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Little-Known Places - Doors Open Day: Botanic Cottage, Royal Botanic Gardens, Edinburgh

Although I've never gone to one, in recent years I've become aware of the Open House London event where various, often not usually open to the public, places throw their doors open for a weekend for visitors to take a look. What I hadn't appreciated was that this concept has spread to cities across the world and that there's a similar event, called Doors Open Day, across Scotland throughout September. Even better, this last weekend Edinburgh was one of the locations taking part.

I only found out about this a few days before so the website listing all the places open over the weekend was extensive by that point, where to begin? I decided to whittle down the search by sticking to places that were easily accessible and those hopefully not so likely to be incredibly popular and therefore busy. Lastly, although everywhere is free to enter, that's the idea that you get to see places you can't normally or else would usually have to pay for, some places (popular ones) d…

Palace of Holyroodhouse, Edinburgh

Everyone visiting Edinburgh typically goes to the castle but how about the Palace of Holyroodhouse, have you been? Well I hadn't either until moving here but I've now taken along a number of our visiting guests, all keen to see the Queen's official residence in Edinburgh as well as the historic apartments of Mary, Queen of Scots. The palace is at the opposite end of the Royal Mile from the castle making for a nice walk along its length and a good chance to take in all that it has to offer, even if it is very touristy there! Once you arrive at the palace you're in the shadow of Arthur's Seat and the open space of Holyrood park, a total contrast to the old buildings along the Royal Mile and the narrow passageways of the Old Town.

The palace that you see today was built between 1671 and 1678, asides from the 16th century tower, which you can see in the photo below, which was built by James V. The more modern part of the palace was designed for Charles II on the restora…

Dubai Flashback

On my recent return visit to Dubai we had one touristy day and the rest of the time was all about relaxing. In any case with temperatures with a 'feels like' of the high 40s, peaking at a 'feels like' of 50°c on one day it was too hot to be doing very much.
Here's my Dubai flashback.

Dishoom, Edinburgh

Before living in Edinburgh became a thing I'd heard from friends about Dishoom in London. Frankly it sounded amazing but going there just didn't quite happen. Fast forward to moving up to Edinburgh at the end of last year and shortly afterwards discovering that a Dishoom was opening in our new home and myself and my husband got very excited! Since it opened we've been several times both for dinner and breakfast and it honestly is as good as you'll have doubtless heard everyone say it is, if you haven't yet been.

The restaurants pay homage to the old, one time common place Irani cafes of Bombay, founded by Zoroastrian immigrants from Iran. The d├ęcor of the Edinburgh restaurant is full of old photos of individuals and groups and signs advertising various businesses in old Bombay. I'm not sure how closely it resembles the other restaurants in London (as I haven't been) this one though draws on the experiences of a Scottish botanist, sociologist and town planner…

At The Top - Burj Khalifa, Dubai

I got to spend a few days in Dubai recently, with my husband currently working in Saudi Arabia it is one of several more convenient locations in the region for us to meet up when the opportunity arises. My last visit to Dubai was nearly six years ago, when we went there on our honeymoon so it was good to go back again. Much of the trip was really just about relaxing and catching up but we did have one touristy day, returning to the viewing platforms at the Burj Khalifa.

We did this when we were in Dubai previously and it's worth doing if you're there. In fact it was only when I was up there previously that I truly appreciated that Dubai is in the middle of the desert. The white sandy covering over the land looking almost like a dusting of snow when viewed from so high up, but with temperatures on this visit reaching the 40s and with a 'feels like' of 50°c on one day there clearly was no snow around!

There are three observation decks in the building, on the 148th floor, 1…

St. Andrews, Scotland

St. Andrews was somewhere I knew predominantly for its connection to golf and latterly as being the location where a certain royal couple met whilst at university there. I'm still learning with regards to my geography of Scotland so wasn't altogether sure where it was in relation to Edinburgh but it's not actually that far and by car it can be reached in about an hour and a half. Asides from the golf, university and royal connections though there's plenty of other things there to make it a worthwhile visit.
We've actually been two times since moving up here, our first visit was an overnight stay and on the second we took a visiting friend for the day. We don't have a car, you don't really need one in Edinburgh as it's a pretty compact city, but every now and again my husband will get a hire car for the weekend. This will sometimes be to do those inevitable jobs that do require a car (i.e. going to the tip) but mainly so we can go a little further afield …

Portobello Beach, Edinburgh

When I moved to Edinburgh I'd never really thought about how close it was to the coast and so when I heard it had a coastal suburb with a beach I was, I'm not going to lie, surprised. It definitely does though and it's a really lovely beach to visit if you're in this part of the world. I appreciate now that Scotland actually has some really stunning beaches all over its coastline. Having only been to the beach at Aberdeen on an incredibly cold day a few years ago (and no I didn't appreciate that one that day) it would be good to try and visit some more whilst I'm in this part of the world.

From the city centre it's easy enough to get a bus direct to Portobello, or Porty as it's known locally, and just a short ride later you're there at a proper sandy beach and breathing in the fresh sea air. You'd never think you were so close to Edinburgh and yet somewhere so very different. On the Sunday that we headed there it was a stunningly beautiful, if n…

Street Art of Georgetown, Penang

I've always loved seeing street art wherever I am, there are some really creative pieces in many locations that really add something to their environment, even Singapore has some which are well worth seeing. Georgetown though is known for its art and really does do it wonderfully with great pieces of work, both large and small, literally on every corner. I couldn't share blog posts about our visit there without sharing a little of what I saw.

It seems anything goes, whether it be an entire blank wall on the end of a building with a floor to roof piece or an everyday feature like a pipe cleverly turned into a cigarette, cats do seem to be a very popular subject, but then who doesn't like cats? I'm sure even if you haven't visited Georgetown you'll recognise some of these pieces of art. 

Here's just a few of mine, but which are your favourites?