Saturday, 12 August 2017

My Month in Photos - July

Last month was nice and busy!

I would love to say that we had a month of summer in Scotland, but that would be a lie... We probably got about a week of sun and a whole load of rain! 

We kicked off the month with the wedding of one of Mark's friends. I'm not a fan of weddings. Like at all! So I wasn't really looking forward to it, I also didn't know anyone else going. This isn't always a great situation for a shy person to be in! Despite really not looking forward to it, the day was actually good fun. I'm going to put that down to the company, I kinda like my OH and have good fun with him, even when we're doing stuff that isn't really that fun! Plus, I actually had a wedding outfit that I liked and felt like me. There have been so many weddings I've been to where I have worn what I think you should wear to a wedding and I've felt like a tit. Must be something to do with age (and no longer giving a f**k) but I want to wear something that is me rather than what I think you should wear. No fascinators for me and I wore shoes I could keep all all day and night! I finished the look with my leather biker jacket :) 

One of the sunny days we got was spent in Glasgow, not all fun 'cause I had to go into the Apple shop to get my phone fixed! But after that we headed to see my family who stay in Glasgow. We sat in the sun outside in the garden and had a BBQ. 

I got to catch up with two of my favourite people for dinner at Candybar in Edinburgh. Leaving my job at the start of the year meant not getting to see two of my best friends every day anymore. As glad as I am that I took redundancy, not seeing their faces every day is a major downside! Group messaging is all well and good but in reality it's not the same and you definitely miss out on things that are going on in people's lives. Bonus was also getting to eat at Candybar, I love the food there and this time round I even had space for dessert!

July is Mark's birthday month. Obviously when he was younger it always fell in the school holidays and he had the day off. This is something he has continued in adulthood and he takes the day off work. Of course I did too, and we headed into Edinburgh for the day. Our first stop was Calton Hill, a place neither of us have been before. A bit mental considering we actually don't live far away from our capital! We also climbed up onto the monument, which seemed like a great idea until it came to getting down and my body didn't physically want to allow me to jump! The National Museum of Scotland is somewhere we both like too so we visited there next, some new galleries have opened since the last time we went together which was cool. 

Leonardo Hotels opened a new hotel in Edinburgh near Haymarket. Mark and I headed along to the launch night where we got to sample some of the food, (non-alcoholic) cocktails and got shown round some of the rooms. I wrote a post on it which you can read here

The last weekend I did a charity walk, 10 miles along the Fife coastal path from Leven where I live, to Elie. We were so lucky and got a glorious morning for it, it was chucking down with rain later on in the afternoon! We managed to raise £800 for Homelands Trust, a charity based in Fife that provide accommodation for people with specific requirements. The money raised is going towards buying new specialist equipment for the lodges. 

How was your July, did you get up to anything exciting?


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Photographs by me

Thursday, 3 August 2017

Edinburgh Fringe Review - Gillian Cosgriff: To The Moon & Back*

This week sees the start of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, in my opinion the best time to be in the city.

The city is absolutely buzzing with street performers, people handing you flyers and so many food and drink stalls. Often the Royal Mile gets so busy you can barely move. It's bloody fantastic!

So, for anyone who doesn't know about the Edinburgh Fringe (are you even human?!), it's basically a festival that runs for the month of August in our fine capital city. It's often where comedians start their career, but if comedy isn't your thing you can also see theatrical performances too and there are so many street performers you're not short of choice. There is really something for everyone. 

We went to our first of this year's shows last night at the Gilded Balloon, Gillian Cosgriff: To The Moon & Back. A one woman show, it's Gillian, her keyboard and loop pedal. This is a musical comey, and despite the fact that I'm someone who isn't normally into musical comedy I freakin' loved this show! She is looking at irrational fears, and in particular the fear of space (yup, it's really a thing. It has a name and everything - astrophobia). The show starts with Gillian coming on stage in a NASA space suit, complete with helmet and gloves. Gillian claims that on the matter of visiting space there are two types of people - people who would jump at the chance to visit space if space travel were something the common person could do, and the type of person that absolutely does not want to go to space. Turns out Mark and I fall into different camps...he wants to go to space, I do not. 

As well as space, Gillian talks about yoga and her fear of marriage and the fact as women it's expected that we have reached that point of proper adulthood by a certain age and that you're a failure if you have not. 

