Summer in the City: Aberdeen Summer Spotlight

If there is anything that differentiates our favourite Silver City from our other city destinations (apart from its glittering granite skyline!), it is most certainly its proximity to the beach. The city certainly meets the coast in Aberdeen and it therefore makes for the ultimate summer experience as what vacation is complete without the treading on warm sand, the collection of unique shells and the satisfying fulfilment of a seaside fish and chip run? You can do it all and more in Aberdeen as with its cinema complex, arcades, amusement fair and leisure centre, there is no end to all the fun that can be had! Similarly, factor in the plethora of lush golf courses and the picturesque parks that have enabled Aberdeen to win the accolade of Britain in Bloom a record-breaking number of times, and it is readily apparent how Aberdeen is certainly a city where you can bask in the summer joy. However, read on to find out all about the extra fun that is happening in the North-East this summer!

Aberdeen Beach
Aberdeen Beach

Image Source: http://www.visitscotland.com/about/nature-geography/beaches/aberdeen-city-and-shire/

RSPB Dolphin Watch (Thursday 16th April 2015-Thursday 16th August 2015)

Perhaps the biggest draw to Aberdeen this lovely sunny season are our favourite new residents: dolphins! Due to Aberdeen being one of the best places in Europe to watch these magnificent animals at home in the sea, it is no wonder it is fast becoming a prime dolphin watching spot. Often frolicking near the harbour, it is not uncommon to witness the dolphins feeding & playing-truly a sight not to be missed.

http://www.rspb.org.uk/discoverandenjoynature/seenature/datewithnature/details.aspx?id=340366

Netherlands National Circus (Thursday 23rd July 2015-Sunday 9th August 2015)

Tricks, flicks and magic, you will witness all kinds of unbelievable entertainment that will have you teetering on the edge of your seat. Complete with juggling and illusions, it is certainly a two-hour show that will keep your family entertained and gasping in wonder.

https://www.netherlandscircus.com/

Zippos Circus (Friday 24th July 2015-Sunday 26th July 2015)

If you cannot get enough of the circus season, make sure to check out Zippos Circus in Stonehaven. Boasting awe-inspiring attractions like the motorcycle Globe of Terror alongside crazy balancing and juggling acts, it will be an absolutely captivating experience and certainly one to have the whole family entranced.

http://zippos.co.uk/wp/

Aberdeen International Youth Festival (Friday 24th July 2015-Saturday 1st August 2015)

An event that is always eagerly anticipated, there is no denying the fact that the Aberdeen International Youth Festival is the pinnacle of Aberdeen’s cultural scene. One of the world’s biggest youth festivals, there is nothing that can quite compare with the energy and vitality undulating throughout the city as all genres of performance arts from opera to dance to theatre occur in all manner of public spaces as performed by extremely talented youngsters who come from all corners of the world to attend this illustrious event. Prepare to be entertained and enlightened at this cultural extravaganza which is filled with all kinds of vibrant colours, sounds and talent!

http://www.aiyf.org/

Aberdeen International Youth Festival
Aberdeen International Youth Festival

Image Source: http://www.embracescotland.co.uk/2011/06/aberdeen-international-youth-festival-wednesday-july-27-to-saturday-august-6/

Aberdeen Country Fairs (Saturday 25th July 2015)

Celebrating local community and produce, the country fair is the perfect chance to engage with the producers themselves and to purchase from a wide array of unique arts, jewellery, crafts and foods. Running the length of Belmont Street, it is refreshing to have a country edge in the bustling city.

Celebrate Aberdeen (Saturday 22ndAugust 2015-Sunday 23rd August 2015)

Pride will not be any more evident than on this weekend which through a parade, live music acts and food, celebrates the best of the Silver City and its people. Lasting two days, the buzzing atmosphere and community love certainly lights up the city and makes the streets feel alive.

http://www.celebrateaberdeen.org/

Aberdeen International Street Market (Thursday 27th August 2015-Sunday 30th August 2015)

The highlight of Union Street, the International Street Market is always an event to look forward to as it welcomes over 70 stalls full of arts, crafts and cuisine from a whole spectrum of European countries. Truly an international event, it is undeniable the buzz and cultural spirt it generates across the city.

https://www.facebook.com/aberdeenmarket

Aberdeen International Street Market
Aberdeen International Street Market

Image Source: http://www.visitaberdeen.com/whats-on/calendar/aberdeens-international-street-market/?date=2013-05-31

Aberdeen Art Fair 2015 (Saturday 5thSeptember 2015-Sunday 6th September 2015) 

For those who are always seeking the perfect piece of art to complete that room, attending the fifth annual Aberdeen Art Fair is a definite must; particularly as it showcases some of the emerging names in the art world alongside established artists. Across the two days, you are able to both admire and purchase some of the most unique pieces that have been created by artistic masterminds from both Scotland and the UK. Therefore, whether you attend just to appreciate the talent and skill on offer or to make an investment and add to your collection, the fair welcomes all.

http://aberdeenartfair.co.uk/

To keep up with all the latest events occurring in Aberdeen over the summer, make sure to go to: http://www.visitaberdeen.com/whats-on/

Summer in the City: Glasgow Summer Spotlight

Glasgow is a city that is animated and effervescent at it is, however factor in the summer holidays, and the positive energy radiating from arguably Scotland’s most dynamic city and economic powerhouse is off the chart! While the Commonwealth Games were certainly the hallmark event of the year in 2014 and it was undeniable how ablaze with life and energy Glasgow was, if the events that are on this year are to give any indication; it is set to be another year of scorching summer fun.

