‘Where Sky Meets Earth’: tranquil, meditative seascapes by Janise Yntema @ The Scottish Gallery, Edinburgh
Originally from New York and now based in Brussels, Janise Yntema is enchanted by the wild open landscape of the Scottish Highlands and Islands. She specialises in working in encaustic, the ancient painting technique combining dammar resin, beeswax and pigment. It dates back to the ancient Greeks who decorated ships, statues and buildings and also used to create the murals of Pompeii. Encaustic literally means to ‘burn in’ whereby heat fuses the organically pure materials together.
‘Nature has always had an influence in my work. The romantic landscape and memories of places I have experienced, are a subject that I continue to return to in my work. The English Romantic painter, John Constable, is quoted as saying that painting is another word for feeling.
I would add that, for me, landscape is another word for spiritual‘.
This exhibition, ‘Where Sky Meets Earth’, covers her journeys over recent years around Scotland including Oban, Mull, Staffa, Mallaig, Skye, Portree and Ullapool. Without giving exact locations in the titles of each painting, the overall theme is the swiftly change in light and weather from dawn to dusk across the peaceful, unspoilt environment.
A hazy blue glow envelops the forest of tall pine trees along the shoreline in As Morning Still Sleeps, with the faint contour of distant hills lost in a murky mist. The perspective places the viewer immersed in the woodland, to feel the crisp morning air and utter stillness.
Before I Arise pictures the actual scene experienced on an early morning walk along the bay in Oban, as she describes: ‘I find the moments before dawn mystical.’ There’s an extraordinary photographic quality to the dark silhouette of shapely islands, and the shimmering light softly reflected on the flat calm water.
With the sea reduced to a sweep of brushstrokes, the focus is entirely on the fiery, coral- tinted clouds in Red Sky at Dawn. Textured layers of oil paint and bees wax create a semi-transparent glossy, glowing sheen, the pale colour palette of blueish-greys merging across the indistinctive horizon with the flow and fluidity between sky and sea.
A glimmer of the day’s dying light is captured in Evening’s Hush, much more of an impressionistic abstracted composition in which tonal colour and diffused light mingle in a swirling mass of the elements – air, cloud, water, earth. With the effect of a smirr of rain it’s powerfully atmospheric to illustrate the emptiness and expanse of the wide open sky and sea.
‘I am at my most inspired when I think of the poetry that is nature … a search for tranquillity ..the warmth of the sun’s last light and whisper of the breeze … a sense of memory, the shifting line between what was, what will be and what has been envisioned.’
A placid, poetic seascape is calmly and quietly envisioned in Listen to the Wind. This dreamlike composition captures a meditative moment of silence and solitude with such melancholic mood and soft, subtle luminosity.
Observing land and sea, hills and horizons, Janise is always captivated by the shifting light and scurrying clouds across the sky, taking photographs as an aide-memoire to recreate the meteorological magic as witnessed in Stories from Clouds (see below).
With a philosophical, aesthetic vision, Janise Yntema shares the emotional response of the Romantic poets and painters to the surreal, sublime beauty of the natural world.
This superlative exhibition of majestic, moody paintings document with delicate detail ‘the earth’s fragile beauty,’ reflecting time, space and place – all at once, realistic, lyrical and imagined.
‘…a sense sublime,
Of something far more deeply interfused,
… the light of setting suns,
And the round ocean and the living air,
And the blue sky.’
William Wordsworth: from “On Revisiting the Banks of the Wye, July 13, 1798”
The Scottish Gallery, 16 Dundas Street, Edinburgh EH3 6HZ
Where Sky Meets Earth: Janise Yntema
2 – 25 March, 2023: Tuesday to Friday 11-6pm. Saturday 11-2pm
Illustrated exhibition catalogue available, £10.
‘Gazing Heart’: lyrical, abstract Scottish landscapes by Mary Morrison at &Gallery, Edinburgh.
Mary Morrison is a brilliantly perceptive artist from the Outer Hebrides who explores the intimate sense of place, space and light as observed around these islands in her paintings.
The exhibition title ‘Gazing Heart’ is from a poem by W.B. Yeats ‘In Memory of Major Robert Gregory’ about the death of a friend, an artist, in the First World War.
“In relation to my work it is about an intensity of gaze that goes beyond the merely optical or physical. It is about the inner gaze and recognising the direction our heart is gazing in and how what we love, what matters to us, will determine who we are. Going beyond the surface is important to me, and the intention is for these works to reveal themselves slowly.”
She is inspired by the written word, such as nature poems of the fellow Hebridean, Iain Crichton Smith, and also by geopoetics – ‘place, culture, world’ – the link between landscape and mindscape, envisaged by the Scottish poet and intellectual nomad, Kenneth White.
A curving contour of lapping waves in Tidal progression II is akin to a bird’s eye view of the line where sea touches the shore. The contrast of grey rugged rock and translucent water is so delicately detailed in softly shimmering, transitory light.
A mesmerising, mystical optical illusion in Squall/The Farthest line of Light, as a mass of drizzling mist descends over the splashing surf to create a lacy veil over the coastline cliffs. An amazing layering of oil, pigment and beeswax for texture and tone reflects the moonshine glow across the ink-black night sky.
‘Sea, immortal waters, you are the harmony around us forever.
We exist in your music,
In your blizzard of white gulls….
Wherever I am, you are with me,
In sunsets over the Minch,
You are my gaunt theme, my poem which burns in water.’
From ‘Lewis’ – Iain Crichton Smith
With reference to the Muse of sacred poetry, dance and eloquence, Polyhymnia II has a more abstract expressionist approach – an effervescent fluidity to depict the natural elements – a choreographed, floating flurry of clouds and rain dripping down the canvas, with no distinctive horizon, boundary or border between sky and sea.
‘My intention is not to depict a landscape in a literal sense but to explore in a more abstracted way the relationship between the individual and the landscape – a ‘geography of the mind’. My work suggests journeys, edges, tidal lines – always shifting.’
A dreamlike geographical map is apparent in Lost Lands II in which a meandering maze of curving and straight lines are scratched across the surface. Perhaps faint footsteps in the snow with an arc of compass pointers heading in the opposite direction, to navigate the way to a remote distant island, lost in a sea fog.
From the Hebridean seashore take a journey to the tranquil, rural landscape of the Scottish Borders. In Borders River II, the viewer is immersed in the lush green woodland, fresh, fragrant air and a sparkling, fast-flowing stream under a flash of bright sunshine. The delicate horizontal line across the centre divides water and sky with a vague shape of a gentle sloping hill.
There’s a magical, minimalist technique in distilling the realistic panoramic perspective of wild open spaces with such concision and focus. Through the imagination of a meditative mindscape – ‘memory places’ – here are just the essentials of our natural world: water, wind, earth, sky, sun and storm, amidst silence and solitude.
Mary Morrison is an intuitive, imagist, lyrical landscape artist, physically and emotionally connected to the environment, observing and searching deeper with an ‘inner gaze .. beyond the surface’, guided by her poetic gazing heart.
To paraphrase a review of Kenneth White’s writings, she shares the same experiential, symbolic vision of ‘clarity, emptiness, purity of spirit, a north of the soul, a pathless path’.
