Double, Double, Toil and Trouble…

The nights are getting darker, there is an escapable chill in the air and the streets are slowly becoming festooned in a trail of leaves. Factor in those comforting mugs of hot cocoa, and you definitely know that Autumn is finally here. This officially means that if you are brave enough to pay the shops a visit, you will now be aware that the jolly man in red and his reindeer friends are on the way. However, while we are undoubtedly excited for all the indulgent food, glittering sparkles and mysterious gifts that Christmas brings, we want to focus on some events that are arriving a little sooner. This is because while nothing is quite comparable to the magic and wonder of Christmas, we like to think that the fiendish fun of Halloween and the spectacular night-time displays of Bonfire Night hold their own in the excitement stakes. When else can you dress up as someone you are not, pig out on all kinds of indulgent candy and see the skies brought to life in an illuminating display of rainbow colours? Therefore, this week we thought we would look at all the family-fun you can experience with us this Autumn and when you consider our super city central locations, you know you are never too far away from all the action.

Aberdeen

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Image: http://www.picturebritain.com/2011/05/crathes-castle-banchory.html

Crathes Castle

Being located in ‘Castle County’ with more castles per acre than anywhere else in the UK, it is safe to say that we are all relatively castle crazy in our Aberdeen HQ. However, you can take this craziness and lunacy to a ghoulish level when you attend the special Halloween ghost tour of Crathes Castle from 28th – 31st October. With dark passageways and walls that hold stories spanning all kinds of decades, where else could be more spookily fitting to spend the holiday? No matter what corner you turn, expect the unexpected and with a ‘warm’ welcome from the castle’s most renowned inhabitant who haunts the halls, the Green lady, you know you are in for a few chills down the spine.

Website: http://www.nts.org.uk/Events/Theme/Halloween-fun/

Haddo House

Halloween is all about mystery and tricks, but that does not mean it always has to be gruesome. Take for instance Halloween Magic at Haddo House where you can be captivated by mesmerising illuminations that bring both ethereal creatures like fairies, and those which are a little more sinister, to life. With stunning woodland grounds which deserve to be admired both during the day and in the mysterious night, it is the perfect setting for a night rich in fairy tales and magic.

Website: http://www.nts.org.uk/Property/Haddo-House/Events/

Codona’s

Complete with bowling, dodgems and an arcade where one can spend many an hour (and your loose change!), Codona’s amusement park is the perfect family friendly trip at it is. However, if you factor in it being bedecked in all kinds of ghostly gruesome decorations and offering traditional party games, then you know there is no where you can get more in the Halloween spirit of things. The only thing not so scary is the special reduced prices Codona’s offering throughout the month of October meaning you can be scared, but for less!

Website: http://codonas.com/sunset-boulevard/smugglers-cove/smugglers-cove-halloween-spook-tacular

Hidden Aberdeen

If there is anything synonymous with Halloween, it is creepy and spine-tingling tours of deserted streets haunted by restless ghosts who want to lure you into their dark and twisted stories. Therefore, if you are the kind of adrenaline junkie who lives for these kinds of scares, Hidden Aberdeen undoubtedly offers a tour which will hit all the spots. With tours focusing on all kinds of morbidly fascinating stories covering murder, bodysnatchers and ghosts, there is a darker history to the buzzing streets of Scotland’s Silver City which deserve to be told and when better to hear them than on this ghostly night?

Website: http://www.hiddenaberdeen.co.uk/

Birmingham

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Image: https://www.cadburyworld.co.uk/whats-on/autumn

Birmingham is the ultimate destination for family friendly fun because due to its convenient location, it is only a short distance away from major UK attractions including Drayton Manor, Warwick Castle, West Midland Safari Park and Cadbury’s World. Fortunately, if these attractions were not exciting enough as it was, they are taking it to a whole new level this Autumn as they fully embody and embrace the ghostly season. Therefore, from horror mazes to all kinds of wicked tricks and treats, there are all kinds of new mischievous fun to be had from the seasonal horror spectaculars on offer.

The National Sea Life Centre

All kinds of mystery and wonder lurk in the dark crevices of the ocean floor and the National Sea Life Centre is certainly playing on this with a Spooky Seas exhibit on display from the 22nd October to the 31st October. From jellyfish to piranhas, not all ghostly forms are to be discovered on dry land!