Glasgow Wildlife Garden Festival (Wednesday 1st July 2015-Friday 31st July 2015)

It is the Year of Green in Glasgow and what better time to enjoy nature’s gifts than in the heat of summer? Lasting throughout the duration of July, there are all kinds of festivities that will allow you to get in touch with your green side including forest walks, workshops, talks, canoe trips and even fairs complete with music, food and art to celebrate local community gardens.

http://www.whatsonglasgow.co.uk/event/011001-rspb-glasgow-wildlife-garden-festival/

A Midsummer’s Night Dream (Friday 10th July 2015-Saturday 11th July 2015)

Love Labour’s Lost (Friday 10th July 2015-Saturday 11th July 2015)

The Merchant of Venice (Thursday 16th July 2015-Saturday 18th July 2015)

Set against the ethereal beauty and wonder of the Glasgow Botanic Gardens, there could be no place more fitting to watch the absolute magic of some of Shakespeare’s most renowned works as performed by the Bard in the Botanics.

http://bardinthebotanics.co.uk/

Glasgow Botanic Gardens
Glasgow Botanic Gardens

Image Source: http://www.glasgowbotanicgardens.com/

IPC Swimming World Championships (Monday 13th July 2015-Sunday 19th July 2015)

Keeping on with the athletic spirit and determination of the Commonwealth Games are the IPC Swimming World Championships. Welcoming over 600 athletes from over 50 countries, these Championships are para-swimming at its finest and best. With the Paralympics next year, this is a perfect time to be introduced to the up-and-coming athletes you will be cheering on in Brazil.

http://www.paralympic.org/glasgow-2015

Merchant City Festival (Saturday 25th July 2015-Sunday August 2nd 2015)

When the Commonwealth Games came to an end last year that did not mean the positive spirit and energy went with it; as can be reflected in this vivacious and colourful summer festival that is packed full of culture, fun and personality. Indeed there will be nowhere quite as alive as the Cultural Quarter during these nine days because with its abundance of cuisine, street art, music, comedy, fashion and so much more; the Cultural Quarter will truly be transformed into the beating heart of the city. With the streets ablaze with creativity and imagination, it is certainly an event not to be missed-particularly considering how it is free!

http://www.merchantcityfestival.com/Pages/default.aspx

Merchant City Festival
Merchant City Festival

Image Source: https://peoplemakeglasgow.com/whats-on/music/merchant-city-festival

Magners’ Summer Nights (Thursday 6th August 2015-Saturday 8th August 2015)

                                                        (Thursday 13th August 2015-Saturday 15th August 2015)

Running across certain city destinations, could there be a better way to spend a summer’s night then having a good time with friends munching on some street food; cooling out with the help of a refreshing cider and enjoying the fresh air and beautiful surroundings of Glasgow’s Kelvingrove Park as you listen to some of the newest names in music? Probably not!

http://magnerssummernights.com/

Piping Live! (Monday 10th August 2015-Sunday 16th August 2015), World Pipe Band Championships (Friday 14th August 2015-Saturday 15th August 2015)

A different kind of musical experience, this week-long festival dedicated to piping excellence and excitement means there is literally nowhere better to be in the world than Glasgow if you are a Piping enthusiast. Experience concerts, street performances and traditional ceilidhs from the edgiest up-and-coming piping stars to the Piping elite and then witness the pinnacle event of the Piping band calendar: The World Pipe Band Championships. The atmosphere is truly electric!

http://www.pipinglive.co.uk/

World Pipe Band Championships
World Pipe Band Championships

Image Source: http://www.visitscotland.com/see-do/events/arts-culture/glasgow-clyde-valley/

This is only a handful of the special events arriving in Glasgow this summer; however there are also a collection of staple favourites that are ALWAYS worth a visit. Whether it is getting in touch with your inner wacky scientist at Glasgow Science Centre; taking a journey to the past with an tour of the historically exquisite architecture as designed by the renowned Charles Rennie Macintosh or immersing yourself in an artist’s wonderland at one of Scotland’s most prestigious visitor attractions, The Kelvingrove Art Museum & Gallery, there will certainly be something to keep you entertained come rain or sun.

For more information, go to https://peoplemakeglasgow.com/whats-on 

Summer in the City: Birmingham Summer Spotlight

2015 is set to be a very exciting year for Birmingham with many an exhilarating development occurring such as the much anticipated opening of the Grand Central Birmingham, which with the flagship John Lewis, is expected to take many a shopper to the highest levels of retail heaven, and the opening of Western Europe’s biggest leisure development: Resorts World. However, while these  are all momentous milestones in Birmingham’s shining future to look forward to, things are equally as enticing and animated in the right here and now. Take a peek at all the fun set to come in the following summer months to discover why now is really the time to pay Birmingham a visit- it is irrefutable that it is a city truly on the rise.