The &Gallery, 3 Dundas Street, Edinburgh EH3 6QG
Mary Morrison: Gazing Heart
4 -29 March, 2023 – Tuesday to Friday: 10am to 5pm. Saturday 10am to 4pm & by appointment
Artist’s Talk on Saturday 25 March, 3-4pm
A Q&A with the artist Mary Morrison. The event is free, however booking is essential.
For more information: www.andgallery.co.uk
A contemporary Burns’ Night supper at The Black Grape with Old Pulteney Cocktails and tasty Canapés
One of the newest places to drink and dine in Edinburgh is The Black Grape, which opened on 19 December 2022. A timely idea then to spread the word and promote the new Restaurant & Wine Bar by hosting a small, intimate, contemporary Burns Night party – no ‘Address to the Haggis’ or ceilidh dancing, but a stylish, sociable event for about 25 guests.
The Black Grape Restaurant and Wine Bar is located at 240 Canongate in the former premises of the Pancho Villas Mexican diner. This is the first restaurant venture for Murray Ainslie (previously operations manager for The Compass Group) working with business partners Stuart Hunter and Cameron Taylor.
“We’ve created an experience inspired by some of our favourite restaurants across the world. Whether you’re joining us for a glass of wine and a small plate, or feasting with a group of friends, we want you to feel at home.. our great food, polished service and stylish interior will ensure we really stand out from the crowd.” Murray Ainslie
The smart logo with an optical illusion of two glasses or a bottle, illustrated on signage, menu and crockery illustrates the ethos of ‘small plates, wine & good times’. The name may perhaps be inspired – not just by the essential ingredient of wine – but Black Grape, an English rock band with a musical style fusing funk and electronic rock.
It was 21 July 1801, five years after Rabbie Burns’ death aged just 37, that nine of his friends got together in Alloway in tribute to his life and work. They ate and drank, recited the ‘Address to a Haggis’ and sang a few of his songs. Little did they know that this launched the tradition of the Burns Supper on 25th January each year around the world, piping in the haggis, poetry, music and dancing with a toast to his Immortal Memory.
Step inside The Black Grape to find the spacious, modern Bar leading through to the dining room. The food menu is designed for sharing as well as fine wines, spirits and inventive house cocktails.
This Burns Night party was the perfect time to promote the Old Pulteney single malt whisky located near Wick on the rugged North East corner of the Highlands. The distillery was founded in 1826 by James Henderson, named after the Pulteney district of Wick. As a remote location with few roads at the time, raw barley was brought in by boat and the whisky shipped out by distillery workers who also worked as herring fishermen.
Silver and Gold: the story of silver darlings, vast shoals of herring, together with Old Pulteney whisky, the golden nectar of Caithness brought great prosperity here in the mid to late 19th century. This was a boom time with more than 1,000 fishing vessels based at Wick for the summer season.
The writer, Neil Gunn (1891-1973) was born near the distillery and his father was a fisherman. Immersed and inspired by the spirit of Caithness cultural heritage, The Silver Darlings (1941), is his famous novel about the fishing community and the men who went out to sea to harvest the precious herring.
“The money will be flowing like the river. As one man said in Wick:
the creels of silver herring will turn into creels of silver crowns.”
The wild coastal location of the Old Pulteney distillery is buffeted by a brisk breeze blowing in off the North Sea and this is said to add a tangy salt sea aroma to the spirit as it matures in American and Spanish oak casks.
Today, matured in air-dried, hand-selected ex-bourbon casks, the Old Pulteney 12-year-old is the definitive expression of a Maritime single malt whisky. The distillery describes this as ‘a sparkling gold whisky, smooth and firm bodied, with a subtle wisp of sea spray, sweet honey and warm salted caramel, a burst of soft citrus followed by a faintly salty, long lasting finish.’
Colour – Deep amber with a slight pink hue.
Nose – Medium to high intensity, dry with a briny hint of sea air
Palate – Sweet, floral, citrus: lemon and lime plus dry banana skin.
For this Burns’ supper, the bar tenders had been busy experimenting to create three unique Old Pulteney whisky cocktails, each paired with a special gourmet canapé.
The Forager’s Highball was a twist on a classic Whisky & Soda but with the addition of a finely crafted, locally foraged Sea buckthorn ‘juice-syrup.’ With a tart citrus taste, the vitamin-rich Sea buckthorn berries are nutritious -15 times more vitamin C than oranges – and often a botanical for Gin. The garnish on the glass was a green, crunchy sprig of Salty Fingers (like samphire), to enhance the underlying salty flavour. Topped up with tonic and ice, this Highball was very refreshing
Reflecting the fishing heritage for ‘silver darlings’ at the Old Pulteney distillery, a cracker topped with a Pickled Herring and Daikon salad (Oriental or Japanese radish) was served. Delicate flavours and soft/crunchy textures – a delicious light bite.
The second cocktail, served in a lovely small coupe was the The Black Grape: Old Pulteney single malt blended with a splash of oxidised red wine and a dash of a French liqueur – lip smacking good. The silky smooth spirit combined with a fortified wine is reminiscent of a Zaza cocktail (beloved by the late Queen and her mother) – gin and Dubonnet, Martini style instead of Vermouth.
This was matched with a tasty snack of venison – or for vegetarians a chunky slice of beetroot – with a juicy fat bramble on a crostini toast. A perfect balance with the bittersweet cocktail.
Finally, Malt & Salt Old Fashioned. This was a new version of the classic (whisky, angostura bitters, sugar syrup, orange slice), to enhance the sweet nutty flavour of the Old Pulteney Single Malt.
Not surprisingly, this was accompanied by haggis with smoked mashed neeps and cube of roast potato. So artistically plated this miniature portion tasted like a hearty dish.
‘Ye Pow’rs, wha mak mankind your care,
And dish them out their bill o fare,
Auld Scotland wants nae skinking ware
That jaups in luggies:
But, if ye wish her gratefu prayer,
Gie her a Haggis’
Address to the Haggis, Robert Burns
This is the final verse of Burns’ poem to celebrate his appreciation of the Haggis, and therefore forever linked to the poet, presented and sliced with ceremonial flair on Burns Night.
And then we tasted a pure dram of the Old Pulteney to raise a glass to the great Scottish Bard. The perfect warming end to an inspiring evening.
This lively, well curated celebration was a great opportunity to sample a taste of the style, hospitality and ambience of The Black Grape. The light, healthy but hearty lunch and supper menu is well designed to focus on sharing several dishes for an exciting, gourmet dining experience.
Nibbling a light snack with a glass of wine is rather like the Tapas offered in Spanish bars in the early evening to accompany a few drinks after work or socialising at weekends, and also Aperitivo time in Italy – Prosecco or a Negroni served with savoury appetisers before dinner.
If Rabbie Burns was around today, he would sure to call into The Black Grape for a snifter or two, as it’s just a short stroll down from the Lawnmarket where he lived for a while on Baxter’s Close. Burns also visited the Crochallan Fencibles, a gentlemen’s club at the Anchor Inn, Anchor Close, which leads down to Cockburn Street.