Website: https://www2.visitsealife.com/birmingham/discover/events/

Black Country Living Museum

One of Birmingham’s most renowned and award-winning museums, there could not be a better setting for some Halloween fun quite like the cobbled streets of the Black Country Living Museum which tells the story of the world’s first industrial landscape. Factor in live street entertainment including magicians and fire-jugglers; actual trick or treating and interaction with all kinds of creepy, crazy characters, it is a sure fire guarantee for a wicked night out! Available between 28th and 31st October.

Website: http://www.bclm.co.uk/events/halloween-nights–sold-out/14.htm

Pumpkin Flotilla at Sarehole Mill

Ghosts, witches, vampires and candy; all are symbols synonymous with the seasonal haunted spirit. However, from infamous Pumpkin Spices Lattes to Pumpkin Pie, who can forget the other main accessory of the season – pumpkins! Therefore, for a more relaxed spooky evening, how about partaking in Birmingham’s only pumpkin flotilla at Sarehole Mill? Occurring between October 28th and October 30th, you can spend the mysterious period of twilight, not gawping at vampires, but being hypnotised by the wondrous sight of gently glowing carved pumpkins floating away down the Mill pond. The complimentary hot chocolate also adds a little something special to the proceedings!

 Website: http://www.birminghammuseums.org.uk/sarehole/whats-on/pumpkin-flotilla

 

Glasgow

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Image: https://peoplemakeglasgow.com/halloween-in-glasgow

Glasgow Horror Festival

Sometimes Halloween is not all about going out, it is also about staying in, turning off the lights, snuggling up in a duvet and then subjecting yourself to a marathon of the scariest and most gruesome movies which guarantee you a night with the lights switched on. Well, with the inaugural Glasgow Horror Festival on 29th October 2016, you can be terrified out of your wits with company as the festival will be 12 hours full of indie movies, live music, industry Q and As and of course some crazy dressing up! If you are really a horror movie buff, make sure not to miss the movie drive-in at the Riverside Museum on the 30th October which is showing classics including Hocus Pocus.

Website: http://www.princeandprincessofwaleshospice.org.uk/event-article/social-events/drive-in-movie

Tennant’s Halloween Brewery Tour

Whether it is Halloween or not, the Tennant’s Brewery tour is always worth a visit just because you cannot say you have fully experienced Scotland until you have learnt the story of one of Scotland’s national drinks. However, the Halloween tours on the 28th/29th October just elevate the invigorating stories to be told because mysterious tales of the brewery are interwoven alongside the provision of Halloween games and nibbles.

Glasgow Science Centre – Halloween Fright Night

While you may be dying to enjoy a spooky pint of Tennants, sometimes with your young ones in tow this may not be a possibility. However, Glasgow is able to provide some family friendly thrills and nowhere is this more clearly evident than at the Glasgow Science Centre’s Halloween Fright Night on 28th October. It is literally one of Scotland’s biggest family friendly Halloween extravaganzas and with a costume catwalk, the chance to concoct your own monster potion, a gruesome live autopsy and the telling of tales of mystery in the planetarium, it is no surprise why all the young ghosts and ghouls congregate here!

Website: http://www.glasgowsciencecentre.org/special-events/frightnight.html

Edinburgh

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Website: https://www.scotsmagazine.com/articles/break-free-from-the-edinburgh-fringe/

Ghost Tours

Just from looking at Edinburgh and its cobbled old streets, you can see that it is a city rooted in a rich history and of course where there is history; there are often dark, sinister stories of murder, mystery, treason and blood. Therefore, regardless of whether you visit Edinburgh at Halloween or not, there is always ample opportunity to have the goose bumps rise on your arms and the chill go down your spine as many attractions including the Edinburgh Dungeons, The Ghost Bus Tour, Mary’s Kings Close and Edinburgh’s renowned ghost walks/murder tours are open for haunting all year round. From bodysnatchers to vampires to witch trials, you can learn all about it whatever month you visit, but of course there could not be a more chillingly fitting time than the night of scares and ghouls itself. Mercat Tours in particular are offering dedicated Halloween tours.

Website: https://www.mercattours.com/

 Condemned, Real Mary’s King Close

Mary’s King Close is rumoured to be one of Scotland’s most haunted grounds as it is, therefore where better to spend Halloween? This is particularly true when you consider how the chilling stories of the underground streets are taken to a whole new terrifying level with the seasonal late night experience of “Condemned”. Witches are an integral part of Halloween due to their dark magic and plotting, and therefore this is why “Condemned” is centred on telling the story of Edinburgh’s witchcraft past.