Open Air Theatre (From Wednesday July 1st 2015)

What could be a more beautiful backdrop for the portrayal of some of the most iconic literature works than the Birmingham Botanical Gardens? Every Wednesday for three weeks, you can bask in the sweet summer smell of fragrant flowers and the fresh air while being captivated by renowned works such as The Tempest, Jane Eyre and the ultimate summer play: A Midsummer’s Night Dream. It is what summer nights were made for: tales of love and magic being told against a picturesque setting by some of the finest acting companies.

http://visitbirmingham.com/what-to-do/festivals-events/stage-screen/the-spotlight-shines-on-botanical-gardens/

Brindleyplace Film Festival (Tuesday 14th July 2015- Thursday 23rd July 2015)

Who knew an outdoor film festival could be so popular? Over the past four years, tens of thousands have flocked to watch in mass some of the movie industry’s most iconic classics and with the nine chosen hits of 2015 including Frozen and The Great Gatsby, it is set to be another big year. Watch your favourite movies on the big screen and for free; just remember to bring your own popcorn!

http://www.brindleyplace.com/2015/05/film-festival-voting-opens/

Brindleyplace Film Festival
Brindleyplace Film Festival

Image Source: http://www.birminghammail.co.uk/whats-on/film-news/whats-brindleyplace-outdoor-film-festival-9571319

Birmingham Fest (Friday 17th July 2015-Sunday 2nd August 2015)

Rising up in the ranks to be known as Birmingham’s own mini Fringe Festival, the Birmingham Fest cultivates a strong cultural spirit which radiates throughout the city. Lasting two weeks, the Birmingham Fest will most certainly ensure that you are left feeling entertained due to its eclectic collection of performance arts that cover all disciplines (music, dance, drama and so much more) and venues. It is Birmingham’s arts scene at its most animated!

http://birminghamfest.co.uk/

The JQ Festival (Friday 17th July 2015- Sunday 19th July 2015)

An inaugural event, it is one not to be missed! There is no area quite like the Jewellery Quarter, and this weekend just goes to celebrate all the treasures and talent it beholds. The cultural hub of Birmingham, the sense of creativity and imagination it fosters is apparent through all the filmmakers, jewellers, photographers and craftsmen that reside there. For this particular weekend they are opening their businesses to all so that guests can catch a glimpse of the creativity at work and with jazz music, live performances, food stalls and a bazaar also cranking up the fun, the mood is set to be electric.

http://www.jewelleryquarter.net/visit/jq-festival/

Cadbury World (Saturday 18th July 2015- Wednesday 2nd September 2015)

With the confectionery giant celebrating its 25th year of satisfying the nation’s sweet tooth, of course they have sweet plans for the summer! As well as the big reveal of a momentous heavenly chocolate creation, there will also be all kinds of magic and wonder to keep everyone entertained from outdoor magicians and performers to iconic Cadbury royalty themselves: Crème Egg and Freddo! As the home of Cadbury’s, there is nowhere better in the UK to indulge that sweet tooth!

http://www.cadburyworld.co.uk/whatson/eventscalendar

Cadbury's World
Cadbury World

Image Source: http://www.birminghammail.co.uk/whats-on/whats-on-news/cadbury-world-25th-anniversary-celebrations-9502672

Simmer Down Music Festival (Sunday 19th July 2015)

Now one of Birmingham’s most established festivals with attendance figures soaring to over 10, 000 last year, the Simmer Down Music Festival truly epitomises Birmingham’s thriving cultural scene and diversity. Showcasing music of all genres, it just goes to reflect the rich cultural diversity that can be found in Birmingham and with its live performances, face painting, workshops and delectable food stalls; it is the perfect day out-particularly when you factor in that it is free!

https://www.list.co.uk/event/494973-simmer-down/

The Big Hoot 2015 (Monday 20th July 2015 on ward)

Come July 20th, Birmingham will be welcoming the city’s largest charity art exhibition….as well as some rather big owls! Over 200 colourful owls and owlets are coming out of hibernation to brighten up the whole of Birmingham as they will be found across a whole spectrum of public spaces. It is an innovative way to explore the city and also serves to highlight Birmingham’s flourishing arts and cultural scene. It is also all for an amazing cause with the owls ultimately being auctioned off to raise money for the Birmingham’s Children Hospital; therefore make sure to spot them before they fly away!

http://thebighoot.co.uk/

The Big Hoot 2015
The Big Hoot 2015

Image Source: http://visitbirmingham.com/what-to-do/festivals-events/special-dates-occasions/date-set-for-the-big-hoot-2015/

MADE Birmingham (Saturday 25th July 2015-Sunday 26th July 2015)

The success of the inaugural MADE Birmingham cannot be reflected quite as much as it being awarded with the honour of “Best Metropolitan Festival” at the UK Festival Awards. Both days will provide an electric atmosphere due to the entertainment provided by the live music and DJ acts, although the second day in particular will cater to the taste buds more than the ears as it presents a salivating opportunity to sample some of the best food and drink talent being cultivated in Birmingham.

http://made.skiddletickets.com/events.php

Investec Ashes Test Match (Wednesday 29th July 2015-Sunday 2nd August 2015)

Cricket fans will be rejoicing as the prestigious Test Match series makes itself at home at the Edgbaston Stadium. It is already expected that over 100,000 eager fans are expected to attend to watch England and Australia compete at the Third Investec Test Match across five intense days which will have emotions and spirit running high.

http://www.edgbaston.com/1760/investec-ashes-test-2015-ticket-information.html

Fusion Festival (Friday 28th August 2015-Sunday 30th August 2015)

Set to be Birmingham’s biggest music festival of the season, there will be so much bass and energy emanating from Crofton Park as popular acts such as Tinie Tempah, The Vamps, McBusted, Ella Henderson and a certain Justin Beiber are set to rock the stage and wow the crowd.

http://thefusionfestival.co.uk/

Fusion Festival 2015
Fusion Festival 2015

Image Source: http://www.birminghammail.co.uk/whats-on/things-to-do/fusion-festival-stay-accommodation-guide-5681865

Birmingham Independent Food Fair (Saturday 12thSeptember 2015-Sunday 13th September 2015)

Putting the spotlight on Birmingham’s finest independent food and drink establishments, it is the perfect opportunity to satisfy that ravenous hunger and to show support to over 60 local businesses from restaurateurs to street traders.

