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Here I am, Scottish but a UK citizen nonetheless, in the German capital of Berlin attending Stallwächterparty, a political summer party, celebrating Europe and the partnership between the countries that make up the European Union. So how did it feel being part of this prestigious event, representing Scotland, when the country you live in is tangled up in the whole Brexit disaster?

When I received my invitation to attend this years Stallwächterparty from the office of Winfried Kretschmann, the Prime Minister of Baden-Württemberg, I admit I was shocked. Why me? The nerves kicked in. What could I possibly have to offer? Would it be awkward? But most importantly, could I bring anything I’ve learned back to Scotland with me?

Before the start of the parliamentary summer holiday, the federal state of Baden-Württemberg has been organising a summer party, Stallwächterparty (Stable Guard Party), for guests since 1964 within the state parliament building in the diplomatic quarter of Berlin. Over the years, it has developed into one of the most prestigious events in politics. The event allows guests an opportunity to interact with esteemed politicians, business leaders and diplomats as well as journalists and renowned personalities from culture, sport, film and television, all under one roof. 

Each year, a theme is chosen as part of the celebrations and in 2019, it is not surprising that the theme was Europe and its inhabitants. Baden-Württemberg does not only see the European Union as an economic community, but rather a community of shared values and successes that are to be celebrated by people who want to shape a future Europe from within. 

As the only invited representative from Scotland, I made my way to Berlin eager to find out more about this region of Germany, how Scotland is viewed and of course, to experience an event, unlike anything I had ever been to before. 

Ahead of Burns Night on the 25th of January, I spent an evening with Asda, showcasing their high-quality goods from suppliers across Scotland and creating a spectacular Burns Supper for us all using some of these products.

I have a confession to make, up until my Burns Supper dinner with Asda, I had never been to one before. I also couldn’t tell you much about Robert Burns other than the fact my brother shares his birthday with him.

So what happens at Burns Suppers? The whole point of Burns Night is to celebrate the life and work of Robert Burns, Scotlands National Bard. Guests are piped into the dining room and seated then grace is said before the main event.

Our menu for the evening with prepared by Asda’s Head Innovation Chef Mark Richmond and his team who created some delicious recipes to help inspire us in the run-up to Burns Night, using some of the fantastic Scottish products available in store.

2017 seems to have been the year that Glasgow finally started to catch up with the rest of the UK when it came to street food.

With businesses popping up all over the city like Julie’s Kitchen, Ramen Dayo!, Chompsky, Street Food Putter Club and El Perro Negro, it was time that Glasgow had a permanent street food market just like London (Hello KERB, I miss you!).Some of these pop ups have gone on to have permanent homes such as Julie’s Kopitiam in Pollokshaws Road which officially opened today. Go pay her a visit, not because she’s a friend but because her Malaysian food is exceedingly good.

In March this year, Big Feed launched as a joint venture between Street Food Putter Club, Firedog and Charlie Mills Coffee. Running bi-monthly, this was the first real street food market that Glasgow ever saw. Since launching and the initial hiccups pushed aside, it has regularly been a go-to destination for something a little different at the weekends.

Sponsored post in association with American Express®

I’m excited to let you all know that the glitz and glamour of the red carpet is coming to Glasgow next month.

The 61st BFI London Film Festival in partnership with American Express is putting on a special cine-cast of the live red carpet event at the Opening Night gala in London, followed by the European premiere of Breathe. I’ve got my tickets and you could be front and centre of the action too on October 4th 2017 from the comfort of Cineworld on Renfrew Street. Evening gowns and tuxedos are completely optional, but who am I to begrudge some mid-week glamour!

Showcasing the best of British and International filmmaking, the Opening Night gala is the start of a thrilling 12 days of world cinema. Between October 4th and 15th 2017, over 240 feature films will be showcased around various locations in London produced and directed by famous names to emerging talent breaking into the film industry. With thrillers such as ‘Blade Of The Immortal’ to the thought provoking ‘The Breadwinner’, there is a range of films catering to all genres that will surely entertain all audiences.