Like many of the shows at the Fringe you're in a small, intimate venue which is either great or very awkward and uncomfortable. This performance falls into the first category, Gillian engages with the audience in a way that is good - not like being singled out by a comedian just because they can see you. When she took her space helmet off she completely acknowledged the fact that she had lipstick on her chin and just rolled with it. It makes her relatable to the audience. 

The songs were funny, especially the space song where she talks about Uranus and confirms that actually deep down we're all really still 8 year old kids that can't help but giggle at that word! I cannot confirm or deny if there will be any Savage Garden in the show... 

If you're putting together your list of shows to see this year then definitely go and see this, To The Moon & Back is running from 2nd-27th August (no show 15th August) at the Gilded Balloon - The Turret. You can buy your tickets here

Do you have your Fringe calendar organised for this year? I would love to hear any recommendations from shows you have been to.

I was gifted with the tickets for the show by Gillian Cosgriff, all opinions are my own.


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Images provided by Gillian Cosgriff

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

August Goals

I actually find it scary how quickly the time is flying in!

Christmas will be here before we know it. Apparently there's a scientific theory why time seems to go faster as you get older. It's something to do with your perception of the present time going more quickly because relatively there's more time behind you, so a year is a smaller proportion of the total time you've lived through... I'm not sure, maybe something to do with Einstein, I think he said the higher you are from the earth's surface, the faster time goes. So maybe it's cause my bedroom is upstairs...! Though I never really paid attention in science (so probably not). 

So my circumstances have changed somewhat again this month. By choice this time! I want to make sure I achieve some stuff during August so I've put together a wee list of goals for the month. 

Publish my first vlog

I've toyed with the idea of vlogging on and off for a couple of years. Then I filmed a wee bit for our Edinburgh Blogger Conference video and thought never again! Partly because it took an insane amount of takes, and partly because I heard myself and I sound SO Scottish! I mean, I've realised before that I'm Scottish so it's not that much of a surprise but, man, my accent is broad! Recently though I've been trying out mini vlogging on Instagram stories and I'm kinda thinking just go for it. Apart from anything it will help me develop my video editing skills. So watch this space - video coming soon!

Go on holiday

This may seem like an odd goal. But Mark and I had plans to go away this year and visit more places. Redundancy put a bit of a spanner in the works! Travelling is something I feel I really missed out on during my 20s. I've never inter-railed round Europe, I've never been to America, and while I'm not the type of person who regrets anything in my life, and no holidays has meant I've got to do other things (mainly buy more clothes and afford a car), I'd like to see more places. So I had a bit of a f**k it moment. From my redundancy I've not really taken any money out to properly treat myself so I thought, life's short, let's do it!

Complete a 30 day ab challenge and reduce my 5k time

I've got a couple of fitness goals for August. For the last couple of months I've been doing 30 day challenges with some of the other people my PT trains. This month it's abs! I'm super determined to finish it. My tummy is my least favourite body part so I'd really like to see a difference. With my running, I only got back into it in March this year after being out injured for quite a few months and although I've been building back up I still haven't managed to get back to my previous pace.

Learn how to use my camera properly

I took the plunge and bought myself a DSLR a few months ago. And I still haven't moved away from the automatic settings. This is not why I bought myself the camera! So this month I want to get out, take more photos and learn how it works!

Have at least one hour tech-free each day

One of my 2017 goals was to stress less. Well, we're more than half way through the year and it's not really going too well to be honest. I'm a stress head. I worry about the day that will never come and I really struggle to switch off and chill out. So my plan for this month is to have at least one hour tech free a day. Switch my phone to aeroplane mode so I'm not distracted by notifications, put down the laptop and chill. Read a book or magazine, do some yoga, write or colour in. Something to relax. I'll report back in September and let you know how that goes!

Set up some desk space

I'm currently sitting cross-legged on my bed writing this. My writing place varies between the sofa, the bed and the kitchen table. None of these are very comfy and since technically I'm going to be working from home with what I'm planning on doing next, a dedicated workspace is pretty much needed. I think I'll be more productive if I'm not sitting with the tv on in the background too. So a trip to Ikea is on the cards. Although I've already picked out the desk and chair I want you can guarantee we'll come away with a lot more than just that (plus a belly full of meatballs...)!

