Tag Archive | Edinburgh

Vividly colourful, visual memories of the wider world by three artists at the Open Eye Gallery – with lovely wee pictures & jazzy jewellery too.

“Remember that art is good for the soul in these troubled times”

This is the message from the warm and welcoming Open Eye Gallery, Edinburgh this week. It may have temporarily closed its doors but their current March exhibition is easily viewed on line.

More than just interior decor or bringing a splash of colour, the art we choose to hang on our walls, to view again and again every day, evokes a personal emotion and inspires our imagination.  Art breathes life into a home.  Art tells a story.

“….thousands of memories, of smells, of places, of little things that happened to us and which came back, unexpectedly, to remind us who we are.…. O Botswana, my country, my place.” From “The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency.” Alexander McCall Smith

Diane Rendle (right) and Helen Freeman – paintings & poetry to illustrate East African life and culture

Diane Rendle was born and raised in East Africa and then lived in Botswana, where she was immersed in the culture, language and heritage of the people.  Like McCall Smith’s comical novels about Madame Precious Ramotswe,  “Voices carried on the Wind” presents an enlightening view of the community – especially bold, beautiful women – in this lush natural environment.

Diane’s stunningly crafted, visual memories of people and place are complemented by charming poetic proverbs by Helen Freeman to tell a story about  the life and experences of the characters.  In the jungle, birds and animals rule the roost as wild cats glide gracefully through the bush.

You Never Know what you will Encounter, Diane Rendle

“You Never Know What You Will Encounter” – Helen Freeman

When the leopard whispers to the woman, he says,  “There’s a hurricane coming, wrap up, hunker down, hide yourself.”

She says, “But I’m strong enough” … and unwinds her Kanga.

The titles of Rendle’s richly-patterned images are translated into colloquial words of wisdom, both humorous and heart-warming.

Don’t Carry the World, Diane Rendle

“Burden Bearer – Don’t Carry the World on your Head” – Helen Freeman

“People like me hide beneath layers, and sacks and tins and bowls and packs they need not carry …..and some they definitely shouldn’t.

The Sun Never Goes Down without some Happenings, Diane Rendle

 “The Sun Never Goes Down Without Some Happenings” – Helen Freeman

”Sedge grass purrs, crickets trill and whistle, the track meanders through shrubs and knolls,

 Under sundown’s saffron shade,  and he’s nearly home. Twilight percolates”. 

This enchanting artistic collaboration between Diane and Helen is akin to Rudyard Kipling’s “The Jungle Book,” the illustrated stories of India he wrote for his young daughter.  Likewise, these magical pictures and poetry should be published as an allegorical collection of tales set in East Africa.

Travel Tales from Italy and Scotland, Africa and India, “Themes Old and New” from Charles MacQueen who creates luminous, mixed media paintings as a brief snapshot of a moment in time and place. Like a photographer’s zoom lens, these are intimate, close-up images focussing on texture, colour and light.

Having visited the hill top Medieval town of Spoleto, Umbria myself many times, it is wonderful to ‘re-visit’ the Duomo in the central Piazza.

The Duomo, Spoleto, Umbria

Here are several images to reflect the ancient stone arches and stained glass windows which preserve the dark, cool, mystical silence inside:  so atmopheric in these shimmering, vivid colours of crimson, coral, gold and turquoise.

Church, Spoleto, Charles MacQueen

Instead of realistic representations, MacQueen is playful in creating abstract compositions such as a collage of fishing nets and lobster pots spotted on Scottish piers.

Dawn Anstruther, Charles MacQueen

As he explains Usually as with recent trips to Tunisia and Morocco it takes between six months to a year to digest the experiences.”  All the senses are stimulated – the colour and scent of saffron and ginger in a Moroccan souk.

Spice, Casablanca, Charles MacQueen

Sheila McInnes is also a keen observer of the natural world, the tranquil beauty of rolling hills, lochs, rivers, woodland and birds which “Greet the Sky.”

Greet the Sky, Sheila McInnes

With light hearted wit, these are scenes from everyday life, as she says, ‘a mixture of the naïve, the personal, and the sophisticated.’

Summer Isles, Sheila McInnes

Reminiscent of a child’s story book, here are soaring seagulls, wide eyed owls and adorable dogs to make you smile.

Old Sea Dog, Sheila McInnes

Women are always happy with new jewellery to wear! Bronwen Gwillim crafts bright and colourful ear-rings, necklaces and bangles from waste plastic, flint stones and found objects during walks along the beach in Wales.

“I make wearable, sculptural jewellery from recycled materials. Mimicking the effects of the sea, I work their surfaces till they feel natural in the hand, like a treasured pebble.”

Orange bangle, Bronwen Gwilim

Pairs of ear-rings come in mismatched size, inspired by natural shapes of pebbles.  This jewelllery is tactile to touch, delightful to the eye …and so reasonable for such unique, creatively crafted accessories.

Colourful accessories from beachcombing objects

Affordable art too with a choice of  “On a Small Scale” miniature masterpieces by many of the gallery’s established artists and young talent – wee landscapes, abstracts, prints and portraits.

On a Small Scale – wee pictures for a wee price

A fine selection of small Still Life artwork – ideal to brighten up the home from the kitchen to the lounge.

Oil and Greens, Simon Lawrie

Poppies, Douglas Davies

Browse through the Open Eye Gallery on line to be inspired and enriched by this collection of contemporary art, crafts and jewellery from the March exhibition.

Watch this space to find out about next month’s new showcase of art and artists to brighten our spirits and homes as we spring forward into April.

The Open Eye Gallery, 34 Abercomby Place, Edinburgh EH3 6QE

View the March exhibition on line – http://www.openeyegallery.co.uk

Email – mail@openeyegallery.co.uk

‘Goldilocks and the Three Bears’, King’s Theatre, Edinburgh – a sparkling, fun Festive show for all the family

“Once upon a time there were three Bears, who lived together in a house of their own, in a wood. One of them was a Little Wee Bear, and one was a Middle-sized Bear, and the other was a Great Big Bear. They had each a bowl for their porridge ..”  A literary fairy tale, Robert Southey, 1837

Yes, folks it’s the annual Panto season and the legendary comedy cast is back together at the King’s Theatre – Allan Stewart, Grant Stott and Andy Gray. You might be thinking that they take on the roles of the Three Bears – but oh no, they don’t.  As always, they play the traditional characters of the Dame, Villain and hapless Stooge.

This is not just a cute wee Christmas show appealing to the kids but “ a re-imagining of the classic bedtime story in a circus-set adventure packed full of the thrills, spills, dazzling stunts and jaw-dropping special effects.”

And so with a modern, Edinburgh-based twist, the story begins, “Once Upon a Time on the shores of the Forth, before Poundland opened on Princes Street, there was the Greatest Show on Earth ..” 

