Newhaverin Leith and life


Leith pilots The Good Gym

I learned about The Good Gym from my friend James and I was immediately very excited about the idea and was convinced it would blow up in Edinburgh. So, after writing to The Good Gym to find out when and how they might expand (with the intention of trying to convince them expansion should start in Edinburgh) they wrote back with a guide to organising a group run in order to get a feel for the interest in Edinburgh for regular Good Gym events.

The original Good Gym model pairs people in communities who like to run or jog with less mobile and isolated people so the runner can deliver something nice to the less mobile person, have a chat then jog away. Not only does this help give support and companionship to the isolated person but it also gives the runner the motivation to keep a regular running schedule. As our initial go in Leith is just a pilot we can't get into the work of carrying out criminal record checks and pairing strangers so a group run pilot, as per Good Gym guidance, is just the ticket.

So, after a little while thinking about how all this might go down I got in touch with local personal trainer Tracy Griffen and local green champion and hyperlocal journalist Ally Tibbitt to kick things off. Ally has helped us by organising a community activity to which the group will run and sourcing some soup for after and Tracy has set out a short running route around Leith Links that is suitable for all skill levels. Tracy will lead the run with more experienced runners and I'll be bringing up the rear keeping a slower pace for those who would rather have a brisk walk or light jog. All the details you need to join are below but don't hesitate to get in touch with me here if you have any questions. Please spread the word!!

This is what is happening

We are piloting The Good Gym in Leith. This means we gather as a group and go for a short run/jog and the destination is to something that benefits our community. It's keeping fit and doing good all in one go. The run is for all abilities, even for folk who would rather just have a brisk walk. After the run you can take part in either a tree pruning session led by professional gardener Ben Dell as part of the Botanic Garden's Edible Gardening Project or helping to move trees, plant bulbs and pick up litter in the Children's Orchard. There are limited spaces on the tree pruning session so please register your interest on the Greener Leith Social.

Where and when to meet

We are meeting at the Leith Franklin Cricket Club clubouse on Leith Links at 10am on Saturday February 11th. The clubhouse is at the Seafield end of Leith Links near the bowling club and the allotments. Bring warm and waterproof or water resistant gear and water. I'll have a backpack so if you don't want to wear, carry or leave your gear on the ground I'll schlep it around for you!

There's soup!

Out of the Blue cafe is generously providing soup to those of us who last until about noon. How cool is that?

Spread the word and get in touch with me if you need anything. If the pilot is popular we will look at how we can organise regular Good Gym events. It would be great to get your ideas of how future events could be run and what they could feature.



Breaking bread

Secret supper clubs. They're just a good idea. What's not to like? You sign up, you're contacted with an address and a menu, show up with wine in hand and eat in a stranger's house with other strangers. Secret supper clubs have all the attributes of what I consider a damn good time- food, booze and meeting new people.

Last night I had my first experience with a secret supper club in Edinburgh, Aoife Behan's My Home Supper Club. Named Molecular Spectacular, the night promised good food fashioned by a mad scientist and the results were fantastic. We were warmly welcomed into a big beautiful flat with a delicious glass of fruity vodka topped with a layer of dry ice fog and it wasn't long until the food started coming. Soft and crunchy balls of cheese and toast, delicate balls of liquor shots, fresh Vietnamese broth into which I injected noodles from a syringe, slow cooked beef with frozen horseradish and frozen beetroot and the hugest array of moulded jellies I've ever seen in my life. Everything was so delicious and the mysterious nature of some of the dishes made for great conversation around the table. Now, I don't have much in common with a table full of City bankers but the atmosphere and the reason for us being together in the first place meant I could have been at a table of train conductors and it would have been cool.

I'm also really impressed with Aoife's (and any supper club host's) willingness to open their home to strangers on a regular basis. The neurotic in me wonders about safety and insurance issues but hosting like this is the ultimate in humanity. It's good to know blind appreciation and trust of people is alive and well.

I'm really looking forward to doing it all again and I'm collecting local supper clubs on Twitter to keep up with the news. Follow Aoife @myhomesupper, The Crescent @CrescentDining, Meena Bahna @ChaiLounge77 for starters and I hope to see you around the table soon.