Do you have any goals for the month?


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Image created using Canva

Monday, 31 July 2017

Leonardo Royal Hotel Edinburgh - Sneak Peek

Last week I headed along to the Leonardo Hotel in Edinburgh.

They were having a launch night giving us the chance to sample some of their tasty food and get a sneak peek at the rooms.

The Leonardo Hotel is at 1 Morrison Link, near Haymarket, and boasts an impressive 282 comfort and deluxe rooms, making it the second largest hotel in the city. We got to look around the rooms and the touches of Scottishness were perfect. Expect tartan throws on the beds and iconic city views behind the beds. There was also a nice Scottish touch in the bathrooms too. There's nothing worse that going into a generic hotel that has no touches of the city you are staying in!

On top of this there were two fantastic tartan high back chairs in the lobby. Lucy, the Operations Manager, who took us round on our tour told us these are normally red in other Leonardo hotels, but because it's the Scottish capital they decided on this touch for them. 

One of my pet hates when it comes to hotels is mirrors that have rubbish lighting! I mean, come on?! Putting your face on in front of a badly lit mirror doesn't usually give you the best results. But this definitely isn't an issue at the Leonardo hotel. The mirrors are nicely positioned near the windows so you're getting lots of natural light. Conveniently though, there's also a light right next to it if you're getting ready later in the day for a night on the town. I don't know why someone hasn't thought about doing this already in other hotels! In the bathroom you'll also find essential toiletries that you often forget to pack - shower cap, shampoo and shower gel. You can also request razors and toothbrushes from reception if you need them. 

We also got a sample of the tasty food, naturally I went for the dessert first, picking up a chocolate bomb type thing. Mark picked a deconstructed cheese cake, as is the norm with us we sampled each others. Both were super tasty! After this we moved onto the savoury stuff which was equally as good.

The hotel is in an ideal location, a few minutes walk from Haymarket train station and tram stop, and the city centre is also an easy walk away. 

As well as the UK, you can also find Leonardo Hotels in Germany, Austria, Spain and other European cities along with Israel.


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Photographs taken by myself and M Richardson

Friday, 14 July 2017

Everyday Sexism

Is everyday sexism "real" sexism?

Andy Murray hit the headlines on Wednesday this week, not only for getting knocked out of Wimbledon during the quarter finals, but also for correcting the reporter who commented on Sam Querrey being the first American semi finalist since 2009.

Murray corrected him by stating he was the first male player (both Williams sisters have been in the semi final and actually Serena has won multiple times, including last year). This has sparked quite a debate, and the topic of everyday sexism was discussed on the Kaye Adams show on BBC Radio Scotland yesterday. 

I'm a feminist. And it's something I've become a lot more vocal about as I've got older. I'll correct people or make comments about wondering if I've stepped out a time machine and gone back fifty years. We've come so far in our fight for equality, but we still aren't equal by any means. There are the obvious things - not getting equal pay, not having the same career opportunities and the fact that those career opportunities are often damaged by going off for maternity leave. But everyday sexism is actually worse, it's subtle and brushed off as a joke. But these "jokes" have an impact. And there is so much in our lives that is the daily norm, so much so we don't even see it as sexism.

I'll give you a recent example when everyday sexism affected me. Not too long ago I got a parking ticket for £85 for parking in a hotel car park I've used many times (two days before this visit the hotel introduced a parking charge - there were no signs advising of this). I was using the hotel to have a meeting with someone regarding the then upcoming Edinburgh Blogger Conference. When I went back to the car I had a charge stuck to the windscreen. 

I disputed this with the hotel at the time in person and got no help, so of course being the social media type, I took to Twitter. Keen to actually get this sorted I thought I would go with the DM route first, no point making it public straight away and annoying them - I wanted to get the ticket cancelled! I explained why I'd been using the facilities, had used them many times before and if there'd been clear signs I'd have happily paid the £3 parking charge (or gone to Starbucks nearby which has free parking). The operations manager came back and said there was nothing he could do as the car park was now dealt with by another company. 

The car I was driving this day was Mark's so it would be him getting chased up about it. So after my failed attempt Mark got in touch with said hotel, stating the same as me. He said the person who used the hotel had been there for a business meeting regarding an upcoming conference. And guess what? Within about 3 emails the issue was sorted and the ticket was cancelled. 

