iPhone apps for visitors to Edinburgh

If you’re an iPhone user, then there are some Edinburgh Apps which you might like to download ready for your visit.

If you’re staying at Craigwell Cottage, you’ll have access to free wi-fi and many of our guests find it helpful for keeping up to date with their emails or booking tickets for events while they’re here.

Edinburgh Apps

Apps for Edinburgh

Edinburgh Spotlight’s iEdinburgh app gives you an insider’s view on places to eat, current events and perennial favourites around Scotland’s capital city – you’ll even find a review of Craigwell Cottage in there.

The new app for Edinburgh Bus and Tram  provides up to the minute information about bus timetables.

If you are looking travel outwith Edinburgh by bus or train then Traveline Scotland is a useful App to download.

Getting last minute tickets at last year’s Edinburgh Festival and Fringe was made more exciting by the Theatre Ninjas app – great if you’re in town and want to take in a show.

And if you’re an Ian Rankin fan and would like to take narrated walks round the Edinburgh featured in his novels, then the Ian Rankin’s Edinburgh app is the one for you.

The Walking Through Time app developed as a joint project between Edinburgh College of Art, University of Edinburgh, and the National Library of Scotland overlays historic maps on present day ones so that you can see historic changes as you walk round the centre of Edinburgh.

Do you have a favourite app for your mobile phone which you’ve used when visiting Edinburgh?  Leave me a comment and I’ll check it out.

Walking from Edinburgh to St Andrews

Thanks to the folks at Informed Edinburgh, I’ve just been reading about of a walking route which follows the trail of ancient pilgrimages from Edinburgh to St Andrews. A book by Cameron Black called ‘The Saint Andrew’s Way – Restoration of a Medieval Pilgrimage’ is due to be released. You can obtain copies by emailing standrewsway@ymail.com

With excellent public transport routes from Edinburgh to Fife, Craigwell Cottage might just be a possible base for walkers who come to Edinburgh to start the walk and intend to walk it in sections. And even a stay at Sandcastle Cottage, our lovely seaside home in Fife, might be an alternative base for those wishing to walk sections of the Fife part of the walk.

I’ve entered the competition to win a guide, but it will be going on my Christmas wish list too! Would be great training for next year’s Edinburgh Moonwalk which I’ll be walking towards during 2011.

St Andrews Cathedral

St Andrews Cathedral

Edinburgh Fringe 2010 Family Reviewers

Dan from Potted Panto with McNaughton Family Reviewers

Our 2edinburgh blog is designed to give a flavour for things to do and places to go when visiting Craigwell Cottage, our little city centre cottage (with parking) right in the heart of the city of Edinburgh.

We occasionally review special events and happenings in Edinburgh, but as a family we’re not able to cover a vast range of different types of event, preferring to focus on little news items about permanent attractions or events which are annual occurrences in the Edinburgh calendar.

This year, our family was given the opportunity to undertake a very special assignment – that of guest reviewers at some Festival Fringe performances on behalf of the review site Edinburgh Spotlight. We were very excited to be asked, and as soon as the Fringe Programme was issued we pored over it working out and planning which shows we would ask to review, and fitting reviews in as best we could with other holiday activities we had planned.

As first time reviewers we really had no idea what we were letting ourselves in for, but the owners of Edinburgh Spotlight were very helpful and patient with us, explaining what would be required. We also opted to go to some shows simply as ‘the audience’ so that we could relax and enjoy them without having to exercise our critical faculties.

Our first reviews of CBBC’s Dan and Jeff in Potted Panto, and the West End Glee Club have now been published, and you can find our other reviews by following the links below We hope you enjoy sharing our experiences.


Sausage & Samosa

Dr Bunhead is Volcano Head

Azincourt performed by Willington School

James Campbell’s Comedy and Song for Kids

Things that go…bump, rattle, klunk, cackle, woo!

Water Babies – Stage Stars Young Actors Company

Fabulous Female A-Capella – In the Pink

Dandelion’s Story – Modl Theatre

Shipwrecked – The Amazing Tale of Louis de Rougemont as told by Himself

Time-Tastical Productions – Dr Austin and Sparks in Space

Indefinite Articles – Pinocchio

Thanks Edinburgh Spotlight for this opportunity to experience so much of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2010.

A wonderful night for a MoonWalk

This is it, girls [and boys in bras], the night we’ve been training for. Edinburgh hosts the 2010 MoonWalk event this evening, raising money for a very good cause.

