See the sights, smell the roses… and catch the Pokémon?

pokemon_go

Image: http://www.saferinternet.org.uk/news/pokemon-go-gaming-gone-mobile

Trends, fashions and fads come and go, and it is clear which one is here to stay for summer 2016 – Pokémon Go. Yes, unless you have somehow managed to miss the numerous social media postings dedicated to the latest trend (borderline phenomenon) seizing not only a nation, but the whole world, or have been spared the incident of bumping into someone actively engaging in a little Pokémon hunting on the street, it is clear that there is nothing more all the rage this summer. Normally mobile phone apps and games are associated as taking the human population to whole new levels of anti-socialness; however Pokéman Go seems to be having a miracle effect which is counteracting this magnetic force. Yes, we are still besotted with man’s new best friend, the mobile phone, but now it is encouraging us to voluntarily enter into the light and freshness of the great outdoors and explore. Such is the power of the Pokémon Go because with the augmented virtual reality app projecting images of everyone’s favourite childhood anime onto city landmarks so it looks like they are really there on your mobile screen, people are going out in their droves to partake in a nostalgic game of Pokémon hunting because the only way to catch them all, is to actively explore the surrounding environment – sitting on the couch will get you nowhere. Of course you also have the assistance of GPS technology on your smart phone to help lead the way also.  Pokémon Go is a truly global craze with it having captivated the eyes of citizens spanning 35 countries and becoming more addictive than those little known apps of Facebook and Whatsapp.

With the UK basking in the glorious freedom of the summer holidays and even enjoying a little bit of tropical summer sunshine, Pokémon Go has come at the best possible time. It is the optimum season to explore a new city and what better way to see it than with a fun interactive activity which will keep all members of the family, whether it is the young or the young at heart, engaged and excited. Already players have remarked how it has taken them to parts of the city they had never thought they would venture; likewise it is helping them to connect with other players and to forge social bonds. Fortunately, with apartments in four major UK cities, wherever you stay with us you are right in the heart of some of the UK’s best Pokémon hunting grounds. Therefore, discover all about the Pokémon Go hype in some of our favourite UK vacation spots and be inspired to come visit us and explore our new cities from a new perspective.

Aberdeen

A legion of unique Pokémon characters have finally invaded the Silver City with even some rare ones also to be found. Of course, it is irrefutable that Pokémon would be hiding in the most dynamic and buzzing part of the city – the city centre. Therefore, when you are hitting up Union Street, make sure to take an extra few moments outside the prime shopping area of St. Nicholas Centre as three “Pokestops” are rumoured to be found there. Likewise, if you wanting to view some of the amazing talent on stage at the Music Hall or His Majesty’s Theatre, you might be able to see more than real famous faces, but also some virtual Pokémon ones too. The beauty of Pokémon Go is also that you do not necessary know where you will find the Pokémon, this is why you can venture all across the city in the hopes of finding one and engaging in a little bit of sightseeing and social interaction along the way. Therefore, the app has had people exploring the beautiful length of Aberdeen’s stunning sandy beach; various churches and it has even seen them take day trips to Stonehaven because those little Pokémon sure get everywhere! With Pokémon being rumoured to be located at all kinds of Aberdeen attraction hot spots from the beach to the fishing community of Fittie to tranquil public areas like Seaton Park, it is clear that Pokémon Go could be the perfect activity that will allow you to become acquainted with the sparkling silver exterior of the renowned Granite City.

Birmingham

Known as Britain’s “Second City”, it is of little surprise that the exciting metropolis of Birmingham is absolutely teeming with Pokémon waiting to be discovered. Pokémon mania has even swept the citizens of Birmingham so much that an organised mass Pokémon Go walk was devised that was held on Saturday 23rd July, reflecting the comradery that the virtual app is creating – up to 1,000 walkers were expected. Rumoured Pokémon hotspots include the Jewellery Quarter, St. Paul’s Square and of course along the sides of Birmingham’s vast canal system. They can even be hunted down within the walls of iconic Birmingham attractions including the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, so it is not just art that can be found and admired! Likewise, if you are hitting up the bargains and the temptation of Grand Central shopping centre, you may find more than just good deals. Therefore, from sightseeing to shopping and even to eating, Pokémon Go may be the perfect addictive activity that will allow you to fully explore one of Britain’s most famous metropolises.

Glasgow

pokemon glasgow

http://www.glasgowlive.co.uk/news/glasgow-news/ultimate-guide-pokemon-go-glasgow-11614786

Priding itself for the warmth and friendliness of its citizens, it is no wonder that Pokémon would feel welcome along the dynamic and effervescent streets of Glasgow. With its renowned reputation for its nature scene and its abundance of parks, it is no surprise that many Pokémon have been rumoured to be hiding among the shrubbery such as at Glasgow Green. However, while hiding in parks or even by the Clydeside, they are also of course hitting up popular city central locations from the likes of the Duke of Wellington statue (the one famous for having an ever-present traffic cone residing on its head), George Square, Kelvingrove Museum and even within the haunting beauty of the Victorian cemetery; the Necropolis. Likewise, other rumoured hotspots include the Finnieston Crane as well as the Armadillo and the Hydro which means you may get a dual batch of entertainment if you are stopping by the check out the latest musical talent on stage.