Andy McReekie and Dame May McReekie

Enter the glamorous and glitzy Dame May McReekie and her husband, Andy McReekie, who is the Ringmaster of their family Circus which they want to turn into the Greatest Show on Earth with a new star act.

Having missed the Pantomime last year due to illness, there was a rousing reception for Andy Gray as he emerges from behind the Chorus Line’s flutter of pink Ostrich feathers, in a smart red tailcoat and top-hat. There was no other first line he could possibly utter than “Ah’ve no been very weeel” with his cheeky smirk, greeted by rapturous applause.

As always, there’s an evil enemy – this year in the guise of the sinister Baron Von Vinklebottom, the McReekie’s rival and cruel circus owner who proudly admits to whipping his animals, locked up in cages.  Dressed in a tight fitting, zebra print suit and plumed hat,  Grant Stott struts like a peacock which with his outrageous, cod German accent receives a volley of boos from the audience.

Andy McReekie, Baron Von Vinklebottom (in disguise as a policeman) and Dame May McReekie

So where is the element of Fairy Tale the wee boys and girls are expecting?

The McReekie’s daughter is the sweet, blonde Goldilocks who with Joey the Clown audition circus acts and find three charming Singing Bears to save the family Circus.  But of course, the dastardly Baron is keen to grab the bears to star in his own wicked show.

Dame May, Cinderella, Andy McReekie and Joey the Clown – time for porridge

As the rather crazy, comic narrative unfolds, The Greatest Show presents a display of dazzling entertainment, a medley of song and dance from Goldilocks, the Ensemble and Edinburgh Dance Academy.

Goldilocks – singing and dancing in the Circus

But a surprise is in store with exciting speciality acts –  Joey the Clown walking the tightrope, (the multi- talented, actor, singer, acrobat Jordan Young), and the great Juggling Alfio from a fourth generation family of Spanish Circus performers.  The Beserk Riders also race their motorbikes at full speed around, up and over a huge domed cage,  much to the shrieks of adults and kids alike.

The Victorian children’s nursery tale has certainly been re-imagined with a huge spoonful of both porridge and artistic licence, located to a Big Top of lions and tigers and bears, oh my!.

The only quibble is that the ending is rather abrupt with just a quick audience singalong before the sparkling Finale Curtain Call.  A touch of romantic fairy dust is perhaps required to tie up the loose ends of the sweet friendship between Goldilocks, the Three Bears and Joey the Clown.

With boisterous banter, silly jokes and a dollop of adlibbing, the stalwart trio of Stewart, Stott and Gray, has matured over the past twenty years with fabulous flair and laugh-out-loud hilarity.  Like the M&S adverts,  this is not just a pantomime, but a King’s Theatre pantomime, a tasty, delicious, fun-filled treat for all the family of all ages.

Goldilocks and the Three Bears

King’s Theatre, Leven Street, Edinburgh

 30 November 2019 to 19 January, 2020.

 Box office, 0131 529 6000. 

 www.capitaltheatres.com   

For lunch or supper, before or after the show, a warm recommendation to visit Frizzante, the well established, family run Italian Ristorante – great value pre-theatre menus, children’s menus, pizza, pasta, classic dishes, Prosecco, wines and beers, not forgetting Limoncello to end your meal.

Just a five minute walk around the corner from the King’s at 95 Lothian Road.

Book your table:  Tel.  0131 229 7788    https://frizzanterestaurant.uk/

A treasure house of Festive Art – beautiful gifts for friends, family and your home at the Open Eye, Edinburgh

Welcome to the Open Eye Gallery with Christmas Tree and lots of cute wee Robins (Brent Miller)

The Open Eye Gallery has launched its Festive Exhibitions and you can be assured of a warm welcome as you step through the arch doorway, with a sparkling Christmas Tree in the hallway.

Every December for 25 years, On a Small Scale a very popular and much anticipated showcase of charming, miniature, affordable “postcards.”  Here are over 400 original, unframed works in various media, each measuring 15 x 21 cm, by established Open Eye artists as well as new, young talent.

On a Small Scale, 400+ original Art ‘postcards’

There is a diverse range of artistic genre and media: wood engravings, oil, acrylic watercolour, with landscapes, animals, birds, fish, portraits . 3D and abstract artworks.

Renowned for perfectly sketched wine corks, fruit and vegetables, here is Thomas Wilson’s meticulous drawing of three spicy chillies.

Three Hot Bonnets, Tom Wilson

David Forster has a photographic touch in intricate landscapes with every leaf and blade of grass depicted with fine precision.

David Forster – enchanting ‘postcard’ landscapes

Hetty Haxworth presents a series of abstract landscapes composed with block colour, geometric line and shape.

Cool, composed abstracts – Hetty Haxworth

A delightful portrait of a young girl, ‘Cleo’ by Alice McMurrough, portrays sweet, wide eyed innocence with sad, tearful eyes.

Cleo, Alice McMurrough

…and nature lover Leo du Feu, has captured an evocative winter scene of hares playing in the snow.

Seven Snow Hares, Leo du Feu

With prices from £100, whether for a unique Christmas present or to add to your own collection, this is an exhibition every art lover should not miss.

In contrast, On a Grand Scale celebrates four of our finest contemporary Scottish artists. Here are richly luminous land and seascapes by Barbara Rae, simply but powerfully expressed with patchwork pattern and subtle palette to capture a moody, majestic sense of place.

Exit, Barbara Rae

As one of the New Glasgow Boys, Steven Campbell specialised in figurative narrative, in which his characters appear to be lost and fearful in a fairytale, fantasy world. “The Branch Secretaries” is a humorous play-on-words in a campfire woodland scene.

The Branch Secretaries, Steven Campbell

Taking centre stage, in my view, are several stunning masterpieces by John Bellany, who created his own aesthetic combining everyday scenes of fisherfolk with themes of Calvinism and Celtic mythology.

“His work has that strange combination of visceral realism and the quality of dreams .. never sentimental but always emotive. Damian Hirst

Queen of the Night, John Bellany

There is such surreal symbolism in his inimitable, iconic portraits of women viewed as muse, temptress and feminine beauty.  ‘Queen of the Night’ portrays a red-haired lady, her head tilted with a quirky, quizzical expression. Against a backdrop of the Bass Rock and turquoise splash of sea, ‘Failty’ (meaning loyalty, devotion), a young girl poses proudly beside a slender seabird, sharing the same serious, sombre look in their piercing blue eyes.

Fealty, John Bellany

A vividly colourful still life, ‘Amaryllis’ placed at a window gives a glimpse of fishing boats in the harbour under the golden glow of sunset.

Amaryllis, John Bellany

Bellany’s unique dreamworld evokes mesmerising, haunting images from his personal journey through love and life with passionate, poetic vision.