Saw the tented village in Inverleith Park yesterday.  No doubt a hive of activity this afternoon.  Have the kit all laid out. Costumes will hopefully cover a multitude of sins – hopefully flying the flag is still ok even if it is supposed to be a Mardi Gras theme – Scotch Pancakes anyone?

Weather forecast looks good, and it looks like it will be a settled night, so I’m really looking forward to it, but just a teeny bit nervous, and not coping well with sitting about waiting!

Edinburgh International Film Festival – The Illusionist – Premiere

Festival Theatre Edinburgh 16 June 2010

Festival Theatre

The Edinburgh International Film Festival is now firmly established in the calendar as taking place in mid-June each year. Films are screened in many venues throughout the city, with the focus being on The Filmhouse, but this year the Edinburgh Festival Theatre was the venue for the opening event. A red carpet event earlier in the evening set the scene, but for the general public, the first event of the 2010 Festival was a screening of The Illusionist, an animation directed by Sylvain Chomet.

I had read a preview of the movie, and as the centre piece of the movie is the City of Edinburgh itself, I was eager to go along to see how my home city had been depicted.

I shall leave film critics and reviewers to the technical details and simply say that I loved it. I shall want to see it many times over to catch little details I have missed, and I’m sure that the stills from the film will become popular motifs gracing postcards of the city and used to advertise Scotland as a destination. That sounds like I am belittling them, and this is not the case – they are rich in detail and beautifully drawn, but the nature of animation lends itself to use in that way. I shall buy the DVD as soon as it is released and put it in Craigwell Cottage for my guests.

My ticket for The Illusionist

The Illusionist

This evening as I returned home after the event, I was seeing Edinburgh through different eyes, and I thank M. Chomet for opening up new vistas for me. I wonder when the big curly lampposts disappeared from Princes Street? I caught glimpses of them in the movie and was transported to the Edinburgh of my childhood.  It even made me nostalgic for the Jenners of old – in the days when it was an independent Edinburgh institution.

If you’re thinking about attending the Edinburgh International Film Festival in future years, be sure to take a look at Craigwell Cottage to see if we might suit your requirements for accommodation. We’re within walking distance of The Festival Theatre, and at the opposite end of the city centre from The Filmhouse.

A walk round Arthur’s Seat and Holyrood Park from Craigwell Cottage

A walk round Arthur’s Seat and Holyrood Park from Craigwell Cottage

One of the popular activities for guests who stay at Craigwell Cottage is to take a walk round Arthur’s Seat in Holyrood Park.

views over St Margaret's loch to the forth

If you head for the Scottish Parliament at the end of the Royal Mile, then you can pick up the route from there no matter where you’re staying!

climbing Arthur's Seat

The route is just under 4 miles, and it is quite steep at the start, but you will want to take frequent stops to allow for taking photographs and maybe making little videos, so allow a couple of hours. There are no restrooms on the route, and no shops, so if it is a hot day it would be advisable to take a bottle of water with you and make sure you put on some sunscreen. A good stout pair of walking shoes or trainers (sneakers) should suffice, and after the first mile or so the route follows a tarmac pavement. The ‘off road’ part of the walk is along a rough track which is wide enough for 3 people to walk side by side, but do take care as the ground falls away very steeply beside the path, so don’t get too close to the edge.

To pick up the path in front of Salisbury Crags, keep the Scottish Parliament building to your right, but stay on that side of the road, crossing Queen’s Drive and turning left along the side of the cycle track on the south side of Queen’s Drive. You should see a short flight of steps leading up to the track – turn right there and start your climb. Follow the track until you descend to Queen’s Drive, then follow it round the south side of Arthur’s Seat, passing Duddingston Loch and Dunsapie Loch and then descending to pass St Margaret’s Loch and returning to your starting point near Holyrood Palace.

There are many opportunities for photography, and if you’ve timed your walk to finish in time for “elevenses” or afternoon tea, then we’d be happy to recommend a visit to Hemma Bar, Sugarhouse Sandwiches, Clarinda’s Tearoom or the Queen’s Gallery Cafe.

Planning for the Edinburgh Fringe

2010 Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Launch day 2010

The folks at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, and at Edinburgh Spotlight, have been doing a great job this week raising enthusiasm for the Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2010.