Edinburgh

pokemon go aberdeen

https://www.google.com/maps/d/viewer?mid=1omOow1m09QBs1-UVcJ89wSnRI-g&hl=en_US

Of course there is no city in Scotland that Pokémon could desire to infiltrate more than the cobbled historic streets of Scotland’s stunning and animated capital. With some of the most iconic attractions and streets in the nation, it is irrefutable that a couple of Pokémon would want to pop up at these stops. Therefore, it may be of no surprise that if you want to engage in a little bit of Pokémon hunting, than prime locations such as the Edinburgh Castle, Princes Street Gardens, Leith Docks, Edinburgh Zoo and the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art certainly pave the way for victory. These are attractions that you would want to visit anyway but doing it under the guise of Pokémon hunting, also gives it that added extra bit of fun. Likewise, it may also bring you to attractions you had never considered previously such as Lochend Park or St. Margaret’s Well which is a well that has been in existence since 1362 and therefore possesses its own unique level of historical value. The hype of Pokémon Go mania in Edinburgh has even reached such a level that local taxi drivers are offering Pokémon Go tours, so if you are feeling a little tired and want a crafty (albeit pricy!) way of viewing the city, this could be the alternative as the route set out claims to stop at 50 “Pokestops” in 20 minutes.

So there you have it, if are really getting swept up in the phenomenon that has captured the nation and their phones, how about a Pokémon Go tour with The Spires? With apartments right in the city centre of these 4 active Pokémon spots, you could not be any closer to all the excitement and hype. While we cannot guarantee that the little monsters will be found under the beds in our apartments, you are bound to find some lurking not too far away whether they are in attractions, parks, restaurants or even transport spots. Therefore, let us know how many you catch and share with us any top tips – maybe we will try and engage in some Pokémon hunting of our own!

Advertisements

Food for All!

IMG_0965

How many people do you think suffer from coeliac disease, an autoimmune disease which results in gluten intolerance? Well, according to statistics by Coeliac UK, it is a figure that stands at one in 100; inferring that the condition is not as rare as one may think. However, it is not just coeliacs that have special dietary requirements; it can also be those suffering from allergies such as peanut or egg allergies, dairy intolerance, lactose intolerance or those who are vegetarians or vegans or those who abide by Halal food laws. Whether you elect to follow a special diet or your health mandates it, it is irrefutable that it makes travelling that bit more strenuous and stressful because you have to go through the arduous process of sourcing what hotels, restaurants or cafes can meet your special dietary requirements. However, this is where staying in serviced apartments can start to make a difference because as our apartments come with a fully-equipped kitchen containing modern appliances and utensils from an oven to a microwave, you can forget all the stress as you can dictate what you eat and it is just like being at home.

However, ultimately you are still away from home, and therefore you deserve to engage in a little bit of indulgence. Consequently, we thought we would provide you with a list of only a HANDFUL of the cafes, restaurants and chains that might be able to safely satisfy your palette when you stay in any of our city centre locations. If you have any recommendations, please let us know!

Aberdeen

341218-foodstory-aberdeen
   Foodstory 

Image: http://aberdeen.stv.tv/articles/316760-thistle-street-cafe-foodstory-expand-with-coffee-bar-and-live-music/ 

The Bay, Stonehaven – fish and chips are an iconic part of the British diet but just because you are a Coeliac does not mean you have to miss out as the award-winning The Bay in Stonehaven can griddle or bake their sustainably sourced fish.

http://thebayfishandchips.co.uk/

Soul Kitchen – some restaurants will offer a token ‘gluten-free’ dish to appease their diners, however Soul takes it to a whole new level and even offers a full ‘gluten-free’ menu including burgers and steaks.

http://www.pbdevco.com/soul.html

Las Iguanas – with restaurants in all of our major UK city destinations from Aberdeen to Edinburgh to Birmingham, Las Iguanas is perfect for any diner regardless of their dietary requirements. Embodying both a gluten-free menu as well as a dedicated one for vegetarians and vegans, it is clear that Las Iguanas aims to please all with its tantalising Latin food.

http://www.iguanas.co.uk/

Howies – If you are seeking authentic, local and seasonal Scottish cuisine delivered with a smile, look no further than Howies which also has a location in Edinburgh. With a detailed allergen sheet as well as a myriad of gluten-free; dairy-free and Vegetarian dishes, you will be equally spoilt for choice here!

http://www.howies.uk.com/chapel-street-aberdeen/

Fifi’s Café Bistro – those following a gluten-free diet could not have a better selection to choose from then at Fifi’s Café Bistro – Aberdeen’s very first gluten free eatery. Serving everything from cakes to sandwiches, you definitely will not have to worry about what is safe to eat here.