Website: http://www.realmarykingsclose.com/events/16-02-17/condemned-287898829.aspx

The Real Jekyll and Hyde at Edinburgh Dungeons

While some of Edinburgh’s renowned ghost and murder tours may be a little too much for the young ones, the Edinburgh Dungeons are able to make the dark, gruesome past a little more accessible through invoking some comical relief and interactive guest participation. With the seasonal addition of ‘The Real Jekyll and Hyde’ to generate some extra thrills, there really cannot be a better time to interact with some of the shadiest characters of Edinburgh’s past.

Website: https://www.thedungeons.com/edinburgh/en/explore-the-dungeon/jekyll-and-hyde.aspx

Halloween Trail

Between the Botanic Light event and this creepy Halloween trail occurring between the 15th and 31st of October, there could not be a better time to experience the wonder, beauty and now mystery of the Royal Botanic Gardens. A light-hearted activity perfect for all the family, the trail centres on helping a witch’s cat, Caley, to amass all the necessary plant ingredients to concoct the healing potion for the Garden’s witch.

Website: http://www.rbge.org.uk/whats-on/family-events

Samhuinn Fire Festival 2016

There is no experience quite as immersive as the Samhuinn Fire Festival, a non-ticketed event occurring on 31st October which will send your senses into overdrive due to the dramatic fire, pumping music and captivating street performances that occur. Halloween is all about tradition and this event is no different because it is a Celtic festival all about reliving the pagan tradition of Samhuinn, the celebration that occurred when harvest ended and winter was coming. Beginning on the Royal Mile, this is an amazing spectacle and experience not to be missed!

 Website: https://beltane.org/about-samhuinn/

 

Remember, Remember the Fifth of November…

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Website: http://www.walkersandford.co.uk/festive-firework-displays-guy-fawkes-nights-in-glasgow-november-2012/

However, the night-time spectaculars go beyond the 31st of October, so make sure you stick around! This is because of course who can forget the 5th of November where the skies come to life in a blaze of colour and wonder to celebrate Bonfire night. Fortunately, none of our respective locations are shy when it comes to getting in the seasonal spirit of sparklers and Catherine wheels so make sure to discover where some of the headlining public events are occurring for the best view in the house. From fairgrounds to live music, this is a celebration truly not to be missed!

Birmingham

Edgbaston Stadium Fireworks Spectacular (tickets required)

                        Solihull Round Table Fireworks Display

Glasgow   

Glasgow Green Fireworks (free)

Edinburgh

Fireworks at Meadowbank! (tickets required)

Aberdeen

Aberdeen Beach (free)

“Oh, I do like to be beside the seaside…”

 

 

Nothing epitomises the summer season quite like the visual imagery of soft golden shores; the calming crush of the waves and a cooling ice-cream in one hand. However, you do not have to go somewhere very tropical and exotic to experience this as while the weather can sometimes taint the imagery, Scotland is still home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Aberdeen’s own beach is no exception to this and provides the perfect oasis of tranquility away from the bustling city streets. Whether you want to enjoy a walk close to nature or to engage in some childlike fun, Aberdeen’s beach provides it all and in our latest blog we document all the wonders and entertainment that the beach offers; making for the perfect family weekend when you stay in our serviced apartments:

Codonas Family Amusement Park – a staple part of Aberdonian childhood, there is no resident who has not experienced the thrills and excitement of this family owned amusement park. Hosting everything including an exhilarating rollercoaster; the splash-zone fun of the log flume; the crazy dizziness of the Waltzers and a good ole pirate ship, the amusement park offers every popular ride synonymous with a day at the fair.  Dominating over it all is the Grampian Eye, a massive wheel offering panoramic views of the city – it is definitely the best seat in the house!

Sunset Boulevard – all the excitement is not just found outside however. Therefore, if you are unfortunately at Aberdeen on an off day, there is still plenty of fun to be had at Sunset Boulevard complete with its offering of an inside play park; old-school amusement arcade games and everyone’s favourite rambunctious dodgems to get the heart-rate going. Therefore, make sure you are stocked up on some pennies so as to have the chance to win candy or cuddly toys galore – the perfect mementos of a family trip by the sea. Likewise, if you are looking to engage in a little bit of friendly competition, the bowling alley complete with numerous lanes is the perfect place to see who the leader in the bowling world is.

Adventure Golf – just when you think the beach is not offering enough excitement and thrills, you can further the competitive spirit with a round or two of Adventure Golf. Whether you want to pretend you are a pirate on an exotic island or if you want to traverse through some tropical jungle scenery, there are two different themes differentiating the beach’s adventure golf offering. With both indoor and outdoor courses, it is the perfect activity whatever the weather and perfect for demonstrating who has the potential to be the next Rory Mcllroy.