I must confess to having had ‘Fringe Fatigue’ last year (sorry!), and having spent a week of August out of Edinburgh just to escape the hustle and bustle, and because it was a ‘last summer’ for a chapter of our family’s life story (but that’s an entirely different tale).

June 12th saw the launch of the 2010 Edinburgh Festival Fringe programme, and my enthusiasm has returned. In all the rushing about I was doing, I had a moment of quiet reflection about what the Fringe has meant to me over the years, and indeed how I was originally introduced to it by my Dad.

When we were children, Dad worked in a building society and was busy during August with things that building societies did (honest, trustworthy institutions that they were back in the ‘friendly society’ days). But he took time out to take us to the Edinburgh Military Tattoo. A very exciting experience for young children who were used to being tucked up in bed by 8 o’clock. The Edinburgh Military Tattoo was our first experience of outdoor events, spectacle, massed Pipe Bands and usually a scary centrepiece involving gun fire or speeding motor bikes. No matter that we had to be huddled under blankets and even carried back home sleepily afterwards – we’d had great fun, been thrilled and in awe, and even cried when the Lone Piper made us feel what it was to be Scottish.

Edinburgh Military Tattoo

Edinburgh Military Tattoo

Later, as we grew up, Dad would be involved in organising some special days out at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe for us. He loved the challenge of organising a day where we would start at 11.00 am and finish at 11.00 pm and have managed to cram in samples of many different types of entertainment in a day – he’d only have a whole day off every second Saturday, so it was really important to make the most of the day. So we’d start at a children’s show, have lunch with a cabaret or musical event going on round about, take in an exhibition or two if the schedule allowed, see a serious theatre piece in the afternoon, find time for tea somewhere swanky, or unusual, and then off to a Footlights performance or a revue type show and something more risqué in the late evening. We usually managed to cram in around 6 performances in the course of one of these days, and over the years we found our favourites. We’d always have ‘Instant Sunshine‘ (in the Miles Kington days) somewhere on the list, and either the Cambridge Footlights or Oxford Revue, a puppet show and the main exhibitions plus whatever The Scotsman reviews suggested was worth seeing. Was it easier to get tickets in those pre-information-revolution days?

After the rest of the family moved away from Edinburgh for various reasons, I stayed on and by this time was working and living in the city Centre. I’d loved the format of cramming so much into a day so much, that I started working it out for myself. Finding the weekends usually too busy, I’d take a weekday off in each of the three weeks of the Festival – with the bank holiday being a given, so only two more to take out of my annual leave. I continued the pattern of trying to fit around 6 shows in during a day, and of course doing it all ‘on foot’ as the centre of Edinburgh lends itself to that too. Having discovered the power of coloured marker pens and a big piece of paper for planning, I was in stationery heaven. As soon as I got my copy of the Programme, I’d pore over it, marking all the ‘would like to see’s’ and then adding them to a big list and working out how to fit in as many as I could. It seems on reflection that there were more ‘one week runs’ then, rather than shows being on for the duration, so you had to jiggle about sorting through the lists until you had something approaching a plan, and then of course you had to go to the ticket office in person, there being no ‘on-line’ ordering in those heady days.

So here I am in 2010, the Mum now. For the last few years I’ve been taking my own children to the Edinburgh Military Tattoo. They’ve had that late night excitement, and we’ve had our turn going to the pre-school, pre-reading ‘baby’ entertainments. We’re also past the stage where one of the children is ‘too young’ and the other ‘too old’ for the majority of the children’s entertainments. And we’re also excited by the range of things we might experience – all on our doorstep, all within a short bus ride or walking distance. We’ve got our Edinburgh Festival Fringe enthusiasm back – hurray! And with the advent of the Excel Spreadsheet, and on-line ordering, we did lots of planning, sorting and ticket buying from the comfort of our home. We can’t wait for the magic to begin.

Dynamic Earth Visit

As agreed with Lottie and Scottie yesterday, it was to be a trip to Dynamic Earth today. So after our delicious breakfast from The Manna House, it was off up Campbell’s Close to the Royal Mile, then over the road past Canongate Primary School and up to Bull’s Close to find a shortcut through to Dynamic Earth. Plenty of photo opportunities en route as we passed the Scottish Parliament building with its interesting ultra modern facades. Lottie had been watching some kids show on BBC this morning about kids setting rules for their parents and says she’s banning me from taking more than 5 photos a day.
Susan McNaughton
October 2008