https://www.facebook.com/fifiscafebistro/

Foodstory Aberdeen– healthy, locally sourced and environmentally friendly; the food could not be more pure or natural than at Foodstory Aberdeen where there is a community focused environment. Having been listed as one Scotland’s top veggie cafes, the food provided is predominantly vegetarian, vegan and raw and unique artisan coffees are also offered.

http://foodstorycafe.co.uk/

Glasgow

14933965291_0d2a1d91f7_b
  Topolabamba

Image: https://www.flickr.com/photos/gertie_du/14933965291

Burger Meats Bun – pretty self-explanatory but if you are looking for somewhere that is able to offer gluten free and veggie burgers, you have found the perfect place and it has locations in both Glasgow and Edinburgh! Vibrant and busy, it is definitely one of the top spots in the city to grab yourself a decent satisfying burger.

http://www.burger-meats-bun.co.uk/

Café Andaluz – also with locations in Aberdeen and Edinburgh, tapas tend to be a good choice for those with dietary requirements but Café Andaluz takes it to new levels with a strong range of veggie and wheat free products that mean the menu is equally proportioned and balanced. Choice will not be an issue here!

http://www.cafeandaluz.com/

The 13th Note – are you looking for some musical harmony to accompany delicious food? Look no further than the independent music venue The 13th note which is a vegetarian and vegan café but which also offers a tempting array of gluten free options.

http://13thnote.co.uk/

Topolobamba – Fancying something spicy and hot? Look no further than the delicious Mexican restaurant Topolobamba which has such a rich array of vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options, it actually highlights on its menu those options which are NOT gluten free.

http://www.topolabamba.com/

Red Onion – when people think of eateries that accommodate special dietary requirements, they tend to think of quirky independent cafes or restaurants that are tucked away. However, Red Onion is an award-winning contemporary, modern restaurant that was started by the internationally renowned chef, John Quigley. Have no worries about only having a few token dishes as Red Onion has all its bases covered from a gluten-free a la carte menu to a vegan set menu to a dairy free menu.

http://www.red-onion.co.uk/

Ushas – we have had Mexican, Latin and Spanish, but how about Indian? Ushas is Glasgow’s only Indian dedicated vegetarian and vegan restaurant and it offers a tempting collection of authentic street food.

http://www.ushas.co.uk/

For more information, make sure to People Make Glasgow’s dedicated website which has pages dedicated to Glasgow’s plentiful supply of vegan and gluten free dining options:

https://peoplemakeglasgow.com/best-vegetarian-and-vegan-restaurants-in-glasgow

https://peoplemakeglasgow.com/things-to-do/food-drink/gluten-free-dining-in-glasgow

Edinburgh

41025_large
 Hula Juice Bar

Image: http://www.theskinny.co.uk/students/things-to-do/edinburgh-food-drink

Henderson’s of Edinburgh – if you are looking for a vegetarian option in Edinburgh, it is probably best to start at one of the city’s oldest established vegetarian locations – Henderson’s of Edinburgh. A family run business, the warm service that Henderson’s offers is incomparable and with a bakery, bistro and deli – you know you will find a vegetarian option across all the food groups.

http://www.hendersonsofedinburgh.co.uk/holding.php

The Baked Potato Shop – rather specialist, but if you are a fan of a vegan or vegetarian fresh hot tattie – look no further than The Baked Potato Shop which offers everyone’s favourite comfort food as well as some vegan cakes.

 https://www.facebook.com/thebakedpotatoshop

Loudons – everyone loves a homely bakery and there is nothing quite like this charming and welcoming spacious café which serves all manner of tempting goods from gluten free, dairy free, vegan and nut-free breakfasts and brunches.

http://www.loudons-cafe.co.uk/

Union of Genius – one of Scotland’s first soup cafes, this is the perfect place if you are looking for a homely cuppa of soup to warm the soul. Varying with the seasons and fresh off the hob, it offers an extensive selection of options to satisfy everyone from those who are gluten free to those who are dairy-free, even the accompanying breads, oatcakes and rice cakes are gluten free. Perfect for the winter season!

http://www.unionofgenius.com/

Sugar Daddy’s Bakery – keeping on with the bakery theme, Sugar Daddy’s bakery is a relatively new player on the gluten free block. Everyone fancies a good cupcake, brownie, cookies or traybake and you can eat these guilt-free as they are predominantly dairy free, egg free and vegan. Definitely the place if you fancy treating yourself!

http://www.sugardaddysedinburgh.com/

Hula Juice Bar – are you fancying a tempting cake, a revitalizing juice or a healthy fulfilling smoothie? Make sure to check out the award-winning Hula Juice Bar which caters to everyone from vegans, vegetarians and those on gluten-free diets. It is the perfect place for a pick-me-up and to find a natural cleanse for the soul.

http://www.hulajuicebar.co.uk/

For more information on the best gluten free eateries in Edinburgh, make sure to check out this dedicated blog: http://glutenfreeedinburgh.com/