“He painted what was in his mind’s eye, hopes and lusts .. the threatening sea, harbours, flowers, sunset mountains, a rainbow. His whole art is a life-song” Julian Spalding

The Power of Print includes prime artwork from Elizabeth Frink, Ben Nicolson and Lucian Freud et al.  Two linocuts catch the eye – ‘The Race,’ by Colin Wyatt is like a vintage poster for winter ski holidays, and also a fashionable 1950s scene,  ‘Coffee Bar’ by Sybil Andrews with cool Cubist style.

The Race, Colin Wyatt

Amongst a selection of new acquisitions are panoramic views of  ‘Sunrise, Islay’ and ‘Evening Glow, high above the River Dee’ by Chris Bushe with his distinctive use of thickly applied paint for vibrant tone and texture.

Sunrise, Islay, Chris Bushe

Also on display is Archipelago, 25 perfectly painted Matchboxes filled with found objects by Jayne Stokes.

Archipelago, found objects in matchboxes, Jayne Stokes

And Christmas decorations would not be complete without a cheeky, cheery, chirpy wee robin as seen in a series by Brent Miller to reflect our winter wonderland.

Sparkling jewellery, ceramics and pottery too, such as lovely bird plates and platters by Ann Ross.

Festive Exhibitions

29 November to 23 December 2019

 Open Eye Gallery, 34 Abercromby Place, Edinburgh, EH3 6QE

Mon-Fri, 10am-6pm. Sat, 10am-4pm

http://www.openeyegallery.co.uk

On a Small Scale – Postcard-size paintings, prints, drawings and wood engravings.

 

 

 

Enchanting Vistas – an exhibition of classical city landmarks around Edinburgh by Jamie Primrose with contemporary vision.

Winter Skies over the City from Calton Hill, Jamie Primrose

This is a city of shifting light, of changing skies, of sudden vistas. A city so beautiful it breaks the heart again and again.”  Alexander McCall Smith

Jamie Primrose is certainly a prolific artist who presents two very different exhibitions at the Dundas Street Gallery, Edinburgh each year, usually in early summer and late Autumn.  City, land and seascapes have taken us over the past fifteen years or so on a journey to South America, Highlands and Islands of Scotland, the sundrenched Italian and French Rivieras and waterways of Venice. But most of all his artistic heart remains firmly in his home town of Edinburgh.

Welcome to Enchanting Vistas at the Dundas Street Gallery

This showcase of paintings and drawings, Enchanting Vistas, presents fifty five of his favourite scenes from distinctive viewpoints – Calton Hill, Arthur’s Seat, Grassmarket and the Mound. The theme clearly reflects the sheer beauty of Edinburgh’s unchanging sense of history and architectural heritage.

The Scottish capital represents a strong element … and it is firmly ingrained in my psyche. I am continually drawn to capturing a timeless view of the majestic city ..” Jamie Primrose

Sunset Skyline over Edinburgh, Jamie Primrose

Here you can experience the shifting times of day from dawn to dusk with a series of Turner-esque sunsets – wild streaks of coral and salmon-pink tinted skies with a rosy glow bursting on the horizon: “Sunset skyline over Edinburgh” showing off its architectural splendour and “Winter skies over the city from Calton Hill” are majestic views to portray the shimmering, shapely silhouette of the Castle and tall, elegant church spires.

Ephemeral Skies, Jamie Primrose

With an impressionistic sweep of the paintbrush and grey-blue colour palette, “Ephemeral Skies” is a spectacular panorama, the sharp streaks of white light creating an almost surreal picture of mesmerising, heavenly beauty.

J.M.W. Turner was also captivated by this skyline from Calton Hill as depicted in a misty light a century ago in 1819.

Edinburgh from Calton Hill, J.M.W. Turner, 1819

While the Meadows and Inverleith Park have often been recurring subject, this is the first time Primrose has painted Princes Street Gardens with the Ross Fountain, Scott Monument and the avenue of trees.  This tranquil green space is captured in the early morning with shafts of pale sun glistening on the autumn leaves and lawn, dominated by the towering presence of Castle Rock.

Early Morning Light in Princes Street Gardens, Jamie Primrose

The craggy, grassy mound of Arthur’s Seat offers a rural getaway from the buzz of city life, seen here in “Late Afternoon over Dunsapie Loch” and “Enchanting Vista, Late Light over St. Margaret’s Loch”, where the water dapples under the fading light, with feathery clouds fleeting across the sky. This is the signature work in the exhibiton.

Enchanting Vista – Last Light over St. Margaret’s Loch, Jamie Primrose

The famous Raeburn painting of Reverend Robert Wilson, the Skating Minister” on Duddingston Loch comes to mind – you almost expect to see him appearing in a ghostly image in the shadows.

Rev. Walker skating on Duddingston Loch, Henry Raeburn

The colourful, curving, cobbled Victoria Street leading from George IV Bridge to the Grassmarket is a visitor attraction for antiques, books, cheese, whisky, tailored tweed and pubs.  In various paintings, the empty street is viewed at night, the sweeping row of shops glowing under a dark indigo sky.

Winter Lights looking up Victoria Street, Jamie Primrose

An unusual and perfect viewpoint is from the Terrace at the National Museum of Scotland, offering a marvellous perspective over the city with the vast expanse of blue and gold sky – enchanting vistas indeed.

Late Afternoon Shadows from the Museum Terrace, Jamie Primrose

From the University’s Old College to the Grassmarket, Royal Mile to Pentland Hills, there is a tangible atmospheric sense of place – both in the oil paintings in soft subtle colours as well as a series of black and white sketches in Indian ink on paper.  “Late Afternoon on the Mound”  depicts the turrets of the Assembly Hall and gracious design of Ramsay Garden. The draughtsmanship of the architecture is brilliantly composed with such fine lines and painterly precision.

Late Afternoon on the Mound, Jamie Primrose

Timeless views of the city indeed in this impressive focus on the World Heritage grandeur of the Old and New Towns – iconic, classical landmarks as portrayed by Raeburn and Turner, revisited with fresh, contemporary vision.

Enchanting Vistas by Jamie Primrose

Dundas Street Gallery, 6a Dundas Street, Edinburgh EH3 6HZ

Friday 8th November to Saturday 16th November, 2019

Monday to Friday, 11am-6pm. Saturday, 11am-5pm.

For more information and contact details:

 http://www.jamieprimrose.com/latest/index.html

Private Commissions are also welcome – perhaps a favourite landscape or your own street. (expect a waiting list they are so popular)  Limited Edition Prints and Black Indian Ink original drawings are available too – the  ideal Christmas present for family, friends and your home.

Autumnal Morning in Princes Street Gardens, Jamie Primrose

Cinderella, a modern day fairy tale: Scottish Ballet on the road this Festive season

Scottish Ballet’s Christmas Treat:  Ingredients: 1 rose, 1 kitchen maid, 2 cheeky stepsisters, 1 fairy godmother, a scattering of insects, a sprinkling of ballgowns and tuxedos, 1 Prince.  Mix together with vibrant colour, wit and magic for a delicious confection.

