PRINT ON DEMAND PASSIVE INCOME

Congratulations, I made my three sales on Red Bubble and a few sales of cards and a t shirt on Zazzle after 5 weeks, pretty pleased with myself..its been one heck of a learning curve. I was only paid a small commission but it’s a start.

As a former contributor of photographs onShutterstock, istock, Alamy and Pond 5, I feel that I have a reasonable idea of different online platforms. However the world of T shirts is a whole new ball game and Covid 19 threw up a few interesting challenges. Postal deliveries being the biggest problem of all. No air freight, factories closing down, staff sent home, deliveries taking up to 5 weeks..

Undeterred I still ploughed on creating my first online store.

I decided to set up an Etsy store, wasting oodles of time creating a store front, banners, designing logo etc. I used Canva pro trial for creating banners and logo, its an amazing site and great fun to play around with. I particularly like the way you can easily resize designs, great for uploading to print on demand and it allows you to have transparent backgrounds. www.canva.com

Before stepping into the world of creating an online store, read as much as you can. Understand the fees systems, they can be confusing.

Etsy is an online platform that allows you to set up online stores and list your products. You pay Etsy fees and they promote everyone products under the Etsy Banner. It is a well established company that started in 2005. BMR business statistics says that in 2019 Etsy had 2.69 million sellers, pretty impressive. This was the formula I was following or attempting to follow. It looked so simple in my diagram. I decided on Option 1. To create an Etsy store.

As a UK resident the more I looked into the fee costs, the more alarmed I became. Why?

Tax and postage – In America any tax on clothes is very low, some USA states say that clothes are essential and have no tax.  In the UK and Europe the sales tax is known as Value Added Tax, VAT for short. 20% is the current vat on clothes, which you have to factor into your equations. Let me show you:

I order a t shirt from Printify. It costs me £9.97. The Vat is £2.62, the shipping is £3.15. Total is £15.74. It may not sound like much but my £2.62 vat is not going to help me be competitive against USA sellers.  However that was the least of my problems. I first had to set up a “shop” to sell my super cool, desirable t shirts, clocks and mugs. 

Print Demand
Print on demand products Clocks, mugs and t shirts. promoted on Pinterest.

FIRST CARDINAL MISTAKE

I confidently bought a domain name and then set up an Etsy store only to discover that someone was already using that name. I could not use the same name, even though I have the dot.com website.. my first disaster. $$$$$$$$$

After using my YouTube name, I started again on Etsy and listed my photograph prints via Printify. Etsy wanted me to offer customers free postage but I hadn’t sold anything yet and wasn’t 100% sure what I was doing, even after watching all their online tutorials and loads of you tube videos.

The one thing I did learn was that the fees and charges from Etsy were going to massively impact on my profit margin. After spending hours designing shop banners, I then choose Printify as my print on demand company.

They will integrate with your Etsy store. What does that mean?

Integration means  I create a product online, post the product in an online store and when someone orders, Printful handle everything. The production, the packaging, the invoicing, the delivery. The downside to this is that Printful get all the customer details, contacts and emails. 

My Etsy store looks okay. However, Etsy want to charge a fee to list a product, a fee to renew the listing, a transaction fee of 5% of product price. A shipping transaction fee, and a credit card transaction fee charge. Whoa, does anyone make much money after all those fees. 

 My shop looked distinctly uncomfortable. Even If I had 2000 followers on instagram, could I persuade 1/3 of them to buy a t shirt and make this profitable…..No.. what about convincing my YouTube followers to buy one of my T shirts…This is a lot of work for not much return…put on pause button. 

Step forward Print on Demand with their own market place.

Red Bubble, Zazzle and Teespring. What’s different?

Red Bubble is a global Australian company, set up in 2006 and Zazzle is a American based global company set up in 2005. Red Bubble allow you to put your designs on t shirts, shower curtains, posters, stationery, baby clothes. I get to mark up a commission of my choosing on anything I design but I don’t need a shop.

I simply use their shop.

Phew. No more worrying about Digital tax, postage charges, credit card fraud….this is much easier. Just upload a design, tag, choose multiple products, edit size and voila. It even lets you add text to your design and has some cool backgrounds for you to add too. 

Got my fist sale yesterday! Two facemasks sold to someone in Florida..yippee.

On a Roll. I sign up for multiple sites. 

Zazzle, this is the queen of stationery stores for weddings, graduations, thank you cards. It’s unique aspect is that you can personalise anything. Want to put a photo of wee Fraser on a Christmas bauble, no problem. Zazzle is for you. Want to put a photo of the bride to be on her hen party t shirts, no problem Zazzle is for you. Click here to start making christmas gifts. 

 

 

 

The Negatives of Zazzle…

As a designer, it’s time consuming and very competitive. The % mark up on cards is low for designers and their interface is not the simplest. RedBubble is much easier. Also once you get someone to land on your Zazzle page they are immediately shown banners for EBAY and other zazzle designers, potentially taking away customers from your collections…most annoying. Zazzle is rather overpriced and constantly do promotions. Never pay full price, wait a few days you will no doubt get a 20% off whole site or 40% off cards.

TEESPRING

Teespring I love. I go mad on Teespring and make crazy demonic t shirts and hoodies, I blame the hormones and lockdown. I am still waiting on a sale even though I spent £7 on Pinterest ads and got 67 clicks to the products I had made.

Teespring Lion head tee
I don’t like losing roaring lion t shirt. Ideal for gamers.

Teespring have an analytics page that let you see if your products are being visited.  As you can see people are looking at my designs but they are so awful, no one is buying. I am hoping they become collectible in their awfulness. You can get one by clicking green text….Pleeese..

Teespring let you add your own mark up…don’t be too greedy or you will not be competitive. You can also choose multiple products for one design quickly with good colour choices on products.

Teespring is the only print on demand I have found that does dog coats, I just love designing these too..probably as my big black Labrador will never let me put her in one … If you have enough followers on Youtube and your site is monetised, Teespring let you have a product listings on your YouTube page.

dog coat teespring
Cute blue dog coat from Teespring

Conclusion

If like me, you are a bit lazy and don’t want to spend loads of money upfront, then the Print on Demand with their own market place is for you. There are plenty more places like Fine Art America, Gooten, Spreadshirt. Once you work out one platform they are all pretty similar to navigate. 

If you have lots of followers, some good design ideas and do have a starting pot of $200 then I would say go create your own online stores with Printful, Printify, Shopify, Amazon etc.  Start by creating a design and creating an instagram or Facebook page relating to that. eg. cute dogs, teenage boy gear, wedding cards. This gives you platforms to promote and sell your online products. Get photo from many of the free sites. Eg. Pixabay. You can get free mockups from printful and printing to make your site more professional. What is a mockup? see below.

place it mockups
Placeit offers best mockups for your designs.

As I bask in the glory of my $8 commission, my daughter has just announced she sold one of her old pair jeans on DEPOP, (teenage girls clothes platform) and made $50. My best friend text to say that she just sold her coat on Versaitaire and made £80, I can only dream. Might just see what’s in my wardrobe too!

After thought: The algorithms and web links take time to link together, I found on shutterstock it took around 3/4 months to get a steady income. Learn from MY mistakes and if you can’t design for peanuts, then pay someone on Fivver. I had a positive experience with a designer who attempted to make me some fairies. We were not on the same wavelength and after showing me 2 designs we agreed to go our separate ways, I paid nothing.

Do not start initialising google ads on Etsy unless you have a clear understanding of fees. It can rack up quickly and cost more than the sales.

I will make a YouTube video  of what products are like and you can see quality goods and postage. Canva also do print products and they arrived the quickest during lockdown. Shame my design was so awful! 

Good Luck.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let’s go Valencia, mini break 2021/22 from UK

What makes a Perfect Mini Break?

Sunshine, culture, good food, easy transport system, friendly locals?  Valencia offers this and much more. Easy to reach from the UK, a 3hr flight from Edinburgh or 2.5hrs from London. The crowds tend to head for Barcelona and Malaga, and you will find Valencia a breath of fresh air even in June for a holiday or mini break.

Most locals speak very good English but the official language is Valencian, a dialect of Catalan. This beautiful city, the third largest in Spain is also the official home of Paella, you are guaranteed an inexpensive freshly prepared meal with delicious local wine whenever you dine out.

A min break in Valencia is guaranteed to fascinate you with its stunning futuristic City of Arts and Sciences. This has to be seen to be believed. The scientific and cultural complex consists of six structures with family entertainment, a cinema and planetarium and outdoor activities for everyone. Set in the old riverbed, the Turia gardens stretch for 9km of beautiful gardens with water fountains, playgrounds, statues and pathways to cycle or walk along.  As if that’s not good enough, this city is also blessed with miles of golden beaches…to see all my photo of Valencia click on Shutterstock here.

Neptuno promenade of Valencia, Spain.
Las Arenas Beach

Valencia is halfway along the Mediterranean coast and is part of the three provinces that make up the Valencia region. Castellon, to the North and Alicante to the south with Valencia in the middle. A choice of taxi and buses from the airport guarantee an easy arrival to the city within 20 mins or take the metro line 3 or 5. The Aerobus is the cheapest option and runs every 20 mins till 10pm.

Things to see and Do 

For a  Special Treat or birthday occasion try the rooftop tapas and wine dinner, with a tour of the City of Arts and sciences before the gourmet fun begins. Run by Sea Saffron, this was the highlight of our trip to Valencia.

We booked online a week previous after reading so many positive reviews.  Our fellow travellers (12 in total) met in a nearby hotel where we started a short walking tour of the Turia Park Science centres which was very informative and manageable with my dodgy knee. Touring later in the evening meant that it was a lovely temperature to walk around and explore the science buildings and history of the Turia gardens.

After the tour we were escorted to the mystery apartment on the 33rd floor for the 10 course ‘Dinner and Wine Experience.”  Sea Saffron staff talk you through each course and why they have chosen each specific wine, which my husband loved.

Sitting outside round a large table, watching the sunset over Valencia city was truly memorable and transport home was provided. We didn’t use the taxi home as our group headed into the old city for cocktails! Naughty but nice..

Day 1

Our mini break covered a 3 day period.  We started our adventure with a cycle tour of the city to get an insight into the best attractions and landmarks.  We choose a 3 hour cycling tour from the city centre to the beach and back. There were plenty of stops and interesting historical facts and places of interest.

City cycle tour Valencia
City cycle tour Valencia

The city is fairly safe to cycle through, and for the most part, the cycle lanes are beside or on the pavements. I did not enjoy being last in the convoy especially getting stuck at traffic lights and preferred to ride up near the front. We were a mixture of ages from 19 to 60 yrs.

City of Valencia town centre
Lou Armor@shutterstock

After a busy cycling morning, where we covered most of the main attractions, it was definitely time for a siesta. The main sights we covered included: Torres de Serranos, Plaza de la Virgen, Puento de la Flores, Turia Gardens, Plaza del Ayuntamiento, Science Park, central market and Plays de la Malvarossa – (Beach). Don’t worry about your fitness levels, as you stop at each location for up to 5/10 mins. You are not cycling for 3 hrs straight.

Also look out for the Bat in the Town square. It is claimed that a bat flew onto the helmet or flag of the advancing army of King James 1st of Aragon, which was taken as a good omen for the  battle for the city of Valencia. The bat has featured on Valencia football team since 1919 and is recognised throughout the world.