Water Activities – while so much fun can be found on the soft golden shores collecting pebbles or building sandcastles, there is nothing quite as refreshing as a dip in the North Sea – particularly for the braver among us. In particular, Granite Reef Surf School offers a surf school every weekend so whether you are a novice or consider yourself to be up there with the surfing champs, it caters to all abilities. Also, fear not, you are provided with a wetsuit for those apprehensive about the ‘refreshing’ chill of the North Sea.

Leisure Centre and Ice Rink – not feeling confident enough to brave the infamous chill of the North Sea? Fear not, there is still plenty of opportunity to have fun in the water at the Queen’s Link Leisure Centre offering all kinds of watery thrills includes waves, rapids and four adrenaline-pumping flumes. While still warmer than the North Sea, there is a sauna for additional warmth and relaxation as well as gym equipment for those wanting to give their heart a workout.

However, if you prefer your water frozen, then the ice rink also offers the perfect opportunity for some family fun – as well as a few tumbles!

Dolphins – It is nearly impossible to find someone who cannot be charmed by the pure innocence and beauty of dolphins at play in their natural habitat and with DolphinWatch (31st March to 14th August 2016), you can do just that. With particularly stellar views from the Torry Battery, you can discover stunning panoramic views of the harbour while having RSPB staff to help provide you with information, telescopes and binoculars on Thursdays through Sundays. For some of the best views in Europe of our favourite friends with fins, make sure to check out DolphinWatch when you stay with us – particularly as there are special event weekends.

Balmedie Beach – Of course while there are activities in abundance to engage in, nothing quite beats a tranquil walk along the soft sandy shores to admire the views and to hear the powerful crash of the waves. With cafes and stores lining the promenade selling all kinds of tempting goodies including ice cream or fish and chips to munch on and to complete the seaside sensory experience, it really is the perfect place to stop and bask in the glory of coastal nature. If you want to explore a little further, the award-winning Balmedie Country Park provides the perfect natural beach experience with sand dunes aplenty.

Footdee – while Aberdeen is unmistakably ablaze with city life, you can experience a slightly different perspective of the city by visiting the old fishing village of Footdee, known fondly by the locals as “fittie”. Located at the end of the harbour, Footdee is comprised of two areas of picturesque and idyllic fishing cottages built in two squares. Awash with charm, vibrant colours and well-maintained gardens, Footdee is definitely worth a visit to see where the fishermen used to live and to hide temporarily away from the animation of city life in scenic surroundings.

Sold on a nostalgic family trip to the seaside during the summer months? Our apartments are located only 20 minutes away from the city centre with strong transport links meaning it could not be any easier to spend your weekend hearing the crash of the waves and breathing in the fresh salty air. Book online at www.thespires.co.uk or phone 0845 270 0090 to book your trip today.

 

Images: http://travelbrochures.org/top-8-places-to-visit-in-aberdeen/

Balmedie Beach (3)

http://www.quirkyguide.com/place/footdee-scotland

http://www.codonas.com

 

 

Food for All!

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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

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   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

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  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

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 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

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  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/

Welcome To Royal Deeside

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When people come to visit the UK, it is often due to the desire of exploring the rich historic tapestry that is often associated with the country. Indeed people want to explore the scenic landscape and its historical landmarks that tell the enlightening stories of times long gone. Moreover, it is not just the stories of the past they crave, but also those that interweave tales that involve the monarchy and royalty because after all, who does not wonder what it would be like to to be a majestic ruler? Therefore, it is no surprise that iconic Great British landmarks are comprised of renowned attractions such as Edinburgh Castle, The Royal Mile and Buckingham Palace which are steeped in history with a royal glow. However, when people think of cities like Aberdeen, more often than not they have associations of a corporate destination, as opposed to a place where they could visit for leisure purposes. While Aberdeen is prime business territory, it is clear that it offers much more than that and while The Spires is located only minutes away from the bustling city centre complete with shops and restaurants, it is also important to consider what lies in the other direction – Royal Deeside.

