A Few Favourites from Edinburgh’s #GiraffeAboutTown Art Trail

If you’ve been out and about in Edinburgh over the past month, you’ve probably noticed a few tall, brightly-coloured additions to the city’s streets. Wild in Art and Edinburgh Zoo have teamed up to bring a herd of forty-odd giraffe sculptures (plus thirty more wee ones designed by schools and local communities) to Edinburgh. Some are wacky, others whimsical. All of them have brought a smile to my face. I’ve had oodles of fun scouting out Edinburgh’s newest residents on recent trips into town, and today I’m going to share a few of my favourites (in no particular order).

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Puffin-Spotting at the Isle of May National Nature Reserve

Puffins are, quite possibly, the most endearing species of bird – and the Isle of May National Nature Reserve is home to thousands of them. 46,000 pairs, in fact, according to the sheet on display on the island. (And if for some bizarre reason puffins aren’t your thing, there are plenty of other seabirds to see.)

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Pentland Hills Regional Park: Hare Hill via Loganlea Reservoir and Maiden’s Cleugh

Hare Hill is, for me at least, the jewel in the Pentland Hills Regional Park’s crown. We’ve hiked up it in March, September, February and June (in that order, since moving to Bonnie Scotland), and have done a mixture of out-and-backs and longer loops.

Rewind to June, and the Platinum Jubilee bank holiday. (However you feel about the Royal Family, a four-day weekend is always a good idea in my books.) Previous bank holiday outings have tended to fall into one of two camps on the weather front: overcast with optional drizzle and/or downpours, or stonking hot. Mercifully, this particular bank holiday was a happy midpoint: glorious sunshine and definitely t-shirt weather, but not so hot that we felt in danger of melting into a puddle.

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Oaty Lemon Squares | Carrés Citron-Avoine

[veuillez défiler vers le bas pour la version française]. For one reason or another, I’ve not posted a recipe for almost two years. During one of the lockdowns (I’ve not a clue which), I stumbled upon a recipe for creamy lemon crumble bars. Think baked cheesecake and traditional fruit crumble rolled into one bite-sized bar. Delicious. I’ve been tinkering with it on and off for the past year, experimenting with other flavours (see the tips section) along the way, and here’s the result: a tasty, tangy-but-sweet treat that’s ideal as a lunchbox snack and wouldn’t look out of place at an afternoon tea. Bon appétit!

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Loch Rannoch and Glen Lyon: A Weekend of Cycling and Munro-Bagging

Although I spent a fair chunk of the Easter break penning the penultimate assignment for my PGDE (I can’t even begin to tell you how relieved I was to see the back of that particular one), there was still plenty of time for exploring. We opted for the area around Loch Rannoch and Glen Lyon, and while it’s impossible to see everything this area has to offer in the space of a few days, you’re sure to leave wanting more. (I don’t know about you, but I’d far rather a trip ended on that note.) Here’s what we got up to…

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An A-Z of the PGDE

While I was living out in Lyon, my oldest friend was doing her PGCE. She likened it to a year-long driving test – and that analogy rang true for me when I did my PGDE (the Scottish equivalent of the PGCE) this year.

You see, while you’re training there’s always a colleague at the back of the room – just like there’s always someone in the passenger seat accompanying a learner driver. They observe you in action, and provide feedback to help you hone your skills. You reflect on how your lesson went (some will be total car-crashes, others will feel more like a trip in Mr Weasley’s Flying Ford Anglia) and identify which aspect(s) of your practice you need to work on. Little by little, you gain confidence and competence behind the wheel (or stood in front of thirty-odd teenagers, as the case may be).

And then, just like that, the course finishes. Placement 3, done and dusted. The last assignments submitted. You pass. Next time you stand up in front of a class, there’ll be no one* observing you day in day out (which is both exciting and terrifying).

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Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park: Ben Venue

Living in Edinburgh, we’re fortunate that there are oodles of green spaces that are easily day trip-able: the Pentland Hills Regional Park, Lomond Hills Regional Park and Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park are all within an hour or so’s drive. Today, I’m going to take you on a virtual tour up Ben Venue to give you a taster of Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park.

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Pentland Hills Regional Park: Hare Hill via Green Cleugh and Threipmuir Reservoir

Hare Hill is one of my favourite spots in the Pentland Hills Regional Park*. Gorgeous views? You bet. Easy to get to? Very much so. But the best bit about Hare Hill is its flexibility. If you want a straightforward out-and-back that’s an option, but I much prefer a circular route – and that’s where Hare Hill comes into its element as there are plenty of options. I’ve got a couple of routes to share (stay tuned for the second… it’s in the works!). First up: Hare Hill via Green Cleugh and Threipmuir Reservoir.

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Scotland in Miniature: 5 Days on the Isle of Arran

The Isle of Arran is often referred to as “Scotland in Miniature”, and for good reason. The Highland Boundary Fault runs right through the middle of it, splitting the island into two distinct landscapes: the quintessentially rolling hills of the Scottish Lowlands in the south, and the dramatic mountains and glens akin to those in the Scottish Highlands in the north.

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Pentland Hills Regional Park: Caerketton Hill and Allermuir Hill

Whoops. This blog post has been lingering in my drafts folder for a solid couple of months. Truth be told, it slipped down the to-do list (and then off it altogether) as soon as my final placement came around. After an evening spent typing up lesson plans and creating resources, the last thing I fancied doing was spending yet more time in front of a screen sifting through photos and writing blog posts. I finished my PGDE last week – and naturally, as soon as the last assignment was complete, Covid struck. (Cue: the weirdest sleep patterns I’ve ever experienced and a cough that is in no hurry to leave.) On the upside, I’ve got a whole summer to unwind and catch up on the blog posts that fell by the wayside over the past few months.

When I’m after a short hike, the loop from Swanston up to Caerketton Hill and Allermuir Hill is my go-to. Why? There’s a decent path (we’ll put the large bog between the two hills to one side for now; it’s not an issue in winter). From the top, there are expansive views across Edinburgh and the Firth of Forth. Plus, the slopes are home to some adorable Highland coos.

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