Birmingham

1111_g
  Cosy Club Birmingham

Image: http://www.cosyclub.co.uk/birmingham 

The Warehouse Café

If you want to visit any Vegetarian restaurant in Birmingham, then of course you must want to visit the inaugural one which is widely renowned on the vegetarian scene! Birmingham’s original vegetarian restaurant which serves salivating British and contemporary international dishes as well as gluten-free options, is an award-winning restaurant that is tucked away next to the Bullring and occupies an illustrious spot in both new and old Birmingham.

http://www.thewarehousecafe.com/

Bella Italia

Everyone loves a good authentic Italian pizza or pasta, and whether you are vegetarian or have gluten intolerance, this popular chain can satisfy all requirements! With a clearly signposted menu, you do not have to eat in uncertainty of what you should and should not be eating.

http://www.bellaitalia.co.uk/menu/main-menu/?location=Birmingham

Bistro 1847

A restaurant group to be on the lookout for, 1847 is rapidly expanding across the country and caters predominantly to vegetarians but also to vegans and to those with gluten-free requirements. Modern and creative; it is definitely one to watch and to dine at!

http://by1847.com/

Cosy Club

Cosy is the perfect word to describe this group of restaurants as are the words: vibrant, effervescent, unique and quirky. Comfortable and casual, you can really make yourself feel a part of the furniture in this homely environment that also has dedicated gluten-free and vegan menus which can also be viewed online.

http://www.cosyclub.co.uk/

Henry Wong Harborne

It can be rather a challenge finding a Chinese restaurant that accommodates those with gluten intolerance, however Henry Wong Harborne perfectly fills this gap. With a gluten-free menu that is available on request as well as a dedicated vegetarian one, this elegant and refined Cantonese restaurant will definitely hit the spot.

http://henrywongharborne.co.uk/

2016: Top 16 Things To Do

It might be a few weeks late but welcome to the brand new world that is 2016! In honour of celebrating this time of new beginnings and new opportunities, we thought we would look at some of the must-do activities and festivities in our respective locations so that we can get your 2016 travel bucket-list rolling.

Aberdeen

SetRatioSize467467-LIGHT-FEST-IMAGE-E
SPECTRA 2015 

http://www.visitaberdeen.com/whats-on/calendar/spectra-aberdeens-festival-of-light/?date=2015-02-19

  1. Footdee – while irrefutably the beach is a prominent attraction in Aberdeen, make sure to explore the idyllic village located by the sea known as Footdee, or more affectionately by the locals, as ‘Fittie’. A well-preserved fishing village, Footdee is truly charming and unique and takes you to times gone by.
  2. Park & Gardens – looking for an oasis of calm among the hustle and bustle of city life? Make sure to discover the parks that have helped Aberdeen win the accolade of “Britain in Bloom” a record breaking number of times. From the tropical winter gardens in Duthie Park that houses the UK’s largest collection of cacti to the fairy tale wonder of Johnstone Gardens complete with bridges and waterfalls, there is plenty of natural beauty to be admired among Aberdeen’s silver exterior.
  3. Dolphin Watch – a little known fact but apparently Aberdeen is one of the prime locations in Europe in which to view dolphins at play in the sea. Therefore, flock to the harbour during the summer months to witness our beautiful friends with fins. There is even a Dolphin Adventure Cruise!
  4. SPECTRA – in collaboration with Scotland’s focus Year of Architecture, Innovation and Design; SPECTRA is Aberdeen’s very own stunning Festival of Light which takes places in Union Terrace Gardens. With international artists and Scottish collaborators engaging in displays and exhibitions that focus on light, sound and interaction; it is perfect for anyone of any age and will truly bring the city to life!

Birmingham

waffles
SPECTRA 2015

http://www.birminghampost.co.uk/lifestyle/food-drink/birmingham-street-food-guide-whos-7607752

  1. Jewellery Quarter – a fan of all things that sparkle and glitter? Well, make sure not to miss the world-renowned Jewellery Quarter which is home to one of the largest concentrations of firms involved in the jewellery trade and has over 200 listed buildings; testament to its rich heritage. Full of culture and history, the Jewellery Quarter is a vivacious trendy urban destination that cannot be missed.
  2. Grand Central – it is undeniable how Birmingham is a prime retail destination and the opening of Grand Central last year only substantiated that reputation. With over 60 premium retailers including the UK’s flagship John Lewis, you could spend one weekend in this shopping centre alone!
  3. Street Food – Birmingham is becoming one of the emerging cities in the UK for serving high quality street food; who needs a formal Michelin experience (although Birmingham offers a tasty abundance of these too!) when you can have convenience and food on the go. There is a weekly street food event on Fridays where you can sample all kinds of tempting treats from burgers to waffles. Make sure your stomach does not miss out!
  4. Music Festivals – As well as an emerging food destination, Birmingham is starting to become a city known on the map for its music festivals. With highlights including the Moseley Folk Festival; the Mostly Jazz, Funk and Soul Festival and MADE Birmingham, there is plenty of musical festivities to keep audiences of all kinds singing and dancing away.