Ahead of the grand opening of the Tim Hortons flagship U.K. Store in Glasgow tomorrow, I went along last night to learn all things Timmys and get a sneak peek of the new store.

The home of the Double Double and Timbits, Tim Hortons is an infamous Canadian chain which first launched back in 1964, in Hamilton, Ontario by Canadian hockey player Tim Horton. Named after himself, the brand now have 4,500 stores worldwide and the Glasgow store is the first in Europe.

You’ve probably heard of Tim Hortons, been to a store on your travels or you’re Canadian and crave a slice of home. Never heard of it? You must have been living under a rock! Just call them the Canadian version of Starbucks, but better.

It’s no wonder that when it was first announced they were expanding into the UK market, massive social media hype was created within hours, showing no sign of decline. Timmys fans as far away as London and a Canadian expat who lives in the Scottish highlands announced plans to travel for their fix.

But the question on everyone’s lips since it was announced that Tim Hortons would be coming to the UK and where the first location would be was…

Why open Tim Hortons in Glasgow?

It makes a change that a big name like Tim Hortons would choose a Scottish city to announce their presence in the UK. Choosing Glasgow over the Scottish capital Edinburgh is also a win win for my hometown.

Tim Hortons Glasgow UK- Glasgow Mug

I asked the UK Marketing Manager that very question. She stated that they chose Glasgow after research showed it had a large student population and that rent was cheaper than in Central London. The Glaswegian demographic was exactly what they were looking for. Simple.

Where are they opening next?

“Rapid Expansion” has been thrown around in the press but what does that actually mean?

Well England, you will have to wait. Within the next few months, Tim Hortons are hoping to open another store around the wider Glasgow area. After seeing how they perform, they do have plans to eventually open as many as 5 stores in a year. For the mean time, Glasgow is their focus.

Opening Hours?

They officially open from 9am on Friday 2nd June. Thereafter, the Glasgow store will be open from 6am until Midnight 7 days a week. Times aren’t set in stone at the moment and are subject to change. With anything, it depends on the footfall and demand. Many stores in North America are 24hrs so you never know what the future holds.

Now onto the most important question of them all

Is it worth it?

When entering the store at the launch party, tables were adorned with the entire menu line up for our visual inspection. From the Hot Breakfast Sandwich, Grilled Paninis and Soups to their Crispy Chicken Sandwich, there is something savory for everyone. Don’t forget to choose the Combo to add Hash Browns to your breakfast order and Wedges or Kettle Chips to complete your lunch/dinner order.

Tim Hortons Glasgow UK- Soups and Chilli

Hot food is prepared fresh to order, baked and not fried thus resulting in delicious tasting food which isn’t dripping in oil. Much healthier before you move onto sugar overload and the Baked Goods.

While in store yesterday, I tried the Crispy Chicken Sandwich and Potato Wedges with Garlic Dip, Medium Iced Capp. Delicious, although I did end up eyeing up the Steak & Cheese Panini. That’s next on my list. I didn’t try their coffee on the night, however, the coffee Iced Capp is a must try.

Tim Hortons Glasgow UK- Crispy Chicken Combo Meal with Iced Capp

A trip to Tim Hortons is not complete without something sweet. Ah Timbits and Donuts. I’m looking at you Birthday Cake Timbit and Apple Fritter Donut. Addictive. The problem I have with Timbits are that they are that small you can’t have just one. You need to devour at least 3. Perfect excuse to get a box of 10.

Speaking of boxes, UK prices for 10 are £2.49, 20 for £4.49 and 50 for £9.99. Quite reasonable if you ask me. My colleagues were rather ecstatic today when I wondered in with a box of 50 for everyone. After less than 10 minutes, I was left with 5 which now have my name on them. My keyboard may or may not have crumbs from the Apple Fritter Donut I am currently munching on while writing this. It’s hungry work writing about food, that’s my excuse.