This recipe is not an overly sugary sweet but a cool, contemporary revamp of the classic Fairytale, relating the rags to riches journey with richly emotional and dramatic story telling.  First choreographed by Christopher Hampson for New Zealand Ballet in 2007, Cinderella was given its European Premiere by Scottish Ballet three years ago and is now touring Scotland for the Festive Season in a glamorous revival.

A prologue transports us back to a miserable, wet day as mourners gather under black umbrellas for the funeral of Cinderella’s mother. The young girl plants a solitary rose on the grave, the flower being a recurring motif throughout to represent the beauty of nature, remembrance and love.

This dark, stark image of death is a vital starting point as we then see Cinderella at work in a cold kitchen, unloved by her stepmother and teased by her two stepsisters. In her pale blue dress and apron, she pirouettes to a gypsy folk tune, highlighting her lonely existence. The bullying culture in this dysfunctional, disjointed family may seem a humorous prank, but is very much a modern message.

Cinderella, (Sophie Martin)

In a traditional Upstairs Downstairs scenario, meanwhile the sisters are in gleeful mood  as they prepare for the Royal Ball.  A flurry of dressmakers and cobblers present a flourish of frocks and shoes to sample with vivacious energy, as well as a much required dance lesson with hilarious results.

Grace Horler & Kayla-Maree Tarantolo, with Jamiel Lawrence, Dance tutor

Kayla-Maree Tarantolo and Grace Horler portray the petite wee one and her gangling tall sister with fabulous, flamboyant, fun with no hint of the ugly stepsisters in a pantomimic burlesque. Trying desperately to fit their feet into the lost slipper is a scene of comic genius.

The stunning Art Nouveau stage and costume designs by Tracy Grant Lord are integral to the narrative which unfolds scene by scene like observing the dramatic action played out inside a child’s toy Theatre.  The rose bush has blossomed into a giant tree with Rennie MacIntosh–style artistry as a decorative backdrop; enter a dreamland world of wonder and magical spells, where wishes do come true.

The Silk Moths

The intricately crafted choreography is a seamless flow with perfect quick-changing tempo for a very bouncy, very green grasshopper, to a fluttering flight of silk moths and a fast spinning web of spiders.  Surrounding the Fairy Godmother is her beautiful bouquet of swirling pink Roses, her garland of girls.

The Roses

With a nod to Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, the Ballroom scene is exquisitely staged with the Prince’s guests in slinky silk gowns, white tie and tails, waltzing in perfect unison.

The Royal Ball

Centre stage, Cinderella (the sylphic Sophie Martin) is transformed from ragged waif to regal Ballerina as she is swept off her feet by the charming Prince (Barnbaby Rook-Bishop) in their dazzling duets. Pure romance.

The Prokofiev score captures the full orchestral colours to dramatise the mood, from light to dark, quirky characterisations and lively wit through a flowing melody, harmony, pace. Shifting from moments of spontaneity to slow, slow elegant grace, it is rich in Russian, romantic sentiment, the music weaving its magic with seductive charm.

Romance blossoms at the Royal Ball

With a bold rainbow of colours, there’s a myriad of marvellous costumes for the tailors & spiders, shoemakers & moths, stepsisters, Roses, Royal Ball partygoers; not forgetting the Kafka-esque metamorphosis from delightful dance tutor to grinning grasshopper. The characters imaginatively come to life through facial expression, gesture and the fine detail of each and every dancing step.

This is a Cinderella for today, preserving the traditional magical tale with an underlying darker mood to reflect on a young girl grieving for her mother, as well as the art of kindness, finding love and romance. Fantasy meets Reality.

This vibrant, vivacious production may date from 2007, but is as fresh as a daisy, or perhaps more aptly, a blossoming pink rose.  As Scottish Ballet prepares for its 50th birthday in 2019, this kicks off the sparkling year of celebration “en pointe.”

Scottish Ballet on tour:

Festival Theatre, Edinburgh, 8-30 December, 2018

Theatre Royal, Glasgow, 4-12 January, 2019

His Majesty’s, Aberdeen, 16-19 January, 2019

Eden Court, Inverness, 23-26 January, 2019

Theatre Royal, Newcastle, 30 January-2 February, 2019

http://www.scottishballet/co.uk/event/cinderella

Sophie Martin and Barnaby Rook-Bishop

Experience a classy G&T, cool cocktails and classic wining & dining at the Printing Press Bar & Kitchen, Edinburgh

 

The Principal, George Street

The George Hotel opened to its first guests in 1881 within five Georgian townhouses. After a major refurbishment a couple of years ago, it was rebranded as the Principal Edinburgh with classy, classic-contemporary style.  Accommodation, lobby lounge, Cocktail bar,  Brasserie and buzzing Coffee shop create the ambience of a quintessential American City hotel.  In 2017, it was named the Scottish Hotel of the Year.

Printing Press Bar with Editor’s Cocktail Bar upstairs

The design theme reflects the literary heritage of this former home of novelist, Susan Ferrier and Oliphant publishers. Hence the name of The Printing Press Bar, Editor’s Cocktail Bar and Kitchen for drinks, cocktails, wining and dining day and night.  Before going through for dinner, my partner Ken and I very much enjoyed a leisurely Gin Master Class with Chris Smart, the Bar Supervisor who certainly understands the brands, botanicals and garnishes for the perfect Serve.

Gin Master Class is ready – with tumblers, ice, tonic, garnishes and lots of Gin

The table is set around a comfortable booth with a selection of distinctive styles of Gin: Botanist which is dry and peppery, Bloom, sweet and floral, Martin Miller’s with spicy notes, and the signature No. 25 created specifically for the Principal Hotel.

Chris Smart, Bar Supervisor and Gin Connoisseur

Botanist is made at the Bruichladdich Distillery on the Hebridean island of Islay, world famous for its smoky whiskies with the flavour of peat and the sea. The Gin is hand crafted with 22 hand picked local botanicals – berries, herbs, seeds, bark and peel such as mint, sage, juniper, thistle, cinnamon, heather and lemon balm.  This is served with Fever Tree Tonic and a slice of grapefruit and a sprig of rosemary to draw out the herbal and citrus flavours.  An alternative is to try Botanist with ginger ale for a refreshing kick.  The subtlety of the flowers, general smoothness and balance is excellent.

Twenty odd years ago, when ordering a G&T at your pub, (before cocktail bars led the way), there would probably be just be one Tonic available, (advertised as Schhh – you know who).

Founded in 2005, Fever Tree is a major global brand which has embraced the Gin and Cocktail revolution, concocting quality Tonics with a range of flavours – Indian, Refreshingly Light, Mediterranean, Elderflower, Aromatic (pink in colour and aniseed in taste) Lemon and Cucumber.  Throughout the fascinating lesson, we each sample different ones to see how the humble G&T is enhanced with a well selected Mixer.