Glasgow

celtic-connections
SPECTRA 2015

https://film.list.co.uk/article/15259-gaelic-film-festival-announced-as-part-of-celtic-connections/

  1. Celtic Connections – One of the prime highlights of Glasgow’s winter calendar, Celtic Connections sees over 2,100 musicians descending on the city to engage in one of the most renowned folk, roots and world music festivals. It is a thrilling 18 days full of ceilidhs, art exhibitions and concerts that celebrate Celtic music and its cross-cultural connections – definitely one not to be missed.
  2. Glasgow International – A biennial festival celebrating contemporary art, Glasgow International is globally renowned and cements Glasgow’s reputation as a leading participator in the visual arts. Occurring in various locations across the city, Glasgow International celebrates the best of both local and international contemporary art and is perfect for audiences of all ages and kinds.
  3. Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design – This year sees Scotland celebrate the Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design; and where better to celebrate this focus year than in Glasgow – a city renowned for its gorgeous and iconic architecture; primarily courtesy of Charles Rennie Mackintosh. As a result of this focus year, there will be a year-long Festival of Architecture occurring in Glasgow meaning that all throughout the year there will be engaging events to participate in and to really get to know Glasgow.
  4. Glasgow Film Festival – One of the UK’s largest and most established film festivals, Glasgow Film Festival is definitely one not to be missed! With renowned Glasgow venues such as Kelvingrove Art Gallery holding specially themed screenings, it is a film experience like no other.

Edinburgh

animal-cafes_467222
Maison de Moggy 

http://uk.askmen.com/top_10/travel/animal-cafes_3.html

  1. Edinburgh Heritage Food Trail – In collaboration with Edinburgh’s World Heritage Site, the Food Trail devised in 2015 is a new (and tasty!) way of getting to know Edinburgh and its rich history. Covering cooking schools, farmer markets and even the Palace of Holyroodhouse, it is a journey across Edinburgh and back in time like no other.
  2. Edinburgh Festivals – One of the world’s leading festival cities, it is irrefutable that a prime reason to visit in 2016 is to participate in one of the plethora of festivals on offer. From an International Film Festival to festivals celebrating everything from Jazz and Blues to Books to Science, not even counting the summer highlight of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, there is definitely a festival for everyone!
  3. The Real Mary King’s Close – Sometimes all the excitement is not to be found above ground, but below. Take a tour of the hidden streets lurking below the bustling city that have been in existence since the 17th century by tour guides costumed as people from the past; there is no shortage of horror stories to regale.
  4. Cat Café – Scotland’s inaugural cat café, this is the perfect café to visit if you are a fan of furry moggies! Aptly titled, Maison de Moggy, you can eat cakes and have a warm cuppa while in the warm presence of some furry, cuddly friends.

Walking in a Winter Wonderland

The velvety warming taste of hot chocolate; the wondrous glow of streets bathed in an array of vibrant lights that sparkle in the dark and the snowflakes falling gracefully from the sky; it can only be winter. Factor in the cheerful buzz of everyone’s favourite Christmas tunes on repeat and the streets brimming  with people in varying levels of stress as they run manically from store to store and you know Christmas has arrived in full force. While we all know there is nothing quite as exciting as seeing our houses all decorated head-to-toe to match our fetching winter ensembles consisting predominantly of the uber-trendy Christmas jumpers, nothing beats the sight of a whole CITY ablaze with the festive spirit. It is irrefutable that you will never witness a city quite as stunning and as lit up as it is during Christmas and with locations in some of the UK’s most popular cities from Birmingham to Edinburgh, you know that when you stay with us you can witness some of the greatest shows and festivities put on at this time of year. Therefore, sit back with a mug of hot cocoa and discover all of the fun and cheer you can have when you visit some of our locations this December:

Aberdeen

Aberdeen-Christmas

Image Source: http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/scottish-news/aberdeen-world-record-bid-people-2846533

It is known as the Silver City, but at this time of the year Aberdeen diversifies and allows all hues of effervescent greens, reds, golds, purples and more to colour the skyline. There could not be a better time to visit Aberdeen than this year as it is the inaugural year of its own largest Winter Festival. With an open-air ice rink; thrilling fairground rides; an entertainment marquee and the scintillating smells of fresh delicious food emanating from the German inspired stalls; it combines to create an idyllic scene which is not to be missed. While you are not busy stuffing your face with all the finest festive delicacies at the Christmas market, you can get further into the Christmas spirit by belting out all your favourite Christmas carols with full gusto at the traditional Christmas Carol Concert at Duthie Park or you can take a moment to reflect on what Christmas is all about by witnessing the Christmas nativity scene at the St. Nicholas Kirkyard right in the centre of the city. If you are still needing to engage in some Christmas present shopping while visiting, you are in the right place with the Trinity Centre, Bon Accord Centre and Union Square offering beloved brands to satisfy all kinds of wallets from designer to department stores. However, if you are looking for something a bit more authentic and unique, make sure not to miss “The Arts of Gifts” Christmas Market which is brimming with gorgeous handmade jewellery; ceramics; Christmas cards and artworks. Of course, while you are in town make sure not to miss Aberdeen’s pantomime extravaganza production of Peter Pan!