Now, the cynic in me says it's because a man got in touch with them, and his business would be more important than that of a female blogger (my Twitter profile states I'm a blogger). I might be wrong, but I suspect I'm not and to be honest the company maybe didn't even notice they were being sexist. 

"Jokes" and banter" about women, whether saying a woman's place is in the kitchen or being a homemaker/housewife, these are the things that are put in the subconscious of younger generations. These are the things that make people still think gender specific roles are a thing: women cook and clean, men DIY and do the gardening. Guess what, men eat and make mess so why shouldn't they help? And women want a garden that doesn't look like a jungle and don't always want to call on the man of the house (if there is one!) when a picture needs hung, why shouldn't we grab a hammer too?

I live with a (wonderful) man who mucks in around the house, we have specific roles to an extent, but these are to do with our preferences, not gender. I clean the bathroom, Mark does the hoovering. We both wash clothes and dishes and we cook dinner together. He never makes sexist jokes. He says he's not feminist, he's 'personist'.

I'm not saying that sexism is something that only comes from men, there are many women who are not feminist (I feel for any sons and daughters they have) and still think gender specific roles should be followed. There are so many examples of everyday sexism from women, from still expecting doors to be held open by men, to the expectation that a man will give his seat up for you. But one of the biggest are marriage proposals. A lot of women still expect to be asked. It's the twenty first century, if you want to marry the person you're with you don't have to wait for them to ask you, you don't have to wait until a leap year. JUST ASK! 

As women we won't have full equality until we embrace it too. With each generation it gets a bit better, maybe by the time it comes to my grand-kids generation equality will be so common place we won't even have to talk about it any more! 

And next time you see a guy standing on the train or bus, why not ask him if he wants your seat? Although if he's as tall as Mark, he might not fit in it, but that's another rant for another day. 

What are your thoughts on the everyday sexism debate?


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Image created using Canva 

Sunday, 9 July 2017

My Month in Photos - June

June ended up being a really busy month! 

I started a new job after four months of being redundant and it was the month of Edinburgh Blogger Conference. That meant going out to do a 9-5, learning new things (which always hurts your head) and coming home and working on conference stuff. Crazy. 

It was strange going back out to work, I'm not going to lie. After being able to completely suit myself, go to the gym, eat nice breakfasts or, you know, stay in my pjs until midday it was a bit of an adjustment. But one that I needed. I was starting to feel really down at the lack of purpose to get up and go everyday, not to mention the lack of money! Being supported is not something I seem to be able to do easily.

I did a lot of learning during June, learning new stuff on the job but I also attended a lot of Business Gateway courses on marketing and all the social media channels. I use social media a lot, a common thing it seems with pretty much all millennials, but using it to post pictures of my daily outfits, coffee trips or my meals is a bit different from using social media in a business setting. The Business Gateway courses are amazing, and FREE! They're for business owners but you can also go along even if you haven't started trading yet so it is definitely something to take advantage of. I've already myself booked into some for Edinburgh Blogger Conference and starting up a business as they help with all of that too. 

The weekends leading up to the conference on 17th June were really all about getting ready for it, I roped my Mum in to helping us pack goodie bags the weekend before and Mark was involved with getting everything to the venue and loading my Mini up with more bottles of water and cans of juice than I think I've ever bought. Luckily my new boss was pretty flexible and let me have a few days off around the weekend of the conference so I could run about picking up printing and last minute things we needed. 

The weekend of the first Edinburgh Blogger Conference came round so quickly and the day was a bit of a surreal blur. It went incredibly smoothly, and not to blow my own trumpet too much, I think this was really down to the hard work that we put in as a team. I think I've really found the dream team, two other bloggers who I get along with and work well together. What more could you ask for! I posted about the day earlier in the week, you can read my post here

I left the conference on the Saturday evening and was straight to meet my friend to head down to Dumfries to do Tough Mudder on the Sunday. Honestly at this point I was thinking I was mad, and had completely overestimated my ability to keep going for the full weekend. My adrenaline had started to run out and I was staying in a house with a group of people I didn't really know that well. We got up nice and early on the Sunday and piled in the cars to head to the starting line. I was nervous as hell, as a first timer I had no idea what was really in store for me or if I would be able to do it. I'm going to write a full post all about my experience and why I loved it so much, but for now all I'll say is it's one of the best things I've done, despite being caked in mud and getting electrocuted...!