http://visitbirmingham.com/what-to-do/birmingyum/events/birmingham-independent-food-fair/

Rugby World Cup 2015 (Saturday 26th September 2015-Sunday 27th September 2015)

Headlining Birmingham’s sporting events calendar this year is undoubtedly the Rugby World Cup 2015 which will truly set the city alight with that competitive sports spirit. Hosting two matches at Villa Park (South Africa vs Somoa and Australia vs Uruguay), it is clear that nothing will be able to compete with the buzz emanating from the stadium (or the rapturous applause and cheers!).

http://visitbirmingham.com/rugby-world-cup-2015/

Therefore, it is clear that there is plenty to keep you occupied with a summer trip to Birmingham particularly when you factor in that there is always the temptation of the Bullring and the Mailbox to keep one and their wallet occupied. Even when you are not attending these exhilarating events that celebrate Birmingham’s city pride, there is so much to see and explore, particularly from the best seat on the house: on a picturesque canal ride on canals that are longer than Venice’s! Shopping, eating and culture; it is all there to be explored in Birmingham this summer!

For more information, visit http://visitbirmingham.com/what-to-do/festivals-events/

Meet the Team: A Day in the Life of Kris

Introducing you to Krzysztof "Kris" Parchimowicz
Introducing you to Krzysztof “Kris” Parchimowicz

Name: Krzysztof “Cliff” Parchimowicz

Job Title: Reservations Manager

Location: Aberdeen

How long worked for the company: 2 years

What your job entails: I am responsible for the smooth running of Reservations Department which involves taking/managing the bookings for our 4 locations, adjusting our rates, controlling revenue streams as well as forecasting.

Any funny or interesting stories that have happened to you while at work: Too many to remember one particular thing but let me put it this way – I sit opposite to Craig; there is always something funny/interesting going on :)

What do you like most about serviced apartments? : The space and usually their great central location.

Favourite flavour of ice cream? Mackies Dairy or my sister’s daily special, she has her own ice-cream shop.

Favourite actor/actress? Leonardo Di Caprio

Tea or coffee? Coffee and lots of it.

What can’t you leave home without? Phone which is a bit sad really…

Nature in the City

Holyrood Park
Holyrood Park

This year it has felt rather sombrely like an eternal winter. However, now we have weathered the dreary, miserable winter days full of drizzle, hail and the relentless wind, it is now time to lock those well-worn wintertime lifelines of scarves, hats and gloves away for another few months. Yes, July is finally here meaning the hibernation weather has been vanquished and it is time to bask outside in all the resplendent glory that the sunshine brings with it (at least when it chooses to come out!). It is irrefutable that in our city destinations of Aberdeen, Birmingham, Glasgow and Edinburgh, you can find some of the most vibrant and pulsating entertainment, dining and retail scenes to be found in the UK, however amongst all those buzzing sights, sounds and noises, there is always a space for tranquillity, peace and clarity to be found. Whether it is spacious parks, stunning beaches or picturesque gardens, there is always a bit of nature to be found amongst the concrete jungle of city blocks and with this much prized heatwave bringing some light to the UK, we felt now would be the perfect time to discover them.

Aberdeen

Union Terrace Gardens
Union Terrace Gardens

A sparkling skyline created by magnificent granite buildings that glitter in the sun, it is undeniable why Aberdeen also affectionately goes by the title of the “Silver City”. However, do not let that title mislead you because Aberdeen actually has a hidden green side that softens out the harsh edge of the plethora of the outwardly appearing austere granite buildings. Nothing quite cements Aberdeen’s ability to be an equal natural wonder quite like it winning gold at “Britain in Bloom” a record-breaking eleven times.

You may not know it, but over a quarter of Aberdeen’s land is actually open space which is predominantly manifested in the form of gorgeous parks and gardens. Most renowned of all are Duthie Park, Johnstone Gardens and Hazlehead Park; all of which provide an abundance of lush space to have a leisurely walk around; an adrenaline pumping work-out in or a place to indulge in a summer picnic. However, each park also brings with it a myriad of hidden gems and treasures to be unearthed. For instance, in Duthie Park, a venture through the rather mysterious and exotic Winter Gardens will lead you to encounter the largest collection of cacti in the UK while an exploration of the idyllic Johnstone Gardens will enable you to photograph many a memory against the picturesque backdrop of fairy-tale like ethereal ponds, waterfalls and a signature bridge. Moreover, between its pets’ corner, rose garden, maze (the oldest in Scotland!), child’s playground and golf course, Hazlehead Park delivers the perfect family day out away from the hustle and bustle of city life. However, nothing quite epitomises nature in the city quite like the Union Terrace Gardens which present an oasis of tranquillity right in the midst of the city centre. With an abundance of green space to stretch out on, and an iconic floral recreation of Aberdeen’s Coat of Arms to admire, the ambient atmosphere is at total contrast to the fast-pace of life emanating from the surrounding city streets.

However, of course the crowning glory of the cosmopolitan Silver City is the golden sandy shores of Aberdeen’s beach. Aberdeen’s prosperity as a city is based upon the riches that reside below the crashing waves of the North Sea and so it is no surprise that images of the harbour also are commonly used to characterize Aberdeen. Take in the stunning coastal views and breathe in the fresh air as you venture along the coast and some of Britain’s finest beaches including Balmedie Beach.