Fever Tree Tonics

Bloom is a London Dry Gin created at the G&J distillery founded in 1761. As the name suggests, the spirit is inspired from nature and the three main botanicals are chamomile, honeysuckle and pomelo to create a refreshing, garden-scented spirit.  The perfect serve is with quartered strawberries and a few rose petals.  It could be served with Elderflower or Lemon tonic or classic Tonic to let the fruity garnish sing.  This is indeed Summer in a Glass.

It is said that Martin Miller kicked off the whole gin renaissance in 1999 with the launch of his own eponymous brand, an idea sparked by his love of romance and adventure.  The secret is a blend of Tuscan juniper, angelica, coriander, Seville citrus peel, nutmeg, cinnamon, liquorice root and Icelandic spring water. Serve with strawberries sprinkled with black pepper and Elderflower Tonic adds a little more sweetness.

Finally we move on to No. 25, the House Gin is crafted in collaboration with Ray Clynick of OroGin in Dalton, Dumfries and Galloway. Like a traditional London dry, it is delicately scented with juniper, citrus, lavender and violets, with a velvety smooth finish, best served with a slice of orange and lavender.

At the launch last winter it was described thus: “Principal Gin is a perfect blend of both style and taste, inspired by the timeless elegance and luxurious ambiance of the hotel. The handpicked botanicals offer a real sense of exotic and Mediterranean blend that fuse beautifully together.”

The Printing Press Bars offers a selection of Principal No. 25 Gin Cocktails, including a very fashionable The Devil Wears Principal, (with cranberry, mint and soda).  As an aperitif we sampled the classic 75 (with Taittinger, lemon, lavender) and a deliciously sharp Martini straight up with a twist.  If you like Principal Gin, bottles are available to buy here at £39 to take home and enjoy a tipple at your leisure.

After this hugely enjoyable. educational – and rather tipsy – guide to tasting and serving gins by Chris Smart, we made our way to the Printing Press restaurant next door.  The smart design is like a Parisian Brasserie, all dark brown leather banquettes, wood panelling and chequered floor.   The menu embraces traditional British cuisine, deconstructed and redesigned in a modern manner.  For instance a tasty starter of Smoked haggis, pureed neeps and crispy potato, Chicken Terrine with prunes,  Blue Cheese and poached pear salad.

Having sampled the gin in a glass, I selected the No 25 Gin-cured Trout which was colourfully presented with a few pickled mussels, avocado and beetroot puree topped with a large spoonful of caviar for a gourmet taste of the sea.

No 25 Gin-cured Trout wiht avocado & caviar

Across the table, Ken quickly finished of his plate of tender, succulent hand-dived Scallops, carrot remoulade, all drizzled with basil and lemon butter.

Fat and juicy hand-dived Scallops

The Wine List is extremely well selected with around 10 white and red House wines served by the glass (175/ 250ml) and bottle, ranging from an Australian Pinot Grigio to a Chilean Carmenere, as well as a fine range of quality French and New World wines.  We were recommended a bottle of Journey’s End, a rich Cabernet Sauvignon from South Africa. The experts describe this as a blend of  rich blackcurrants, black plums, white pepper, mixed spice with a velvety texture.  Exactly so.

Now time for our main course.  Again the menu offers classic favourites such as Lamb Rump, Pork Belly and Ale Battered Fish and Chips as well as Sirloin, Ribeye and Flat iron Steak from the Josper Grill cooked to your liking with choice of sauces.

Stone Bass with peas and baby gem

I selected Stone Bass, served with peas and charred baby gem, and aded a side of Chips to share with Ken, who had ordered one of the three Vegetarian dishes, Charred Cauliflower.  While M&S recently launched and then removed their rather expensive Cauliflower Steaks,  this humble vegetable is extremely versatile,  not just smothered in cheese sauce.  Here it was deliciously spiced up with curry oil like a reinvented Indian  dish, Aloo Gobi.

Charred Cauliflower, Indian style

While we did not finish with Dessert, the selection of puddings include Pineapple Upside- down cake with coconut ice cream for a tropical treat,  Dark Chocolate Parfait,  as well as a platter of Cheese and oatcakes.

Experience fine hospitality, quality drinks and cuisine at the Printing Press Bar & Kitchen – the buzzing heart and hub of this world-class Hotel.  Gin and Cocktail Master Classes are a new venture and highly recommended for a most informative but entertaining tasting session.

Visit The Principal George Street for a relaxing, luxury city break or for cocktails, a perfectly poured G&T, glass of wine, lunch or dinner soon.   This literary heritage hotel is certainly worth writing home about.  On a postcard please!

Hotel, Restaurant and Bar Facts:

The Printing Press Bar and Kitchen @ The Principal Hotel,

21-25 George Street, Edinburgh EH2 2BP

Tel. 0131 240 7177   www.printingpressedinburgh.co.uk

Gin & Cocktail Master Classes – email: events@printingpressedinburgh.co.uk

The Principal Hotel, George Street.

https://www.phcompany.com/principal/edinburgh-george-street/

Printing Press Kitchen – French style Brasserie serving modern Scottish classics

 

 

Join a lively gathering of artists for a Summer Garden Party at Union Gallery, Edinburgh

Yes, it’s all sunshine and roses for the Summer Garden Party at the Union Gallery, an exhibition of regular, favourite artists, including Patsy McArthur, James Newton Adams, Megan Chapman, Lucy Jones, Colin Brown and Sophie McKay Knight and Joyce Gunn Cairns.   Expect a distinctively diverse showcase of amazing abstracts, fabulous flowers, posed portraits, lavish landscapes, architectural artwork, galloping horses, punchy Pop Art and comical Caricatures.

On the dove-grey painted wall to the left as you step inside, is a row of five stunning Abstract Expressionist “landscapes” by Megan Chapman, under a series title, “Echoes and Memory.”

Echoes and Memory, Megan Chapman

The foundation of my work is in the balancing of shape and line with colour, texture, and atmosphere. I enjoy creating meditative places to get lost in, such as how we dance between our inner and outer selves  .. to explore our connection to the world as we navigate the push and pull of life.”

Having been brought up in Arkansas, USA, Megan has recently returned to Edinburgh (where she now lives and works), from a trip back home to visit family in Winslow, (population 300), very much rural countryside of this Southern State.  Using mixed media, her colour palette is soft and subdued with a smooth, smudged blend of grey, charcoal, teal, ochre, cream which is easy on the eye.

‘In the Shallows’ offers an inkling of a realistic place, perhaps a tranquil seashore and beach, but equally, it may reflect a more dreamlike image. Bold brush strokes create an essence of the outdoors, of air, water and sand. (See image in poster above).   Certainly more meditative is ‘All That I Am,’ a darker, moody scene where thin spattered, streaks of paint drip like raindrops – or perhaps tears –  down the canvas giving the fluidity of movement.

