8 things NOT to do in Edinburgh

So last month I surprised my ‘little sister’ with a trip to Edinburgh for her 21st birthday. Woke her up, told her to pack a bag and off we went. SURPRISE!

Since returning home from traveling a while back, I have taken the advice of the Dalai Lama and “Once a year, go some place you’ve never been before”. Edinburgh has always been on the bucket list and since one of my best friends moved there to study last year, it quickly moved its way up the ranks.

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Despite painting the town green, we might have walked what felt like 1000 miles over the weekend to fit in everything there is to do and see in the medieval city – thanks to our fabulous tour guide of course.

So after reading a bucket load of blogs referring to how amazing Edinburgh is I decided to let you in on what we learnedย NOT to do:

1. Visit Edinburgh Castle.

Edinburgh Castle might just be the most majestic castle I’ve ever seen. It’s located high above Edinburgh looking down on both new town & old town and visiting it might make you feel like any castle you’ve seen before was now a complete waste of time.

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It really is breathtaking and who really wants their breath taken away? Not me anyway.

It is simply the castle of all castles – you can tell by our faces.

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(I’m guessing by now you can tell how this blog is going to go ๐Ÿ˜› )

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2. Oink

So Oink ranks very high on the “must-do restaurants” in Edinburgh, so of course it was a must-see over the course of the few days.

Oink simply specialises in pulled pork sandwiches. Pulled pork sandwiches so good that if you’re not quick enough you’ll miss out – it took us two attempts.

When we finally got our hands on one I decided to live life on the edge and order; the hagis filling, BBQ sauce and crackling.

VERDIT: It may have been the tastest pulled port sandwhich I’ve ever had.

So why shouldn’t I go there I hear you ask?

Well since arriving home, ALL i’ve been craving is a sandwich from OINK! Just don’t do it to yourself, nothing is ever going to be able to compare.

Though if you go against my advice, I’d recommend that you go the whole hog (excuse the pun) the morning after the night before.

It just hits the spot, but you’re at great risk thatย you mightn’t be able to cure a hangover in the same way ever again.

3. Armstrongs Vintage Store

One of Edinburgh’s hidden gems and I can honestly say, although I’ve only been there twice, it’s one of my all time favourite stores.

To me it combines theatre, tumblr and all things vintage … what’s not to like? or LOVE?

Just take a look for yourself …

Though I wouldn’t recommend going there – there’s more for me that way!

Just follow them on Twitter instead @ArmstrongsVtg

4. Do Harry Potter themed thingsย 

How would I describe Edinburgh to a Harry Potter fan?

A kid in a candy store? ….. A Liverpool supporter in Anfield?

Edinburgh basically holds the essence of Hogwarts.

J.K Rowling roamed the streets of the city being inspired by the buildings, the schools, the people and the history.

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We visited the coffee shop where she reportedly wrote most of the books and took a stroll around the graveyard where she found the names for most of the characters.

 

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Yes, your eyes aren’t deceiving you, that is Thomas Riddles grave.

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I genuinely feel it might be too much for a superfan and just a reminder that Harry Potter is no more … ok sorry I didn’t mean that, it will always live on in Edinburgh.

5. Arthurs seat

Just your standard dormant volcano overlooking the city ….

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… no biggie.

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6. Calton hill

Absolultey no photo opportunities here at all …

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Nothing to see. …

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7. Panda & Sons cocktail bar

A cocktail bar disguised as a barber shop.

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How do you know it’s a bar I hear you ask? Just open the secret door in the bookcase. DUH!

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This is not just your typical cocktail bar though, these people are mixologists! If you’re looking for your standard Mijoto or Sex on the beach then this is not the place for you.

Cocktails in teapots accompanied with handtowels is the standard here.

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And of course cocktails with edible flowers.

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And it was far from handtowels and edible flowers we were rared really.

8. Paddy’s day

Lastly I DEF wouldn’t celebrate Paddy’s Day in Edinburgh – not a celebration, a pint of Guinness or green hat in sight.

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Seriously. ๐Ÿ˜‰

I joke, I joke of course I’m not serious!!!

Edinburgh, I’m head over heels in love with you, I’m just in denial. Don’t worry i’ll be back. โค

 

 

Dear 11-year-old me

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Dear 11-year-old Anna,

Look who it is?! It’s you at 28! Ancient I know, but don’t worry it’s pretty amazeballs – yes that’s a word.