So you may be asking, what makes Deeside so royal? Well, it is the royalty, Queen Victoria in particular, that has made the area so renowned due to it being a popular holiday destination with them both in the long ago Victorian times and even today with Queen Elizabeth. The phrase, “royal seal of approval” certainly applies in this context! A particular royal landmark that particularly cannot go without being missed is the Balmoral Castle seeing as Prince Albert built Balmoral Castle particularly as a retreat for himself and Queen Victoria. Queen Victoria was such a fan of the area, she bought land there and even famously proclaimed “Every year my heart becomes more fixed on this dear paradise“. As a regular holiday destination for the royal family, Royal Deeside is unmistakeably a prime visiting spot for any Royal fanatic. A particular sign of interest to look out for on a trail across the towns and villages that comprise Royal Deeside is the Royal Warrants which symbolises the businesses that are a supplier to the Queen’s household – Ballater in particular is a favourite with businesses from butchers and garages being fortunate enough to have the Warrant bestowed upon them.

A particular highlight of Royal Deeside includes the “Victorian Heritage Trail” which has been a tourist favourite for over 150 years and is where you can even walk in the footsteps of the royalty. Along this trail you will encounter all kinds of quaint, charming and scenic villages and towns such as Banchory, Ballater and Braemar which are in stark contrast to be the fast-paced city life of Aberdeen. Braemar in particular is renowned for its Highland Gathering which is known to be one of Scotland’s best and is a major tourist draw – potentially as it remains a royal favourite.

The other element that makes Royal Deeside so iconic is its absolutely stunning landscape which provides the perfect backdrop for all kinds of activity in nature from walking to cycling to skiing to just pure wildlife watching – it is a tranquil haven away from the bustling streets of the city. While Aberdeen is marked for its sparkling granite skyline, Royal Deeside is renowned for the diversity of its nature and the enchanting atmosphere – from mysterious forests to the gentle tinkle of crystal clear rivers to dramatic mountain faces. Every corner is undeniably a photo opportunity and a chance to escape reality!

From castles including Balmoral, Crathes and Braemar to distilleries to heritage centres, there is so much to found and enjoyed in Royal Deeside whether you are travelling by yourself or with the family. Therefore, when you come to stay with us in Aberdeen, do not feel restricted by the city boundaries – there is so much more to be found on a day trip out of the city; particularly with The Spires sitting at the entrance to Royal Deeside.

To learn more: http://www.visitaberdeen.com/royal-deeside/

                                http://visitroyaldeeside.com/

Image: http://www.lifeofpottering.co.uk/2015/05/the-cairngorms-balmoral-castle.html

#ScotSpirit

What do you think differentiates Scotland from any other destination in the world? Could it be its renowned warm hospitality; its rich historic tapestry; the absolutely jaw-dropping stunning landscapes and scenery (be it dramatic cliff faces or tranquil beach fronts) or the exhilaration and adrenaline-pumping energy of all the adventures that are available from bungee jumping to mountain biking? Whether it is these answers or another, what is resolutely irrefutable is how Scotland is like no other country on Earth – it is truly unique in its appearance, its energy, its character and in its spirit. No other destination can replicate the emotion and wonder to be found in Scotland and what is so pure about it is that once you experience it, it is everlasting and becomes a part of you. Therefore, this is what has culminated in VisitScotland launching its very first global marketing campaign for Scotland – The Spirit of Scotland campaign.

The Spirit of Scotland campaign aims to reflect the amazing potential that Scotland can bring as a holiday destination – in terms of the memorable and exciting experiences it offers. What adds to the campaign is how it reflects the true hospitality and generosity that characterises Scotland by VisitScotland working in association with tourism providers to allow vulnerable and disadvantaged families to have their own memorable Scottish holiday so that they too can benefit from the magic. The campaign is built on the foundation of several prominent spirits which uniquely characterise Scotland and its people, now known as the “Seven Spirits of Scotland” (the seven deadly sins are so old-school):

Warmth – We mean the atmosphere, food and people as opposed to the climate!

Humour – In Scotland, we love to have a laugh (particularly at ourselves) and there is always something amusing going on.

Guts – Participation in some of Scotland’s most daring activities and adventures or even just the indomitable spirit of people overcoming any obstacle and barrier in their way.

Spark – With the 2016 focus year of “Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design”, it is clear for all to see the inspiration that Scotland provides from its unique inventions; its modern architecture and its irreplaceable artwork. Cutting-edge, innovative and creative – there is more to Scotland than just heritage.

Soul – Scotland is renowned the world over for its stunning, idyllic and dramatic landscapes and scenery whether that is beautiful natural wonders; dramatic mountain views or tranquil coastal walks.

Determination – Linking back to the ‘guts’ involved in engaging in some adrenaline-pumping activities or taking on a challenge, it is undeniable that a sense of perseverance and tenacity can sometimes be required on a trip to Scotland.