So why not head down to the Canongate soon for a taste of “small plates, wine & good times” + whisky, cool cocktails and seriously fine food.
The Black Grape, 240 Canongate, Edinburgh EH8 8AB
Monday to Friday: 3 pm – late
Saturday / Sunday: 12 pm – late
Telephone: 0131 237 7419
Scottish Ballet presents the world premiere of ‘The Scandal at Mayerling’ – a real life Romeo & Juliet tale of passionate love and tragic death.
With unwitting, timely prescience, (following recent Royal scandals), Sir Kenneth MacMillan’s epic narrative ballet has now been reimagined afresh by Scottish Ballet in a dramatic new touring production.
Originally created by MacMillan, an innovative, ground-breaking choroegrapher, for the Royal Ballet in 1978, The Scandal at Mayerling is based on the tragic, true story of Crown Prince Rudolf, the only son of Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria and his wife, Elisabeth.
When he was 23, his parents selected 16 year old Princess Stephanie of Belgium to be his wife but this was a very unhappy, arranged marriage. A few years later when Rudolph met and fell in love with Baroness Mary Vetsera, his parents demanded that he swiftly end the affair, and also that he could not divorce Stephanie.
On the morning of January 30, 1889, the bodies of Rudolf, aged 30, and Mary, aged just 17, were found at the Hunting lodge, Mayerling in the woods outside Vienna. The scandal of the affair and apparent suicide pact was immediately hushed up by the Austrian Royal family. As heir to the throne, Rudolf’s death, publicly announced as a heart attack, left the succession in jeopardy, dividing the Hapsburg empire which ultimately led to the Great War in 1914.
The Mayerling Incident, full of mystery, murder and intrigue, has been adapted many times for the movie screen: a 1936 French movie starring Charles Boyer and Danielle Darrieux; Mel Ferrer and Audrey Hepburn, (1957); Omar Sharif and Catherine Deneuve, (1968). The Illusionist, (2006), set in Vienna, 1900 is a fictionalised version of the royal romance.
This passionate story of real life star-crossed lovers also inspired Sir Kenneth MacMillan to devise a narrative ballet, exploring the social, political and personal background of Crown Prince Rudolf, set within the opulent grandeur of the Royal court. John Lanchbery, conductor of the Royal Ballet orchestra, suggested Liszt as the composer, selecting over thirty pieces to orchestrate into an atmospheric, lyrically lush score.
The premiere of Mayerling took place on Valentine’s Day 1978 at a Royal gala with David Wall as Prince Rudolf and Lynn Seymour as Mary Vetsera. The audience gave the ballet and MacMillan, a prolonged ovation and the critics praised the ballet’s boldness and originality: Mary Clarke described ‘.. a thrilling, moving theatrical experience’. Clement Crisp commented that MacMillan had moved the three-act ballet from its 19th century structure and conventions into the realism of modern life. And after a revival by the Royal Ballet at the Met. New York, Anna Kisselgoff was impressed by ‘great dancing, great acting on a level of sophistication and richness of detail’.
Opening in April at the Theatre Royal Glasgow before a Scottish tour, Scottish Ballet now presents a sumptuous new version entitled The Scandal at Mayerling, featuring the full company of forty dancers. This world premiere will be the first time MacMillan’s iconic ballet has been produced in the UK outside London.
The drama centres on the Prince and his relationship with the women in his life – his wife, his mother and his mistresses – dramatised through a series of intense duets.
Rudolph is a desperate, disturbed young man, trapped in a charmed world of royal wealth and privilege, seeking an escape in in the reckless pursuit of women (both nobles and prostitutes), drink (Cognac and Champagne), drugs (morphine), and revolutionary politics. He also has a morbid fascination with death. With clear echoes of another anti hero, Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, he was obsessed with a skull and a revolver which he keeps in his room, as he delves into a deteriorating state of psychosis and addiction.
MacMillan’s precise and potent choreographic storytelling focuses on characterisation with psychological insight to relate a brutal account of human nature, in a way which only dance can express. With his moods ranging from desire to rage, Rudolf is one the most demanding male roles created in British ballet requiring a high level of technique and stamina coupled with strong acting skills.
However, the dancers of Scottish Ballet excel at dramatic clarity as recently illustrated in the stunning adaptations of A Streetcar Named Desire and The Crucible, based on the iconic plays by Tennessee Williams and Arthur Miller.
“The Scandal at Mayerling” is a story rich with political intrigue, conflicting emotions, passion and obsession played out against an archaic and crumbling empire. Sir Kenneth’s choreography is some of the most visceral and emotionally charged ever produced – it demands our attention right up to the ill-fated conclusion.” Christopher Hampson, Artistic Director/CEO of Scottish Ballet .
This revival has been adapted and staged by Christopher Hampson and Gary Harris in association with the choreographer’s widow, Lady Deborah MacMillan:
“Kenneth didn’t set out to shock people but was acutely aware that in the ballet world of fairies and tutus, more realistic insights into human behaviour might prove difficult. There is a strong Scottish connection – Kenneth was born in Dunfermline – and Scottish Ballet attests to the highest aims of ballet companies worldwide, performing the best of the classics as well as looking to the future in choreography and designs.”
This bold, ambitious new production features an elaborate stage set and lavish costumes with the Franz Liszt score performed live by the Scottish Ballet Orchestra.
Dancers and rehearsal staff are taking part in a series of workshops with the Fight and Intimacy Direction company, Rc-Annie. Training in the safe use of replica imitation firearms will also create the authenticity for realistic theatre.
The historical mystery of the Mayerling Scandal has recently had a new twist. In 2015, a long forgotten collection of letters found hidden in a bank vault in Vienna might now reveal the secrets behind one of the world’s greatest love stories.
“Please forgive me, I could not resist love,’ wrote Mary Vetsera in a farewell letter to her mother, Helen, ‘I am happier in death than life.’
Apparently, an unknown person had deposited a leather-bound folder containing personal documents, letters and photographs of the Vetsera family, including Mary’s letters, which were finally discovered, 126 years after her death.
Dark, dangerous and daring, ‘The Scandal at Mayerling’ by Scottish Ballet promises to be a richly romantic and captivating dance drama. With a tasty flavour of the raunchy, period TV drama, Bridgerton, (with more bite), it’s sure to be a smash hit and described once again, as in 1978 as “a thrilling, moving, experience.”
Book your tickets now!
Scottish Ballet – The Scandal at Mayerling
Tour dates: 13-16 April 2022:Theatre Royal, Glasgow, 21-23 April 2022: Eden Court, Inverness, 5-7 May 2022: His Majesty’s Theatre, Aberdeen, 25-28 May 2022: Festival Theatre Edinburgh
Age guidance 12+
The Scotch Malt Whisky Society and Kingdom Scotland create a fragrant, sweet and spicy, spiritual partnership
First launched for Christmas 2021, this is a most creative business collaboration to demonstrate how Scotch whisky has inspired and been imaginatively paired with Scottish fragrances.
The partnership between the Scotch Malt Whisky Society and Kingdom Scotland celebrates the aromatic synergy between whisky and perfume, both produced through a similar distillation method. The perfumes can be sampled together with the paired whiskies at the Society venues in London, Glasgow and Edinburgh, guided by the knowledgable experts behind the bar.