 

Pay it forward

One aspect of Tim Hortons that struck a cord with me was their charity work and I hope that they will bring that philosophy with them over in the UK, whether it be supporting local charities or sponsoring a local sport team. Who know what the future will hold but one initiative they will be doing instantly is allowing you to pay it forward with your coffee. With every purchase you make, your receipt is printed with a ‘Share The Love’ section. If you pass your receipt to someone, they will receive a free medium Original Blend hot drink.

Opening Day Rewards

The very first customer to enter the store tomorrow will win a years supply of Original Blend Brewed Coffee, the first 10 will get a years supply of Timbits and the first 100 people in the queue will receive a free combo meal lunch.

Not in the top 100? You aren’t forgotten about

So will you be visiting the store over opening weekend?

Location:

Tim Hortons
Union St (Four Corners)
Glasgow G2 8BT

Opening Hours:

0600-0000 7 Days

 

The Canadian theatrical sensation, Cirque du Soleil recently came to Glasgow. After years of dying to watch them live, I finally had my chance with Cirque du Soleil Varekai at The SSE Hydro.

Never heard of Cirque du Soleil before? They are the largest theatrical producer in the world with dancers,  gymnasts, singers and actors from all over the world competing to earn that coveted spot on one of their 20 worldwide productions. The hiring process is intense, as I discovered while watching a documentary about the troupe and even after months of training, you might still be rejected. After seeing the show for myself, I can see why the auditions are rigorous. 

Cirque du Soleil Varekai- Aerial Swings

Each production has a unique story, and Varekai is based on the Greek myth of Icarus. The show reimagined the story behind Icarus after he flew close to the sun and fell from the sky. Rather than drowning, within the production, Icarus falls into the middle of a forest with exotic creatures surrounding him. 

I have to admit that at times, it was hard to follow the storyline as I was too in awe of the acrobatic performances but even if you get lost, don’t worry. The set design, music, costumes and acrobatics in front of you are a spectacle which will leaving you in utter amazement. 

Cirque du Soleil Varekai- Tenor

Cirque du Soleil Varekai- Cage Dancing

Each act in turn from the Dance Trapeze to the Aerial Straps were superb but the final act of the Russian Swings was like nothing I have ever witnessed before. My stomach was in constant knots and my mouth cranked open in amazement. It was breathtaking watching performers flip, jump and glide in the air, along with jumping onto each others shoulders and from one swing to another.

Cirque du Soleil Varekai- Russian Swings

Definitely one night I shall never forget. 

Have you ever been to a Cirque du Soleil show? If not, you need to make it your mission to watch one of their productions at least once in your life. Varekai did not disappoint, it made me yearn for more. 

Are you a blogger or digital influencer based in or around Glasgow? If you are, Mondays are about to get even better! Today marks the official start to Millennial Mondays at Blythswood Square Hotel. Glasgow’s most renowned address aims to match the youthful personality of the city by encouraging local bloggers, digital influencers and creatives to hang out in the Salon Bar.

As I work full time in the IT Industry, I mainly write all my blog posts in my living room in the evenings or at weekends. The downfall is that you can be easily distracted by life and I don’t know about you, but I find it better blogging in new surroundings, people watching and sipping coffee. That is when Millennial Mondays kicks in.

Every Monday, Blythswood Square Hotel will offer complimentary smoothies, refillable tea and coffees along with pastries within the Salon Bar between 9am-5pm. Along with free wi-fi, this is the perfect location to get your creative juices flowing. If you’re feeling hungry nearer lunch, together with brand partners, ROX you’ll also receive 20% off food in bar between Sunday-Thursday. Trust me when I say the food is worth every penny. I’ve never once had a bad meal here.

Millennial Mondays at Blythswood Square Hotel- Brunch Selection

Last week, I joined bloggers The Everyday Man and Lafotka for a special ‘Millennial Brunch’ to kick-start the new initiative. Bloggers, Digital Influencers and TV Personalities joined forces to celebrate over a rather delightful brunch. From those I spoke to, everyone is loving that Blythswood Square Hotel is at the forefront, engaging with millennials in Scotland. Not something you normally find with 5 star hotels and outside of London.