Fun – What can better characterise Scotland other than fun?! Whether you are visiting one of the myriad of visitor attractions on offer or exploring the streets of one of our bustling cities, a sense of enjoyment and excitement is always lurking around the corner.

What Is Our Chosen Spirit? Warmth

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With everyone getting involved from visitors to tourism providers, we want to take the chance to become an ambassador of this campaign by identifying with one of the “Seven Spirits” and what could be a more appropriate one than Warmth. Having studied abroad and having worked in a diverse workforce, I am very proud to state how if there is one thing that international guests always comment on about Scotland, it is the amazing kindness and generosity that Scottish citizens provide to guests. This was no different than when I worked Front of House at The Spires because we welcomed guests from all corners of the globe and everyone positively commented on just how open and embracing the Scottish people were. Likewise, if there is anything The Spires likes to characterise itself on, it is its warm sense of hospitality and providing a home away from home sensation which emanates through the design of our apartments to the greeting provided by the enthusiastic, passionate faces that await you at reception. Hospitality is so important to us it even forms an integral part of our brand values with “Service”, “Respect” and “Smiles” being key underlying principles. Consequently, wherever our guests come from and for however long they stay, we strive to make sure everyone feel instantly welcomed and at home – no request is too big.

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It is the warmth provided by our staff to our customers throughout their whole stay which encapsulates the true essence of Scotland and while the scenery, landscape and activities make for a wonderful time; it is the hospitality that really completes the experience. When our guests arrive, when they come home after a long day exploring and even when they leave, we strive to have them leave with fond memories of their stay with us and to know that they experienced the best and warmest service available. Regardless of which of our Scottish cities guests stay in, be it the dynamic powerhouse of Glasgow, the breath-taking beauty of Edinburgh or the sparkling silver landscape of Aberdeen, we want them to know the magnificent warmth that typifies our nation as a whole – even if it is not so warm outside! We are so eager to replicate the spirit of Scotland it has acted as a significant form of influence on the design of our newest Edinburgh apartments with Scottish touches playing a role throughout including beautiful artwork designed by a Scottish artist.

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Wanting To Show Your #ScotSpirit?

A crucial element of The Spirit of Scotland campaign is the incorporation of social media. Subsequently, an integral part of the campaign is the use of #ScotSpirit on everyone’s favourite social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to encapsulate everyone’s unique experience in Scotland. Therefore, whether you are visiting us in Scotland or you are lucky enough to live here, make sure to spread the spirit and magic of Scotland by using #ScotSpirit alongside your unique photos and stories – it is time to let the world know just how awesome and amazing our corner of the world is for both holidays and living.

For more information, visit https://www.visitscotland.com/about/uniquely-scottish/scotspirit/

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 

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

The City Built on More than Just Oil

Source: www.offshorewind.biz
Aberdeen

If I were to ask you for the first thing that comes to your mind when you think of Aberdeen, odds are on that “oil” would be your headlining answer. It would not be at all surprising because even as a born and bred Aberdonian, whenever someone asks me to describe my home town, the oil industry tends to be my instant characterisation of the city I call home. It is not possible to separate Aberdeen from the oil industry because the North Sea and its oil supplies are what has put Aberdeen on the national, and indeed the international stages. Nothing epitomises this quite like the fact that Aberdeen is known as the “Oil/Energy Capital of Europe”. Due to the strong inter-relation between Aberdeen and oil, it is undeniable that the predominance of tourism is in relation to business as reflected by the fact that over half of the visits to Aberdeen are linked to business matters.

Consequently, I can fully understand why one may not consider engaging in a leisure trip to Aberdeen. With the strong association of energy corporations and professional services, it is easy to comprehend why someone may think Aberdeen is all work and no play. HOWEVER, there is so much more to Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire. It may be best known for its oil supplies, but there are so many other achievements and accolades that Aberdeen should be on the map for; none of which have anything to do with business but all to do with fun. From the luscious supply of lush green spaces; an abundance of breathtaking castles and all the fun and frolics to be had at the seaside, it is clear that Aberdeen is equally capable of delivering glowing holiday memories and experiences that will last a lifetime.

The Silver City

Practical, easy to maintain and stunning to look at, the eye-catching glistening of the granite walls of Aberdeen are certain to capture your attention and your camera’s lens. Known as the Granity City and the Silver City, Aberdeen’s greyness can easily be attributed to its architecture that was built in the granite days of the Victorian era. Due to the mica that sparkles beautifully in the sun, it is no wonder that Aberdeen’s resplendent architecture is one that you have to stop to admire.