‘The people who said it couldn’t be done were so dull’ –
Pip Hills, Society Founder.
The Scotch Malt Whisky Society was established in Edinburgh in 1983 and now has more than 27,000 members and branches around the world. The idea all started in the 1970s, when Pip Hills sampled the delights of whisky drawn straight from the cask – undiluted and unadulterated – and this soon led to the idea of forming a club for whisky lovers. Hence, The Scotch Malt Whisky Society (SMWS), to share whisky in its purest form for those with a passion for flavour.
The Scotch Malt Whisky Society selects unique single casks and exclusive blends from more than 140 distilleries from Scotland and beyond promoting a new batch of around 20 rare single malt whiskies every month. The team of whisky experts seek out whisky in its purest form with a diversity of flavour and give each bottling a curious, quirky name.
Members enjoy exclusive access to these speciality whiskies through the world’s most colourful whisky club.
Imogen Russon-Taylor enjoyed an international career from film studios to drinks companies before moving back to Scotland to work in the Scotch whisky industry. This experience and insight into the delicate crafting of Scotch, soon inspired her to launch her fragrance business, Kingdom Scotland.
At the University of St. Andrews, she researched historical records of perfumed ingredients and stories of Scottish botanists and plant collectors. Born in 1889, the Scottish botanist Isobel Wylie Hutchison was an adventurous and pioneering explorer who took a 260-mile solo trek across Iceland, later travelling across the Arctic circle into Greenland and Alaska where she collected floral and grass samples for the Royal Botanical Gardens in Edinburgh and Kew. A biography about her life is poetically called, ‘Flowers in the Snow.’
With this background knowledge, Imogen selected and foraged specific plants, flowers and botanicals to create a range of luxury perfumes – unisex, sustainable, ethical and crafted in Scotland.
“It’s the landscape, the history and elemental weather. If I could bottle that in scents, such as gorse on the way to the beach and its coconut notes, I thought it would be an amazing Scottish brand.”
The ancient craft of distilling whisky also links into the Scottish environment – the heritage, culture and wild terrain of lochs, forests and mountain peaks.
Whisky is in the business of “bottling Scotland” across the distinctly different distillery regions from Lowland to Speyside, Highland to Islay.
The Laphroaig 10 year old single malt is for instance poetically described as “no other aroma so perfectly encapsulates the island. Peat reek, soft oak, craggy coastline, screeching gulls. .. in a glass.”
Just a sniff of this dram will certainly transport you to Islay.
Words used to capture the complex scent and potent taste of whisky are certainly wide ranging: citrus, floral, woodland, seashore, BBQ, bonfire, spice, hazelnut, chocolate, dried fruit, cheese, Christmas Cake et al.
Just like testing a perfume on one’s wrist or a card, we first need to “nose” a whisky as 95% of ‘flavours’ are in fact the whiff of the aroma.
The tantalising taste of a fine single malt lingers on the tongue just like a splash of scent on the skin. The sense of smell indeed lingers in the mind, engrained in the remembrance of things past.
In similar fashion, Imogen was keen to ‘bottle Scotland’ in her hand crafted scents: ‘ to transport you to a memory, a place, a moment in time. I want to create that “sense of place” in my fragrances’.
A Sensory Experience event at the Scotch Malt Whisky Society, Edinburgh, gave the marvellous, magical opportunity to take an aromatic journey linking whisky and perfume and vice versa.
Metamorphic Eau de parfum is influenced by Imogen’s love of Ardbeg and other Islay single malts, reflecting the layered, crystalline rock formations of the Highlands and Islands formed around 400 million years ago.
Top – Black Pepper & Tobacco
Heart – Incense, Minerals, Islay Malt & Dark Rose
Base – (as the scent warms on the skin), Amber resin & Leather
Such a rich smoky peat and lingering tobacco scent and oh so masculine with the underlying tones of leather seats of a vintage classic car.
This Kingdom Scotland perfume has been expertly paired by the experts at the SMWS with their Lightly Peated collection, a flavour profile blending fragrant Parma Violet/rose/ freesia floral notes and smoky wood ash.
Peat fire tales on Orkney (Highland Park, 1st fill Oloroso butt).
As described by the whisky ambassador, expect fish and chips, blood orange, smoky peat fire, lime salt, honey, and altogether smooth and well balanced.
The Taste Test:
Nose: oak, sherry sweetness, juicy raisins, vanilla, coffee
Taste: a teardrop of water to open up the flavour: a seashore briney breeze, dark sherry, roasted coffee beans, dried fruit, hazelnuts, caramel, woodsmoke
Finish: warm spice, nutmeg, ginger, raisins, espresso coffee and oozing with campfire smokiness.
Portal Eau de parfum is inspired by the Caledonian forests on the Ardnamurchan peninsula with the pungent scent of Scots pine and lichen, herbaceous botanicals and bergamot to evoke the experience of being out in the fresh country air.
Top – Herbaceous botanicals & bergamot
Heart – Verdant flora
Base – Vetiver, bark & Scots Pine
This clearly bottles the sensory experience of a woodland walk after the rain in spring or summer and Vetiver oil is said to be calming for meditation and relaxation.
Portal is matched with a whisky from the SMWS Juicy Oak & Vanilla flavour profile range: honeysuckle, coriander seed, juicy fruits, chocolate-coated cherries, passion fruit and pineapple sorbet, such as Summer Garden Curiosity and Day Sipper.
Day Sipper. (Linkwood, Speyside, 1st fill Bourbon barrel)
As described: big, robust, cherry, juicy, sweet, playful – an anytime, daytime dram.
Nose: fresh cut grass, floral fragrance, leafy, oatmeal, hint of honey
Taste: soft stone fruits, (plum, damson), rose blossom, tree bark, moss, honey, coconut, citrus notes
Finish: Earl Grey and herbal tea, orange, vanilla, almonds, marzipan.
This is indeed the ultimate sensory experience: sip, taste and smell the natural fragrance of Scotch whisky afresh through the art of perfumery.
This innovative, cultural and truly spiritual collaboration between the Scotch Malt Whisky Society and Kingdom Scotland allows us to appreciate even more how the seductive aroma of spirit and scent capture the romantic, wild, natural landscape of Scotland in a contemporary way.
The Scottish Malt Whisky Society
The original HQ is The Vaults in Leith, Edinburgh where it all started nearly 40 years ago, then developed with club premises on Queen Street, Edinburgh, Glasgow and London. There are now 27,000 members and branches around the world – Austria, Australia, Belgium, Canada, China, Denmark, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Japan, Malaysia, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, Singapore and the US.
Belonging to the world’s most entertaining whisky club gives access to exclusive Members’ Rooms, a network of global partner bars, tasting events, whisky education and a monthly members’ magazine Unfiltered.
Visit one of the Society venues in Edinburgh, Glasgow and London, where you can sample the expertly selected whiskies across the flavour profiles together with the associated perfumes. These unisex fragrances are the perfect gift combined with a bottle of the paired Single Malt for the whisky lover.
As a unique and exclusive luxury brand, the Kingdom Scotland perfumes are available at Harrods, Harvey Nichols, Les Senteurs, Gleneagles and The Balmoral Hotel, Edinburgh.