Alternatively, at this time of the year, the sea also affords a different natural pleasure in the form of our friends with fins: dolphins. Due to Aberdeen being one of the best places in Europe to watch these magnificent animals at home in the sea, it is no wonder it is fast becoming a prime dolphin watching spot. Often frolicking near the harbour, it is not uncommon to witness the dolphins feeding & playing alongside surprise guests such as whales. It is truly a beautiful sight and reflects how there is more to the North Sea than just oil. RSPB Scotland’s DolphinWatch team will be at the Torry Battery Car Pack till mid-August and with dolphins appearing on 90% of 2014’s DolphinWatch days, you cannot miss an opportunity to see such playful, innocent fun.

Birmingham

East Side City Park
Eastside City Park

With one of its defining features being its impressive canal system which covers more miles than Canal City itself, Venice, and runs straight through the heart of Britain’s animated ’Second City’, it can already be inferred the strong sense of nature that permeates throughout Birmingham. The canals provide the best seat in the house for an intensive tour of Birmingham, with none of the stress!

Nothing epitomises Birmingham’s green-side quite like the very aptly named Birmingham Wildlife Conservation Park, which, with a collection of over 130 species including the popular likes of lemurs and meerkats, is an simultaneously fun and educational experience which offers much enlightenment in regards to conservation efforts.

Although not quite an authentic natural attraction, the headlining National Sea Life Centre certainly at least presents an opportune moment to get up close and personal with our friends in the sea. Surrounded by a one-million litre ocean tank, which is residence to all kinds of exotic and mesmerizing creatures including tropical fish species, gentle sea turtles and formidable sharks, it is no surprise that the Sea Life Centre is a popular attraction for anyone who wants to experience the wonder of the ocean in a bustling, up-and-coming city jungle. It is truly a whole other world!

However, of course you cannot miss the plentiful supply of headlining Birmingham parks in which to picnic, workout or just simply to admire. One of the most famous parks is Cannon Hill Park which with its pedalo boats in the summer, as well as its collection of tennis courts alongside a bowling green and mini-golf course, provides a lasting day of entertainment for the whole family to bask in. Alternatively, there is the Eastside City Park as well as Kings Heath Park, with the Eastside City Park being of particular importance due to it being the largest single piece of public open space in the bustling city centre and it even winning a special accolade for it being an outstanding public green space (which includes gardens, water features and a Science Garden) at the European Entente Florale 2013 competition.

Glasgow

Glasgow Botanic Gardens
Glasgow Botanic Gardens

Glasgow may well be a prime dynamic leisure hub due to its renowned nightlife and retail scenes, however with its collection of 90 parks, it is clear that Glasgow is more than a little in touch with its green side also. However, in fairness, the sassy yet warmly hospitable city has much to live up to considering that in Gaelic; Glasgow translates as “Dear Green Place”. Therefore, be under no illusion that Glasgow is all about the bright lights, the vibrating bass and the chime of cash registers, there is so much underestimated natural beauty and peace to be uncovered alongside the magnificence of its prestigious architecture.

No park brings nature to the city quite like Glasgow Green; Glasgow’s oldest and most city central park. Famous not just for its age or location, Glasgow Green also features the largest terracotta fountain in the world. However, that is not the only treasure to be enjoyed as within the stunning grounds you will also come across the People’s Palace and the Winter Gardens; a Victorian glasshouse masterpiece which will generate much wonder due to it being residence to all kinds of tropical and mysterious plant species.

However, it is the West End of Glasgow that is a particular natural showcase due to it being home to both the renowned Kelvingrove Park and Glasgow’s Botanic Gardens. Nothing enhances the beauty of Kelvingrove Park quite like its location on the banks of the River Kelvin. If its location was not idyllic enough, its status as a Victorian park only goes to exacerbate this considering the air of splendour and grandeur it conjures. The prestigious Kelvingrove Museum and Art Galleries aside, one of the park’s most stunning features is the tranquil walks it affords alongside the breath-taking river walkways and the plentiful supply of wildlife you might have the fortune of crossing.

Internationally recognised for many a thing, whether it is its warm hospitality or its inspiring art scene, Glasgow is also a winner on a global scale when it comes to its highly-esteemed Botanic Gardens. Well-regarded when it comes to both the glasshouses’ architecture and the wondrous exotic collection of plants they behold, the wooded walks and formal gardens are truly a natural haven that is worlds away from the hustle and bustle of Glasgow’s streets.

One other natural highlight worth mentioning is the picturesque Victoria Park which due to its stunning horticultural backdrop of beautiful floral displays, is often regarded as one of the loveliest parks in Glasgow. However, the real treasure it beholds is Glasgow’s most ancient attraction: the Fossil Grove. Open between April and September, the Fossil Grove consists of a fossilized grove of prehistoric trees which to give any indication of their age, are so historic that they are double the age of dinosaurs.

This year in particular is an opportune time to consider Glasgow as a “Dear Green Place” due to it being the “Year of Green”; a year in which there is much jubilation and cheer in correspondence with Glasgow’s mission to become a sustainable city in the future. As a result, there are many an exciting event to partake in; including the likes of Twilight Walks and Wildlife Garden Festivals.

Edinburgh

Edinburgh Botanic Gardens
Edinburgh Botanic Gardens

With its ideal location on the mighty Firth of Forth, it is no surprise that Scotland’s most bustling city is also greatly in touch with Mother Nature. It is a side that can only be reinforced due to it proudly receiving a Gold Award in the Britain in Bloom Awards 2013, one of the most prestigious awards when it comes to celebrating Britain’s best and most stunning gardens. Of course one of Edinburgh’s headlining attractions is the renowned Edinburgh Zoo which is home to many a fascinating furry resident including meerkats, tigers, rhinos and penguins.