So while I’m here, is there anything you would like to know? WWWOOOOOOOHHHHH of course you do, I can tell you one thing, you never stop asking questions and you’re still a chatterbox … maybe you should tone that down a little.

  • Honestly, listen to your Mother – she really speaks the truth.
  • Don’t worry, Sharon H will still live up the road until you go to college – will actually sing at her wedding and she will be the most amazing bride you will ever see.
  • Of course, Aisling will still be in your life, you still feel 11 when ye hang out! No, she’s not hugging trees but yes she’s still a vegetarian …ย Check out her blog! #proudofher
  • Please don’t drop art at school.
  • Stay weird – it’s better fun.
  • You will find an amazing group of friends that just get you – turns out they’re the exact same.

  • You will actually get to know must of them very soon, but you’re not as close just yet!
  • Though amazing people will continue to come into your life to this day & already you can’t think of what your life would be like without them.
  • Yes, everyone will eventually stop calling you “Anna Banana”.
  • Just be yourself, honestly it’s worth it – stop trying to impress people and be something you’re not.
  • Of course, you should audition for that part, audition for all the parts, if you’re not in you can’t win.
  • No, you’re not going to be on Broadway – but your 100% ok with that. You’ll still continue to sing and perform to your heart’s content.
  • No, you don’t get better at spelling – but it’s ok, you’ve figured out why and you’re damn proud of it. You even become a Journalist.
  • You’ll be free of a certain music teacher very soon.
  • You’ll surprise yourself and achieve more than you ever thought. You can do anything you put your mind to – DREAM BIGGER MY FRECKLY FRIEND!ย 
  • Nope, you never learn how to tame that curly mop of yours.ย 
  • There is a thing called YouTube & it will take over your life.
  • Sorry little one, you have NO chance with Stephen Gately, he gets married to his boyfriend of 13 years and sadly passes away in 2009. It still upsets you to this day.
  • Yes, I remember that bucket list you created, you’ve actually ticked more than half of it.
  • No, I’m not going to tell you which half. Though I can tell you that you’re still not married but actually really happy with the fact, as your having waayyy to much fun.
  • And technically you actually never really become an adult.

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  • Sam Smith is a major man in your life, don’t worry Garth Brooks still has a special place in your heart and he’s back on tour but 2014 is not a good year for you in that department – no you still don’t wanna talk about it. *sheds tear*
  • You’ll find a grรก for Cork,ย DON’T FREAK OUT!!,ย other places are on the list too – Australia being one of them.
  • And no the water doesn’t flow down the toilet in the opposite direction over there.

OK, OK, STOP ALL THE QUESTIONS NOW! You’re just going to ruin it for yourself!

Just one piece of advice; keep taking chances, jumping at every opportunity & living life with no regrets. The good, the bad and the ugly will all add up to who you are today, everything happens for a reason andย so far it’s all been totally worth it.

Oh, look who already has the hang of it? Yes, you could call it amazeballs.

Tips for those social media breaks

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Working in the area of social and creative media of course has it’s ups and downs, like any other career path you choose to take, but for me I wouldn’t change it for the world.

As Steve Jobs said himself,

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I know working in this world, having this blog as well as my jammed packed instagram/twitter accounts puts me in the position to share everything with the world and get easily addicted.

But I genuinely take more social media breaks or ‘Airplane Mode Days’ than people think, and they usually go like this:

"The future depends on what we do in the present" ๐Ÿ™ #namaste #yoga #quote #body #soul #health ๐Ÿ’™

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Interruption-free space is sacred. Yet, in the digital era we live in, we are losing hold of the few sacred spaces that remain untouched by email, the internet, people, and other forms of distraction.

Even if you don’t emerse yourself into the world of social media, ‘Airplane Days’ are essential for everyone’s life balance and ‘creative pause’ – whatever your vice is.

Deemed ‘On Airplane Mode’ as I switch off all signal, notifications and data and solely use my phone as a camera or Ipod.

Even if it’s just while I’m in the shower, on a coffee date with a friend or away for the weekend. (When in Germany last year, I turned myself on ‘Airplane Mode’ from Friday to Monday, no problem – refreshing).

Below are just some things I’ve learned along the way – and continue to learn:

Without further ado, introducing life hack 101 with Anna;

The pause:ย Addictions are something we often do automatically, without thinking. Start to break this chain of trigger-habit auto-response by introducing a small pause in between them. When you get the urge to check something youโ€™re addicted to, notice this urge, and pause for just one second. During this pause, simply ask yourself, โ€œDo I really want to do this, and why?โ€ You can then go on to do it, no matter what the answer, but the important thing is having at least the briefest pause.