All That I Am, Megan Chapman

Understanding the artist’s raison d’etre to these works adds a personal dimension.  In ‘Return Home’ you can envisage the rich fertile earth of field and grassy meadows, a river and soft clouds on the horizon, as seen through  distant memories, a distant past life.   Her use of shimmering shades crafted with a cool, delicate touch is simply mesmerising in their imagination – fragile fragments of space, place and time, to capture the precious, elusive landscapes of the mind.

Return Home, Megan Chapman

James Newton Adams is a sculptor and painter, who explores Scottish land and seascapes as well as the inherent people, animals and objects to compose a humorous narrative.  Here are charming, quirky illustrations such as “Queensferry Lovers” –  a couple embracing against a backdrop of the iconic Forth Bridge;

Queensferry Lovers, James Newton Adams

With colourful boats and lobster pots, “Wellies and Creels” is reminiscent of a children’s story book as well as clearly portraying the culture and heritage of small town life around a fishing harbour.

Wellies and Creels, James Newton Adams

For those who know and love the rather eccentric portraits of women by the late Pat Douthwaite,  a similar figurative style is employed by Sophie McKay Knight with her wildly colourful and fashionable ladies. ‘The Queen of Swords’ (see poster above), and a Priestess show off their exuberance, passion and joie de vivre.  ‘The Writer’ is a fascinating profile, with no pen or book in sight, simply a madcap Bohemian girl, her serious expression as as frozen focus on whatever she is observing with intent interest.

The Writer, Sophie McKay Knight

Thematically, my work is concerned with the human figure, nature, science, transformation and magic. Although it mostly depicts people, many other things inform my imagery – often a scene I have witnessed, a story I have read, an historical character or event.”  Sophie McKay Knight.

Yellow Tulips, Joyce Gunn Cairns

And a Garden Party is not a complete without flowers.  A vase of ‘Yellow Tulips’ by Joyce Gunn Cairns is an integral part of her trademark subtle sketches of domestic scenes where there are also cats of many colours who lurk and curl in peaceful comfort beside their doting Mistresses, apparently lost in quiet thought.

What Remains, Joyce Cairns Gunn

Aine Divine is also inspired by the natural world of colour and scent with her mixed bouquet of flower paintings, such as gaily patterned jug of ‘Sunflowers,’ as well as delightful ‘Oxi Daisies” and fragrant ‘Freesias’.

Sunflowers, Aine Divine

As Aine says,  “You can understand why Monet was so taken by his garden. The thing that strikes me about flowers is that it’s hard to beat the real thing. I’ve never seen a more beautiful painting of flowers than a Renoir Still Life – they seemed alive and moving on the canvas.” 

This overview offers just a brief snapshot of this inspiring, insightful exhibition rather than illustrating the full picture.  Take a stroll around this painterly Garden over the next couple of weeks to view the spirit of life and living, a marvellous, magical world as seen through the eyes and minds of these artists – and many others – across the spacious two floors of the Union Gallery.

And view too a flourishing window box of blossoming flowers too within this sunny Summer in the City scene.

Summer Garden Party – 12 July to 4 August, 2018.

 Union Gallery, 4 Drumsheugh  Place, Edinburgh   EH3 7PT

 Open – Monday to Saturday, 10.30 – 5.30pm. Closed Sunday.

 www.uniongallery.co.uk  – tel. 0131 225 8779

 

Celebrate World Gin Day 2018 at the Juniper Gin Festival, Summerhall, Edinburgh – a sparkling summer party with lots of G&T

Gin lovers of the world rejoice as World Gin Day returns for its tenth year on Saturday 9 June 2018 with celebratory events across the planet.

Hurrah!  Edinburgh will celebrate a week earlier to get into the spirit over the first weekend in June with the Juniper Gin Festival taking place from Friday 1st to Sunday 3rd June at Summerhall, Edinburgh.   First launched in 2014, this is the 5th anniversary of Scotland’s Best Gin Fest.

Juniper Gin Festival, Summerhall

This year visitors can experience a wide range of specially curated events entitled the Makers and Mixers Edition.

The Distillers Room, will bring together over 20 distillers to offer a unique opportunity for gin enthusiasts to sample a prime selection of gins and learn all about new and established brands. Meet the innovative Makers whose alchemy and art turns natural herbs and spices into the classic G & T.

Festival goers can also try a few Gin Cocktails by expert mixologists blending carefully selected gin brands with a range of ingredients to create the perfect summertime tipple.

Book up for a Masterclass – free informative talks from the experts to learn everything you were afraid to ask, from the history of tonic to sustainability in the gin industry.

Pickerings vintage red van

Above all this is a summer Festival in and around the Courtyard at Summerhall to appreciate the opportunity for Gin Sampling from a distinctly different range of brands crafted, created and concocted in Scotland, UK and worldwide.

Here’s a few of the Juniper Spirits which will be showcased at the Festival with reviews from happy drinkers.

Arbikie at Lunan Bay, Angus, is renowned for their Potato Vodka at the unique Farm to Bottle Distillery. Their premium ‘Kirsty’s Gin’ embodies elements of the ocean, rock and land around the 2000-acre estate featuring locally foraged Scottish Kelp, Carline Thistle and Blaeberrys for a refined depth, character, quality and taste. It is named after its creator, the Master Distiller, Kirsty Black.

The Arbikie Distillery, has a wonderful motto: “Our farm, our field, our soil, our seed, our water, our still, our skill. That’s our difference.”  Talk about being natural and organic!

“Tried this with Fever tree tonic, a twist of orange and a strawberry. Utterly delicious.”

No-one is associated more with the Martini than James Bond. In ‘Casino Royale’ James Bond orders a Vesper made of part gin and part vodka to symbolise the double agent Vesper Lynd, the love of his life. Why not shake up a Vesper with Arbikie Vodka and Gin for a cool, sophisticated cocktail.?

Vesper Martini Bond Style

Produced at the Oss Distillery, Norway, Bareksten Gin takes inspiration from the mountainous landscape and icy fjords. Winner of the Double Gold Medal at the San Francisco World Spirit Competition. A gin that’s been crafted to represent the spirit of Norway, dark, wild and dramatic, earthy and rich, it suits a Dry Martini, Negroni or a G&T.

“It’s a blast ….a shot of frozen Scandinavia to be enjoyed slowly. Truly a rich smooth and elegant gin . .. neat, with tonic or as a dry Martini.…”  

Boasting probably the most glamorous label of all gin bottles, the multi award winning Daffy’s the iconic brand image of the Goddess of Gin created by Robert McGinnis (well known for classic 1960s film posters), depicts the exotic charm, beauty and complexity of the spirit.

The distinctive scent is woody, floral, oaky with a fresh taste of citrus, Lebansese mint, red fruit and juniper.  Just add lime wedges, and fresh mint leaves for the perfect D & T!.  “By a clear margin, the most magical gin experience. Sweet, floral and intensively moreish!”.