Marischal College  Source: www.canon-fodder-forums.com
Marischal College
Source: http://www.canon-fodder-forums.com

Do I Spot A Castle?

Aberdeen may have alter-egos in the form of the “Silver City” and the “Oil Capital of Europe”, but it also has a rather unknown secret identity that goes by the code name of “Castle Country”. With a collection of over 300 castles and more castles per acre than anywhere else in the UK, there is almost a castle to visit every day of the year meaning more than one trip to Aberdeen is not a choice, but an necessity. Due to the wealth of castles to explore, there is a castle to suit everyone’s tastes. There is the breathtaking dramatics of the haunting cliff-side ruins of Dunnotar Castle or for an idyllic family day, there are also the enchanting gardens that surround the splendour of Crathes Castle. For a more majestic experience, a trip to Balmoral Castle cannot go amiss for it is a favourite with the Royal Family and even is the grand holiday abode of Her Majesty the Queen. Similarly, Craigievar is an almost iconic image for Scotland as due to its ethereal fairy-tale like appearance, adorned with turrets; it is also supposedly responsible for inspiring Walt Disney. An exploration of castles could be your sole reason to visit Aberdeen if you embark on Scotland’s only Castle Trail which will take you through 17 of Aberdeen’s most renowned castles. You could visit all the castles and still desire more because ultimately, there is always a fascinating story to be learnt about Scotland’s captivating history.

Dunnottar Castle  Source: : http://www.uk-pictures.com/dunnottar_castle.html
Dunnottar Castle
Source: : http://www.uk-pictures.com/dunnottar_castle.html

The Grass is Always Greener…

To balance out the stunning (if a little gray) architecture; over a quarter of Aberdeen is actually open space. The fact that Aberdeen has won the Britain in Bloom competition for a record-smashing ten times is only testament to its abundance of sweet-smelling, picturesque parks. Whether you are looking for a tranquil walk in nature or a heart-pumping workout, there is a park to accommodate anyone and each will provide a scenic backdrop to all the action. Each park has its own unique attractions providing the perfect location for a family day trip. If you are looking for rose gardens to admire; a play park to keep the little ones out of trouble or a maze to get them lost in, look no further than Hazlehead Park which also comes armed with a petting corner full of furry friends. Duthie Park and Seaton Park also present the perfect setting for a moment to engage with nature and Duthie Park even has its own winter gardens which is resident to the UK’s largest supply of cacti (a little bit of trivia for you all!). However, if you stay at The Spires and are happening to be looking for a park closer to home, the ethereal Johnston Gardens is also a gorgeous spot for a bit of nature loving as due to its hidden waterfalls and ponds, it is no wonder that it is a favourite for wedding photos.

Johnston Gardens  Source: Wikipedia
Johnston Gardens
Source: Wikipedia

Nature Watch: Aberdeen Style

Parks are not the only natural wonders in Aberdeen. 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. 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 there till mid-August and with dolphins appearing on 90% of 2014’s DolphinWatch days, you cannot miss an opportunity to see such playful fun.

Dolphins in Aberdeen Harbour  Source: www.rspb.org.uk
Dolphins in Aberdeen Harbour
Source: http://www.rspb.org.uk

Golf Anyone?

Golf is a sport synonymous with Aberdeenshire due to its plethora of courses to play on. Residence to over 50 courses, there are courses only a quarter of a mile away from Aberdeen and even more courses located just an hour’s drive away. Therefore, you are certain to find a course you like. Most famous is the Hazlehead No 1 which is rumoured to be one of the best in the North-East and whose claim to fame is that it was designed by Dr Alistair MacKenzie; the man who was responsible for creating the Augusta National course home of the US Masters. It is no surprise that Hazlehead No 1 is a thorough test for those golfing skills! Similarly, history meets golf with The Royal Aberdeen Golf Club being the sixth oldest course in the world and if it was not enough that the course allows for some superior golf playing, it also allows you to play among stunning panoramic views.  Another golf course that is commonly associated with Aberdeen is the splendour of The Trump International Golf Links which has only helped to consolidate Aberdeen as a golf paradise.

Royal Aberdeen Golf Course Source: www.dailyrecord.co.uk
Royal Aberdeen Golf Course
Source: http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk

Those Summer Days Spent by the Seaside…..