To unearth all the Aberdonian Christmas magic, go to:

http://www.visitaberdeen.com/whats-on/calendar/

Birmingham

german-christmas-market-w5a0700.jpg

Image: http://www.edgemagazine.org/guide-christmas-markets.html

There is no image quite as synonymous with Birmingham and Christmas like its nationally renowned Frankfurt Christmas Market and Craft Fair. If you cannot make it to Germany this year than this festival is no poor man’s second as it is the second LARGEST German market outside of Germany and Austria and is just as authentic. With over 180 stalls selling everything from jewellery to gifts to the finest German cuisine specialities; it is almost like being in Germany but at a much lower cost! However, it is not just its German market that is the prime attraction, but its attached craft fair where you can buy all kinds of charming and beguiling crafted goods as designed by local artisans. However, there is a whole other host of ultra-festive activities to engage in from festive plays to Christmas carol concerts to Christmas markets to even candlelit tours happening all over the city. If you fancy a day trip, then make sure to consider Shakespeare’s Birthplace and Warwick Castle which are both getting into the spirit. At Shakespeare’s Birthplace, you can partake in more traditional festivities which are typical to the Tudor time period or alternatively you can meet with the Big Man himself (Santa, not Shakespeare!) at Warwick Castle.  If you have time for some giggles and cheesiness, make sure to swing by Birmingham’s 2015 pantomime of choice, Aladdin, or there is the equally enchanting production of the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe to be seen at the Birmingham Repertory Theatre! Similarly, for something more historical but equally breath-taking, make sure to take in the majesty of the Royal Shakespeare’s Company production of Wendy and Peter Pan. Of course if you are in Birmingham then you are in prime position to complete that Christmas list because between the designer temptations of the Mailbox to the brand new shiny floors of Grand Central to the unique handcrafted works in the Jewellery Quarter, there are no shortages of places to find the perfect gift.

For full details of all the festive excitement and entertainment, go to:

http://visitbirmingham.com/christmas-in-birmingham/

Glasgow

GeorgeSquare.jpg

Image: http://getaroundglasgow.co.uk/photos/georgesquare/

There is no city that embodies the Christmas spirit quite like Glasgow with their self-proclaimed “Glasgow Loves Christmas” campaign. However, once you witness all that it has to offer, you will not be surprised why! Within the rustic wooden cabins that align St. Enoch Square, you will find all kinds of tempting festive goods from exquisite cuisines of all nationalities to intricate crafts and stunning decorations – perfect for a browse when armed with a succulent German Bratwurst and a warming mug of hot cocoa. Surrounded by the Buchanan Galleries, Ingram Street and Princes Square, it is the perfect place to visit when you are in the midst of a Christmas shopping break. However, if you want to get to the heart of the festive cheer that emanates from the city; then make sure to stop by George Square. With its iconic ice rink as well as the big wheel and the entertainment offered at the Winter Cabin, there will be no better place to celebrate this winter season. When in Glasgow, make sure to take the time to find gifts for yourself or for your significant others in some of Glasgow’s 1500 plus stores such as at the Argyll Arcade, Merchant City or the West End. Alternatively, make sure to sit back and enjoy a few laughs at Scotland’s biggest pantomime extravaganza of Peter Pan.

Discover all the festive cheer happening in the city at:

http://www.glasgowloveschristmas.com/Pages/Home.aspx

Edinburgh

market

Image: http://www.neweuropetours.eu/blog/edinburgh/51-edinburghs-christmas-markets-and-events

There is nowhere better to spend the most magical time of the year than in Edinburgh whose sparkling skyline is iconic when it comes to the festive period due to its adornment of lights. Not just in one area, Christmas spreads itself all around from The Royal Mile to St. Andrews Square to Princes Street Gardens. While there are the traditional star attractions of the Big Wheel, Star Flyer, Santa Land and the iconic ice rinks which never fail to thrill, extra magic is also brought in the form of the Virgin Money ‘Street of Lights’ which has transformed the Royal Mile into the most glittering, sparkling and animated sight ever as well as an abundance of all kinds of new exhilarating attractions. Therefore, even if you have experienced an Edinburgh Christmas once, there are still plenty of brand new reasons to do it again! There are a whole host of Christmas markets ranging from large European marketplace affairs to slightly more intimate and local gatherings. The two headlining festivals are undoubtedly the European Christmas Market and Scottish Market which can be found in Princes Street Gardens and St. Andrew’s Square respectively and offer tantalising foods; charming handcrafted goods; exquisite jewellery and stunning gifts that are steeped in both national and international culture – perfect for a wander on a cold winter’s day with a warming cup of mulled wine in your gloved hand. Alternatively, the Virgin Money Street of Light is definitely one not to be missed which illuminates the Royal Mile in full festive glow due to the magnificent line-up of 16 spell-binding lit up arches each reaching 19m high. It is a spectacular kaleidoscope production of colour and light like nothing else! Of course amongst all the markets and fairground rides, you cannot miss the entertainment central of Paradiso Spiegeltent which will play host to a vibrant array of fantastic shows to entertain all ages. Edinburgh’s chosen panto for the year is Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs at the King’s Theatre but if you are looking for something a bit more delicate and elegant, make sure to not miss out on the beauty of Cinderella as performed by the Scottish Ballet. If you are coming to Edinburgh, then there could not be a more opportune time to complete that Christmas list with a flourish. From the traditional treasures of the Royal Mile to the beloved brands of George Street and Princes Street and then the unique independents of the Grassmarket, you are guaranteed to find something for everyone.

