Thursday, 24 November 2016

Secret study spots in Edinburgh

As i'm sure quite a lot of you are fully aware it's that tragic time of year again where you have a to-do list the length of your entire body. Exams are coming up in the next few weeks and coursework is due all within the smallest timeframe because your lecturers just love to see you struggle. Oh and it's 31 days till Christmas, your mum is asking 12837280 questions about when you're coming home, what you want for breakfast on Christmas day and if she should buy your Nan a present or you're going to get it before you go home. What a wonderful time of year.

I thought I would try to do my bit and lend a caring hand by sharing a few of my favourite sneaky spots in Edinburgh that are perfect for studying and ideal to get a couple hours of peace and quiet. There's a bit of a mix so hopefully at least one of these places will take your fancy.

Maxi's - Stockbridge

I went here for the first time with a friend for brunch the other day and we ended up staying for a cheeky afternoon tea and cake as well as a few drinks as it got a bit later and they were closing. It's so chilled and the staff are so so nice and pretty much leave you to it. They're not going to keep staring you down to get out or drop major hints they're closing up and you've just ordered another drink. There's a list of juices ideal for brain power, herbal and fruit tea's to cleanse your stress head and a good selection of beer and wine to celebrate a good study session. It also happens to have the coolest interior and an exposed brick wall that is so Instagram worthy it deserves a study break, even if it's just to get the perfect picture.

HULA - Grassmarket

I accidentally managed to end up in HULA yesterday whilst walking to the library and needed a quick lunch because eating in the quietest public library in the world is just an absolute no. Of course their juices are amazing and actually do give you a good boost of energy to power through the mountain of work you probably have. The soup and cheese on toast combo is fully recommended to make you feel like your being healthy by having a hearty bowl of homemade soup but enough cheese to keep you grounded. I ended up staying for a good couple hours and managed to research, write, reference, check and submit a piece of coursework all within said hours. Whether thats because HULA is an amazing study space or I thought the piece of work was due the next day when in fact it was that day is debatable but HULA definitely helped in some way or another. The only thing is I struggled to find a plug socket but that's not a major issue if you're more organised than I am and actually fully charge your laptop before leaving the house.

Urban Angel - Hanover Street

This is my favourite place in the whole of Edinburgh to eat, study, drink or be hungover in. It's the kind of place you can go for any reason and it's always 10/10. I'm totally obsessed with their all day brunch menu and even more so for their special juices. I've tried every single brunch item on the menu and honestly nothing is disappointing. Plus, I took my Nana once and she's quite the fuss pot but even she found something she loved so there's no room for doubt. It's the perfect middle ground of chilled vibes but can be a bit bustley at weekends so be sure to get in early if you're looking to spend a good while there. Another debatable factor is that because it's underground, the signal can be a bit dodge. They obviously have wi-fi so you're totally fine on that front but if you want to seriously shut yourself away from communicating with the outside world, this is the perfect place.

The Pantry - Stockbridge

I discovered The Pantry during the festival and it's just the perfect little sun trap. Now that Winter is 100% here and those -5 degree mornings are the grimmest thing to happen when you need to get up and study, this is in the best spot for a crisp Winter day. There's plenty places to sit (with plug sockets) and the best food. From brunch to lunch and dinner there's an endless list of choices. They're more than happy to mix and match if your fussy or want to try more than one thing which is ideal when brain food is needed.

RockSalt - Leith

I know you're already thinking, why would I go all the way to Leith to study. BUT i'll have you know it's a very very quiet and ideal area to study because nobody ever really ventures down. RockSalt does the best cake and has an unreal choice of delish soups and sandwiches. It's quite an open space so you won't feel like you're enclosed away from the outside world. I love it for finding a quiet corner to just chill out in and get my head down. There's table service so you can literally just sit down, put your headphones in, laptop open and get it done. They really don't mind you staying for hours and hours and will take care of you with endless cups of perfect tea and comforting cakes if you're extra stressed.

Z x

Friday, 18 November 2016

Frances EP - Music Review

Frances is what I could only describe as the voice of a perfect hug. Her delicate tones but her fill-the-room powerful voice have sent her straight into everyones Winter playlists. After seeing Frances a few months ago at the Oran Morr, there were about sixty people along with her and her piano. She has the live factor and witty humour of Adele as well as a voice that I swear has never seen a bad day, and the feeling that she wrote every word for you to listen to. Frances is also favoured a lot by Sam Smith who raved about her endlessly, which lets be honest definitely isn't a bad thing. They're both similar in having unbelievable voices and I can see why they are compared closely but she has an edge I can't quite put my finger on.