The French Film Festival is back with Screen Horizons@ Summerhall, January to April 2022.
The French Film Festival UK is the only festival dedicated to and embracing French and Francophone cinema in all its diversity. Instead of waiting until November, an inspiring season of French and Francophone cinema comes to Summerhall from 30 January to 17 April, 2022.
Presenting a diverse range of films for all ages, from award-winners to new talent, classics to documentaries and animation. Several will be accompanied by introductions, Q&As and talks by leading experts in film and French culture.
“With the easing of restrictions, we’re delighted to be able to offer Summerhall screenings in the newly re-equipped Red studio theatre with its Seventies’ vibe. Audiences will have the chance to catch up with French Film Festival titles they may have missed the first time around. The programme really does have something for everyone.”
Richard Mowe, Director, French Film Festival UK
Summerhall, located near the Meadows, is a well established and popular visual arts and performance venue, – with a pub, brewery and gin distillery on site too – a buzzing cultural centre year round with exhibitions, drama, music, films and, in August, Edinburgh Festival Fringe shows.
And what must be the best kept secret, a brand new cinema opened here in October 2021!
The Red Lecture Theatre was previously used for the Edinburgh Short Film Festival, Cinefile, French Film Festival and Cinematic, shows films every weekend as well as special events. The revamped cinema was financed from the Screen Scotland’s Cinema Equipment Fund, featuring Dolby 5.1 surround sound and DCP projection and is the only cinema on the southside of Edinburgh. Each Friday, Saturday and Sunday, the venue screens new releases, independent films, modern horror, retrospectives and world cinema.
The French Film Festival UK presents Screen Horizons@ Summerhall.
As Valentine’s Day 2022 fell on a Monday, there is still time for a delicious sweet taste of romance on Sunday 20 February with a 3pm matinee screening of Love Affair(s).
The French title, ‘Les Choses qu’on dit, les chose qu’on fait’ is translated as ‘The Things We Say, the Things We Do,’ a classic brief encounter tale of two strangers thrown together by chance, set against the lush green French countryside. Exploring their notions of what real love is, the chemistry between Daphne and Maxime is viewed with authenticity, elegance and compassion. Directed by Emmanuel Mouret, the film has been described as a more serious Love Actually, pitching between the philosophical and farcical.
This really sounds like a smash hit with rave reviews, awards and accolades:
Best Film nomination, Césars 2021.
Rotten Tomatoes – Critics score,100%
‘ Mouret channels a cacophony of beating hearts in an effortless conversation about the universal trappings of love and monogamy’.
‘A complex romantic drama which twists and turns at every juncture’.
Later that afternoon on 20 February at 5.30pm is Hello World! (Bonjour Le Monde!) for adults and children alike. With perfect topicality in the race to save the planet, this is a whimsical animated study of our fragile ecosystem. How is a bird born, why does one come into the world as an insect, mammal or fish?
Hand crafted papier-mâché puppets with a colourfully painted backdrop interpret the life and habitats of a pike, beaver, bat, salamander, turtle, dragonfly and several birds to illustrate the amazing spectacle of the natural world.
And here a few more highlights over the next couple of months:
Oh Mercy! / Roubaix, une lumière (Sunday 27 February, 15.00)
A fictionalised adaptation of the 2008 French TV documentary Roubaix commissariat central, which followed a police officer and his colleagues in Roubaix, near Lille, as they deal with the shocking homicide of an elderly woman. The investigation has real authenticity to create a riveting, compassionate drama and among the potential suspects are the neighbours who report the crime, Claude and Marie. Grégoire Hetzel’s sombre soundtrack creates a suitably chilling Bernard Herrmann, (Psycho, Citizen Kane, Taxi Driver), mood and ambience.
‘ Engrossing and well worth checking out’. Time Out
Simply Black / Tout simplement noir (Sunday 6 March, 17.00/Sunday 13 March, 15.00)
Jean-Pascal Zadi’s feature debut follows, JP, an actor and activist (played by Zadi himself) who, tired of the bigotry and racism in France, decides to organize a “Black Man’s March” to raise awareness in Paris. The politically incorrect satire is essentially a mockumentary through a series of dramatic, often hilarious misadventures. By exploring how racism remains a serious issue in France, Zadi questions whether the motto ‘liberté, égalité, fraternité’ is more of an ideal than a universal truth.
‘An extraordinary comedic work of lilt and sparkle’. The New Yorker
Léon Morin, Priest / Leon Morin, prêtre: (Sunday 10 April, 17.30/ Sunday 17 April, 15.00)
The French Film Festival always includes a classic programme of vintage movies which are always a joy and here is another classic in Screen Horizons.
In 1961, a year after appearing in Breathless, Jean-Paul Belmondo starred as Léon Morin, Priest, playing a devoted man of the cloth who attracts all the women in a small village in Nazi-occupied France. Holy but human, he finds himself drawn to a widow—played by Emmanuelle Riva—a religious skeptic. Sparse yet utterly convincing in period detail, this is a potent study of desire, religion and politics.
‘ Belmondo is masterly at embodying how Morin uses his charisma and surly, forthright charm. Riva’s emotional vitality powers the story with an oscillating vibrancy .. the accumulation of small expressive touches is as exact and suggestive as a pointillist masterpiece’. Deep Focus review
Adolescents / Adolescentes (Sunday 17 April, 17.30)
Emma and Anaïs are best friends and yet everything in their life seems to set them apart – from their social backgrounds to their personalities. Five years in the making, Adolescentes is a remarkable achievement, charting the lives of the two girls from the age of 13 to 18 as they grow into maturity. Things turn more emotive when the personal meets the political during key moments in French history from the Paris attacks to the election of Emmanuel Macron.
Melancholic and graceful, ‘ ….capturing moments of aesthetic bliss ..comparisons to Richard Linklater’s 12-year narrative ‘Boyhood’ are evident.’ Hollywood Reporter
For the full Screen Horizons programme of films, trailers, dates and tickets – https://frenchfilmfestival.org.uk/2021/front-page/screen-horizons/
Supported by Film Hub Scotland, part of the BFI’s Film Audience Network, and funded by Screen Scotland and National Lottery funding from the BFI.
The 30th anniversary edition of the French Film Festival will run in November and December 2022, as always touring numerous towns and cities across the UK, as well as an online programme. Keep up to date with all news of this special celebratory year.
Enjoy a hearty, homely dish of Macsween haggis and sip a Benriach dram (or two) this Burns’ Night. Slainte Mhath!
Benriach Whisky distillery and Macsween of Edinburgh are collaborating to present what they hope will be the largest virtual Burns supper on 25th January, 2022 to unite people from across the globe to celebrate the legendary bard’s life and work.
Rachel Barrie, master blender of Benriach Single Malt Scotch Whisky and James Macsween will bring together traditional food and drink from their two Scottish companies.
In the 1890s, John Duff, a true whisky entrepreneur decided to build his new distillery on a small hill, or ‘Ben,’ on the site of the old Riach farm in Speyside, and so the Benriach Distillery was founded in 1898. In the 1990s, Benriach began making small batches of triple distilled spirit to enhance the fruity, multi-layered character, developing a range of classic, peated and triple cask distinctive single malt whiskies.