The pinnacle of Edinburgh’s nature scene is most definitely the Royal Botanic Gardens which in itself provides over 70 acres of sweet-smelling, scenic gardens that contains wondrous plant species from all parts of the world. These gardens are so magical and beloved as they are rumoured to be some of the most excellent in the world due to them being residence to all kinds of special and rare plant species. Between the gardens, the greenhouses and the eco-centre, there is so much beauty to be admired and knowledge to be gained and all in a tranquil setting that is only a mile from the fast-paced Edinburgh streets. It is certainly a prime natural spot with the award-winning Inverleith Park being located in the near vicinity which offers mesmerizing cityscape views that cannot be easily replicated.

However, do not assume that nature is only to be found on the outskirts of the city, there is much green space to seek solitude in, even amongst the animation and the incessant hustle and bustle of Scotland’s Capital. At the base of the Royal Mile, you can explore the spacious Holyrood Park but the ultimate crowning glory in the area has to be Arthur’s Seat, an extinct volcano, which provides a heavy workout as well some of the most renowned and photo-worthy views of the whole city. Whether you hike it, walk it or even run it, the magnificent views will certainly make an intrepid adventure of Arthur’s Seat worth it! Alternatively, if you are needing somewhere to relax right there and then after an ambitious shopping spree on some of the nation’s most beloved high streets, then the extremely city central Princes Street Gardens should tick the box. Residence to some of the most iconic Edinburgh attractions that make their way into every picture perfect postcard, including the Scott Monument and the grandeur of the Ross Fountain, it is not surprising that these gardens are packed on a warm’s summer day due to the surrounding all-encompassing beauty and energy of Edinburgh’s historic streets.

Ultimately, there is so much natural beauty hiding amongst the concrete camouflage of some of the UK’s most cosmopolitan and dynamic cities, and it is waiting for you to discover it. Therefore, get your picnic baskets, running shoes and cameras at the ready, with the UK currently basking in the glow of a heatwave, now is the perfect time to breathe in that fresh summer air while enjoying nature’s gifts.

Sources

Images

en.wikipedia.orgwww.glasgowbotanicgardens.comglobespottingcara.wordpress.comwww.bdonline.co.ukphotorator.com

Information

http://visitbirmingham.com, https://peoplemakeglasgow.com/, http://www.visitaberdeen.com/, http://www.visitscotland.com/about/nature-geography/edinburgh-lothians/https://www.glasgow.gov.uk/

Take a Trip to the Movies with The Spires

Trainspotting - Princes Street- (1996)
Trainspotting – Princes Street- (1996)

James Bond. Harry Potter. Fast & Furious. Globally renowned and beloved, you might think these epic blockbusting movie franchises are worlds away from the natural wonder that is Scotland. While the stunning beauty of its lochs, beaches and mountains cannot be replicated, it is fair to say that Scotland may be missing the glamour, glitz and the bright city lights often associated with the Hollywood-LA lifestyle. However, it is precisely for this reason that Scotland does in fact have its own dazzling spotlight on the global movie stage and nothing has quite epitomised Scotland’s starring role in film tourism quite like it recently coming top of a reader-voted poll held by USA Today’s Travel Site 10Best to determine which destination holds the rather esteemed reputation of being the best cinematic travel destination in the world. Nominated by TV and film tourism experts alongside the likes of larger than life destinations such as the mighty metropolis of London; the indulgence of the Sin City itself Las Vegas and the exotic tropical paradise famed for its roaming Hobbits of New Zealand, Scotland’s breathtaking natural landscape as well as its bustling modern cities ultimately triumphed.

Often when people come to visit Scotland, you would expect it to be in association with the dramatic ruins, regal castles, tempting whisky distilleries and adrenaline pumping adventure sports; however the irresistible allure of film and television plays a bigger motivating role than you may think in bringing tourism to our corner of the world. It has been estimated that 40% of UK visitors have been inspired to come having been influenced by the cinematographic wonders they have seen unfold on the big and small screen alike. It is clear that Scotland has visibly arisen through the international filming ranks, and nothing has quite solidified its fame like “Outlander”, a domestic and overseas hit which depicts the romantic turmoil of a woman living through WW2 and 18th century Scotland. Its influential impact on tourism can be reflected in that figures from Historic Scotland show year-on-year visitor numbers to Doune Castle, the predominant outdoor filming location, have grown by a rather impressive 30.2% to 49,553 in the 2014-2015 period and visits to VisitScotland’s dedicated Outlander site sit at a mighty 98,000, with over 160,000 unique page views. The demand has even led to a subsequent visitor map being created so that impassioned fans are able to pay a visit to the locations used.

Outlander - Doune Castle - (2014)
Outlander – Doune Castle – (2014)

While Outlander has done much for tourism in the borders, that is not to say that all the action is happening there. With apartments in major UK city destinations such as Edinburgh (coming soon!), Glasgow and Birmingham, we are never too far from the (literal) Blockbuster action. Therefore, whether you are an international guest and want to see the sights that have acted as a backdrop for iconic movie magic, or you simply want to engage in a staycation with a twist, why not stay with The Spires and pay a visit to locations that have gone down in movie history:

Glasgow

World War Z - George Square (2012)
World War Z – George Square – (2013)