Millennial Mondays at Blythswood Square Hotel- Hotel Decor

During brunch and catching up with friends, ROX held a prize draw and miraculously, I won! I rarely win anything and I can only thank Lafotka for picking my postcard out of the bag. I’m now the owner of matching earrings and necklace. Now who says Mondays are bad?

Note: Want to be part of Millennial Mondays and spend your day within The Salon Bar? Send your request to @SkapaPR on Twitter and also tag @BlythswoodSq. Once approved, you’ll be given a special card and key ring to enable you to take advantage of Millennial Mondays offers along with being sent exclusive offers unique to millennials.

Street food from around the world will come to Glasgow city centre throughout April and May with Good Food Glasgow

This street food event will take place each Saturday in the Merchant City’s Brunswick Street for six weeks from 16 April and on each Friday in the Broomielaw for six weeks from 22 April.

Colourful street food vehicles from operators in central Scotland will offer everything from burgers, curries, American baking and gourmet sausage rolls to shellfish, fried chicken and vegan baking between 12am – 7pm to bring a taste of the exotic to the streets of Glasgow.

Other culinary delights at Good Food Glasgow include Indian, Korean, Mexican and Scottish street food, as well as home baking, seafood, ice cream, crepes and gluten & dairy-free food.

It’s quite frankly, about time Glasgow had a  street food market and I for one truly welcome this new initiative. We can say goodbye to dodgy burger vans and hello to gourmet trucks providing good quality, healthy food on par with places such as Edinburgh, Manchester and London.

Last summer, Glasgow City Council published a survey asking the people of Glasgow if they wanted to see a dedicated street food area come to the city. After over 2000 responses, Good Food Glasgow has been established in partnership with Scottish Enterprise, City Markets (Glasgow) and the Community Food Fund.

As this is the first of its kind in the city, to begin with, 12 trucks will operate from Brunswick St and 14 at the Broomielaw, and if successful, street food events such as this will return regularly.

Hopefully this will be the beginning of a permanent fixture in the city. There is a demand after all. Now all that is left is to find out what trucks will be appearing and grab my cutlery!

Hungry anyone? Do you welcome this new fixture to the Glasgow dining scene? Do you have a favourite Scottish food truck? Will you be checking it out? Let me know in the comments below!

The BBC Good Food Show Scotland kicked off in sensational style yesterday with Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry doing the honours of cutting the ribbon. I for one was very excited for another year of the best food and drink being showcased in all its glory.

After a hectic first day of doing the circuit around 6 times, feet feeling like they were on fire and wanting my bed by 8pm, I’ve highlighted the best things to do and see throughout the show for the rest of the weekend.

BBC Good Food Show Scotland 2015- Showguide

Do you know someone who deserves a VIP night out? Someone who has gone the extra mile for you or others, whether it’s big or small? Someone who you’d love to treat to an unforgettable night at The SSE Hydro? 

With Clydesdale Bank, you can nominate someone and be in with the chance to win 2 premium seated tickets for you and your nominee to see one of Glasgow’s best acts and have access to the VIP Hydro Club.

Take That Glasgow 2nd May 2015- Dancers

Sounds good?

Definitely! I was lucky enough to watch Take That and Ella Henderson with Clydesdale Bank and felt like a VIP every step of the way. With premium seated tickets, you get incredible unobstructed stage views ensuring you don’t miss a thing.

I’ve loved going to the zoo ever since I was a little kid. I can’t get enough of the animals, in particular, flamingos, lions, chimps, koalas, giraffes and orangutans. One of my most memorable trips was visiting Singapore Zoo with my grandparents when they came to visit. I had a python wrapped around my arms, rode an elephant and joined an orangutan family (I fitted right in with my red hair!). It was fun!