Accommodation.

Our quaint hotel, the Marques House Hotel was a great location with a cool cafe bar downstairs, the Cafe Madrid. The cocktail are quite famous, especially the Agua de Valencia and I love the quirky interior. Centrally located with easy access to the main shops and the Old Town. One of my top tips for a boutique hotel is a rooftop area. After a hot day sight seeing, there is nothing better than heading upstairs to relax on a lounger and catch the late sunlight with a gin and tonic. These rooftops are never large or crowded but they are on my list of must haves. The Marques House Hotel does have a roof area and bar.

Hotel Marques House Valencia
Hotel Marques House Valencia

Top Attraction

The Cathedral, built on a Roman site dating from the 13th century, has endured more battles over the years, becoming a Mosque before returning to its current state as a Cathedral.  The Cathedral has been recognised by the Vatican as one of the world’s eight holy cities and a city of the Holy Grail, which attracts many pilgrims. On our visit there were many tourists, nuns and school children. Choose your visiting time wisely.

Plaza de la Virgen Valencia spain
Lou armor@shutterstock

From April till October The Cathedral,  is open to 6.30 pm and audio guide is included in the entrance price. I would say this is one of the top places to visit. If visiting the Bell Tower then remember that it is a spiral staircase with 207 steps..the octaganol bell tower known as the Micalet offers views across the city.   The Cathedral can be accessed from the Plaza de la Virgen and after enjoy a stroll through the square with cafe and the beautiful Triton fountain.

Turia Fountain in Valencia
Lou Armor@shutterstock

Eating Out

Valencia has plenty of tapas style bars and restaurants. The beach area restaurants are very popular but as many of the locals eat around 9/10pm,  we Brits are usually fairly lucky to find somewhere around 7.30/8pm.

Popular tapas restaurants include Casa Montana and for Paella – Casa Carmela, both should be pre booked as walk in may have a long wait.  Ruzafa district was recommended to us by our local cycle guide as hip and happening with cool craft beers, Moroccan and Turkish food, aromatic coffee shops, cafes and late night dining.  We had no problems eating out but I was told that the exception to this rule is during Fallas in March.

DCIM100GOPROGOPR1135.JPG
Paella @shutterstock

Fallas Festival Spain

Valencia is very busy in March as people travel to see the Fallas festival, huge papier mache models, which can take up to a year to make are paraded through the streets and burnt at the end of the week. An old age tradition originated from a carpenters tradition of burning wood to celebrate the arrival of spring.

There can be up to 700 Fallas sculptures on display and the festival starts on March 15th to 19th 2021. It is a very noisy place with firecrackers going off and fireworks during the day, the mascletta is around 2pm daily. During this festival it is recommended to pre book your restaurants and hotels in advance as the city gets very busy with thousands of tourists and visitors.

Valencia also has its own ‘Banksy’ style graffiti artists, leave some time to stroll through the winding streets and discover some street art.

Valencia street art in Old Town
Valencia street art in Old Town

Day 2

I was surprised and a little apprehensive that my husband had booked a 5 hour Paella cookery class… 5 hours of my precious holiday…I was not thrilled at the prospect of staying indoors but I have to say it was amazing.

We had the funniest chef and another great group of travellers. The cookery school is well established and our class began with a trip to the oldest food market in Valencia, the Mercado Central. Here we are given a list of ingredients and shown how to choose the best ingredients for a true Valencian paella.

Mercado Central Valencia
Mercado Central Valencia@shutterstock

Back at the cook school, we were fitted out in our aprons and after our health and safety talk we were escorted into the kitchens. Paella, I discovered is not a fast dish. In true Valencian style there was lots of chopping, caramelising, pouring stock, leaving it to simmer, adding more stock. I never realised how long you should leave chicken to brown before turning it over! All those lovely smells certainly stimulated the taste buds. Thankfully a sit down tapas lunch and wine was included while we waited for the paella to cook.

The cook school that we used was Escela de Arroces y Paella Valencia. Details down below.

Another great day in Valencia and tomorrow we would head out for a relaxing day at the beach. El Cabanyal or Las Arenas. Valencia beach areas offer beautiful clean wide walkways to stroll, jog or cycle along with a great selection of restaurants.  The beach area is an unusually long walk to the sea, a bit like Venice beach in Santa Monica but there are plenty of sun loungers to rent and umbrellas for us lily white Scots. All in all, Valencia is a very easy city to soak up the sunshine and enjoy some amazing attractions.

For a quick look at Valencia click here

GOOD TO KNOW…

 The Tomatino festival

The annual Tomato food fight is held on the last wed in August in a town 38km west of Valencia, called Bunol. It is a ticketed event, restricted to 20,000 and many people stay in Valencia.

Bunol is easily accessed by train or bus and sadly due to Covid 19 – the 2020 festival has been cancelled. The dates for 2021 Tomatino Festival are August 25th, last Wed of month. Participants are known to wear goggles and masks and many shops are covered up to protect them from tomatoes. 120 tonnes of the stuff!

People love to wear white and basically pick up as many tomatoes as they can and throw them at anyone! The fight starts with water canons and usually runs for one hour.  People can wash later in the river before heading back.

 

Getting around Valencia

Valencia has good transport system with underground metro and good bus system. You can also hire a bike using Valenbisi bikes. Download the app. Valenbisi.com

Mercado Central website: http://www.mercadocentralvalencia.es

Paella cook school: http://www.escueladearrocesypaellas.com

The Palacio del Marques de Dos Aguas houses the Ceramic Museum and is a stunning 15th century palace. The Ceramic Museum also houses porcelain, ceramics, tapestries and decorative furniture and paintings. The exterior of the building is exquisite, made in Alabaster and this stunning Rococo palace is free with the Valencia tourist card but for tours I would pre book. Saturday evening and some Sundays is free entry. Closed on Mondays. From July-Aug night visits from 8pm to midnight.

 Valencia Tourist Card
This is a combined card that offers free public transport and discounts in Museums, leisure activities, shops and restaurants, during 24, 48 or 72 hours. This is within the Valencia zone, ABCD and includes to the airport.

Conclusion: We had a fabulous 3 day break in Valencia and I would definitely go back . For safety, great food, lovely locals and a fabulous mini break Valencia ticks all the boxes. Valencia main train terminal make it a good location to travel around Spain and a mere 1hr 46 mins to Madrid. If you love photography or architecture you must see Valencia.

 

UK -Dementia/memory loss aids -gadgets/tools/helplines

I am writing this with a heavy heart after a long, slow decline in our loved ones. Mrs C is now in a dementia unit and Mr C will be heading for a care home soon. The family have tried everything to keep them at home but eventually one has to admit that the progress of the disease is making it unsafe for the person to remain at home. Paranoia, ramblings, disorientation, confusion and anxiety have all increased considerably.

If you are brand new to this journey your first port of call is your doctor for a diagnosis. This will help immensely with care packages and the correct, early treatment of a loved one. Next is usually a referral to a memory clinic and if required a social worker may be assigned to the person.  CT scans or neuro imaging are also used to identify what sort of memory loss your loved one is suffering from. Alzheimer’s Disease is the most common cause of Dementia.  Lewy body dementia, vascular dementia, Fronto temporal dementia… it is best to get a correct diagnosis.

Please do not be afraid of involving Social work.  Sarah, our point of contact is amazing. Full of useful advice and insider knowledge of the care system, which is completely alien to us.  She has also been very helpful in wanting to keep our loved ones at home for as long as possible.  Mobility tools, benefit awareness, support groups, local musical memory classes, information leaflets, all good to know.

My Recommendations: Firstly talking about money and Power of Attorney can be an extremely difficult conversation but I am afraid it is one that we should have started much earlier.  The paperwork and new banking rules make this process weeks/months long and not an event that is going to happen soon.

financial power attorney dementia
power of attorney & bank accounts

Why do you need Power of Attorney? Simply the person may lack mental capacity to make decisions about their finances, health and welfare. There is still no cure and the disease is usually progressive.

Why Medical Power of Attorney: if they are forgetful about collecting medicine, taking medicine, which medicine, when, they may keep asking for repeat prescriptions as they have “lost” their medicine.

Fortunately for us in a small town, the local Pharmacist flagged up concerns quite quickly and we were suddenly made aware of boxes and boxes of medicine hidden at the back of drawers, dropped under chairs and stuffed in bathroom cabinets.

collection of packets of medicine
Lou armor@shutterstock

If you do not have medical power of attorney, discussing these things with professionals can be difficult as nowadays, everything is “confidential”.

If you have Power of Attorney while the person still has mental capacity then it will make your life so much easier further down the road.

Financial Power of Attorney allows you access to their bank accounts. This is helpful as you may have to cancel standing orders, over inflated policies or car insurance if they give up their driving license.  (Mr C had boiler cover with 3 separate companies.)

It also allows you to simply monitor their cash flow.  Mr C loved chatting to the telesales lady and regularly ordered cases of  red wine at £200 case which he then gave away to visitors…or withdrew hundreds of pounds from the cash line and regularly over paid window cleaners, domestic help, taxi drivers.

We were lucky that many people were honest and informed us of what was happening. There will be plenty of indicators as to what is happening to the person mental state so stay in touch with neighbours and make them aware of the situation. We have been blessed with wonderful neighbours, popping in to see Mr C and notifying us of problems. Eg. banging doors at night, wandering lost and confused, unsuitably dressed.  I won’t wear you down with the details……everyone journey is different.

Help is at hand and I have listed some of the websites and helplines below. Please call them if you need advice. Providing a safe home for the elderly or dementia person is your priority. These are my favourite aids below.

  1. A digital clock with large illuminated face describing day, time, month and year. The reason this was a brilliant buy is that even if they accidentally switch it off or hide it, once plugged back into the wall, it resets itself to the correct time of day.

You may think,”oh, my mum can see the date on the newspaper” but often there will be a jumbled pile on the floor.  The TV becomes obsolete as they may forget how to use the TV remote and sky box, so the TV for telling the day or time, is no longer an option.  We also had to mount the TV on the wall because of stumbling elderly people. The modern TV are so thin and lightweight, they can be easily toppled, scratched and broken as we have discovered.

Dayclox digital clock
illuminated digital clock to aid dementia/Alzheimer sufferers.

People with poor vision and those struggling after a stroke where the ability to look down is impaired, may benefit from a projection alarm clock. This clock has a small projection screen which illuminates the time onto the ceiling. There are several brands to choose from and include: Ecwin, Mpow and Mesqool Alarm Clock. They retails from around £22 upwards.

2. Rails – elderly relatives may qualify for a personal allowance grant to adapt their home and this will help pay for handrails in entering house, up the stairs and shower rooms/ bathrooms etc. Your social worker will advise you.

GPS tracker and fall sensor
Lady holds handrail and GPS tracker

3. Keysafe outside home. This becomes a priority if the elderly person is hard of hearing or simply cannot get to the door easily.  A key safe allows carers to enter and family/neighbours access in emergency situations.  (An incident last week prompted us to remove all interior locks after a bathroom incident which involved care workers their manager and a police car).

key safe for dementia carers access
Lou Armor@shutterstock

4. Medicine boxes: I really found the pop up medicine boxes with the days on it really helpful.  The one below has the press release button easier for people with arthritic fingers.  You can also buy pill boxes that have alarms, flashing lights and vibrations to prompt the person.