We all look fondly back with nostalgia on those good ole days spent on holiday by the sea, splashing about in the sea and munching ravenously on delectable fish & chips. Well, due to Aberdeen’s Fun Beach, you can relive those memories and bring them into the 21st century. Many a day can be spent at the beach between the arcades; mini-golf; tempting restaurants; the amusement park; the leisure pool filled with watery thrills & spills; the ice-rink, the cinema….All this before you even consider the simplicity of just walking along the coast line to bask in the fresh sea air and to feel the warm sand between the toes. It is truly an entertainment hotspot and is certainly one to keep the whole family occupied and the cameras snapping.

Aberdeen Beach Source: VisitScotland
Aberdeen Beach
Source: VisitScotland

Journey to the Past

The beach borders on another prime Aberdonian attraction: Footdee (or fondly known as Fittie by Aberdonians). The words charming, quaint and idyllic certainly come to mind but how could they not considering Footdee is a well-conserved fishing village where you are free to walk around and bask in the tranquility of life by the seaside. It is truly a walk back to the past and is in stark contrast to the modernity of the city centre that is only minutes away. Similarly, due to Aberdeen’s strong maritime links, of course there has to be a museum to document the bond between Aberdeen & the Sea; something which The Maritime Museum spectacularly manages to convey in its award-winning displays.

 

Footdee  Source: TripAdvisor
Footdee
Source: TripAdvisor

History in the Walls

History could not be any more present in the city than in Old Aberdeen where you are able to find a 15th century college and a medieval bridge and cathedral. Aberdeen was once its own independent town between 1489 and 1891, however to this day its historical beauty still remains and you can feel the rich heritage emanating through the walls. Popular sites on the two-hour journey to the past include the King’s College (which is now a part of the University of Aberdeen) as well as St. Machar’s Cathderal and the Brig o’ Balgownie. Traverse the cobbled streets and breathe in the smell of the past, it is truly a unique and beautiful trail to follow which shows how there is more to Aberdeen’s history than just the sea.

St. Machar's Cathedral Source: http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/2636881
St. Machar’s Cathedral
Source: http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/2636881

The Water of Life

It goes without saying that a visit to Aberdeenshire is not complete without a visit to a distillery. Scotland is home to the only whisky trail in the world, in Speyside, where you will be able to find more than half of Scotland’s malt whisky distilleries each possessing their own unique recipes and history. From Glenfiddich to Glenlivet to Cardhu, these are the famous whiskies we all know, and can be found on this illustrious trail.

However, you do not have to look as far as Speyside to find a fully-functioning distillery; reminding you how Aberdeen is in a prime location to engage in all aspects of Scottish culture. There are eight distilleries only an hour from Aberdeen which may be smaller in scale, but still have their own exciting story to tell and unique whisky recipe to taste. Fettercairn, Knockdhu and Glen Garioch are some of the names featured and of the eight overall distilleries; at least half of them do have visitor centres making for a perfect day-trip from Aberdeen.

City Life

Aberdeen may have 8,000 years of stories to tell, but that does not stop it from being a bustling modern 21st century city. There is always a whole host of the biggest names gracing the stages of the AECC, the Music Hall, the Lemon Tree and His Majesty’s Theatre. However, if it is Hollywood calling you, then there are three major cinemas to keep you up-to-date as well as the artsy Belmont Cinema which shows a more international & indie selection of films. With all the latest brands in the shopping and food plaza hotspots of Union Square, Bon Accord Centre, Trinity Centre, St. Nicholas Centre and The Academy, your wallet will not be short of exercise and that is before you even consider the retail parks. However, if it is the mind you want to exercise, then the likes of the Tolbooth Museum & the Aberdeen Art Gallery should be enough to engage the brain. Other cultural activities include the plentiful supply of festivals that take place, including the Aberdeen Festival Collective which features prime events such as the Aberdeen Jazz Festival, Techfest & Aberdeen International Youth Festival among other.

His Majesty's Theatre Source: www.rosemountaberdeen.co.uk
His Majesty’s Theatre
Source: http://www.rosemountaberdeen.co.uk

If you have managed to reach the end of this rather extensive city guide to Aberdeen, then I hope that you are in no doubt that it is a lie to say Aberdeen is for business tourists only. Aberdeen opens its arms to everyone, as does The Spires, and so whether you do come for business or leisure, we look forward to giving you a warm Aberdonian welcome.

Sources:

http://www.visitscotland.com/

http://www.visitaberdeen.com/

http://aberdeen.stv.tv/articles/317594-dolphinwatch-was-launched-at-aberdeens-torry-battery-on-friday-april-17/

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/the-granite-city-thats-made-of-stronger-stuff-10264270.html