I had never been to a zoo in the UK until I visited Edinburgh Zoo last month for one of their Edinburgh Zoo Nights. This is an adult-only event where you can enjoy street food in a relaxed atmosphere, wander round and see the animals in the early evening along with some life-sized animatronic dinosaurs in their own lost world enclosure. Snazzy! 

Last week I had the pleasure of having Breakfast with Arran Aromatics Brand Director Andrew Russell and Becky White PR at one of my favourite brunch locations, Cafezique, on Hyndland Road. A select group of bloggers were invited to learn more about the company, test some of the most popular fragrances and question the Brand Director over a delicious breakfast.

Arran Aromatics Summer- Cafezique

I have to admit that I did not know much about the company other than the fact they were based in Arran (go figure!) and that they did bath and body products. Other than that, I was blind to how diverse the brand actually was – until now.

Who are they?

It all started when Janet Russell and her husband Iain, a former nurse and policeman, bought a petrol station after they moved to Arran. Within the gift shop attached, they started selling homemade mustard and other condiments. The gift shop side of the business expanded into the Arran Mustard Company and Arran Provisions until it was sold at the toss of a coin in 1986.

Fast forward to 1989, Janet started making soaps and body creams in their kitchen which were inspired by the scents and landscape of Arran, an island they both loved. Arran Aromatics was then born. Their most famous and best selling signature Essential Collection blend – After the Rain – was created 15 years ago to capture the unique, fresh scent of Janet’s garden following an Arran rain storm.

Arran Aromatics Summer- Andrew Russell Brand Director

Fragrance Testing

Brand Director Andrew Russell, the son of Janet and Iain, spoke to us about three popular fragrances Citrus Shores, Eydis and Velvet Isle. The top, base and long lasting notes that each fragrances has and how long it took to develop each of them- approximately two years.

When you first smell Citrus Shores, it is incredibly refreshing and combines the scents of lemon, grapefruit and bergamot along with cassis. Velvet Isle is an evening fragrance with notes of ylang yang, lemon, orange and fig leaf.

As much as I loved those fragrances, my favourite had to be Eydis. With bergamot, citrus, rose and honeysuckle, as soon as I smelt it, I fell in love. So much so that I’ve worn it ever since being introduced. We were lucky enough to be given the three fragrances along with a matching bath and body product to take home with us and they have now become firm staples of mine. 

Arran Aromatics Summer- Eydis

Arran Aromatics Summer- Bath and Body

Fragrance Creation

Talking with Andrew was rather interesting as I know from my own point of view that deciding on a new perfume takes a few seconds. I spray the fragrance and if I do not like the initial smell, I’m instantly put off. When Arran Aromatics create their fragrances, they work closely with a perfumer on a mixing desk to get the perfect notes.

Fragrances are tested in intervals of 1 hour, 6 hours and 24 hours to determine how it develops. This determines how long lasting the fragrance is and helps perfect the initial smell that is make or break in the fragrance world. No matter how much you may like a fragrance, when it goes on your skin, it can smell completely different than on another person. Welcome to the wonderful world of chemistry.

Arran Aromatics Summer- Eydis Fragrance

With half a dozen fragrances under development currently, we were lucky enough to sample two- Citrus Rock and Delightly. My favourite of the two had to be Citrus Rock, as the name suggests its a wonderful combination of citrus and salt. It was very light and fresh. Defiantly a day time fragrance that I could see myself wearing in the future. Of course they are still under development and it will not be until next year that we will probably see them on the shelves.

After all the chat came breakfast. Cafezique is one of my favourite locations for brunch in Glasgow and it did not disappoint. I had a great morning learning more about Arran Aromatics, meeting a few bloggers I never had the pleasure of meeting before and catching up with those I do.

Arran Aromatics Summer- Breakfast

Have you ever used any Arran Aromatics product before? If so, what are your favourites? Let me know!

Note: Thank you to Arran Aromatics and Becky White PR for the invitation.