In March 2017 Dr. Rachel Barrie became Master Blender for The GlenDronach, Benriach and Glenglassaugh group of distilleries. Known as the ‘First Lady of Scotch’ for her artistry and expertise, she has received many most prestigious accolades, is a ‘Keeper of the Quaich’ and a member of the Whisky Magazine’s ‘Hall of Fame’. Rachel is responsible for developing, testing and expertly fine-tuning the whisky flavour at Benriach.
‘My ambition has always been to unlock the secrets of Scotch whisky making and provenance, to develop and nurture richness of character and celebrate it with the world.’
Dr. Rachel Barrie
Charlie Macsween worked for William Orr & Sons, an Edinburgh butcher, poulterer and game dealer in the 1940s where he met his wife, Jean and in 1953 they founded the Macsween butchers shop in the district of Bruntsfield. The family business has been handed down three generations, (today managed by James and Jo Macsween), renowned for haggis and vegetarian haggis and exported worldwide.
So let’s sample two of the Benriach signature single malt whiskies.
The Original Ten is three-cask matured for at least ten years in bourbon barrels, sherry casks and virgin oak, creating layers of fruit, honeyed malt and toasted oak with a subtle trace of smoke.
Benriach The Original Ten – Distillery notes:
Colour: Summer Gold
Nose: Orchard fruit, honey and toasted oak
Palate: Ripe pear, nectarine and malt sweetness, with a finishing note of almond and spiced vanilla, on a base of vanilla cream and pastry. A hint of smoke.
Silver Medal 2021: San Francisco World Spirits Competition
The Taste Test:
Nose: Fresh floral, stone fruits, dried fruit soaked in sherry, gingersnaps, clove, vanilla
Palate: A rich sweetness, Honeydew melon, pears, barley sugar, caramel, stewed cooking apples creating sweet-sour notes with an underlying hint of salt; almonds, marzipan, cinnamon, vanilla, dried and candied fruits.
Finish: The sweet and spicy Christmas cake notes linger with a hint of orange peel. Malty and oaty akin to a sweet porridge with lingering almond notes.
The Smoky Ten was launched in 2020 to show off the distillery’s skill at working with peated malt. Master blender Dr. Rachel Barrie and her team created this expression using whisky matured for at least ten years in bourbon barrels, toasted virgin oak casks and Jamaican rum casks. The whisky is then combined to create smooth layers of sunripe fruit, aromatic smoke and toasted oak spice for a balanced sweet and smoky finish.
Benriach The Smoky Ten – distillery notes
Colour: Bright gold
Nose: Ripe orchard fruit syrup, smoked honey glaze and oak spice
Taste: Smoked applewood, honey maple and spiced pear finishing with lingering fruit and smoked oak
Smoke level: Rich
Double Gold Medal 2021 San Francisco World Spirits Competition
The Taste Test:
Nose: Stone fruits, (apricot, peach) and tropical fruits (pineapple and mango), aromatic bonfire smoke, treacle
Palate: Molasses, dark Rum, woodchip smokiness (smoked salmon without the fishyness), the whiff of bonfire rather than peak reek. Then the underlying fruitness, apples, pears, kiwi, blackberries, earthy, vegetal herbs and nutmeg spice.
Finish: beautifully balanced rum and smoky peat flavour, sweet and spicy, citrus tang, vanilla and toasted barley. As described in previous reviews, this is ‘A Summer BBQ in a glass,’ to be savoured at any time – especially on Burns Night.
The creative art of the cocktails will jazz up a traditional dram for party ambience. Benriach suggests two delicious tipples for Burns’ Night, such as a simple, sparkling Highball.
50ml Benriach The Original Ten and top up with soda.
Stir gently over ice and garnish with an orange slice.
This is based on the classic Hot Toddy recipe with lemon and honey, so called for its healthy, medicinal ingredients and the Smoky Ten adds a peaty warmth.
25ml The Original Ten, 25ml The Smoky Ten, 20ml fresh lemon juice, 20ml honey – ginger syrup
Shake all the ingredients with ice, then strain into an ice filled rocks glass. Top with ginger ale and garnish with lemon peel or candied inger.
Alternatively, what could be more appropriate than the Robert Burns, a variation of the Rob Roy. If absinthe gives too much of a kick, add Pernod instead.
50ml Benriach The Smoky Ten, 20ml sweet vermouth, Dash of orange bitters, Dash of absinthe or Pernod.
Add the whisky, vermouth, orange bitters and plenty ice to a cocktail shaker. Strain into a martini glass or coupe then add the dash of absinthe (or Pernod). Serve with shortbread if you have a sweet tooth.
‘Fair fa’ your honest, sonsie face,
Great Chieftain o’ the Puddin-race!’
From ‘Address To a Haggis’, Robert Burns.
The biggest myth of all is that haggis originated and belongs only to Scotland but in fact is an ancient, global dish. Going back thousands of years when hunters returned with their kill, as well as eating the meat, the fresh offal would be chopped and mixed with cereal and herbs and cooked over the fire.
So why is haggis so closely associated with Scotland? Robert Burns wrote his eight-verse poem, ‘Address to a Haggis’ to honour his favourite dish, which would have been a regular, cheap family meal in his day. After his death in 1796, a group of friends organised a Burns Supper to commemorate his birthday on 25th January. The tradition of Burn’s Night featuring the traditional toast to the haggis and a dram of whisky or two, continues to this day from Scotland to North America and Russia et al.
The Macsween haggis is a mixture of lamb, beef, oats, onions and spices like an oaty, spicy mince and a great source of iron and fibre and still based on grandfather’s original recipe. Their Vegetarian haggis is a combination of onions, carrots, swede, mushrooms, kidney beans, lentils, seeds and spices. Approved by the vegetarian society, it is suitable for vegans.
Haggis is usually served with neeps and tatties, (mashed turnip and potato). As I do not eat meat, Macsween Vegetarian haggis is simply superb, a fine blend of healthy vegetables and pulses with a warming spiciness – simply the best!
Ye Pow’rs wha mak mankind your care,
And dish them out their bill o’ fare,
Auld Scotland wants nae skinking ware
That jaups in luggies;
But, if ye wish her gratefu’ prayer,
Gie her a Haggis!
From “Address to the Haggis’ Robert Burns
Join in a worldwide celebration of Robert Burns’s 262nd birthday and raise a glass to the Scottish Bard in traditional manner.
Dr. Rachel Barrie and James Macsween will co-host this special virtual Burns’s Supper – a Waitrose event with Benriach Single Malt Scotch Whisky & Macsween of Edinburgh.
Take a bracing stroll along the seashore with Fee Dickson Reid at the Torrance Gallery, Edinburgh
‘The sea is a huge part of my life. I live by it, I walk with my wee dog every day by it, I swim in it no matter what the season, and of course I paint it. It’s very much my muse’.
Fee Dickson Reid
With her home in North Berwick, just a pebble’s throw from the beach, Fee Dickson Reid specialises in large, atmospheric seascapes along the East Lothian coast. This collection has been an ongoing project for several months, as the theme emerged naturally when she was drawn to painting at different times of the day.