Daily medicine box
Daily medicine box with press access buttons

Arthritis in hands
lou armor@shutterstock

Mr C could not open the Dosette round boxes and would often resort to a knife which would invariably spill the pills over the floor. We did eventually get to the stage where all medicine had to be kept in a locked box until we, or the carer came to sort out the weeks medicine.

5. Door sensors – We have not gone down this route yet, but many of my friends benefitted from fixing sensors on the doors. This was to alert them of wandering parents in the night and also over frequent use of the toilet. My friends elderly mother had visited the toilet 9 times in the night, as shown by the sensor, and this indicated to my friend that her parent possibly had a UTI. (Urinary tract infection).  A quick visit to the doctor confirmed and resolved this issue.

6. Money and jewellery going missing.. this is a very tricky one. Often the elderly person has hidden their jewellery and sometimes bury it. It is often claimed by them, that someone has stolen it and with memory loss and so many people coming and going it is difficult to know what is going on.

We did encounter a situation with expensive make up, perfume and nail varnish disappearing. We did not set up cameras and would like to think that Mrs C hid them.

We have no proof of anything and yes, a camera would have helped, but we felt it was too much of an invasion of their privacy.

family jewellery
photograph  jewellery and valuables

What I would recommend, is that you itemise all the expensive jewellery, cufflinks, medals etc, take photo and remove to another location, safe or secure place. If they are going missing involve the police and show them what each piece looked like, this will help in the event of stolen goods and their recovery.

7. Personal alarm.  This invaluable equipment is connected to a central emergency line that offers a rapid response to an elderly person.  It also offers peace of mind to the elderly person if they have lost confidence walking outdoors alone, and it gives the carers peace of mind if they need to pop out.  This is available through social services but there is a monthly call centre fee and the elderly relative needs to press the button.

Fall emergency wrist band
lou armor@shutterstock

Another clever alarm is the Fall detector, this uses an inbuilt motion sensor to send an alert to a loved one if the elderly person collapses or falls, without the need to press any alarm buttons.  I believe that this may be available via NHS but again a fee will be in place for call centre. Check with your individual local authority.

8. Grabber – not entirely sure what the correct name of this is but after several bad falls, we found that one of these allowed Mr C to pick up things when it was too uncomfortable to bend down and toppling over was an issue. Available online from many suppliers, check that it is easy to squeeze the handle part as again some of them can be quite stiff for an older person who lacks strength. Read the reviews on places like Amazon.

grabbertool elderly
grabber tool

9. A tray with small attached beanbag underneath is  very useful at meal times. Frail elderly people often dribble food, spill food and generally tip food over by accident. The tray moulds to their legs and offers stability and a level surface. Rather than attempting to balance a hot teacup and saucer with cake on a tea plate, they can both sit safely on the tray.

10. Food and cooking. This was a huge issue, worrying about what they were eating and when. Concerns about leaving cookers on etc. We order weekly meals, a combination of fresh food, microwavable and oven meals. Mr C enjoys Wiltshire farm foods frozen meals.  The wonderful dog walker cooks the meals as we worry about the cooker being left burning. There are products called stove guards and stove alarms by Innohome, I believe Fireangel is the UK Supplier. http://www.fireangeltech.com

Ensure that gas detectors and smoke alarms have been serviced and are working properly.

11. I.D cards, you can go online and make a dementia ID card for the elderly person but adapt it to say, “Hi I have dementia if you find me lost or confused please could you call this number.” This can be helpful if they are found by the police or if they ask for help in a shop. My friend passed them out to local shop keepers and someone called her to say her mum had been sitting at a bus stop for over an hour.

Elderly man walking with stick
Elderly man walking with stick

Cards are cheap and easy to order in bulk, pop one in your parents purse, jacket pocket, wallets etc. The cards also give peace of mind, especially if going on holiday. Can include contact details, doctors number, medications, emergency contacts etc. I believe you can get them via NHS, but going online allows you to multiple buy.

11. Toilet frame: after falls and brusied hips, it is difficult for elderly people to rise up from a sitting position. The toilet frame gives them confidence in the loo and is a good secure frame for them to lean on and elevate themselves. We brought this one to my house over the festive period and one of my visitors is now getting one for his mum!

Toilet frame for elderly
Toilet frame for elderly

12. Memory books and photographs albums are always good tools but write in the album who the people are.

13. Giant calendar. Elderly people can get anxious about appointments and can become agitated and repetitive. A giant calendar, with clearly marked appts and activities can give them a sense of reassurance. A routine certainly helped us.

14. Mrs C gets easily agitated in restaurants with background noise. Large groups of people or just clattering plates and cutlery. It can be helpful to carry earphones with relaxing music if this is an issue for you and gives you a little breathing space to finish up and pay the bill before leaving. I am not sure if this would work with people using hearing aids, but you could also try large head phones, which are currently back in fashion.

Travelling and the elderly/disabled public toilets. If traveling in the UK and using disabled toilets, to avoid difficulties accessing a locked disabled toilet in a hurry, pre order a Radar key. These let you have access to any locked disabled toilets in the UK.  According to Diability Rights Uk, the official key costs around £5.70 and some local authorities give it out for free. http://www.disabiltyrightsuk.org/shop

And finally knowledge is power. Read about the condition affecting your relative, understand why they may be over reacting or ignoring you, there are plenty of leaflets and books about this subject. Books to read: The Contented Dementia by Oliver James.

It has taken my brother a long time to stop correcting our elderly relative, there is no point correcting them. In their mind, they may be in the 1970  and everything around them at present, is frightening and confusing. Dementia can be a terrifying word or diagnosis. Choose your language thoughtfully.

Dementia is something that my mothers husband is living with and coping well. He is not  battling it, he is adapting to his memory loss with help and support.

When visiting Mrs C in the dementia unit, the nurse could see I was struggling and she said to me that, “Mrs C was happy in her own world and it can be difficult for others to  accept the changes”.

That was an understatement.  I wanted the old Mrs C back. I wanted her to recognise me. I wanted her to sit in front of me in her pearls and cashmere cardigan and make me a cup of her awful, stewed tea.  Mrs C in a moment of clarity would sit and weep quietly on the bed, saying, “I’m so sorry, I can’t remember your name.”

I would always take her hand and say, “I’m Lou. I know who your are, your not alone”.  Holding a hand or a simple hug can go a long way to reassure a loved one.

It’s not an easy road ahead, ask for help when you need it and be kind to your family and loved ones. They are as scared and frightened of the road ahead as you are. Everyone reacts differently and everyone journey is different.

I hope this helps someone. Thanks for reading, I appreciate your time.

Lou A/Edinburghcitymom

If you would like to see more of my photographs they are available on Shutterstock. Click here.

Here are some useful helplines:

Helplines: http://www.Alzheimer’s.org.uk National helpline : 0300 222 1122.  Alzheimer Scotland: 0808 -808-3000

NHS – http://www.nhs.ukhttp://www.nhs.uk/conditions/alzheimer-discease/

http://www.ageuk.org.uk– 0800 055 6112 – befriending, day centres, pensions advice, end of life planning, healthy eating, arranging social care, independent living products, legal advice.

Dementia helpline: 0300 222 1122. http://www.dementiauk.org – coping with dementia, Admiral nurses, types of dementia, getting a diagnosis, understanding changes in behaviour etc.

www. Carersuk. org – a fantastic website to help carers. Fact sheets and information, carers allowance, independence allowance, practical support, technology and equipment, online forums.

Power of Attorney is called different things in different parts of the UK. The Alzheimer society above explains the rules for Northern Ireland, Scotland, England and Wales.

LPA, Living wills, Deputyship and Enduring power of attorney are all explained above in the fantastic Alzheimer website. You will need a lawyer to complete the legal paperwork.

Books to read: The Contented Dementia by Oliver James.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Compare Gopro Hero 7 vs DSLR beginners comparison.

When I mentioned on my youtube channel, Edinburghcitymom, that I was doing a review comparing the GoPro Hero 7 black v DSLR,  someone commented that it would be “like comparing a Fiat with a Ferrari.” Good analogy I thought, let’s see if it’s true.

Here are two photo, accepted to Shutterstock. Can you tell which was was taken by my Nikon and which one was taken by the GoPro Hero 7?  (Answer at the end of post).

Stirling castle in Scotland
Stirling castle in Scotland – A

Stirling castle Scotland
Stirling castle Scotland B

Both the GoPro Hero 7 and any decent DSLR (Digital single lens reflex), will take photographs and record footage, but when comparing them, it’s what’s inside that really counts.  In this scenario it comes down to the Quality of the Sensor.

Without boring you to tears talking about pixellation, the simple explanation is that in a digital photo there are thousands of little pixels, information units.  People assume that a high pixel count guarantees a great photo and while it certainly helps, the other factor to consider is the depth of the pixel which determines the tonal value. eg. the amount of colour depth stored within each pixel.

Why is this important?

If you need to enlarge your photo to poster size the DSLR will have no problem with this and will supply good clarity and resolution especially if the photo is taken in RAW. However try blowing up your GoPro Hero 7 photo and you will may lose detail around the edges and colour depth.

Other factors to consider when comparing the GoPro Hero 7 and DSLR are the available settings.  A GoPro  has an excellent wide angle lens which is a dream if you are doing a photo of a Cathedral or museum and want a large FOV (field of vision) but this also can bring problems with curved poles or curvature in the photo.

Of course you can try taking the picture as linear … here is an example of a photo that has been accepted by Shutterstock, a New York based stock photography agency.  The first photo has been edited and the 2nd photo shows the curvature.

Titanic Museum Belfast
Titanic Experience Belfast@shutterstock

The Titanic Experience
The Titanic Experience.

The Photograph can be fixed in post production, but with a DSLR you would simply change the lens or adjust the perspective on the camera after taking the shot.

There is a setting called Protune on the GoPro Hero 7, which offers the chance to adjust the ISO, shutterspeed, white balance etc, giving your greater control over the GoPro settings. It is a good idea to watch a few videos on this, to give you more flexibility and understanding of what the GoPro Hero 7 can do.  There are plenty of videos explaining this on youtube.

GoProHero 7 Black Protune
GoProHero 7 Black Protune

Often on the GoPro Hero 7 screen the photo looks fine but the screen is very small, try and connect to a laptop or Mac before you leave your location to double check the quality. There is nothing worse than getting home and realising your photo has too much grain, is out of focus or is over exposed.

If using Protune for videos remember they will take up more space on an SD card and your battery will drain quickly.  Always carry a few back up cards and batteries.

GoPro Hero 7 V DSLR size comparison – the important stuff

This may be a deal breaker for you. I know when I travel with my DSLR, that I am keeping it in hand luggage where I can “handle with care”.  Like our Ferrari analogy, I do not want any scratches, sand, dust, etc on my expensive bodywork or lens.

DSLR  Abroad – I restrict the number of lens to one because of weight and space. I also need to pack a recharger. I rarely take a tripod as I just can’t fit it in hand luggage, however my Joby flexible tripod stand is extremely useful for getting a steady photo and can hold the Nikon camera weight. Once you get to your location you are carrying this weight around all day, it can be quite uncomfortable after a few hours.