The essence of Jin-dea is derived from the Goomtree Estate, India, a speciality gin made from First Flush Darjeeling Tea, a delicate and floral Himalayan black leaf ‘Champagne of Tea’.

This lemon & grapefruit citrus based gin is also infused with aromatic spices, peach,  apricots, coriander, ginger, fennel, cardamom, cinnamon and angelica.  Jin-Dea is ideal for all highball drinks,  G&T’s, Tom Collins and a Classic Martini with a twist of grapefruit.

“I am a gin person and this is the best I’ve ever tasted. I had it in Scotland in a gin and tonic and it was the most delicious and memorable G&T I ever drank.” Mary from Texas

For the health conscious, weight watchers and alcoholic unit counters, Minus 33 is a low alcohol Gin (that isn’t gin), bursting with juniper, elderflower, lavender and angelica, just 46 calories per serving. The recipe has no refined sugars replaced by naturally sweet ingredients such as liquorice root. Enjoy neat, with a quality tonic or soda water, and a garnish of hibiscus; a sachet of dried flowers accompanies each bottle.

“Refreshingly light, great with a wedge of orange and holds up well in the cocktails. …I like it, something a bit different & at fewer calories per glass, I can drink more!”

With its distillery at Summerhall, Edinburgh, Pickering’s Gin has developed a popular brand due to clever marketing – not least the Gin Baubles which sell out to decorate the tree at Christmas time.  The gin is blended in three different styles: Pickerings, (the smooth one), Navy Strength (the stronger one) and Pickerings 1947 (the spicier one) based on an original 1947 Indian recipe featuring juniper, coriander, cardamom, fennel, anise, lemon, lime, cloves and cinnamon. These are respectively served with grapefruit, lime and orange. The result? Summer’s day flavours, easy-going, classic sweetness and orange fruits.

Pickerings – perfect for cocktails

Pickerings 50/50 Martini recipe:
• 37.5ml Pickering’s gin
• 37.5ml St Germain (elderflower liqueur)
• Stirred down over ice
• Garnish with lemon peel

Scapegrace (meaning a rogue or scoundrel), is the name of a Kiwi Gin from New Zealand, featuring 12 native botanicals – juniper, coriander, nutmeg, cardamom, lemon peel, orange peel, orris, cinnamon, cassia, angelica, clove and liquorice, with pure water from the Southern Alps. Expect citrus tones with a hint of spice – the recommeded serve is with bitter lemon, a slice of orange and cracked juniper berries.

“Tried this gin neat over ice at a gin festival….beautifully smooth with huge aniseed notes. A great sipping gin.”

At the very northern tip of the British Isles lie the Shetlands where the North Sea meets the Atlantic Ocean, and where the Saxa Vord Distillery on the remote island of Unst has created the Shetland Reel Craft Gin. The recipe includes sweet scented leaves of apple mint giving an authentic flavour of Shetland, combined with juniper, mixed spice, citrus and a sharp tang of mint.  Complement with Fever-Tree Original, Pink Grapefruit, a sprig of mint and lavender with plenty of ice or try it in a Negroni to make the most of its subtly sweet qualities.

“This gin smells like the sea and has the most refreshing taste. I tried it at a gin tasting event with smoked salmon and wow – it was by far the best of the night. I’d personally put a slice of apple in this one, with tonic.”

The overall aim of the Juniper Gin Festival is to offer a truly immersive experience to learn about and taste a superb selection of Gins in an informative and inspiring manner:

“We’ve always been proud to offer guests the opportunity to meet the people responsible for making the products, and this year we’re taking that one step further by allowing them greater access than ever before – a chance to meet the makers – no brand reps, no bartenders, just Distillers.”  Martin Duffy, Director of Solid Liquids, the Mastermind behind Juniper Gin Festival

With music, entertainment, Scottish street food, craft stalls, expert masterclasses, tastings and cocktails, The Juniper Gin Festival runs from Friday 1st to Sunday 3rd June 2018, with a choice of afternoon and evening sessions.

Friday 1st June – 5.30pm – 10pm

Saturday 2nd June – 12pm – 4.30pm

Saturday 2nd June – 5.30pm – 10pm

Sunday 3rd June – 12pm – 4.30pm

Tickets are priced at £22.50 and on sale now:

www.solid-liquids.co.uk/juniper

Happy World Gin Day – Cheers!

 

Michael Cortland Jones & Michael Craik at &Gallery: cool, calm Rothko-esque Abstract artistry

Jeffrey Corland Jone, from Ohio, USA and Michael Craik based in Fife, Scotland, have been brought together in this innovative exhibition of their finely crafted Abstract paintings, which complement each other perfectly. Courtship (Second Still), J C Jones

Jeffrey Cortland Jones, who lives on a small farm in Southwestern Ohio, received a Masters of Fine Art from the Cincinnati College of Design, Art, Architecture and a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Tennessee. As well as working as a painter and curator, he is Professor of Art at the University of Dayton.  He has exhibited in solo and group shows across the USA – Dallas, New York, Miami, Cincinnati and Europe – Amsterdam, London.

Vestige 2017-20,|Michael Craik

Michael Craik studied Fine Art at Gray’s School of Art in Aberdeen before completing an MA in European Fine Art in Barcelona. Based at his Sea Loft studio in Kinghorn, he is a full time painter as well as enjoying gardening, and busy family life. A major award winner,  his work has been exhibited throughout Europe, from Berlin to Barcelona and is represented in several corporate companies, including The Fleming Collection, Mastercard, Royal Bank of Scotland,  Coopers and Lybrand.

Twenty five works of art by both artists are well displayed together across the two light filled rooms at & Gallery, rather than separate shows.  It is so impressive to compare and contrast the styles, colour and media.  Jeffrey specialises in enamel on acrylic panel and while, on first inspection, they appear to be very simple blocks, the actual geometric shape and subtle shade of each composition is meticulously handled.

In such works as Slayer (With Desire) and Courtship, (Second Still), the integrated sections and squares, some almost invisible, feature the softest tones of white, cream and grey. Also most striking is Surface (Ritual Veil), with architectural dark and light rectangles, visually most pleasing in its patterned structure. Surface (Ritual), JC Jones

There is a deft use of colour in his work too which give more of a representational aspect: X (Variant Parts) with moss green streaks of paint which could almost depict a grassy meadow beneath the sky.  Fever (Death Bells) in soft shades of lime is like a Gin cocktail with ice and a slice!  Seawaves, JC Jones

Given a more detailed title, Seawaves captures the distinctive blending of glossy grey, glistening green and watery wavy blues. Creating sheer, transparent tones and palest pastels, apparently, he has acquired the reputation of being an artist who paints white on white.