Hence the evocative title of the exhibition, Night, Day, Dawn, Dusk featuring fifty seascapes from sunrise to sunset, observing the ever-shifting expanse of light on sand and sea.
Just like in the Phantom of the Opera – ‘Night-time sharpens, heightens each sensation, Darkness stirs and wakes imagination‘ – the ink black sky is brilliantly illustrated in a series of dramatic, moody paintings.
A shimmering glow of moonlight shines on the glistening sea in The Rain falls at Night, with a threatening storm cloud overhead and a misty whirl of black and grey clouds.
There is a most spectacular burst of light flashing across the heavens, shaped like a tornado in Shades of Night, illuminating the sheen on the surface of the gentle flowing waves.
‘I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky ….’
From ‘Sea Fever,’ John Masefield
And now a stroll along the beach in the cool light of day in the panoramic scene, As The Wind Blows. The perspective is beautifully composed, drawing the eye over the sea-soaked sand to the water’s edge and beyond to the Bass Rock and Fidra, with a furious flurry of soft clouds and welcome patch of blue sky.
The waves in Glengarry Point show the splish-splash rhythm of the sea water with such clarity and translucency as the curve of the bay leads out to the bird sanctuary Rock. It gives the viewer the impression of standing on the beach alone with a realistic sense of tranquility.
Fee describes how she likes to paint a seascape in one session to capture ‘the wide open sky and far horizon in all its changing light’ all in one go, instead of returning to finish it later.
The freshness of a new day on the seashore is witnessed in Soft Start where two thirds of the scene is a broad expanse of sky, with pink tinted clouds and an early promise of sunshine. The tide has just gone out leaving behind glistening pools of water.
Milan Kundera’s philosophical novel, ‘The Unbearable Lightness of Being’ centres on the theme of living for momentary beauty. Most aptly Fee has used this title to illustrate the pure delicate light as dawn breaks over the sea with an amber gold shimmer.
Dusk: one can never tire of watching a sunset, always a peaceful and truly painterly experience when the sky is splattered in all the shades of the rainbow from orange to indigo as seen in The Light of Setting Suns.
With a sweep of brushstrokes, this is a mesmerising composition, akin to Rothko-esque abstract expressionism, as is the vivid Fade to Dusk as the sky glows with glorious shades of pink, purple and crimson.
The tidal flow of the sea clearly captures Dickson Reid’s creative imagination, and in a couple of paintings, Froth and Frills and Drop Shadow, the power of the crashing waves denote such energy and atmospheric vision.
Take visit to the Torrance Gallery soon for an exhilarating walk along these beautiful deserted beaches, to experience the realistic light, a refreshing sea breeze and the soothing sound of the waves on the shore.
I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide ..
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.
From Sea Fever, John Masefield
The Torrance Gallery
Fee Dickson Reid – solo show
Night, Day, Dawn, Dusk
15th January to 5th February
Tuesday – Saturday, 11am-5.30pm.
36 Dundas Street, Edinburgh EH3 6JN
Edinburgh: Picturesque Notes by Robert Louis Stevenson – an enchanting, personal memoir exploring the city’s culture and heritage.
“Stevenson’s writing strikes the twenty-first century ear as still being fresh and intensely readable … we are in the company of an agreeable and relaxed guide giving us an anecdotal run-down on Edinburgh over a cup of coffee or lunch.”
Alexander McCall Smith
Novelist, poet and travel writer, Robert Louis Stevenson first published Edinburgh: Picturesque Notes in 1878, (revised 1889). This attractive new edition has been published by Manderley Press, a new indie publisher founded by Rebeka Russell, focusing on forgotten or out-of-print books which feature a memorable house, place or landmark. The books will be small hardbacks, quarter-bound in cloth and printed on high quality paper. Cover artwork will be available to buy as prints.
“I have always loved books, art, travel and old houses, so when lockdown happened, I decided the time was perfect to set up Manderley Press. Armchair travel and literary escapism had never seemed so important!” Rebeka Russell
Most appropriately, the name ‘Manderley’ is taken from the classic romantic novel, ‘Rebecca.’ “I could swear that the house was not an empty shell but lived and breathed as it had lived before.” Daphne du Maurier, Rebecca.
The first book selected for the Manderley Collection is ‘Edinburgh’ featuring decorative artwork by Iain McIntosh (as shown here on the front cover), with a marvellous Introduction by Alexander McCall Smith, who is renowned for his popular and most amusing novels set in the city (44 Scotland Street, Isabel Dalhousie).
McCall Smith begins with succinct biographical background explaining that having studied engineering (to join his family clan of lighthouse designers) and then law, RLS wisely followed his literary vocation as an excellent storyteller.
‘Stevenson found Edinburgh such a rich source of inspiration for his writing. This is a walk through parts of the city that have survived to this day as they were during his lifetime.
If we were to stroll down Heriot Row with him today, there would be no surprises for him when we reached No. 17, although he might not have expected a plaque.’
RLS moved here with his family in 1857 when he was seven. From the nursery window, he loved to watch the lamplighter, the Leerie, switch on the gas lamps every evening.
McCall Smith describes how much the city inspired him from his childhood, frequently ill in his bedroom, looking out over Queen Street Gardens. As young man he explored the streets, taverns, monuments, rivers and hills, fascinated by ancient history, legendary myths and cultural heritage.
“It is at times a prose poem. It is a stream of conscious memoir about living in a town so gorgeously romantic it could be an opera set; it is a love song to a city.”
This personal Memoir is divided into ten chapters, taking the reader on a journey to Stevenson’s favourite haunts as well as describing seasonal weather and festivities. RLS appreciates how the magic of Edinburgh gets under your skin – “ the place establishes an interest in people’s hearts; go where they will they find no city of the same distinction.’
‘What a clashing of architecture! Greek temples, Venetian palaces and gothic spires are huddled one over the another.. the Castle and the summit of Arthur’s Seat look down with a becoming dignity.‘
This is a city set up on a hill, he explains, dominated by the Castle with its open view to sea and land.
Tourists love to stroll down the Royal Mile from the Castle to the Palace of Holryroodhouse as did Stevenson to see St. Giles Cathedral, Parliament Close and the High Court spotting “ an advocate in wig and gown and a tide of lawyers.” (just as you will see today).
He is especially shocked by the social inequality between the overcrowded tenements, families living in a ‘huge human beehive’ in the Medieval Old Town, in contrast to the wealthy citizens in their grand houses on Heriot Row and Moray Place et al. around the Georgian-Victorian New Town.
Chapter Four is Legends, illustrated with a drawing of a man in a blindfold and bow tie with a hangman’s noose in the background – Deacon Brodie, a respected city councillor and cabinet maker by day but a thief by night – whose secret double life sparked the novel, ‘The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde’.
Edinburgh may be haunted by ghostly tales of grave diggers and murder but this is a “city of churches .. a clamour of bells upon the Sabbath morning in one swelling, brutal babblement of noise”. Babblement! – Stevenson’s rich language is inventive and colourfully poetic.
