Newhaverin Leith and life


The best little book group in Embra

Many moons ago I started a book group with my friend Kirsty. We decided to start the group because we wanted to read more and get to know about books we would not usually pick up. After putting an advert up on Gumtree we gathered a group of ladies who have become good friends and reading companions years later.

We are still on the go and if you want to come along sometime just get in touch with me. We are not meeting over July and August because of holidays but in preparation for meeting up again in September we are reading two books: The Psycopath Test by Jon Ronson and Annabel by Kathleen Winter. Get reading and get in touch to find out the date of the next meeting.

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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.

Filed under: Around town, Food! 2 Comments

Lunch with The New Brains Trust

I've made a semi-firm arrangement with my friend David to have a monthy lingering lunch at which we'll eat posher than usual food and get deep. Our first lunch a few months back was to discuss how David could promote his new book, Singular (it's just won runner up in the science fiction category at the San Francisco Book Festival- well worth a read) and our second lunch was to talk about how local government can use social media. Our third lunch was yesterday at Wedgewood on the High Street where we enjoyed rich bijou portions and discussed female pedophiles, widespread injustice at work, disagreed about whether or not arms of a corporation should be allowed to have their own identities and dropped a few F bombs along the way. Well I dropped a few F bombs. David wouldn't lower himself to that.

So, our take on female pedophiles? They're not like male pedophiles. Injustice at work? Lunatics running the asylum. Identity within a corporation? Me: arms of a corporation should be allowed to have their own identity if it's a response to the needs of their specific customer base. David: Everything must be consistent (the same) over a corporation to be in keeping with an image and to make monitoring performance straightforward. Maybe David's really a robot... Get David's take on our lunch by visiting his website.

David and I would like to put your world to right. Is there something you'd like us, The New Brains Trust, to address at our next lunch? Do send in your questions, issues, conundrums or hot topics and we'll blog it out for you after we've met.

Filed under: Food! 2 Comments

Me as DJ? Getting in at Leith FM

I went along to a volunteer night at Leith FM last night and it's all very exciting. I have the great pleasure of working in my day job with two of Leith FM's best DJs and presenters, Claton P (Soul Stream, Saturday nights 8-10) and Ralph MacGillivray (Music Routes, Sunday afternoons 2-4) and it was fantastic to see behind the scenes at the station and meet lots of people, including Momo, the incredibly enthusiastic and knowledgeable station manager.

Leith FM has a constant stream of notes of interest from people to volunteer at the station and last night was an opportunity for volunteers to tell Leith FM what their interests are, what they can offer the station and to be buddied up with a presenter to learn the ropes. I was glad to see how encouraging everyone at the station is to get volunteers involved and even get people broadcasting in a pretty short time.

I've been buddied with Clayton P to pitch in during his Soul Stream programme and I'm hoping I can bring something different to his weekly show by sneaking in some current rap, hip hop and general good time Saturday night tunes. I'm not sure when I'll be starting but I'll keep you up to date here.

Leith FM is an amazing local radio station with an enormous work force of volunteers helping from everything from admin to presenting shows. I'm really proud to be welcomed in there and here's hoping I can learn how to work that board with all the dials and buttons.

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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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Spinning- it’s not just for athletes. Trust me.

Scotland's only Spinning gym, LifesCycle, is in Newhaven and it's the place to be for anyone who wants to get something new into their fitness regime.

Spinning is pretty intense indoor cycling but it's not just for athletes, competitive cyclists or very thin people and I know this because I spin and I'm none of those things. You can burn a massive amount of calories in an hour (800-1000) and, although you're in a room with lots of other people, you are working alone and can keep your workout at your own level.

If you're interested in trying Spinning you can book classes with LifesCycle through their website. First timers should check out a special event they are having June 4th where sessions won't be to recorded music but to percussionist Pepe Santamaria. What? Wild.

If you want to check out Spinning but you're feeling a little apprehensive about it get in touch with me and we can go together.

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Social Innovation Camp- Edinburgh 2011

Are you a geek? Artist?I spent a fantastic couple of hours last night at a taster session for Edinburgh's upcoming Social Innovation Camp in mid-June. Social Innovation Camp brings together friends and strangers to develop an idea that uses technology to meet a social need, 'matching technical skill with social need.' Ideas for developing at the two day camp in June are due Friday and I am collaborating with two work colleagues to submit an application for something that will allow people and their carers (formal and informal) to get help with last minute or small tasks like picking up milk or changing a light bulb. I think it's a fantastic idea that could be useful to carers of all sorts all over the country and we just need to pitch it right!

What do you think of the idea? Can you see people using this? Would there be any problems?

Check out our team's submission on the Social Innovation website.

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Thanks for having me

I'm excited to be taking part in The Leither magazine's community blogs project and thank you for having me. I'll be telling you about what I'm up to in my adopted community, Leith, and I hope to make connections with whoever it is stopping by to hear what I have to say. Talk to you soon!

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