Then shift your gaze to the unique minimalist paintings by Michael Craik. Using acrylic on aluminium, this Vestige collection features a series of squares (20, 28 or 50cm)  which appear to be one colour, across a palette of mauve, turquoise, pink and yellow, but this is almost an optional illusion.

In close up, you can detect the layers of paint and graduation of colours such as Vestige 2016-12, where the dominant lilac-blue has a border of vibrant crimson-plum, seaping and splattered like dried blood underneath.

Vestige 2016-12, Michael Craik

From golden corn to dove grey, the colours are perfected like Farrow & Ball paint charts (given such quirky names as Nancy’s Blushes, Elephant’s breath and Dorset Cream.)  Here is Vestige 2017-21, a fluid, fuschia block underlaid and surrounded by a decorative navy blue “frame”   Vestige 2017 -21, Michael Craik

Due to the painstaking layer by layer painterly concept, each one can take around two months to complete.  The result?  A shining, shimmering texture enhanced with a beautifully translucent, glassy glow.

Standing in the centre of the back room gallery, in particular, you can view the distinctive work of each artist side by side.  These cool, calm Rothko-esque compositions with a pure sense of light, shade, shape and structure create an amazing sense of peace and solitude.  A most inspiring, imaginatively curated exhibition. Go see!

Fever (Death Bells), J C Jones

 

Michael Cortland Jones & Michael Craik

3 – 24 March, 2018
Tuesday to Friday: 10am-5pm   Saturday: 10am-4pm

& Gallery, 17 Dundas Street,  Edinburgh EH3 6QG

andgallery.co.uk

Vestige 2016-13, Michael Craik

The Waldorf Astoria, Edinburgh and Laings “Diamonds & Pearls Afternoon Tea”: a truly sparkling, romantic, luxury experience

The original Caledonian hotel 1903

The magnificent, pink Permian sandstone Caledonian Hotel, Edinburgh opened in December 1903, to offer a taste of opulence from décor to hospitality. The Telegraphic address was simply “Luxury Edinburgh”.  After a lavish re-design, the hotel was launched anew as the world class, 5 star Waldorf Astoria in 2012  reflecting the glamorous art deco ambience of the original Railway Hotel. The old station clock hangs in the magnificent, glass-roofed  Atrium, Peacock Alley,  the place to see and be seen for morning coffee, a light lunch, champagne, cocktails and traditional Afternoon Tea.

Peacock Alley

Diamonds and Pearls, cakes and candies

A dazzling Diamond and Pearl themed Teatime has been created to celebrate Valentine’s Day.  To add authentic sparkle, Laings, the famous jewellery company has been the inspiration for this event as well as VIP diamond-themed weekends with champagne and special gifts.

The partnership between the Waldorf Astoria and Laings is the perfect match, both sharing a sense of traditional heritage oozing the epitome of luxury. Established in 1840 by two brothers James and William, Laings is Scotland’s oldest family jeweller, with a collection of boutiques for memorable birthday and wedding gifts as well as bespoke diamond Engagement rings –  a girl’s best friend!

And so with a Springtime mood of Love in the air, on a cool February day, my partner Ken and I arrived at the Peacock Alley to experience this sparkling Afternoon Tea.  Sitting in huge comfortable armchairs, the ambience is elegantly casual with soft music on the soundtrack.  The table is set with white crockery, silverware and crisp white linen napkins, wrapped in a Laings blue silk ribbon.

Perrier Jouet Champagne flute

We are presented with menus packed with information on the wide choice of teas, finger sandwiches, pastries and cakes.   Our waiter than offers a glass of Perrier Jouet Champagne, served from a neatly designed drinks trolley. The unique PJ Champagne  bottles and the pretty flutes are both hand painted with pink and white flowers, which are simply fabulous.

I select the fragrantly smoky Lapsang Souchong tea while Ken is keen to try the Peacock Alley, Waldorf Astoria’s own blend, a secret combination of teas, fruit, spices and herbs.  Both are most refreshing and full of flavour.  Then a tall sandwich and cake stand arrives featuring a wonderful array of sweet and savoury treats –  Goat’s cheese mousse & red pepper cannoli, Smoked salmon and avocado,  Asparagus and green pea torilla, Smoked chicken and mushroom on rye toast – all deliciously light canapes for a contemporary-styled Afternoon Tea.

Tradition is preserved with Scones, (rather too large!) with thick clotted cream and strawberry jam.  Another cup of tea is poured as we slowly move on to the colourful cakes. First a tiny white frosted Red Velvet Cupcake:  the Waldorf Astoria, New York City claims it is the birthplace of the iconic Red Velvet cake, a popular menu item from the 1950s, (although research reveals the original flavour was invented in the 1920s by the Adams company).

Waldorf Red Velvet cupcake

Chocoholics will be in heaven when sampling the selection of artistically decorated pastries, from white chocolate cheesecake to a triple chocolate dome.   The Oreo Chocolate Truffle is wrapped in a sugar-coated, (edible), red Ruby ring to reflect Laings gorgeous gems and jewels.

Oreo Chocolate Truffle with Ruby ring

As part of the “Diamonds & Pearls” event, all guests are given a voucher for an exclusive diamond cleaning session at one of the Laings stores.  While there, you can view the range of jewellery and watches covering the most famous, fashionable global brand names from Rolex and TAGheuer to Cartier and Chanel.

Laings fashionable jewellery and time pieces, 1840 – 2018

Over three hours, we nibble little egg sandwiches and taste rose petal macaroons, sipping delicious tea, and an indulgent flute of ice-cold Perrier Jouet champagne.  Gracefully served, Afternoon Tea at the Peacock Alley is the perfect opportunity to meet family and friends (or of course your loved one) for a leisurely and relaxing sociable experience.

Laings bridal jewellery

This joint venture to celebrate Valentine’s Month is an imaginative concept.  The ethos of Laings is based on the fact that everything they do is for a memorable occasion.

Likewise at the Waldorf Astoria, where the fine hospitality revolves around exemplary wining and dining from the cocktail bars and Galvin Brasserie de Luxe to the Pompadour Restaurant. Following the romantic connection, Weddings are also a key speciality!.

“Laings share our passion for creating truly unforgettable moments for our guests” Dale MacPhee, General Manager, Waldorf Astoria

Diamonds and Pearls Afternoon Tea:  9th – 28th February 2018.   12 noon – 5pm.  £45 per person.

(A new Spring menu for Afternoon tea will thereafter be served at the Peacock Alley)

AfternoonTea.Reservations@waldorfastoria.com

A luxury, romantic weekend break – caledonian.reservations@waldorfastoria.com.

For information on accommodation, bars and restaurants, private events: http://www.waldorfastoriaedinburgh.com/

Laings – www.laingsuk.com

72 George Street, Edinburgh EH2 3BX – tel: 0131 225 4513

(also in Glasgow, Southampton and Cardiff).

Laings,  72 George Street, Edinburgh