To discover all the fantastic festive fun, make sure to check out: http://thisisedinburgh.com/things-to-do/christmas-in-edinburgh/

Therefore, you know where all the fun and festivities are to be had this season and so make sure to discover them all. Whether you come by yourself, with your friends or with your family, we have apartments to cater to all sizes and there could not be a better place to relax after all the magic and joy. Visit www.thespires.co.uk to book your visit to a Winter Wonderland.

 

The Month of Mackintosh

Willow Tea Rooms
                                                                                         Willow Tea Rooms

Glasgow is known for many a thing from its dynamic, bustling nightlife to its luscious array of green spaces to the world-renowned warm hospitality offered by its citizens; however what also sets it apart is its exquisite architecture. Barcelona, you can keep your Gaudi as in Glasgow we have our own architectural master known as Charles Rennie Mackintosh. A Scottish-born artist, designer and architect who was an integral influence in the UK Art Nouveau scene, Charles Rennie Mackintosh is remembered as Glasgow’s most famous son and when you see firsthand his architectural masterpieces, there is no doubt as to why his work is much revered and an iconic part of the Glasgow arts scene. The fact that there is a Mackintosh trail is just testament to the mark that Charles Rennie Mackintosh left on his native city.

While Charles Rennie Mackintosh is now internationally renowned around the world as the father of “Glasgow Style”, Glasgow itself did not realise or recognize his talent until after his death in 1928 meaning that although he worked almost exclusively in Glasgow for 20 years, he died predominantly unknown. Attending the Glasgow School of Art, Charles Rennie Mackintosh became part of a group of artists which became globally renowned as “The Four”. Collaborating on designs for things like furniture and illustrations, their imaginative art graphics were known to be some of the most innovative of the time and as a result of their imagination, could be considered relatively unusual and much different from anything else being designed at the time – it was in a world of its own. Although his work did not gain much recognition in his native city to the extent where he departed to live in London, his work was held in much higher regard internationally where countries like Germany and Austria really embraced and admired his pioneering style and he even exhibited in cities like Moscow and Berlin.

Apart from his inventive and original style, what really set Charles Rennie Mackintosh apart was his strong belief that the architect was not just responsible for the exterior of the building, but also for every detail of the interior – rooms were to be a work of art themselves. Consequently, like his architectural style, his furnishings were highly differentiated but still with an elegance and intricacy. While making his work iconic posthumous, it was also for this reason that Charles Rennie Mackintosh was not as greatly respected during his life because many private clients did not have the patience to see his projects through from exterior to interior.

Although Charles Rennie Mackintosh may no longer be with us in person, his work is very much alive and still standing meaning future generations are still able to admire it and be inspired. Read below to discover some of the star attractions on the trail:

Daily Record Building: The former residence of the Daily Record paper up until the late 1930s, the Daily Record Building is often forgotten but is a must-see due to Mackintosh’s ability to bring light and colour into the dimly lit narrow alley.

The Hill House: Once a domestic residence for the famous Glasgow publisher Walter Blackie, this property is now owned by the NTS. This is an example of some of Mackintosh’s most famous interior designs with the pieces still remaining in considerable good condition despite the passing of time. A particular highlight is the inclusion of Mackintosh’s renowned ladder-back chairs as well as the stunning use of decorative glass.

House for an Art Lover: One of Glasgow’s key cultural attractions and a 4 star rated tourism attraction, House for an Art Lover is located just 10 minutes from the city centre. Once an entry for a German competition, Mackintosh’s vision was only fully brought to life in the 1990s and within the attraction you can see the comparison between the original designs and the actual implementation.

The Willow Tea Rooms: Some historical sites cease being used for their purposes in the name of conservation, however The Willow Team Rooms is one of the exceptions to this as to this today it is still serving the purpose for which it was designed – a site in which to enjoy the finest Afternoon Tea. Containing the original doors, windows and mirrors, this is a fan favourite location for local, national and international tourists alike.

The Lighthouse: One of his public commissions, The Lighthouse (which was previously the Glasgow Herald building but is now the Scotland’s Centre for Design and Architecture) is a must-see on the Mackintosh trail not least because it contains a permanent exhibition to the man himself but also because tours of the building can be taken so you can obtain a real insider view of Mackintosh’s work.

Queen’s Cross Church: As the only church designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh, this is definitely a stop for his fans particularly as it is relatively unknown and is therefore a real hidden gem that is located just minutes from the city centre. Now home to the Charles Rennie Mackintosh Society, there is a host of exhibitions and events held throughout the year and so there is always a reason to visit, if not just to admire the beautiful stained glass.