Camera equipment for DSLR
Camera equipment and accessories for DSLR camera.

The GoPro Hero 7  is a great solution, especially for travel bloggers or instagrammers.  It is extremely lightweight, easy to use underwater or skiing, hillwalking, snow boarding, surfing etc.  The hyper smooth stabilisation is excellent.

For adventure sports I would say the GoPro Hero 7 definitely has the edge. Try protecting your expensive DSLR on a slope in Val D’Isere. That’s before you even consider water damage, carrying the weight of the camera and protecting it if you slip and fall. The DSLR is too heavy for me and too expensive too risk dropping in snow.

Not so with the GoPro Hero 7, like the Fiat it can squeeze into most small spaces.  Similarly the GoPro slips easily into your pocket, your hand luggage, on a head band, on a chest mount, on a bike mount.  It’s truly versatile and of course waterproof.

Super photo, Timewarp, hyper smooth…sounds too good to be true…

GoPro Hero 7 accessories
GoPro Hero 7 accessories

Yes and it does have its irksome little problems as I have been discovering especially in hot countries.

My biggest problem with the GoPro Hero 7 is the freezing issue. If I delete multiple files, it freezes. If I have it in sunshine for any length of time it overheats and on my last trip to Belfast I could barely pick it up that’s how hot it was. I have read online that Snow Boarders have the same problem with the GoPro Hero 7 freezing in the snow.

How to resolve?

Place it in the shade, pull out battery, let it cool down. Re insert and start again. You don’t lose the footage but you have just lost some great photo opportunities, as I did going through Valencia on a bike tour.

(Photo below taken in Valencia on automatic settings using GoPro Hero 7)

Indoor Market Valencia
Mercado Central @shutterstock

The DSLR never freezes on me but I have had problems with condensation on the lens when trying to photograph inside a Greenhouse.

What equipment suits your needs?

Really I think you have to ask yourself what you are going to be filming/recording. If you are trying to capture an authentic moment in time,  then setting up a tripod and fairly substantial DSLR will attract lots of attention and people start to pose or stare and the moment is lost.  Not so with a GoPro. No one even knows you have a camera and if you take it out of your pocket, it is so small, no-one notices. This can be handy in museums or places of worship. Like the Fiat, the Gopro hero 7 is pretty discreet and unobtrusive.

Byodo Temple in the Valley of the Gods, Hawaii.
Byodo Temple, Valley of the gods Hawaii@ Shutterstock

Why I love my DSLR

For me personally the GoPro compliments my camera, it is another tool, another accessory for photography.  If my camera runs out of battery I have the GoPro and if I want to jazz things up with a short time lapse, the GoPro is so easy to put on a stick and carry. I like them both.  However, the Nikon DSLR sensor beats the GoPro and that’s why I love my big heavy statement camera.

The photo above, Byodo Temple and the one below in Milan was taken on my DSLR and there is a reason that a DSLR is so heavy… Like the Ferrari, it’s a classy piece of equipment.  Sometimes people move out of the way, stop to watch or even come closer to take a look. This photo below was taken in Milan using my Nikon camera and Tamron 16-300mm lens. The 2nd shot of Belfast City Hall was taken on the GoPro Hero 7 black. I find the quality of photo from my DSLR superb and I can make quite a few adjustments on the camera tools before I attempt anything in post production. The DSLR also gives you the option of changing the lens, unlike the fixed GoPro lens which is fixed. You can buy a polar pro macro lens and adaptor for the Gopro Hero 7 black but I have never tried it.

La Duomo Milan
La Duomo Milan-Lou Armor@shutterstock

Belfast City Hall Northern Ireland.
Belfast City Hall, Lou Armor@shutterstock

Filming with Gopro v DSLR

I love the flexibility of recording film footage on my Nikon DSLR but for me personally I find the DSLR  too heavy to keep steady.  Resting my camera on the back seat of a car or a bus, there is still too much shake.  The GoPro handles this easily and of course is very lightweight and easy to hold.

The stability issue for a DSLR means that you may have to buy a gimble when filming unless your camera is on a tripod or stable surface. For the DSLR stabilisation, the factors to consider when buying a gimbal are weight and balance. The good gimbals use lithium batteries and can be pretty expensive, for a DSLR you are looking at an extra couple hundred pounds or dollars.

The GoPro accessories like the Fiat, are cheap and easy to find. Expect to pay about £30 for macro lens and for GoPro stabiliser anywhere from £30 upwards. Probs better to buy multi purpose gimbal. My Best Buy gimbal has been a joby gorilla pod which I can wrap around my bike handle, a tree branch, railings…. it lets you change your perspective and relax your hands when filming a long time lapse.

CONCLUSION

If you are travelling on a gap year with restricted luggage and have a decent phone camera, I would say take a GoPro and learn Protune.  The GoPro Hero 7 is very robust and I have dropped it, sat on it and generally forgotten where it is, it’s that small.  Easy to pack including accessories. I charge my GoPro batteries via my laptop and have dual battery recharger for speed.

The DSLR will always win with photography shots in my opinion and film footage quality is good if you can get stabilisation.

The Gopro offers a brilliant package at a reasonable price and if filming and outdoor activities is your priority, then the GoPro Hero 7 comes out top for versatility and practicality.

Enjoy your photography equipment, whatever you decide. The answer to the early question is that photo A of Stirling castle was taken with the  Gopro hero7 and photo B was taken with the Nikon. Did you guess correctly?

Thanks for reading, I appreciate your time.

 

 

Lou A.

 

Crucial tips Driving rental vehicle Edinburgh

Are you planning a Scottish vacation? Are you confident about driving in Scotland? Do you know the Greenways speed limit and priority rules? More details here to ensure a smoother driving experience for you and all your passengers.

If you are picking up a rental car from Edinburgh or Glasgow airport then watch my videos at the end of the post demonstrating easy car driving routes into these cities. Edinburgh is dual carriageway, Glasgow to the city is motorway.

Car rental tips in Edinburgh scotland
Lou Armor@ Shutterstock

Edinburgh Greenways is a traffic control system giving priority to Buses, Bikes and Black taxi during the peak rush hours. Vehicles/car drivers/rental cars cannot use bus lanes from 7.30 – 9.30am & 4pm- 6.30pm Monday to Friday. The bus lanes do not apply at the weekend.

Edinburgh Greenways bus lanes
Greenways bus lanes@shutterstock

If car drivers/rental car drivers are caught in a bus lane during peak times the fine is £60 which is around $74.78 US dollars. Plus a transaction fee from your hire car company to process… consider hiring a car when you are leaving Edinburgh city.

Seat belts must be worn for front and back seat passengers. Children aged 3-12 or smaller than 135cm require an approved child restraint. Advise your car rental company in advance.

Speed Limit in Edinburgh city centre are 20mph. Cars cannot drive the length of Princes street and should not be using Bus lanes. Car drivers can drive part way and across intersections.

Road signs No entry for cars Edinburgh
Princes street@shutterstock

What are the legal requirements for foreign drivers from Europe? A valid licence allows you to drive any type of vehicle listed on your license in Scotland.
What are the legal requirements for foreign drivers from outside the EU including States? Drivers will require a valid licence from your own country, you can drive any small vehicle in the UK for up to 12 months. You will also need proof of your I.D. such as a passport. Some car rental companies will also require proof of flights & hotel reservations. if your license is not in English you may require a IDP.
Do I need an IDP? An International Driving Permit is required for non EU Drivers whose licence is not in English. It is used alongside a drivers licence. An IDP identifies you and allows police and people in authority who may not speak your language to communicate with you.

RENTAL CARS

Rental car age restrictions: Drivers must be 21 years old and have a valid drivers license for 3 years with no endorsements. Many rental car companies will not allow drivers under the age of 23 or 25. A young drivers surcharge rate may be applied which costs as much as £30 extra a day.

Car rental tips in Edinburgh scotland
Car rental tips in Edinburgh Scotland

First time drivers in Edinburgh from the States. An automatic car will be easier and a built in sat nav rather than a stick shift. The rate for GPS is around £13 day extra. If you have children they will also require booster seats which cost around £12 a day to rent in addition to car rental fees. Also if driving the NC500 in the Scottish Highlands buy a road map and keep in the boot. It will be useful. Many hire rental companies are now issuing wrist bands to remind drivers which side of the road to stay on. Other drivers put signs on their dashboards. It is easy to forget in a panic situation, so use any tools that may help you.

Rental car deposits – Credit cards are accepted. Cash is not allowed and often debit cards are not accepted on premium cars or SUV. The car rental company will require a security deposit of around £200 on a credit card, this rate may vary from individual companies.

Car Hire rental in Edinburgh uk
Car Hire rental in Edinburgh uk

What is the excess damage on insurance? This is the amount of money that you will pay for any damage incurred to the rental vehicle before the insurance kicks in. Eg. Excess of £200 means that any insurance claim does not include the first £200.

Some rental companies offer extra roadside protection which costs more and includes lost keys, cracked windscreen, tyre repair etc. Each rental company policy is different. Shop around and read the small print.

  1. Fuel – All rental cars have the type of fuel required to fill up the tank on the fuel cap. Check whether your rental car requires a full tank before returning as they charge extra to take it for refuelling.
  2. Drink Driving- Scotland has different driving laws to the rest of the UK. The limit is Scotland is lower. It is 22 micrograms per 100 ml. Do not drink and drive. The penalty is a fine, a possible prison sentence and points on your licence.

Don't Drink & Drive
Don’t Drink & Drive@shutterstock

  1. Never park on double yellow lines in Edinburgh. Your car is at risk of being towed away. This includes in the middle of the night especially if your car is blocking the road/junction/traffic. If your car is missing call the Police on 101 to ask if it has been towed. To release your vehicle you will need to pay a fee of £180 and provide proof of your ID and drivers licence. The compound is in Leith and is open from 8am – 6.45 Monday to Saturday and Sunday 8.45 -11.30am

Cycle lanes and Bus lanes Edinburgh
Lou Armor@shutterstock

Do not stop your car inside a Red cycle box at traffic junctions in Edinburgh. Sometimes it is difficult to avoid if there is a traffic jam or ambulance etc but anticipate the space ahead. This is for cyclists to move off safely at traffic lights.

  1. Traffic lights – never turn on a red light. Red means stop. If you drive through a red light and are caught on camera it is an automatic £100 fine and 3 points.
  2. Mobile Phones – Hands free mounted phones are permitted but you cannot send text messages while driving in Scotland or use a hand held mobile phone. See below for a list of rental car companies.
  3. Parking in Edinburgh is very expensive. Read the meter carefully as some streets only allow 2/3 hours parking maximum.

There is a Ringo app for parking which requires registration of a credit card or you can feed the meter – eg.’ use coins.’ The benefit of the app is that it reminds you when your car parking is about to expire and gives you the opportunity to top it up from your location without having to rush back to your car.

Edinburgh parking app
Edinburgh parking app

Remember to ensure that you have entered the correct code for the street that you are parked on. The app remembers your last parked location and will usually assume that is where you have parked. Type in your new location code as seen below to avoid a parking ticket. It is very simple and easy to use and one of my favourite apps.

Reduced speeds in scottish cities.
Lou Armor@shutterstock

Three new bus lane cameras are now operational in Edinburgh as of June 2019. Liberton Road – Commercial Street & South Gyle Broadway.