What I learned at Leith Festival Gala Day

What the fuck?After seeing a shout out on Leith Festival's Facebook for Gala Day volunteers I was on it like white on rice. I'm a morning person so a 7am- 11am shift sounded like the best way to start the day and it was really busy. I got to show stallholders driving in to their pitches, put bin liners in giant bins and was bundled into the back of a pitch dark van and driven to a secret location by an incredibly lively man called Robin. I also met one of Leith's most famous dogs, Brodie, who knows he's special so my offers of love only got a dismissive sniff. I saw a lot of things, met a lot of people and learned some things too.

  • Perspective. Get it. The first performer on the Gala stage was a young man who played acoustic guitar and sang with the most incredible voice about his time being homeless in Edinburgh and getting sober with the help of Bethany Christian Trust. It was all I could do to keep from dissolving in a heap of tears in the middle of the Links. He was so honest and so talented. That man had been through things I can't imagine and hope never to imagine and came out the other end to share himself with me and all the other people there watching him. If anyone knows his name please let me know.
  • Healthy food at a Gala Day in Leith is possible. Behold the amazing Ziggy's Really Good Food, a mobile catering outfit headed up by Lorna and Matthew. All vegetarian and all beautiful (including Matthew and Lorna themselves!) this van served up amazing sushi rolls, veggie burgers, homemade hummus and peanut butter and pizzas. A welcome alternative to beef burgers, chips and hotdogs (what is IN those things?) Ziggy's has just scored a permanent place on the Meadows so why not stop by and support the cause?
  • Local craftspeople rule. I met ladies who teach others to knit, an older couple who make jams and chutneys and travel around with their dogs in the boot and the women behind Seventeen Nineteen who sold me my favourite new accessory, a pin made of Scrabble pieces reading WTF. Right up my street.
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Arigatou gozaimasu, cowboy

Come on in, partner

Thanks to Edinburgh Spotlight's re-posting about a crazy ass wild west lane in Morningside, I made a trip to see Springvalley Gardens in Morningside with my friend Cate yesterday. We were giggling like school girls the entire time because it's such a jem of a place. It's much smaller than I expected (I think because Edinburgh Spotlight's photos are so good) but it is indeed there, home to some functioning business. It was great to feel like I got dropped in the middle of Tombstone yet have a sense of place by looking up and seeing Edinburgh chimneys on the horizon. Yesterday also saw my first ever trip to Waitrose and I had a whale of a time there too.

Dragon roll

On our way back down Leith way, Cate and I got off the bus at Forest Road looking for a place to eat and discovered there's all of a sudden a Japanese restaurant where Monster Mash used to be. Cate, who works across the road from this place, swore it wasn't there last week. It was Koyama's first night open and they were offering 20% off in exchange for feedback. Well, I never turn down a chance to give feedback or take money off a bill so we went for it. It was such a good decision because the food was fantastic and the staff were so nice. On the down side the place was a bit cold and I couldn't help but feel a little creeped out what with remnants of Monster Mash all over the place- their beer, a left over sidewalk sign and the same black and white paint job. What exactly happened here? Where did this place come from and why did Monster Mash leave is such a hurry? Our feedback, however, was positive and Cate suggested they offer lower prices for lunch. I'm not sure they were into that idea and couldn't seem to understand why £15 wasn't reasonable for lunch so in the meantime I recommend checking out Koyama for a footloose and fancy free dinner out sometime soon.

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Ever wanted to stand at the top of the Forth Road Bridge?

My friend Martin Gallacher is convener of Queensferry and District Community Council's Forth Replacement Crossing sub-committee (say that three times fast) and, since I got very excited about photos on his Facebook of him up the top of the bridge, passes me up to the minute information about tours of the bridge. So now I'm passing the info on to you.

Ever wanted to get up to the top of the Forth Road Bridge? Well now is your chance. In the next couple of weeks the Bridge will be auctioning off trips to the bridge tower on eBay. I'm a little queasy thinking about it but imagine the thrill of standing near the top of the bridge and looking down. Imagine the's terrifying me and I'm just sitting in my living room!


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