Unplugging:ย Wether you reserve one day of the weekend and force yourself to disconnect, or just by simply turning off your notifications for a few hours, find something within your set means and unplug. Simple little things I do are:

  • Leaving my phone in my room for a few hours after work.
  • Make friends with silent mode.
  • When out with friends, leave your phones in the middle of the table; first to check theirs buys everyone food/drink. (We even did this on New Years Eve!)
  • Place your phone face-down. Might sound stupid but it works.
  • Deliberately ‘forget your phone’.
  • Of course my friend, Airplane Mode.

Schedule time for non-Internet and non-media activities. That means actually block them off on your schedule.ย Take a walk for 10 minutes. Do some yoga, or what I prefer to do is write in a notebook, remember writing?ย Talk to someone in person. Schedule time to spend with the favourites. Go for a walk in solitude.

Cold turkey weekends:ย It’s just like ripping off a ban-aid, just go for it. I promise you, you’ll feel amazing after it.

The goal isnโ€™t to eliminate all information sources and be shut off from the online world. Itโ€™s not to throw out your iPhone or laptop. These tools are incredibly useful and powerful โ€” obviously I make my living using them, and they have changed our lives in so many positive ways. The idea is simply not to be controlled by them, and to have a balanced life that includes other activities. It’s possible to stay in contact with Friends abroad, beat your top score on Candyย Crushย (if that’s what your into) and also be present in life’sย unforgettableย moments.ย 

As much as I love the world of social media, you canโ€™t translate the phone calls, the sweet messages, the life chats, the hugs, the advice, the good deedโ€™s or even the drinks but what social media does do is help you remember them.

Don’t forget every time you post something online you have a choice.

 

Be kind to it this world, don’t abuse it.

My unhealthy obsession

So it’s time to come clean, time to open up and talk about it, time to let the world know that I Anna O Donoghue have an unhealthy obsession with – The Sun.

Sunrises & Sunsets to be exact.

It all began many moons ago, but it wasn’t until I landed in Australia that it began to become border line ‘unhealthy’.

Growing up in the center of a large town has it’s many many advantages and I wouldn’t swap it for the world, but the views I may cherish more than anyone else because of that are:

1. The ability to see large scale sunrises/sunsets

2. A clear view of the stars.

and

3. An open view of the sea/ocean/water.

If anyone knows me personally you’re probably thinking “Awh it all makes sense now!”.

While traveling I set out to obviously experience and see as much as I could, but it was always the vast beauty of a sunset or sunrise that continued to stop me in my tracks and take my breath away.

Wether it was on the Ring of Kerry, the Australian outback or on a glacier in New Zealand, the sun will always rise and set, always reminding me that home wasn’t so far away after all.

You know that saying “Red sky at night, sailors delight. Red sky in the morning sailors warning.”? (My Nan has engrained sailor instead of shepard into me as an Islander) That saying has always resonated with me. It makes me think that the sunset or sunrise already knows what lies ahead and by it making itself know to you is it telling you that “everything is going to be ok”.

There has been nights I’ve actually been in funny little arguments with my Mother as she unknowingly led to me missing the sunset (Sorry Mom!) or many nights while away with friends I always make them plan everything around us watching the sunset.

Camping with my one and only's ๐Ÿ’›๐Ÿ’›โ˜€๏ธโ›บ๏ธ

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(Throwing it back to Juerin Bay & the Maharees.)

Taking time out to let nature do the talking – “Chasin The Sun”.

Cue photo overload but for full effect first click play on one of my summer must have tunes; Xavier Rudd’s, Follow the Sun.

Cloncurry, Outback Qld, Australia

Feeling Blessed! โค

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Moreton Bay Marina, Qld, Australia.

Moreton Bay Marina

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Brisbane, Qld.

I'm back brissie!

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Juerin Bay, WA, Australia.

Loving life! โค @helenabrosnan

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Gone fishin' ๐Ÿ ๐ŸŸ๐Ÿฌ๐Ÿš

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Three Springs, WA, Australia.

Feeling blessed….beautiful pink sunset two days in a row….#pink #sunset #blessed #gorgeous

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Kalbarri, WA, Australia.

Follow the sun….๐ŸŒž๐ŸŒ…๐ŸŒ„๐ŸŒ‡

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Feint, Co. Kerry, Ireland

Has to be one of my favourite spots, Feint Island to be exact as it’s the closet sunset catcher from my front door. Nothing beats Irish summer days and Irish summer days at home = pure and utter bliss!