There is no city in Scotland which could be better suited for the entertainment industry than the animated, dynamic and effervescent city of Glasgow. The heartbeat of Scotland, there is no denying the positive energy and warm hospitality that radiates from its exquisite, historic architecture and bustling streets and so it is no surprise that Glasgow has managed to slide itself as an extra into many a blockbuster. It is also Glasgow’s stellar ability as a stunt double that has worked in its favour with it masquerading as Philadelphia in Brad Pitt’s “World War Z” and as San Francisco for Halle Berry’s “Cloud Atlas”. See all the other major films and television shows in which Glasgow has managed to win a starring role and some of the iconic locations that they featured:

That Sinking Feeling (1980)Kelvingrove Park

Taggart (1983-2010)

Heavenly Pursuits (1986)-Glasgow Cathedral

Trainspotting (1996)

Beautiful Creatures (2010)

Neds (2010)

Perfect Sense (2011)

Cloud Atlas (2012)Blythswood Hill

World War Z (2013)George Square

Fast and Furious 6 (2013)Cadogen Street

Sunshine on Leith (2013)Kelvin Art Gallery

Under the Skin (2013)Argyle Street, Buchanan Galleries, Celtic Park

Edinburgh

arthurs-seat-edinburgh-one-day
One Day – Arthur’s Seat – (2011)

As Scotland’s capital, of course Edinburgh has to witness some of the action! With stunning cinematographic attractions such as the Forth Rail Bridge and Edinburgh Castle, as well as the magnificent views of the beautifully historic city afforded from the likes of Calton Hill, it is no surprise that Edinburgh is every filmmaker’s dream. From Robert Carlyle to Anne Hatheway, walk the streets which have been treaded on by many a famous foot:

39 Steps (1935) – Forth Rail Bridge

The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1969) – Greyfriars Churchyard, Grassmarket

Chariots of Fire (1981) – West Register Street, Broughton Place

Trainspotting (1996)-Princes Street, Waterloo Place, Leith Street

The Da Vinci Code (2006­) – Rosslyn Chapel

Burke & Hare (2010)-Merchant Street, Edinburgh Castle, Old Fishmarket Close

The Illusionist (2010)– George Street, Princes Street, Arthur’s Seat

One Day (2011)Arthur’s Seat, Cockburn Street/Warriston Close, Moray Place/Forres St, Parliament Square, Calton Hill

Cloud Atlas (2012)– Victoria St/Terrace, Princes Street

Filth (2013)– Grassmarket, Merchant Street, Edinburgh Castle

Sunshine on Leith (2013)– Constitution Street and the Shore

Birmingham

Hustle - Victoria Square - (2010)
Hustle – Victoria Square – (2010)

While it is not technically in Scotland, we can never leave our Birmingham location out of the action particularly with its esteemed reputation as Britain’s “Second City”. Becoming a formidable rival to London, but a cheaper alternative, it is no surprise that Birmingham is starting to become the location of choice when it comes to filming in a bustling, dynamic metropolis. Due to the presence of the BBC, it is predominantly the television world where Birmingham has left its mark but with just last month Glenn Close and Gemma Arteton filming scenes at Church Street and Dudley Hospital for the Dystopian“She Who Brings Gifts”, it is clear Birmingham is preparing itself for a Hollywood debut:

Dalziel and Pascoe (1996-2007)

Doctors (2000-Present)

Survivors (2008) – Birmingham Municipal Bank

Hustle (2010-2012)- Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, Victoria Square

Toast (2010)

Line of Duty (2012-Present)

Dancing on the Edge (2013) – Grand Hotel, Birmingham’s Council House, Birmingham University

WPC 56 (2013-Present)- Jewellery Quarter and Black Country Living Museum

For Day Trips

Harry Potter - Glenfinnan Viaduct - (2002)
Harry Potter – Glenfinnan Viaduct – (2002)

If you make your way through those lists, then here are some simply unmissable locations that have witnessed the most iconic Scottish cinematography moments in movie history and are only a day trip away from some of our apartments:

Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1974)-Doune Castle, near Stirling

Braveheart (1995) – Glen Nevis and Loch Leven

Harry Potter & The Chamber of Secrets (2002) – Glenfinnan Viaduct

The Queen (2006)-Balmoral Castle, Castle Fraser, Cluny Castle

The Eagle (2011) – Loch Lomond and Stirling

Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)- Royal Burgh of Culross

Skyfall (2012) – Glencoe

So what are you waiting for? Visit the cities where the entertainment royalty of Ewan McGregor, Eva Green, Brad Pitt, and Scarlett Johansson have all visited and breathed in the fresh Scottish (and Brum!) air. If you are a real film buff in general, there is definitely no reason not to visit us as there is an annual Film Festival held in each of our locations: Aberdeen (October 2015), Glasgow (February 2016), Birmingham and Edinburgh (the Edinburgh International Film Festival is globally renowned).

Take a journey to the stars with The Spires; your name is being called…

Ready, Set, Action!

Information Sources

http://black-kilt-tours.org/scotland-in-film.html

http://www.thelocationguide.com/blog/2015/03/ng-film-tourism-outlander-boosts-film-tourism-for-scotland/

http://www.scotsman.com/news/scotland-tops-poll-of-best-cinematic-destinations-1-3802404

http://visit-glasgow.info/sights/glasgow-as-a-film-scene/

http://www.birminghammail.co.uk/whats-on/film-news/ten-tv-series-filmed-birmingham-9418471

http://www.birminghammail.co.uk/whats-on/film-news/16-movies-filmed-in-birmingham-9418666

http://www2.jpscotland.co.uk/en/filmmap.pdf

http://www.visitscotland.com/about/arts-culture/films/locations

http://news.scotland.gov.uk/News/Outlandish-Success-Story-1833.aspx

http://thisisedinburgh.com/discover/itineraries/edinburgh-on-film-tour-1/

http://mediacentre.visitscotland.org/pressreleases/join-the-glasgow-set-jet-1121374

http://www.birminghammail.co.uk/whats-on/tv/tv-programmes-made-birmingham-city-5715440