Although she is pretty fresh out of the box, Frances is now signed to Capitol records whilst also being shortlisted for the BBC sound of 2016 beside Jack Garrat and nominated for the 2016 Brit award: Critics Choice. Previously singed to a French label 'Kitsuné' in 2014, Frances has come along pretty well in only three years. My total love for her started with her amazing red hair and her sweet voice with lyrics that you can tell mean so much to her, but mean so much to anyone listening. 'Grow' from her album 'Thing's I Never Said' is my total favourite. Listen to every word and it'll make you feel every emotion possible.

If you're ever looking for that perfect cosy song to have a bath to, walk through the crisp winter winds to or just need to listen to someone singing everything you feel, Frances is your girl.

Z x


Thursday, 17 November 2016

Where to Eat: Badger & Co

Three out of four of the TQR team visited the much discussed and ornately decorated Badger & Co on Castle Street in Edinburgh's city centre. We were seated in a little lounge in the back of the restaurant which boasted some beautiful furniture including tiara and top hat wearing woodland faux animals on the wall much to our delight. The traditional British manor house style to the room with little modern twists was the perfect setting for some posh pub grub. 

We were quickly offered drinks and menus to look over, I was nursing a bit of a hangover so requested something non-alcoholic. The waitress asked what cocktails I usually drink and came back with the most gorgeous virgin version of a bramble which seriously rivalled the real thing. It's not usual that I will rave about the refreshment offerings in a restaurant because I would usually just grab a coke but in Badger & Co I felt thoroughly treated. The cocktails the girls got were also the perfect opener to the rest of the fabulous feast we enjoyed that night. Zoe enjoyed the Willow Wren cocktail and Toni had a fantastically names bright eyed a bushy tailed vodka based offering. 

We poured over the many delicious sounding offering on the starter menu but settled on the grilled scallop and apple black pudding and a pot of the homemade cream of vegetable soup to accompany the icy cold weather. The starters arrived promptly after we ordered and beautifully presented on the plates. The scallops were cooked perfectly with a lovely garnish accompanying, and the black pudding was lovely too but possibly could have had a little extra kick to it if we were being fussy. The soup though had the perfect kick to it infused with a little bit of spice which was such a lovely winter warmer. The portion was quite big for a starter although I'm not complaining because it was lovely, we all agreed it would be a great lunch option as it came with a big chunk of warm ciabatta too.

After the delicious starters we couldn't wait for the mains to arrive, between us we ordered the Crispy Parmesan Gnocchi, Chargrilled Pork Tenderloin and the Lamb Gigot. Honestly we were all completely enamoured by the delicious mains, we didn't have a bad word to say about the dishes between us. Toni and I exchanged compliments about how well cooked and tender our meat was and we couldn't help but try a piece of Zoe's gnocchi which was gorgeous and full of flavour. I ordered sides of honey, sesame green beans and beef dripping chips which on reflection was probably a bit excessive as the lamb did come with small sides. The girls and I shared the sides between us and couldn't get enough of the sweet but crunchy and green beans and the glorious hand cut chips.

When it comes to top notch British pub grub Badger & Co is up there with the best Edinburgh has to offer. The atmosphere is warm and inviting, the staff are more than willing to offer expertise and advice to help you get the best dinner experience possible. I think it is the perfect destination for a traditional but special lunch or dinner in the city centre, reasonably priced with a great menu selection. It's also a lovely place for a quiet drink, with the clientele spanning all age groups so anyone would feel more than welcome. As you can see TQR could not rave about this restaurant anymore and we will most certainly be back. 

L x


Friday, 11 November 2016

Autumnal OOTD


One of the things I love the most about living in Edinburgh is how beautiful it is. Particularly at this time of year when all the autumnal colours are so vibrant. In fact, my favourite thing about this season is that I can finally wrap up in as many layers as possible without judgement from other people because I am that person that is frozen 24/7. It's also the first year since roughly 2009 where I've invested in clothes that aren't black- my Granny is exceptionally chuffed. I've been enjoying experimenting with colour to the point where wearing all black now seems ridiculous. So without further ado, here is my perfect Autumnal 'Outfit of the Day'.