Unsure of roundabouts, one way roads and driving on the left? I have recorded these journeys to help you navigate Scottish roads and motorways. click below

Follow me driving from Edinburgh Airport to the city centre click here:

Follow me in my car from Glasgow airport to Glasgow city click here:

For full details of the highway code please refer to highwaycodeuk.co.uk
Speed Limits

Built-up areas mph(km/h) Single carriageways mph (km/h) Dual carriageways mph (km/h) Motorways mph (km/h)
Cars, motorcycles, car derived vans 30mph (48) & 20mph (32) 60mph (96) 70mph (112) Dual carriageway signs are green 70mph (112) Motorway signs Blue

Rental Car companies – Final advice.

Please check the small print for damage waiver/ damage excess and if you are booking through a travel company check the reviews of the car company they use in the UK.

In Scotland these can be checked on Tripadvisor or Reviewcentre.com

Before driving off your car hire vehicle: Take your own photo of damage internally or externally before you drive your car hire away. Show these to the booking desk and agree that they have not been caused by you before driving off.

Car rental companies in UK include Alamo, Budget rental car, Arnold Clark, Enterprise, Avon, Europcar and Hertz.

Edinburgh city council have currently released a consultation paper for the end of free city centre Sunday parking. No details are yet confirmed. I will update if the situation changes.

If I have completely put you off driving in Edinburgh rest assured the tram, local buses and taxi are very good and we have Uber. Personally I prefer the bus or walking, it is a small city and easy walk around, unlike Glasgow a large sprawling city. I hope this information helps and To download any of my photo check out my portfolio on shutterstock. Click here.

Thanks for reading. I appreciate your time.

Lou A. – Edinburghcitymom

Review of Amazon Basics 60″ tripod.

The Amazon Basics Tripod is an excellent light weight, secure piece of equipment to compliment your videography or photography. I would use it for overseas travel as it is so lightweight. However, in Scotland you may need something heavier for photography if climbing  Munro, especially when the winds are high. On the plus side this is so light, 3lb that you are not adding too many additional pounds to you rucksack.

Amazon Basics light weight tripod.
Amazon Basics light weight tripod.

The Amazon Basics is well built and has rolled around the boot of my car a few times without incident. It is very easy to use.  The silver brushed aluminium body is sleek and subtle. The legs have telescopic extensions with clasps which stay in position, unlike my other tripod which frequently slips.  The rubber fittings on the legs are a little cheap looking but they have not fallen off in mud or disappeared into snow, so I am happy about that. I have not used the extension yet but it offers the opportunity for more height if required.

The Amazon Basics Tripod is great for taking abroad. It is slightly longer than more expensive tripods but if you place it diagonally in your suitcase it should fit. The quick release plate mount for a camera or camcorder is a great feature and it is simple and easy to use.   The Amazon Basics Tripod is  not as smooth as a roller head but it is very reasonable considering how inexpensive it is. Can be a little jerky but just twist the wand to get more fluid movements. (see video below).

Amazon Basics light weight Tripod
Amazon Basics light weight Tripod

The Amazon Basics tripod arrives with a cover for carrying and I like the bubble level for keeping my skylines straight with Shutterstock agency.   I have used the Amazon Basics Tripod with my daughters Canon EOS 4000D and my Nikon D500 with heavy 16-300mm lens.

I would ensure that one of the legs is under the camera to help with stability if you are worried that your lens is too heavy. Costs £24.99 with free delivery. I think this is an excellent entry level tripod. It does not come with a remote. The dimensions are 61.49 x 11.18 x 10.41 cm with a maximum height of 158cm.

If considering a camcorder click here. Comparison of the Canon XA11 & Panasonic.

Thanks for reading

Lou A.

Edinburghcitymom.com

 

 

 

 

 

Glasgow Itinerary 48 hrs

Glasgow is a sprawling city Port on the River Clyde which has its own airport, 15 mins from the city centre and two railway stations, Queen street and Central station. It is a fantastic city to explore, steeped in history from Victorian Tall ships to the National Piping centre to Charles Rennie Mackintosh.

George square Glasgow city centre
George square Glasgow city @shutterstock

Glasgow is fondly known as ‘Glesga’ by the locals and you will find that they are indeed the friendliest people you will come across.  Many people ask me whether they should visit Edinburgh or Glasgow on their UK tours and I say, “Do both”.  Today I am concentrating on the fabulous places to visit in Glasgow.

Glasgow has the most spectacular Cathedral also known as St Mungo. It stands proudly beside the Necropolis, a Victorian cemetery in Glasgow which has attracted lots of attention with the filming of the New Batman movie. The Cathedral is a must see and has a lower level which includes the Crypt. The interior is spectacular and I can’t decide if it perhaps just beats St Giles in Edinburgh for awesomeness. The Cathedral can be found at Castle street and entry is free but donations are welcome to Historic Environment Scotland. There is a mass at 11am on Sunday mornings and a choral evensong on Sunday in the Nave at 4pm.  This is a 15 min walk from Queen street station and beside the tenants Brewery which is a great tour, also has some fabulous cookery classes, worth booking.

interior of Glasgow Cathedral
interior of Glasgow Cathedral

Arriving at Glasgow Queen street station from Edinburgh, (45) mins, our first stop was to check into the Radisson Red on the River Clyde.  Radisson Red is currently the only hotel in Glasgow with a roof top bar and it has cracking views down the famous River Clyde.  

Radisson Red Hotel Glasgow
Radisson Red Hotel Glasgow@shutterstock

Radisson Red, uber trendy aimed at the Millennials, is ideally situated near the Scottish Exhibition Centre and is close to many Riverside attractions.  The check in desks are computer terminals that offer guests a minimal fuss check in.

Our bedroom was small and compact with a really comfortable bed and fun wall art. We didn’t linger long in the hotel as we had so much to see and headed out for lunch to the famous alley known as Ashton Lane. This is a cobbled backstreet in Glasgow West End, beside the Glasgow subway stop, Hillhead which has restaurants, pubs and a licensed cinema.

Biel, famous for its Moules and Fondue nights caught our eye, and it catered for coeliacs. (The other great restaurant in Glasgow for gluten and Coeliac is Cote Brasserie. One for my favourite places.)

There are plenty of places to eat in Ashton Lane including traditional pubs such as  Jinty McGuinty’s and the famous Ubiquitous Chip, fondly known as the ‘Chip”.  I would recommend pre booking the ‘Chip’ as it is a Glasgow favourite and very popular all year round. Gardeners, Grosvenor Cafe, the Lane Vinyl Bar are other eating venues.

Did you know the famous chef Gordon Ramsay is a Glaswegian as well as Billy Connelly, Sharleen Spiteri, Deacon Blue, John Barrowman and a long list of musicians and sportsmen?

Ashton Lane, cobbled street Glasgow
Ashton Lane, cobbled street Glasgow@shutterstock

Recharged and refreshed after lunch, we headed off to walk to Kelvingrove Museum to see the Leonardo Da Vinci exhibition lent by Her Majesty the Queen. The complete  tour of drawings around the UK, (144) scattered over several cities are a rare opportunity to see. Full details of the locations and drawings can be found on the Royal Collection trust, http://www.rct.uk.

The exhibition is in Kelvingrove Museum, Glasgow until May.  Further exhibits will be available in Edinburgh in November 2019.  Kelvingrove is an amazing treasure trove of paintings, artefact and exhibitions, some from the Burrell Collection. More details on museums@glasgowlife.org.uk.  I would allocate a minimum of 2 hours here.  There is a cafe and restaurant onsite. Favourites include Christ St John of the Cross by Salvador Dali, the Mark 21 Spitfire that flew with the 602 squadron over Glasgow and now hangs suspended from the ceiling, and the many stunning paintings including Constable, Lawrence Steven Lowry and Rembrandt, ‘A Man in Armour’.

photo credit Lou Armor@shutterstock

A short walk from Kelvingrove will bring you to Glasgow University, and its famous Cloisters which are rumoured to have inspired JK Rowling… the University, itself a stunning building and home to the Hunterian museum is Scotlands oldest public museum and is free.

The Cloisters below have featured in Outlander and Cloud Atlas. Self guided tours and available around the University or you can book a guided tour on gla.ac.uk. We were happy to wander around the grounds and admire the stunning architecture.

Glasgow University Cloisters
Glasgow University Cloisters

Glasgwegians or Weegies, are famous for their sense of humour and there are plenty of opportunities to watch a stand up comedy show.  The Glasgow comedy festival runs through March and our next destination was the State Bar. Glasgow Comedy Nights can be found on websites like Chortle.co.uk/glasgow or http://www.rotundacomedy.club. For the comedy club dates 2020 check out Glasgowcomedyfestival.com

The bar we were looking for was pretty close to another famous Glasgow Institution. Miss Cranston Tearooms, fully restored to their former glory and now called, ‘Mackintosh by the Willows’.  On the corner of Hope street and Bath street, the newly refurbished tearooms  have an exhibition centre and tours are available to book or enjoy the delights from the all day food menu.  Breakfast, lunch, Afternoon tea or High tea. http://www.Glasgowmackintosh.com.

For fans of Rennie Mackintosh there is an exhibition in Kelvingrove Museum and in House for An Art Lover in Dumbreck Road and of course the famous Lighthouse in Mitchell Lane. If you are travelling to Bellahouston Park to see the Mackintosh exhibition and rooms for an Art lover, it opens at 10am and the park also has  sculptures and garden art. (For full details of tearooms see end of post).

Rennie Mackintosh tearooms in Glasgow
Rennie Mackintosh tearooms in Glasgow

It is amazing what you can pack into one day in Glasgow.  The shops close at 6pm on a Saturday so there was just enough time to pop into Buchanan Street Galleries, a famous shopping complex with over 80 stores. This is open until 7pm and closes at 6pm on a Sunday.

Our evening meal was a new restaurant in Glasgow called the Lychee Oriental. Tucked away behind Mitchell Lane, this Chinese restaurant was a welcome break from the walking.  Popular Glasgow street artists murals are on display next to the restaurant and if you would like to see more street art there is a fabulous trail on Glasgow with a map of all of the locations,  http://www.citycentremural trail.co.uk.  Some of my favourites include ‘Fellow Glasgow residents’ and ‘Honey I shrunk the kids’.

Glasgow city street mural trail.
Glasgow city street mural trail.

Back at our hotel we decided to explore the rooftop cocktail bar only to discover that tables must be pre booked. Bookings are not accepted after 10pm. Good to know for next time as the Radisson Red rooftop bar is also open to the public and if there is an event on at the SEC, you can bet this place will be busy.

Day 2

Up bright and early to discover a damp and grey city, we decided to try and stay dry as much as possible. Our wonderful plans to walk the Riverside were restricted by the downpours but at around 10 am we took a chance and headed out to the Clydeside Distillery, a 10 min walk from our hotel.

Glasgow River Clyde
Glasgow River Clyde@shutterstock

This new visitor centre and Distillery is amazing, it has a fabulous 2 min film set in the Glasgow docklands that give you a real feel for the city and the challenges facing the dockside workers. The distillery tour is different to other distilleries as it has a purpose built visitor centre and a cafe. The tours include the Clydeside tour, the Managers tour and my favourite , the Chocolate and Whisky tour.  A great souvenir,  create your own personalised hand written Whisky label for the whisky of your choice or surprise a loved one with a fabulous Scottish gift. Thanks to Mr Darroch for our wonderful tour.