Mackintosh House: He designed some of Glasgow’s most exquisite buildings, but what about the place he called home? A particular highlight of the Mackintosh trail has to be a visit to the splendid recreation of Mackintosh’s home within The Hunterian which contains interiors designed by Mackintosh itself. The recreation considered even the smallest details such as the use of natural light and is a marvellous insight into how Glasgow’s famous son lived.

The Glasgow School of Art: Of course, there is no denying that the star attraction of the trail has be Mackintosh’s master work which was The Glasgow School of Art – his greatest architectural work. Although partly tragically damaged in a fire in 2014, much remains to be explored with award-winning tours being taken that reflect Mackintosh’s journey from student to architecture extraordinaire as well as an permanent visitor centre. Also including the brand new Mackintosh Furniture Gallery, there is no better place to really understand Mackintosh’s inspiration and life.

While a Mackintosh style tour of Glasgow is always an attractive option regardless of the time of year, there is no month better than October because as well as being the month known for giving us an extra hour in bed and many a scare on the 31st, it is also the month of the Mackintosh Festival! The Mackintosh Festival is a month-long celebration of the life and works of Charles Rennie Mackintosh and the celebrations encompass exhibitions, events and tours meaning there is something for everyone whether you are a Mackintosh connoisseur or just looking for a family day trip. For full details of all the excitement taking place see here: http://www.glasgowmackintosh.com/festival.

Therefore, with the October holidays still in full swing, there could not be a better time to visit our apartments in Glasgow this month!

Sources:

http://www.glasgowmackintosh.com/ 

https://peoplemakeglasgow.com/things-to-do/mackintosh

http://www.gsa.ac.uk/visit-gsa/mackintosh-building-tours/charles-rennie-mackintosh/

http://www.crmsociety.com/aboutmackintosh.aspx

Image:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Willow_Tearooms

The Man Behind The Watercolours

One of Bryan Evans' works in our Edinburgh apartments
                                                        One of Bryan Evans’ works in our Edinburgh apartments

With all of our apartments we like to bring a stylish touch to them and to make them feel like a home away from home; which is why we like to incorporate modern and striking art that complements the surroundings and catches the eye. With our brand new apartments being located in Scotland’s capital, of course it was irrefutable that we would bring that Scottish edge to them through the inclusion of tartan rugs and pillows embellished with natural imagery such as deers. However, the ultimate touch that pays homage to the historic yet beautiful city which The Spires is pleased to now call its fourth home, has to be the visually stunning works created by Bryan Evans which now adorn the walls of our Edinburgh apartments. Based in Glasgow and known for creating works which depict the atmosphere of the rainy Glasgow and Edinburgh streets, Bryan’s works could not have stronger ties to Scotland. Therefore, whether you have been fortunate enough to admire his talent in our apartments or at one of his exhibitions, we would like to take a moment to let you come become acquainted with the man behind the art.

Although initially hailing from Pembrokeshire, West Wales, Bryan Evans settled in Glasgow post-graduation due to the passion he found for the city when he engaged in a three-month exchange there while studying for his degree in Fine Art at the Loughborough College of Art. A full-time professional painter and printmaker, Bryan Evans’ work can be typified by a variety of factors. To begin with, although he does produce etchings and mezzotints, he favours the use of watercolours which makes sense when you consider how many of his paintings convey the wet streets of many a Scottish town and city caught in the rain; particularly those of Glasgow and Edinburgh. Although rain is undoubtedly a common feature of day-to-day Scottish life, what particularly enamours Bryan Evans with the Scottish drizzle is the array of colours it allows him to use due to the effect that rain has on light and the reflections it casts. As well as the rain, Bryan Evans is also a fan of the dusk and other favoured subject matters include reflecting people engaging in those ordinary moments of day-to-day life as well as capturing the gloomy atmosphere of dark tenement closes. See some examples of these stunning works here: http://bryanevans.com/reproduction-prints/.

It is quite likely that you will have already encountered Bryan Evan’s works because not only has he been exhibited across the UK, but he has also made it onto the international stage by exhibiting in locations as far away and as exotic as India and the USA. Moreover, while his works speak a thousand words about the strong talent and creativity he has to offer, the fact that the ‘Glasgow Herald’ even once proclaimed him as “The New Scottish Impressionist” just cements the fact. Therefore, we feel extremely grateful to have Bryan’s well-regarded works adorning our walls and I can honestly say here at the office we were all extremely excited when we first saw the prints due to the unique way they bring the Scottish streets and closes to life through their vibrant array of colours and beautiful technique.

Therefore, if you happen to have been fortunate enough to have admired Bryan’s work and want to see more, make sure to check out his dedicated website which includes everything from the exhibitions he is appearing at to his current works: http://bryanevans.com/ .  Alternatively, you can find his work and keep up-to-date with all his news on good old Facebook! https://www.facebook.com/BryanEvansArt. We hope you appreciate and admire his beautiful pieces as much we do.

Information Source: http://bryanevans.com/

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