Shoes: Superga
Jeans: Topshop
Coat: Absolute bargain from a charity shop in Morningside, Edinburgh (sorry).
I've linked similar coats: herehere and here
Scarf: River Island 

N x


Tuesday, 8 November 2016

Why I Love Beauty

I think for a lot of women, and men as a matter of fact, beauty and the process of doing yourself up is something that is special. It reminds you of your mum or grandmother or some kind of feminine role model who has shaped your life and who you are. Beauty is sentimental and nostalgic, the smell of a perfume, my mums lipstick or even just painting my nails on a Sunday night can remind me of beautiful moments in my life.

There is so much talk of vanity and narcism with beauty products but to me it's really a form of self expression and building a sense of who you are and what you want to display to the world. I've always loved special, luxury items and would mull over my aunties fashion magazines circling all of my favourite pieces. I would douse myself heavily in my mums perfume whenever she wasn't looking and beg her to let me wear mascara to school. I would go to my aunties house and sit in her little dressing room pulling out all of her lovely products and I probably could have sat there admiring them all day. Make-up and beauty products have always been really special to me. 

I love fashion too and I can remember having one special edition of Vogue that I stole from the dentist at about 10 years old. I was completely captivated by this issue for the best part of 2002, and there wasn't even any free beauty samples left. I don't think I connected with fashion in the same way I did beauty as I grew into my teenage years which I think was for two reasons. Firstly, because I have outrageously expensive taste and I could never afford the YSL boots but I could just about stretch to the YSL lipstick. That click of the lid and the beautiful packaging for some reason just resonated with me and gave me the elation that a new dress might give another girl. Following on from that I've always been a bigger girl and although I loved the designer clothes and all the beautiful garments, realistically I knew even with all the money in the world they would never compliment my rounder, shorter figure.

Here's the thing about beauty products, no matter your size, shape, race or budget you can throw on a red lipstick, paint your nails black or cut all you hair off and still have that Hollywood transformation moment. Beauty has always welcomed me into its club with open arms, and it has never made me feel like I wasn't good enough for it. I've never felt bad browsing lipstick shades in boots but there have been some pretty dark moments of self loathing in high street changing rooms trying on jeans. I know most people can relate to that, and this isn't what this is about. It's about how beauty has given me those moments of feeling good enough and feeling pretty within myself.

I recently read the amazing Sali Hughe's Pretty Honest and she said something along the lines of you can't always make yourself feel good but you can make yourself look good. I think for the sad days, tired days or cold days this statement is one to live by. We all experience hard times or even just life changes that take a bit of adjusting to and and my amazing mum always made sure I was equipped for this in the beauty department. She just got it, she knew that if I had my moisturiser, my foundation and my hairspray even at 14 years old I could take on the world.

L x

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Remember Remember

Bonfire night/Guy Fawkes/the 5th of November I feel is a bit of an underrated, or under-talked about night. Somewhere amidst all of the Halloween and Christmas hustle and bustle it seems to get a bit lost. However, if you make that little bit of effort, I feel like it can be such a special night.

The British bonfire night tradition is a celebration that originated in 1605. Guy Fawkes was caught on the 5th of November putting explosives underneath the House of Lords in an attempt to kill the king at the time, King James. Because he was caught, the King decided that everyone should have a bonfire to celebrate the fact that he didn't get blown up. People often burn scarecrows on the top of the bonfire to resemble Guy Fawkes (I don't know if he was actually burned or not for it). I also seem to remember there being something about how the firework idea came about because the explosives that Guy Fawkes used were found with gunpowder in them and fireworks are made of gunpowder but I can't really remember that part of the story.

Anyway, enough of the boring stuff... Living in Edinburgh, we are so lucky as to have loads of different options on how to spend the evening. Meadowbank have a huge display selling tickets for about £6 but if you'd rather not get tickets to see a specific show, which I don't usually do, then there is loads of other things you can do to make the occasion an amazing night.

  1.  Go up a hill, any of them really but your best views will be from either Arthurs Seat, Calton hill or Blackfird hill. But just a warning, you will certainly not be the only one there so head up a bit earlier to get the best views. The best firework displays are usually between 6pm-8pm.
  2. Take a flask of something with you to keep you warm, last year I took mulled wine and it was delicious! But you could take mulled cider, hot chocolate or even a hip flask of sloe gin would do the trick.
  3. Wrap up. Remember its even colder up the hills than it is on the streets, plus you will be standing about a lot so get all the cozy clothes out.
  4. Be in good company. Watching fireworks, if you don't mind the noise, can be so special so take someone with you who will appreciate it as much as you will.
  5. Take sparklers. Who doesn't love a sparkler?!

T x
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