Clydeside Distillery Glasgow
Clydeside Distillery Glasgow

We eventually had to head back out into the rain and toyed with the idea of downloading the cycle app and taking one of the bikes to our next location, The Transport Museum now called the Riverside Museum.  We decided to walk as it was not far enough to justify hiring the bike for an hour. The app is nextbike, and you can hire a bike for the day or hourly. When dry it would be a great way to see the River Clyde.

Glasgow Riverside Museum Glasgow Scotland.
Interior Riverside Museum@shutterstock

The Riverside Museum was pretty stunning inside. It has over 3000 objects on display and these include full size trams, boats, buses, trains, cars, bikes, skateboards, its amazing inside. Kids will love it and there is a vintage street with shops that people can go inside and see how they looked in bygone days. Spent a couple of hours in here and then headed back into the rain to check out of The Radisson Red.

We couldn’t leave Glasgow without enjoying a roof top cocktail and the sharing cheese board, very tasty. Gave us a chance to dry out too. Expect changeable weather in Glasgow, pack an umbrella or cagoule in your bag, you just never know when its going to rain!

Radisson Red rooftop bar Glasgow city centre. Scotland.
Radisson Red rooftop bar Glasgow city.

Finally it would be impossible to leave Glasgow without having a quick look at the Lighthouse Museum. Hidden away in Mitchell lane, it is easy to miss. If you find Princes street square then you are minutes away. This is Scotlands centre for design and architecture. I had the best intention of climbing to the top for the amazing 360 degree views over Glasgow city centre but alas my dodgy knee was having none of it. Another time. To view my Glasgow video of all the attractions click here:

Anyone visiting Glasgow in July don’t forget the Merchant City Festival. July 25th – Sunday July 28th 2019.

The other major festival is a 4 day piping celebration cumulating in the final day competition with highlands games, highland dancing and drum majors.

World Pipe & Drum championships 2019
World Pipe & Drum championships 2019

The fabulous World Pipe band Championships are on Glasgow Green on Friday 16th and 17th August 2019.click here to experience a few hours at the Worlds. 

I hope that you have been inspired to spend some of your holiday time in Glasgow. There is plenty more to see including the Botanical Gardens, The famous Glasgow Cathedral, the City chambers, Pollock House and of course Glasgow Necropolis. A Victorian cemetery to the East of Glasgow Cathedral.

If you fancy trying something completely different book yourself into a cookery class at Tennents Training Academy, it is a great venue and plenty of free cider and beer. Up to 40 different classes on offer. Book a tour of the brewery for £12.50 and enjoy a free pint. http://www.tennentstrainingacademy.co.uk

My other favourite is Chaopyra Masterclass taught by Thai chefs  and cooked by yourself,  enjoy a tasty 3 course Thai meal. Details on 0141 332 0041 or try the cocktail masterclass. Chaophyra.co.uk/experience.

If you are a fan of Charles Rennie Mackintosh there are two tearooms, Mackintosh at the Willows is stunning inside and worth pre booking for afternoon tea. The address is 217  Sauchiehall Street. Tel:44 (0)141 204 1903. Email: booking@mackintoshatthewillow.com

The other tearoom is smaller and is accessed from a flight of stairs, this can be found at 97, Buchanan street. Tel: 44 0 141-204-5242.

Opening hours -Mon to Sat 9am-6.30pm,
Sun 10.00am-5.30pm

Thanks for reading, all of my photo are available to buy on Shutterstock just click on this link for my portfolio. louarmor@shutterstock

I hope you enjoy exploring out scottish cities. Video of my travels are available on youtube

Edinburgh Military Tattoo seating guide August 2021.

 The Edinburgh Military Tattoo is essentially an evening of live military performances from Regiments and Military bands that include the massed pipes and drums, dancers, performers, singers, military displays, special lighting effects and the Lone Piper. 2021 dates are the 6th to 28th August and it will be celebrating its 70th year.  

For anyone who transferred their tickets from 2020, the booking lines for 2021 are open from Monday 5th October at 10am (2020) until midnight of the 9th October 2020. 

Tickets for 2021 are on sale on Monday 19th October.  Tickets can be purchased from 10am. There will be a limited capacity arena for the year 2021. You can buy up to 8 tickets on one transaction, however the seating is limited to 4 seats together.

Cheaper priced tickets – In 2021, the off Peak tickets will be available on the 11th, 18th and 25th August 2021. 

 Tickets can be bought from the office in Cockburn street or online. The phone lines are open Mon/Tues/Thurs and Friday 10am-4.30pm.

Wednesday 11.am – 4.30pm. (British Mean Time)

Booking lines –  Tel no:+44 [0] 131 225 1188. 

For the best selection of seats that suit your budget the earlier the better.  Weekdays the performances are Monday to Friday at 9:00pm and on Saturday at 6.30pm and 10:30pm.  There is no tattoo on any Sunday in August.

Edinburgh Military Tattoo
Edinburgh Military Tattoo at Edinburgh Castle Esplanade

I have been attending The Edinburgh Military Tattoo for several years sitting in  various locations on the Castle Esplanade, (the large space directly in front of Edinburgh Castle).

Edinburgh Castle Military Tattoo
Lou Armor@shutterstock

A temporary stand is erected here and the seats are outside with no cover or protection from the elements unless you are in the Royal Gallery.   These seats are of course very expensive and can be found in the purple section.

Seating Plan for the 2019Edinburgh Military tattoo
Seating Plan for the 2019 Edinburgh Military tattoo @ Edintattoo.co.uk

These are the factors I would consider when booking.

PRICE – the more you pay the better the seat.  A rough guide to the prices are sections 1/16 & 17 (dark blue and green) are the cheapest found nearest the castle and sections 8 and 9 (pink & purple) are the most expensive.

The only downside to the cheapest seats is that you may have slightly more awkward visibility to the fireworks display.

The other seats for the Edinburgh Military Tattoo range from £50 to £78.  I have sat very high up once but my aunt struggled to get down the stairs, (metal and quite steep) I now much prefer sitting in the middle sections 3/4 or 13/14/15  lower down.

Edinburgh Castle Military Tattoo
View of seating layout@shutterstock

The Light blue section offers excellent views and is reflected in slightly higher prices in these sections. Blue Sections 2-5 and 12-15, the tickets are  priced between £53.00 to £68.00 each.  Tickets are priced dynamically, therefore, these seat prices may change subject to demand and availability. Order as early as possible before demand increases so much that the price does too!

The seats for the tattoo start at rows A & B, these are allocated for disabled. The seats are then categorised through the alphabet as  /C/D/E/F/G  – there is no row I.

Once the alphabet has been completed the highest seats in the arena are allocated as AA, BB, CC UP TO FF. . . see short video here. 

Brown section: Sections 6/7, 10/11 brown colours are regarded as having good views and as such the price rises Fridays and Saturdays. There are no Tattoo performances on a Sunday.

Tattoo Cheap Tickets : If you apply for the preview ticket before the official opening ceremony these are cheaper and there will be off peak tickets on the 11th/18th and 25th Aug.  

To view seats and performer highlights click here

Things to consider when buying tickets: If you wish to leave early for a train or cruise ship I would sit lower down. It gets very busy at the end of the night and leaving quickly if you are way up in the Gods is not going to happen, as the steps down from the arena are steep and people move slowly.

Some cruise ships offer transport to and from the Tattoo and given the volume of traffic it may be wise to take the ship transfer if it is Rosyth. For the Port of Leith you can jump a taxi or take a local bus.

cruise ship at Port of Leith Edinburgh
cruise ship at Port of Leith @shutterstock

The Military Tattoo has toilets at the bottom of the arena and it means a long walk down if you are high up. If you need to frequent the toilet or you suffer from Vertigo then I would recommend  a seat lower down. There is a disabled area which I will discuss later as it seems to generate lots of questions and worries.

For people who have walking issues/ambulent disabled, the front 7 rows in the arena are reserved upon request rows C/D/E/F/G/H and J.

Ambulent disabled includes a wide range of disabilities and the term is used for people who can move around and are not regular wheelchair users. eg suffering from diabetes, cancer, epilepsy etc.

These tickets cannot be booked online and must be in person or by telephone. There are also seats for wheelchair users in the front rows. The box office is open from for all accessibility bookings on Mon/Tues/Thurs &  Friday 10.00am- 4.30pm and Wednesday  11.00am-4.30pm – +44 (0) 131 225 1188.

The Best view?

I have compiled a short video of some of the seat views, click here to view:

Everyone gets a really good view. People think that they have to sit high up to see but this is simply not the case. The Edinburgh Military Tattoo is planned and orchestrated to enable everyone to see. The Regiments may enter from Edinburgh Castle but often other performers will enter from the centre of the arena.

All performers face the Royal Boxes initially (purple/pink sections 8/9) but then will move round the large esplanade.

Evening Performance Edinburgh Military Tattoo
Photo Credit: Sold out Evening Performance Edinburgh Military Tattoo 

Edinburgh Military Tattoo packages

There are many packages, some include 4 course meal, champagne, or toast to the haggis. It is quite an extensive list and these can all be found on the official edintattoo.co.uk website. The Royal Gallery and VIP Dining experience ranges from £510 – £580.  The Jacobite experience, Scottish dining in the Castle is between £320 – £375.

The Bruce package, The Amber Package and the Wallace package are cheaper but the meal is not served in Edinburgh Castle but at the top of the Royal Mile in the Scotch Whisky Experience. A few minutes from the Castle esplanade. Full details on the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo website. 

Some packages require dress code and some offer seats outdoors and others let you choose your seat.  Be sure to check what you are buying. You may love the idea of enjoying a 3 course meal with wine and Champagne, while watching a private recital from cast members but did you pack a suit and formal dress? Something to consider.

Scotch whisky experience beside Edinburgh Castle.

Scotch whisky experience Wallace package
Scotch Whisky Experience@shutterstock

For example the Wallace package includes:

  • A pre-performance guided tour of The Scotch Whisky Experience
  • A private viewing the Scotch Whisky collection
  • A Whisky cocktail/ soft drink with canapés in the McIntyre Gallery
  •  Mingle with members of the Tattoo cast
  • A host to escort you to the Castle Esplanade
  • A centrally located seat in Section 4 of the outdoor arena and a tattoo programme.
  • there is no dress code for this package, however on chatting to the staff at the Scotch Whisky Exp. they advised me that it is optional but many guests did arrive in suits/dresses, especially for the Wallace or Bruce Package. The package does ask, “that guests avoid short trousers and sports shoes’.

Disabled Access: If you have booked disabled/wheelchair seating –  you may be able to request a vehicle pass that will allow access to the Esplanade by car, taxi or ambulance. They are subject to availability and are not available for the preview evening or for any Saturday.  

Currently (October 2020) the Edinburgh Tattoo office are not committing to vehicle passes due to the ongoing covid pandemic. I would keep referring to the ticket office nearer the time. The Military Tattoo does not provide wheelchairs but they can be hired from various companies in Edinburgh if you book ahead and check availability. eg. Invictusactive.com

If you do have a vehicle pass then you will go on convoy onto Edinburgh Castle Esplanade. Be aware if you are in a taxi you may be waiting for some period of time, pre agree a set fare, many taxi or private chauffeur will help with this.