Images

http://whatculture.com

news.stv.tv

celtictoursfotos.wordpress.com 

studyinuk.universiablogs.net

www.outlandertvnews.com

Time for a Catch-Up

2

Going through my recent blog entries, I have noticed a distinctive lack of my own personal student work placement blogs. When I first began at The Spires the plan was initially to do a blog each week (hopefully!) chartering my rise from an inexperienced yet energised university student to a full-fledged sale administrator extraordinaire, however clearly somewhere along the way that plan went awry! The last time I had a post dedicated to my own personal development was at the three month mark so somehow the fact that I am now blogging about myself with slightly less than a month to go, is rather fitting.

Considering my blogging absence you may be wondering what havoc I must have been causing, and it has certainly been a busy few months here at The Spires! Particular news of note for The Spires itself is the continued rolling out of The Apartment Collection – By The Spires, the serviced apartment finding service element of the firm which enables us to source accommodation out with The Spires’ home locations so we can meet guest’s wider needs. As of late, I am attempting to start a “Featured Destination” of the week to get the ball rolling and to provide some travel inspiration for our social media followers so they can see all the locations we can take them. I am also doing this in conjunction with my recently discovered addiction in Infographics as even though they may be a bit old school now, I still find them to be a very attractive means of communicating information which gets the point across while being eye-catching: https://magic.piktochart.com/output/6737572-the-apartment-collection-milton-keynes. 

Similarly, other very exciting news is that the opening for the Edinburgh location keeps growing closer and closer, and as a result, we can now happily show some sneak-peeks of our newest apartments which can be found at the dedicated Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/TheSpiresEdinburgh. Having been working at The Spires as the plans have increasingly unfolded for Edinburgh, it has definitely been intriguing to witness all the hard work that goes into opening a new location. Of course, I never imagined that it would be an easy venture but looking at how the smallest details need to be thought of, from cushions to toiletries, you realise how every decision is ultimately important as everything goes to create an image of the brand in the customer’s mind.

In terms of the personal chaos I have been causing, as well as my usual social media management and email marketing campaigns, a particular task of note is my introduction into the world of segmentation. Recently me and my fellow Sales Administrator, have been tasked with the rather daunting task of going through our databases to segment all entries into groups which share particular common characteristics as this should be indicative of their unique requirements. When first bestowed with this task, my unsuspecting colleague and I were aware that this would be a somewhat timely task although we were quietly confident that we would manage it in three-weeks tops. However, 1.5 months later and still sifting through it, we recognise that we possibly underestimated the magnitude of the challenge that awaited us… Fortunately, it is a challenge that I am enjoying because there is something oddly addictive about it, and from an academic perspective, it is really beneficial to put something in to practise that I have learnt so much about from both high school and university. Sometimes it can feel like all the endless models and theories you encounter at university have no workplace value as no one actually implements them in practise, and that is why it is so satisfying to see them being used in action because it reinforces the value of what you are studying and that those theories do exist for a reason (other than to play mind-torture on students!).

Other things I have been getting up to have included an insight into the world of taking reservations (and therefore the use of a PMS); the scanning of business cards and the creation of promotional materials such as posters for the apartment blocks. These may not sound like the most glamorous of tasks, however I am always really eager to try new things; it is always beneficial to have new tasks to add to that repertoire! The scanning of business cards was a particularly interesting endeavour because it was quite enjoyable to learn all about the possible career options on the tourism stage as well as to gain an insight into some of the international firms that exist. Even though the smallest and most innocuous tasks like scanning business cards can seem quite inconsequential, when you consider them in relation to the sales process and how that prospect’s details could enable them to be converted into a potential lucrative business source, you do realise how it is all the small things that build up the bigger picture. Similarly, even from a learning perspective, so much can be gained. For instance, as a young university student anxiously holding on to the sides of that career ladder, teetering precariously on the first rung, it is really insightful to see all the different formatting of business cards and how an effective business card means that not only is it memorable and conveys all that it needs to, but it is also capable of being easily scanned so that the details can be stored. The same goes for the development of the promotional materials I created, because even though it does not necessarily require a high level of skill, a poster is something that will be viewed by the public and every single touch-point from a poster to a direct customer interaction communicates something about the brand and you want it to be consistent with the values upheld by the firm.

Therefore, with five months up and one month to go, you might be able to see how contemplative and reflective I have become. The university report I have to write may also have something to do with why my mind has reached the point of micro-analyzing the importance of tasks like scanning business cards. It is akin to the days back in high school when you had to explain everything down to the symbolic importance of why the author made the curtains blue; there has to be a reason behind everything. In a sense however, that is what my placement has taught me, that there is a reason for every task you complete-particularly in the hospitality industry where even the smallest of actions influences the customer journey and therefore the over-riding success of the firm.

Ultimately, unless I manage to do something utterly catastrophic in my remaining 4 weeks (I still have time to delete all the contacts in the CRM by accident or potentially sell a room for £1…), I can already say with confidence that I am exceptionally happy I signed the second semester of my third year away to The Spires. With a month of full-time work left to go, there are still so many things I want to try such as video tours of the apartments, blogging from our Birmingham & Glasgow locations and even attempting more team-related blogs. Therefore, watch this space for all the fun that is still to come!

Till next time,

Alex (Intern Sales Administrator)