I had planned on staying the Sunday night in Dumfries too but I was done after Tough Mudder so caught a lift back to Edinburgh with one of the guys from my team and met Mark, where we went to get Krispy Kreme doughnuts to replenish some of my burnt calories from the morning. It meant I got to sleep in my own bed and I also got a nice leg massage from Mark which was amazing as I could walk the next day! :) It was also good because we both had the Monday off work so we headed to St Andrews for a bit and had a nice wee walk and look round the shops. 

Last month also went to our third gig of the year - Paramore at the Usher Hall. It was the first time I've seen Paramore and the first time I've been in the Usher Hall. I'm pleased to say that because of the awful incident in Manchester in May venues have really clamped down on security which made me feel safer. Paramore were incredible! And the Usher Hall was a great venue for them, it was quite small so it felt a bit more intimate and even though we were at the back you could still see the stage. And to make it even better when Hayley got one of the crowd up to sing, Lauren from Chvrches came on stage too! Amazing. 

How was your June?


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Photographs taken by me (except Tough Mudder team photo...that was taken by a passer by at the event).

Thursday, 6 July 2017

Event Planning - Edinburgh Blogger Conference 2017


Sometimes in life an opportunity comes along that you just have to say yes to. 

In my last post about Edinburgh Blogger Conference (which I wrote about a week before our inaugural event) I spoke about how the opportunity to get involved in organising this event came at exactly the right time for me. With redundancy looming and no job set up yet it seemed like the perfect thing to be involved in. 

This was my first proper experience event planning, and I loved it. Admittedly the run up to it was a bit stressful for the team, and I started a new job 17 days before the event was due to take place. This meant some pretty late nights in the run up to and to be honest, things don't really feel like they have calmed down a lot since the conference. 

The day was an amazing success! We had such a fantastic line up of speakers and panelists for the day and everything ran smoothly. The day was kicked off by our keynote speaker Gavin Oattes from Tree of Knowledge, I don't think I've ever listened to a more motivational speaker! He relaxed everyone instantly and set the rest of the day up nicely. The first panel of speakers consisted of Andrew Girdwood (Geek Native), Ruth MacGlip (Urbanity blog), Stuart Fenwick (Tree of Knowledge), Hannah Taylor (She is Fierce) and Gordon J Millar (Scot Street Style). There was plenty of audience participation with lots of questions being asked. 

Part of the day consisted of workshops. We picked three topics that we thought would have been of interest to fellow bloggers - Vlogging 101, Blogging to Business and Building Your Brand on Social Media. It seems we picked well, the feedback on the workshops was great and some people who thought vlogging wasn't for them have even posted their first vlog since the event! 

We had a break for lunch and some networking after the workshops. Lunch was catered for by Nando's and they did an absolutely amazing job! And it seems everyone really does love Nando's as the food went down a treat, not only did they cater for us but also had some of the staff stay and help serve the food! With veggie and vegan options there was something that suited everyone. A big thank you to the Nando's staff in attendance, and manager Rory, who remained as cool as a cucumber when we had to call along to the restaurant to order more food! By this point in the day everyone seemed to have relaxed and it was great to see people sitting together and talking, networking! This was our main aim for the day. 

The afternoon was kicked off by a second keynote speech from Sam King and Bejay Mulenga of Filli Studios and then the second panel of the day with Simon Burrell (Nomis Agency), Shaun Alexander (Shaun Vlog), Erin Doogan (Beauty Creep), Sarah Stenhouse (Pixey) and Scott Dalgleish (Round Door). The audience seemed just as engaged as they had been in the morning and it was another great session in the afternoon. The organised part of the day finished with a canapĂ© masterclass from Ian of Edinburgh School of Food and Wine, another huge success and the food looked delicious! 

As well as some amazing speakers we had a number of great brands attending on the day. Heather More Illustration was there selling some of her illustrations and cards and she was also sketching the day for us! I loved her stuff and really need to get myself onto her etsy store to get buying! Hannah Taylor of She is Fierce was also there selling her magazine, it was such a hit that she had to go and get more! Lilies & Dreams came along with a very impressive stand complete with clothing rail and were running a competition to style an outfit and then win it if it was voted the best one. Sarah Stenhouse from Pixey was talking to people about monetising your Instagram photos. Pixey is a company that works with people to provide Instagram photos for a fee, 50% of this fee is then passed onto the owner of the image, much better then someone just taking your image without permission! 

