of David Livingstone the African explorer, while Gavin Francis will describe surviving isolation and freezing temperatures in Antarctica.

Best selling novelists, Ian Rankin, Alexander McCall Smith, Val McDermid, Kate Atkinson, will be there, as well as politicians, journalists, religious leaders, artists, musicians and actors.  From 9pm each evening, The Spiegeltent will be the place to gather for a medley of stories, music and comedy under the title, Jura Unbound, presented by Skinny Magazine.

A vital part of the EIBF is the Children’s and Young Adults programme with workshops, storytelling, performances and educational schools’ events. Favourite writers include Julia Donaldson, Debi Gliori, Vivian French, Lari Don, and dozens more, who will entertain and inspire young readers to pick up a book and experience the World in Words.

The overall concept for the Edinburgh Book Festival for adults and children is all about listening to writers and thinkers, to consider and debate for understanding and enrichment.

“Don’t underestimate the value of Doing Nothing, of just going along, listening to all the things you can’t hear, and not bothering.” Pooh Bear – A. A. Milne

Chill out in Charlotte Square Gardens during the Edinburgh Book Festival.

Chill out in Charlotte Square Gardens during the Edinburgh Book Festival.

Love with the Chance of Drowning

With my love of cruises, boats and sailing the ocean blue, I was delighted to see this new book with the intriguing title  “Love with a Chance of Drowning” by Torre DeRoche.

This is a memoir, not fiction, the true life account of a young girl’s romantic adventure on her boyfriend’s yacht to experience an epic voyage across the Pacific.  The only problem is that she is terrified of the sea, recalling images of Jaws the killer shark, suffers from sea-sickness and does not know how to steer a tiller, unfurl a sail or tie a reef knot.

But Torre has fallen in love with Ivan, a blond, super fit, super hero from Argentina, whom she met by chance drinking a martini in a late night bar in San Francisco.  Fortunately, he becomes besotted by this sassy, sexy, creative Australian girl who escaped life and work at home for a year to live the Californian dream.

This post is just a taster to draw you into the story. I have just started reading Torre’s tantalising tale which from page one, draws you into her dilemma as she follows her heart, not her head,  giving up her job and packing a bag to step on board Ivan’s yacht, Amazing Grace.  Heading west into the rough, rolling waves of the Pacific, the first landfall will be Hiva Oa,  one of the remote Marquesas islands.  It will take a month to get there. All going well.

“Love with a Chance of Drowning” is a cracking rollercoaster of a story.  Relating every emotion, sight and sound, the delights and drama of life at sea,  it’s all so real, so touchingly tangible,  that I feel that I am sharing the journey with these crazy guys.  Where are we going next?

Published by Summersdale Publishers. 1st July 2013.

Love with a Chance of Drowning by Torre deRoche. A memoir.

Love with a Chance of Drowning by Torre deRoche. A memoir.

Motel One, Edinburgh-Royal

Brand new to the UK is the launch of the Motel One collection of Budget Designer hotels.

This German hospitality brand (with 42 hotels in Germany and Austria) has opened in Edinburgh, right in the city centre just a two minute walk from Waverley Train Station, and the Airport bus terminus on Waverley Bridge.

The tag line for Motel One hotels, is “great design for little money”.  As I come through the door  into the Lounge – Lobby area, the first impression is Wow!.  Furnished with bucket chairs and window seats with soft fabrics in tweed, leather and sheepskin, this is a place to relax day and night.  A recurring colour scheme throughout the hotel is the signature Turquoise-blue and Mushroom-taupe – cool and contemporary.  Johnstone’s Cashmere were commissioned to create the Motel One tartan for the Edinburgh hotel.   The colour links through to the  fashionable staff uniform too. A neat touch.

The Lobby – with two gorgeous Jacobsen Egg chairs – for a welcoming check-in, and up to my minimalist but freshly decorated, white, blue and taupe bedroom on the 7th floor, overlooking Princes Street Gardens.  Furniture is practical with desk, stool and armchair which you can move to where you wish to sit. Brilliant idea. Shower-room, TV (multi-channels), Tea/coffee tray,  proper (not fixed) hangers, soft pillows/duvet, AC controls, and well positioned lighting.

One Lounge, the café bar on the ground floor is where a self service Continental breakfast is served – cereals, apples, toast, croissants, cheese, boiled eggs, tea/coffee machine.  The intimate Bar – good selection of beers, wine, whisky and snack menu –  is dressed in a snazzy style featuring vintage crystal glass lampshades, tartan tweed stools and quirky drinks tables made from old whisky casks. Open to non-residents too, so I shall return!

Like Ryanair, Motel One offers No Frills – no telephone or Mini Bar, but what it lacks in 5 star facilities is made up for by smart design and exceptionally low room rates for the city visitor. (Summer 2014 – £ 69 single/£84 double).  There are 208 bedrooms within this tall, turreted Old Town building, of all shapes, sizes and views, including a spacious Accessible room with Wet Room, alarm cord.

City life and Eating Out?  Restaurants, pubs, prime heritage sites from the Castle to Palace, art galleries, shopping and night clubs are all to be found nearby.

Just open for 6 months, Motel-One Edinburgh Royal has already proved to be an innovative, trendy, affordable concept for international leisure and business visitors.  A second Motel One will open here on Princes Street later in 2013.  Future hotel plans are London in 2014, then other UK and European cities.

Browsing through guest reviews, the recurring verdict is the same: great deal, excellent location, comfort, friendly staff.  A Swiss couple wrote “  We will stay in no other Edinburgh hotel from now on. Love it!.”

Having experience an overnight stay here, Motel One Edinburgh-Royal passes the good sleep Pillow Test.  I also enjoyed a relaxing glass of wine before going out for dinner in the cosy bar, and the casual DIY breakfast was fun.  The smart, savvy world traveller should certainly plan to stay here for a budget tariff and spend the money saved on having a fabulous time around the city.   t. 0131 220 0730.   18-21 Market Street, Edinburgh EH1 1BL

The exterior of the Motel One hotel on the corner of Market Street and Cockburn Street

The exterior of the Motel One hotel on the corner of Market Street and Cockburn Street

A smartly decorated bedroom at Motel One, Edinburgh

A smartly decorated bedroom at Motel One, Edinburgh