Large coaches are not allowed to join the convoy.

Wheelchair seating is along the front rows of sections 1-4 and 12-17 as well as at the top of  Section 10 at ground level and Section 10 facing Edinburgh Castle. These spaces allows for an attendant’s seat.  

There are medical services on the esplanade if required and help can be given to push wheelchairs up the cobbled street. There is lift access to the wheelchair area at the top of Section 10 and there are accessible toilets within the arena and grab rails at the end of each section.

Please remember that the convoy arrives before everyone is seated which means a longer evening. If it is cool be prepared and bring a blanket, there are people to help and medics on site if required. Hot drinks are also available to buy on the esplanade and seat cushions and poncho’s.

Other points to consider: No umbrellas, no flash photography, no alcohol and no glass bottles are permitted. Only small bags or rucksacks under 25 litres are permitted. All bags are searched. No smoking or vaping allowed in the tattoo arena. You will also need ID with your ticket entry as security is very tight.

What to wear to the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo?

It may be warm, it may be cold. This is Scotland after all.

I always wear layers and buy the £1 padded seat cushion at the event. I take a warm jumper over a top. Warm coat with hood, remember, no umbrellas if it rains, comfortable shoes for walking up the cobbled Royal Mile and gloves in my pocket as a back up. I have never actually worn them or needed to put my hood up but it reassures me. The temp does drop significantly around 9.30/10pm and the later Saturday night 10.30 show will be significantly colder.

Queue to enter Edinburgh Military Tattoo?  Everyone has allocated seating. It is a very long queue down Johnson Terrace and it’s uphill all the way back to the Castle.

ticket Edinburgh Military Tattoo
Edinburgh Tattoo – all seats allocated.

There is no pre show acts. The  commentator is the only warm up before the Tattoo starts.  You  may wish to be seated and enjoy the atmosphere but I usually just walk up 20 mins before the show starts. The entrance to the castle is narrow and cobbled and does bottle neck. If you don’t like crowds wait till nearer show time.

Edinburgh Grassmarket Festival Fringe
Lou Armor@shutterstock

There are plenty of restaurants around the Royal mile and the Grassmarket offering something for everyone purse. As I mentioned earlier it gets really busy as the festival is also taking place around the Royal Mile etc.

Book your restaurants when you book your Tattoo tickets.  Some of the popular nearby restaurants include, Devils Advocate, Witchery – can’t get much closer to the Tattoo – The Tower restaurant, 5 min walk, Castle Terrace Restaurant, Amber Restaurant at the Scotch Whisky experience- beside Tattoo, Vittorio on the bridge and the lovely Divino Enoteca Italian restaurant. There are local chain restaurants very near including Pizza Express.

Witchery Restaurant, Edinburgh
Witchery Restaurant. Lou Armor@shutterstock

The Grassmarket is 5 mins away and has many great pubs that serve food and often free festival shows that ask for a donation at the end. (Check out my festival guide for cheap tips and insider guide). see here to experience it. Edinburgh Fringe in 24hrs

And finally: Please buy your tickets  directly from the Tattoo’s official website at www.edintattoo.co.uk or by calling +44 0 131 225 1188. People have been caught out in the past buying from other sites and remember in Scotland our dates are Day first, then month. eg. 12th August 2021- 12/08/2021.

The box office is a good 10 min walk away from the Castle and near the day has lengthy queues.  Give yourself plenty of time to collect your tickets or print them off at home before you arrive.  The address is 1-3 Cockburn Street, along from Waverley train station, the back entrance and opposite the Edinburgh Dungeons.

Edinburgh Military Tattoo office
Tattoo office@LouArmor

TRANSPORT HOME

Trains can also be an issue if you are staying for the 10.30 late Saturday night performance which finishes at midnight.  The last Scotrail train to Glasgow from Edinburgh  is usually 11.45.  In this event I would book the 6.30 show. Admittedly its not dark at this time of night but it would get you back to Glasgow easily.

City link buses run through the night from Edinburgh to Glasgow. The bus station is beside St Andrews Square.

There are extended train services during the Edinburgh Fringe festival and the Edinburgh Military Tattoo for Perth, Dundee, Fife and North Berwick. I have no details at the moment and I would continue to check with Scotrail.co.uk   The Edinburgh Military Tattoo show lasts one hour and 40 mins.

Edinburgh Buses and Trams

There are buses and trams around the city to the airport.  This may be a good option if you are worried about parking. Consider leaving your car at the ‘Park and Ride’ near Edinburgh airport and take the tram in and out.

Edinburgh tram
Edinburgh tram@shutterstock

Edinburgh Trams have in the past operated an overnight service through the night to 5.30 am during the festival and tattoo making it easier to move around the city and return to your accommodation. We do have Uber taxi but they tend to be on surge charge with the volume of people. 

The nearest tram stop from the Edinburgh Military Tattoo is on Princes street and this will take a brisk 10 min walk to reach but realistically with the crowds more like 20 mins. Walk down the Royal mile then turn right down the Mound to connect with the tram.

Crowds on the Royal Mile during the edinburg Tattoo
Royal Mile@shutterstock

Lothian buses have an excellent website and run a night bus till 4.30am. For details and to plan your route home check out Lothianbuses.com. They have an excellent app and remember an all day bus pass costs £4.

I hope this helps answer some of your questions.  The Edinburgh Military Tattoo is a non for profit organisation, to help support the many Royal military charities and veterans.

Thanks for reading. I appreciate you time. The blog does contain affiliates links to pay for WordPress blog tools.   My portfolio is available on Pond5 and shutterstock. Click if curious.

I have mades some facemasks on Red bubble, click here to see more of my images. 

The Edinburgh Military Tattoo has its own fireworks at the end of the weekend performances but the locals of Edinburgh know that the best show is always at the end of the Festivals. It is usually on the Monday night and here are the highlights from 2019. 

Edinburgh Virgin Money Fireworks 2019
Edinburgh Virgin Money Fireworks 2019

If you love the pipes and drums don’t miss Glasgow annual World pipe band competition sadly cancelled for 2020 but will be back in 2021.  It is an amazing day out and of course Glasgow is a fabulous city, famous for Rennie Mackintosh,  don’t miss the famous Willow tearooms, the Clydeside single malt whisky distillery, stunning architecture that inspired film locations for Batman, Fast and furious, Outlander and Cloud Atlas. 

To experience a few hours click here: Glasgow pipe band worlds

Glasgow World Pipe Band Championship
Glasgow World Pipe Band Championship

If you fancy a jaunt through to the fabulous city of Glasgow click here for ideas. You can take the train from Edinburgh or bus and disembark at Queen street station. Train is  only 45 mins long.

If you cannot make the Worlds then the next big bagpipe event will be the Cowal Games in Dunoon.

The other major Highland gathering usually attended by the Queen is the Braemar . If you cant make any of these events but really would like to attend a Scottish Highland games then check this website. Scotlandwelcomesyou.com for a list of all Highland games from May until Sept around Scotland, Skye and the highlands.

Thank you to Edinburgh Tattoo office for supplying seating plan and information on tickets.

Lou A.

 To shop face masks for kids and adults take a look here.

  • Military boots face mask

Edinburgh fringe visitor tips, transport, tickets, provisional dates 2021.

The Fringe, also known as the Edinburgh Fringe Festival is the largest Arts and Culture Festival in the world and anyone can take part in 2021.

Different to the Edinburgh International Festival which runs during the same weeks in Edinburgh, the International festival is by invitation from the Festival Director and showcases top class performers of classical music, theatre, opera and dance. Sadly due to the Covid 19 outbreak, the 2020 festival and fringe festival and royal military tattoo have been cancelled. The provisonal dates for 2021 are 6-30th August 2021.

Edinburgh fringe 2019
Edinburgh fringe Royal Mile

Follow tweets on @edfringe. There is a very good Q&A page for anyone who has booked tickets or for performers who are unsure of the next step. Artists will have the opportunist for a full refund or roll over their ticket to 2021. click here for more details.

Planning your trip 2021.

August in Scotland is mad, crazy busy. Accommodation is at a premium as the performers are staying in the city plus camera crews. The Military Tattoo starts in August (dates for 2021 are 6th -28th), and did I mention the Book Festival? This tented village caters for over 1000 authors, in over 800 events for all ages. 

Edinburgh Book Festival 2019
Edinburgh Book Festival

TICKETS Edinburgh Fringe – Which show?

The first thing you need is a copy of the brochure. They are available in book shops, cafes and at the Edinburgh Fringe official store on the Royal Mile. It is impossible to scroll through over 3,000 shows without some sort of guidance. It is easier to narrow your search by comedy/music/theatre or children’s category.

The National newspapers post daily reviews, check out the Scotsman, the Stage or ask the staff at the booking offices.
Fringe App – one of the best apps to help explore the Edinburgh Fringe. This easy to download app, allows you to find shows nearby, buy tickets, it indicates your nearest ticket collection point and shows you what’s available that day at the Virgin half price hut.

It is very easy to use and you can select your show by genre – suitability, accessibility and of course find out the price. Years ago the Fringe cost around £5 a show, now with big circuit names like Al Murray, expect to buy up to £19. There is also a booking fee for tickets. I love the Inspiration machine at Edfringe, more details below.

Quick look at the Edinburgh fringe in 24 hrs click this link.

Performers on the Royal Mile
lou armor@shutterstock

Tickets must be pre booked as you cannot buy tickets at the shows. If the show is at a large venue there may be a box office onsite but some are unmanned and do not have booking facilities – only ticket collection points. To be on the safe side prebook online or go to one of the larger booking office sites and pay and collect tickets in advance.

Cheap Tickets Prices & Free shows @Edinburgh fringe 

Edinburgh has a free Fringe  and last year offered a record breaking 9,237 performances including comedy, cabaret, theatre, music and children shows. Details for these shows can be found at freefringe there is usually a hat passed around at the end of the show for donations.

Try and get your hands on the Wee Blue Book which will give you a list of all the free shows. They are often handed out on the Royal Mile by performers.

Some of the free shows are on licensed premises which means that under 18 are not allowed. Under 18 are permitted with a responsible adult before 9pm at select venue. Check the programme first. If you wish to tip a show online or from your phone you can now do so using the bar code at the back of the wee blue book. Freefringe.org.uk

The popularity of these has grown enormously and as such first come first served. You will have to give yourself some time to queue for the more popular free shows.

If you are on a budget here are some other tips to navigate the fringe cheaply.

1.Visiting the preview shows. These are offered at discounted prices usually at the start of August while performers test the water. However, remember that student and OAP are offered concessions on full price tickets only.

2. The Virgin half price hut is a must and can be found at the bottom of the Mound on Princes street. Unsold tickets are available here for same day shows and usually a good selection of shows for the next morning.

CSC_1295
photo@shutterstock

3. The fringe has an app which also offers 2 for 1 tickets on selected shows or join the friends of the fringe and you get 2 for 1 deals.

You may think how much to join? However the Canny Scott shares the expense with a friend and you both get to try lots of different shows.

There are free shows daily on the Royal Mile and it is a great place to soak up the festival atmosphere. Many people are confused if they find themselves on the Canongate or High street or Castlehill or the Lawnmarket, these are the sections that make up the Royal Mile. The free shows tend to be on the section of St Giles Cathedral, one block down from Edinburgh Castle.