RLS was inspired by the stone carved tombs of the moody, gothic Greyfriars Kirkyard. More than a century later, J. K. Rowling followed in his footsteps to borrow a few names on the gravestones – Potter, Riddell, Scrimgeour, McGonagall, – now resurrected as her famous fictional characters.
The symmetrical grand design of the New Town features spacious crescents, round circuses, and private gardens. This sounds like the writer is standing on the corner of Heriot Row and the steep hill of Dundas Street with a view of Fife: “It is surprising to see a perspective of a mile or more of falling street and beyond that woods, villas, a blue arm of sea and the hills upon the further side.”
RLS takes a walk to the Dean Bridge over the Water of Leith where “carriages go spinning by and ladies with card cases pass to and fro about the duties of society” (elegant 19th century ladies who lunch!).
He recalls outdoor adventures as a schoolboy with a love of nature: “many an escalade of garden walls, a ramble among lilacs .. when the Spring comes round, the hawthorn begins to flower and the meadows smell of young grass”.
Calton Hill has hardly changed since Stevenson’s day with the Athens of the North ‘Parthenon’, Lord Nelson’s monument and Observatory. “Of all places for a view, Calton Hill is the best, since you can see the Castle, Arthur’s Seat, Holyrood Palace, Princes Street, Leith, the Firth. It is the place to stroll on one of those days of sunshine.”
In the chapter, Winter and New Year, RLS embraces the Scotch dialect to describe the cold wind – “snell, blae and scowthering, words which carry a shiver with them.” But there’s nothing cosier than an old pub, “the warm atmosphere of tavern parlours and the revelery of lawyers’ clerks.”
He finds a painterly beauty in the winter chill. “We enjoy superb sunsets, the profile of the city stamped in indigo upon a sky of luminous green.”
The New Year festive season in Edinburgh is listed in the book, ‘1,000 Places to See before you Die,’ attracting thousands of global visitors to join in the Hogmanay Street Party with music and fireworks.
For RLS too, it was “the great national festival, a time of deep carousel, musicians, whisky and shortbread, singing Auld Lang Syne”.
He remembers student days at Edinburgh University enjoying “heroic snowballing – skating and sliding on Duddingston Loch – reminiscent of the iconic painting of Reverend Robert Walker by Henry Raeburn (c.1795).
While he is fond of the city streets and sociable lifestyle, he would often escape to the rural tranquility of the Pentlands, Fairmilehead for a walk beside rivers and rolling hills, “a bouquet of old trees, a white farmhouse, the bleating of flocks… a field of wild heathery peaks”.
After many journeys far and wide, Robert Louis Stevenson left his family home in 1887 for the last time, sailed to New York, toured America and from San Francisco he and his wife Fanny chartered a schooner to cruise the South Seas. In 1890 they settled on the island of Upolo where he adopted the Samoan name, Tusitala, the Teller of Tales.
Stevenson would never forget his emotional attachment to the city of his birth, as he wrote in this memoir of Picturesque Notes.
“ There is no Edinburgh emigrant, far or near, from China to Peru, but he or she carries some lively pictures of the mind, some sunset behind the Castle cliffs, some snow scene, some maze of city lamps, indelible in the memory.”
Note: I would like to suggest that a decorative ribbon bookmark would enhance the design and the leisurely experience of reading these classic books by Manderley Press.
The addition of photographs and imagery in this feature are to offer background information and colourful illustration only.
The smart new Neighbourhood Kitchen-Bar-Garden, is the place for coffee and cocktails, lunch, supper and Sunday Brunch
The Bruntsfield Hotel, in the southside of Edinburgh is a grand property of four connecting Townhouses dating from 1861. Converted into a hotel in the 1920s, today the quiet location overlooking the Links and Meadows Park is ideal for visitors within easy walking distance to shops, theatres, cinemas and a short bus ride to the city centre.
As part of a £1 million investment, the Hotel’s former Bisque Brasserie has been transformed into The Neighbourhood to welcome hotel guests, locals, shoppers, students and office staff to meet, eat and drink, and described as “a new, exciting all-day dining, working, and socialising space”.
A recent media launch party was a marvellous opportunity for a sneak preview to sip a cocktail or two and sample the food. In the large, L shaped space, the Neighbourhood Bar is well designed for comfort and relaxation, the booth tables ideal for a couple or group of friends
As well as good selection of wines, Scottish beers the bar tenders have invented a menu of house cocktails such as the “Scottish Garden” made with Edinburgh Gin, Grey Goose vodka, Elderflower cordial and apple juice. This is so refreshing, tart and fruity ….and rather dangerous as you hardly taste the alcohol!
The Penicillin sounds like a healthy tipple to keep the bugs away – a blend of Famous Grouse and Laphroaig whiskies, lemon juice, honey ginger syrup, the perfect winter warmer, plus all the classics, Cosmopolitan, Negroni and a signature Ferrero Rocher Martini – Smirnoff vodka, Frangelico, cocoa liquor and whipped cream.
“We want The Neighbourhood to be somewhere to work and play with homely food, creative cocktails, and true Scottish charm.” Alistair Bruce, General Manager
Around the corner from the Bar is the Kitchen Bistro where Chef Colin Moore and his team serve an all day food menu focusing on seasonal, local ingredients, classic and modern Scottish cuisine.
For lunch, a choice of sandwiches and sharing plates. Warmly recommended is the Crab Arancini, a tiny, tasty light bite, and for a hearty meal, good old Fish and Chips – having sampled an appetiser portion, this was superb, crisp batter and perfect fat fries.
Other dishes include Cullen Skink soup, Scallops with cauliflower puree and Stornoway black pudding and Haggis ravioli with neeps, potato and whisky sauce. All the favourites too – pizza, pasta and burgers with vegetarian/vegan and gluten free options. And you might be tempted by Apple crumble or Sticky toffee pudding.
With the King’s Theatre, Dominion and Cameo Cinemas, a short walk away this is the ideal place for a drink or meal before or after the show.
The Neighbourhood is open for breakfast each day and at the weekend for a leisurely Brunch to enjoy a full Scottish fry up, Eggs Benedict/ Royale or Smashed Avo with Feta. Sip a spicy Bloody Mary or for a celebration, opt for the bottomless Prosecco to turn brekkie into a party.
Outside is the ‘secret’ garden, a plant filled patio where you can sit in heated booths with good lighting for alfresco drinks year round – dog friendly too after a walk around the Meadows.
As a change from WFH why not visit the Neighbourhood for a business meeting, work on your laptop with tea and coffee on tap and fast Wi-Fi for just £10 per day.
Hospitality is also family friendly with a healthy, appetising menu for children who can join in fun, educational quizzes to keep them entertained.
‘Eating at the Neighbourhood should feel like eating at your family dining table. Good food and good company is at the heart of what we’re about’.
Visit The Neighbourhood for coffee, a glass of wine, brunch, lunch or supper. The Kitchen is open from Wednesday to Sunday, 7am-1am, while on Monday and Tuesday, the Bar is open from 5pm until late.
Check all the information, browse menus and book a table here: www.thebruntsfield.co.uk/theneighbourhood
Best Western Plus Bruntsfield Hotel
69 Bruntsfield Place, Edinburgh, EH10 4HH