We had such an overwhelming response from companies wanting to be involved in the day, Tunnock's supplied a variety of their goodies for our guests to munch on, you can never go wrong with a Tunnock's Teacake! Heath & Heather sent flavoured teas along for the day as well as some to put in the goodie bags. And Blossom Hill sent us bottles of their Spritz for the day, they certainly went down a treat with our guests! MacCorns sent us a popcorn buffet and it was amazing! Two MASSIVE buckets of popcorn for people to tuck into, a few people were asking to take them home with them!

All the printing for the day, including the lanyards was done by Stirling Printworx. I was so pleased with how the lanyards turned out and they provided all the information needed for the running times of the day and details on who all the speakers. Relentless Fitness also provided a prize of two PT sessions for the day, the person who won that is lucky! After a PT session with Matt you are in no doubt you have worked hard (I still can't walk properly after last weeks!).

Let's not forget the goodie bags, even if I do say so myself they were packed with some great treats. White Glo provided teeth whitening kits, I've been using mine and I love the fact that you only need to spend fifteen minutes a day wearing the tray. You do look pretty funny when you have it in and I still haven't let Mark see me properly when I'm using it. The Candy Kittens sweets were definitely a hit, delicious and a great sugar hit when you need one! Everyone also got a Skinny Brands cocktail in their bag, so far I've tried the Mojito one, very tasty and the fact it's low calorie is definitely a win for me. 

The tea jenny in me was very pleased when tea bags arrived from Yorkshire Tea and Heath & Heather. When it comes to a good old fashioned cuppa Yorkshire Tea is my first choice every time and I love trying new flavoured teas. I'm going to assume that like me, most bloggers have some sort of planner/diary to plan out their posts so the Personal Planner stickers and discount code were a great addition. I still haven't managed to settle on a design I like for my planner for next year, you can choose everything from the size and design on the cover to the colour scheme inside your planner too!

I don't think the day would have had the relaxed atmosphere it did if it hadn't have been for the guys from Edinburgh Pub Crawl, getting people involved with beer pong and offering out candy floss and popcorn. And of course our MC for the day Dougie, who did a fantastic job getting everyone where they needed to be when they needed to be there and just generally creating a fun atmosphere. His great sense of humour helped make everyone feel at ease and man did he do his homework on the speakers! The day wouldn't have been the same without him. 

I'm still amazed at the success of the event! The day went past in a whirlwind and it really felt a bit surreal to think that we (Jadine, Taryn and myself) had planned it all and brought it all together. We had such lovely feedback on the day from people and it was awesome getting to read everything on social media and some of the blog posts about the day from an attendees point of view. We have some great videos from Rob at Right Here Video, who came along with his wife and filmed the whole day for us and photos taken by Tino and Cera. We have shared some of their work over on our Facebook page.

We were also really lucky to have our amazing friends and family get involved on the day, and they all did a stellar job. A special mention to my other half, Mark, who not only helped on the day but also took time off work to get all the stuff to the venue with us (a job that probably would have taken three times as long had he not been there) and most impressively put up with me and my stress in the weeks leading up to it, he deserves a medal for that alone! I didn't get him a medal though, just some nice beers and a meal out. 

The team planned on taking a couple weeks after the conference to chill and then get back together to talk about the day, but we couldn't wait that long! The weekend after we got together to talk about how it went and we've actually already started planning our next couple of events...the next one will be happening later this year! If you want to be kept up to date with what's happening with the team and be one of the first to know about our next event, sign up to our mailing list.

I'd love you to share any links to blog posts you've written in the comments!


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The event would not have been the same without the support of our sponsors and brands that provided items for the goodie bags. A MASSIVE thank you to all of you (Tunnock's, Heath & Heather, Blossom Hill, MacCorns, Stirling Printworx, Relentless Fitness, White Glo, Yorkshire Tea, Candy Kittens, Personal Planner, Skinny Brands, Red Bus Bistro, Edinburgh Pub Crawl, Edinburgh School of Food and Wine, Right Here Video and Nando's), as a team we are so grateful for the support you gave us. 

Photographs taken by me