There are box offices across the city and you can collect your tickets from any of these locations. You can collect your tickets from Edinburgh Airport, card machine only and Waverley train station.

Photo credit: lou armor@shutterstock

Navigating the Shows – Timing is everything.

Okay on a map you might think, we have plenty of time to get to the Pleasance or the Underbelly. Please, do not under estimate how much longer it takes when there are thousands of people milling through the streets of Edinburgh.

It can be over whelming at times and I would urge you not to travel by car in the city centre. Parking is already at a premium and unless you have £4.20 an hour to spare for parking, then walk. The local buses hardly move with the volume of traffic at the weekends and often Uber will be on surcharge. The local taxi have many ranks throughout the city.

Show times: The late shows go on until 3am and they can be really good fun if you are a night owl. These events tend to be at the Pleasance which is a fabulous venue, part of the University with outdoor bars, seating areas, food, good atmosphere and plenty of shows on offer. The other popular venue is the Gilded Balloon Teviot, also part of Edinburgh University and a great location with lots of outdoor bars, and great taster shows and fun street performers.

Gilded Balloon, Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2019
Edinburgh Fringe@shutterstock

HOW MANY SHOWS IN A DAY? How big is your wallet? How many people are travelling with you and what are the age groups? Buggies and wheelchairs can be difficult to navigate through the huge crowds especially at the weekends. Children are usually early to rise, just get up and do early shows. Children will not want to spend all day traipsing through huge crowds so you will have to introduce some family ‘run about time’.

I would recommend Inverleith Park next to the Botanical gardens, then stroll into Stockbridge, plenty of cafe. Princes street gardens is undergoing extensive renovation work but the far end of Princes street, near the Waldorf Astoria has a great climbing frame, swings etc, outdoor cafe and the the newly renovated Ross Fountain.

Singletons and older people, it really depends on your preferences and fitness levels. Edinburgh is on a steep hill. There is considerable walking up and down hills. Navigating crowds and finding food & drink spots.

Free street shows and small children: These can be found on the Royal Mile and at the bottom of the Mound, please be aware that the crowds are huge and children can get lost. I recommend agreeing a meeting place in the event of getting separated. (My daughter and I always do this on London Underground).

Edinburgh Fringe Circus Hub 2019
Edinburgh Fringe Circus Hub 

During the day, many families enjoy the space and safety of George Square gardens and the meadows which has the Circus Hub. Previous years  shows  included – Earths Dinosaur Zoo, the Mister men show and Don’t mess with the Dummies. Details on underbellyedinburgh.co.uk

Choosing a show???

It is a minefield, take the easy option and go see a collection of performers, such as comedians. They have shows called the Best of Irish comedy or the Best Comedy new comers. This way if someone humour does not resonate with you, the next act might. There are usually 3 performers and you are bound to like one of them. Remember to check the app as some shows are not suitable for under 14. The best of the festival is a great show usually towards the end of August and the best shows compete for the overall winner. These tickets sell out quickly as its a guaranteed good night. Keep an eye out for the brochure.
Edfringe Inspiration Machine – The fringe has a machine that is free that will suggest three shows. You can do it online and a roulette wheel spins and chooses a show, some of these have short clips, its really good fun and easy way to pick a show. Edfringe.com

Pace yourself, plan ahead, make a schedule, work out your nearest ticket collection point or just fly by the seat of your pants.

I would normally only do 3/4 shows in a day due to the walking and crowds. Many of the fringe venues are in basements, small rooms and halls, they can get real hot due to lack of air conditioning so take this into consideration. Nights are cooler in some of these venues.

Dress attire/ safety. Wear comfortable clothes, good walking shoes, bring a cagoule, it will rain on and off. Bring a rucksack as you will be inundated with flyers from shows on the royal Mile or any big venue. Do not put wallets/purses near the top of a rucksack, make sure they are down at the bottom in case of ‘light fingers’ in the crowds.

TRANSPORT – A normal journey into Edinburgh will take longer. If going or returning to the airport, consider the tram. It is not affected by roadworks, crowds or traffic accidents. It takes about 30 mins and has many stops throughout the city centre.

There is a Airlink bus direct from the airport and two train stations include Haymarket in the West End and the main station Waverley, beside Princes street gardens and Princes street.

Witchery Restaurant, Edinburgh
Witchery Restaurant@shutterstock

Cant find a Restaurant? This is an unexpected annoyance of having so many festivals at the same time. If you get no joy from calling the restaurants then try Opentable.co.uk or 5pm.co.uk – they have a very easy booking system.

DRIVING IN EDINBURGH – Edinburgh has green priority transport lanes for buses and taxi. Cars cannot drive on these at peak times, tourists be aware – you may be fined. Speed limit in the city centre is 20mph. To see my transport video with traffic tips on how to reach edinburgh city from the airport by car click here.

Car rental tips in Edinburgh scotland
Lou Armor@shutterstock

For driving tips and understanding the Greenways read this post: 

I hope this gives you a few starting points and things to consider. It really is a fantastic month. Soak up the atmosphere, try a random show, change your usual genre, try something completely different.

Where to stay?

Accommodation Edinburgh Festival Fringe: Edinburgh is very popular for AIR BB as many families leave the city during the festival and let our their homes. Edinburgh University and others have empty halls of residence that are available to rent. Check out Universityrooms.com, accommodation.ed.ac.uk

Youth hostels are a great cheap option: St Christophers’s Inn or SYHA.ORG.UK or Euro-hostels.co.uk/edinburgh or hostel world.com/hostels/edinburgh. Their are camp sites and caravan sites http://www.caravanclub.co.uk .

Cheap hotels: Travelodge, Ibis, Premier Inn, local guest houses and bed/breakfast. Luxury hotels in city centre include: Waldorf Astoria, Principle George Hotel, Carlton Highland, Hilton group, G&V Hotel, Witchery Hotel Royal Mile, Balmoral Hotel, Kimpton Charlotte Square.

P.S If you have a favourite restaurant then book at least 3/4 weeks in advance. Watch my youtube video of my favourite places to see in Edinburgh. Half of them are completely free. Click on this link below. For your seating guide to the Military Tattoo, click here

For a list of free things and fun activities in Edinburgh click here.

Best of luck and thanks for your time. I appreciate it. to buy tickets click on edfringe.com

Lou A.

Puffin Tours near Edinburgh

Visiting the Isle of May in the Firth of Forth to find Puffins, was one of the highlights of my scottish adventures. The island is very easy to reach from the city of Edinburgh by car or by train to North Berwick where you can walk to the harbour rendezvous point. 

puffins
Puffins, small winged seabirds that come ashore to breed @shutterstock

 

 

 

 

 

 

Puffins have always been on my bucket list and the closest place to Edinburgh that I could find these cute birds was on the Isle of May. A protected island, run by Scottish Natural Heritage, it can be accessed from Anstruther by ferry or from North Berwick harbour, 40 mins from Edinburgh. If travelling from North Berwick the choices include a catamaran cruise to Bass Rock or a RHIB inflated boat to both Bass Rock and the Isle of May. Having tried the RHIB in Canada to see Orca Whales, I knew which mode of transport would be more exciting. There are also sperm whales and Minke off the shores of the Isle of May, and I was very hopeful for some sightings.

Seabird.org is the official website for the Scottish Seabird Centre and I booked online using their date planner. Click on the Isle of may website, then sailing times. It is important to remember that the Isle of May is a nature reserve and the number of visitors is restricted daily so advance booking make sense.

Puffins are sea birds from the Auk family and only come on land to breed. They can live up to 4o years and return to the same burrow. The season usually lasts from April till early August. When you book a boat trip it is weather dependant which can be tricky if you are planning a trip from overseas. I decided to book 4 weeks in advance and basically had my fingers crossed for good weather.

Scottish Seabird Centre in North Berwick Scotland
Scottish Seabird Centre in North Berwick@shutterstock

Arriving at The Seabird centre in North Berwick, I was slightly confused as the centre was closed but my sailing was due to leave at 10am. I discovered that you have to go across from the seabird centre on the same side, behind the offices to the harbour and there is another meeting point where everyone signs forms and are provided with waterproofs and life jackets. The group was quite small, 12 in total and it is very easy to chat with everyone. The guide was totally brilliant, you can see him on my video below. Very informative, funny, passionate and reassuring.

The crossing gets very cold out in the open water so make sure you have a sweater with you and proper clothes. You can change and bring a rucksack on arrival at the visitor centre. I loved the crossing, watching all the seals and puffins as we approached the island.

The trip guarantees you 2 hours on the Isle of May. Bring your own food, drink and snacks, as there are no facilities on the island except toilets. Visitors must also remove all their rubbish. There is a guided tour which I was keen to join, not having a clue where I was going. The guide also gives you tips on where is the best place to find certain birds and their habitats. For instance Puffins burrow. News to me, and if you want to watch them, sit down quietly and just observe before dragging out cameras and fancy video recorders. They will settle and allow you a greater insight into their habits.

The noise on the island is initially quite deafening but you get use to it quickly as your ears try to differentiate between the different shrieks, songs and notes. It is not easy, if like me your bird knowledge is limited to one Christmas bird spotting book and an uncle who raced pigeons! That is why the guide is so invaluable. There are over 280 species of birds recorded and up to 250,000 seabirds can nest here. The cliff tops are very dramatic and good walking shoes are essential. There is a lighthouse with accommodation that can be rented out for up to a week but I believe priority is given to bird enthusiasts and bird ringers.

Isle of MAY
Isle of May Observatory building and lighthouse

The other reason I choose the RHIB crossing was that it returned via Bass Rock, a volcanic rock that is home to 150,000 gannets. I have never seen Hitchcocks famous film “The Birds” and I was fine, but a few of my fellow passengers were quite frankly, terrified!

It is the most amazing sight. Gannets, are Britains largest seabird and when you encounter them in such vast numbers, circling above your head, it is slightly unsettling. For me I was in awe of Mother Nature.

I loved my day trip and was blessed with blue skies and would love to return. Good walking shoes are essential and the RHIB crossing is not suitable for people with back problems or pregnant ladies. I paid £48 for 4 hours and it was memorable and great value for money.

I made a short video of my day, click here to view.

If taking small children I would think they would be more suited to the one hour Catamaran trip round Bass Rock or Craigleith or the Anstruther Pleasure Cruise to The Isle of May. I have also tried the ferry crossing to Incholm island which had lots of children on board.

Bring some bird books or things to amuse any children on the crossing, it can be a long day for them. Anstruther allows children aged 4-15 on the May Princess. Look up Isleofmayferry.com/ and the RHIB Crossing allows children aged 7 and upwards.

There are opportunities to land on Bass Rock, and these trips for keen bird watchers, photographers and ornithologists are popular and run from Easter to Autumn. Be warned the smell and noise are pretty over whelming.

I hope you enjoyed my day trip. If you get the chance please go.

Thanks for reading.

Lou.

Useful numbers: Scottish Seabird centre Centre will be closed for refurbishment from 01 February to the start of April 2019. The contact number is +44 (0)1620 890202.

Isle of May ferry from Anstruther: info@isleofmayferry.com – 07957 585200

 

 

 

 

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