Summer days…๐Ÿ’›๐ŸŒด๐ŸŒป๐ŸŒผ #fenit #ireland #summer #love #sunset

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Simply….Love ๐Ÿ’›๐ŸŒ…๐ŸŒ„ #sunset #ireland #fenit #love

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No place like home! ๐Ÿ™‚

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Banna Beach, Ardfert, Co. Kerry

Beautiful Banna Strand this evening! โ˜€๐ŸŒด๐ŸŠ #banna #beach #ireland #kerry #sun #sunset

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Maharees, Castlegregory, Co. Kerry.

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Mahon, Cork City.

While we were in Byron Bay, NSW, Australia weย  took a 6am hot air ballon ride to watch the sunrise over the Bay and it was just mind-blowing! Byron Bay is 100% on my list as one of my favourite places in the world. Bare-footed, hippie vibing, beach lifing – Byron Bay.

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Ennis, Co. Clare.

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Turners Cross, Cork City.

Though this pretty much sums it all up.

So I took up Arm Knitting …

Yes you read right … I recently took up Arm Knitting.

What is Arm Knitting I hear you ask? Well it is exactly what it says on the tin, it is like knitting just using your arms instead of knitting needles.

I learned to knit in about fourth class and I remember the first thing I made was a scarf for my childhood teddy Cuddles *everyone say awwhhh*.

About 15 years later, while living in the recorded hottest place in Australia – Cloncurry, QLD – my friend and I decided that it was the perfect place and time to start knitting again – as you do! ๐Ÿ˜› Well the real logic behind it was that one of our fellow backpackers, Sarah from Canada, used to crochet and that inspired us to knit our own scarves for our upcoming trip to snowy New Zealand. I’ve been knitting on and off since then, though its never been big projects, I still can only do two stitches; plain (garter) and purl and I can’t even follow a pattern!

I love make these tea cozies, they are so simple and fun to make.

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I’m just saying all this to show that anyone can take knitting back up from when they learned at school or take it up from scratch as an adult especially with the powers of a YouTube tutorial.

Now back to Arm Knitting …

A dear friend of mine shared this video of someone Arm Knitting a cowl scarf on my FB page and I was fascinated. It was so random but looked so easy to do so after I ran out of things I could knit I decided to give it a go.

Firstly: Buy thick chunky scarf wool – I got mine in the amazing haven that is Vibes and Scribes, Bridge Street, Cork.

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Top Tip: Because – and you’ll find out later – you need to double up on wool strands you really need to really buy 3/4 large balls to complete this project.ย 

Secondly: Log on to http://www.youtube.com and search ‘How To Arm Knit A Scarf’.

I used this tutorial.

Honestly I think the hardest part was to get used to following the tutorial and maybe doing the stitches.

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Also try not to start a project when you have to do anything, like use the bathroom, as you tend to get a little tied up. ๐Ÿ˜›

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The whole project took me a total of two nights to master and a grand total of 40mintues to make the scarf. After a while the stitches are so repetitive and easy that I was on Facetime to friends the whole time I was making it.

Honestly it’s that easy!

So what does an Arm Knitted cowl scarf look like you might now ask?

TA DA!

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How cute? Not sure you can see the detail from my picture so here are a few cute ones I found on Pinterest!

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Oooooohhhhhh aaaaaahhhhhhh

And talk about timing … it’s been frrreeezzzziiinnngggg here the last few weeks so the morning after I finished it I woke up to a blanket of snow outside my house.

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So all weekend I’ve been tucked up in my Arm Knitted scarf, it even made an appearance at home in Kerry. Its soooooo soft and chunky – what else would you want in a scarf?

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Honestly it is such an easy and fast project to do for beginners – I Arm Knit challenge you all!

Just look how cute this Arm Knitted blanket is?

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Watch this space!

2015 – The year of the Blog

For those following this blog for a while now know that I am a big lover of New Years. I love looking back at what I’ve learned in the past year and I love setting goals for the next.

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Now the up-keep of this blog was among my resolutions last year and even the year before but sadly was not fulfilled as well as I hoped. Securing my masters was number one on the list & all my energy was directed to that. (Which paid off! Yeah! Anna O’Donoghue BA MA)

To be honest since I’ve returned from travelling – nearly two years ago – this blog has always been on my to do list, but I feel I been fretting about keeping this resolution so much that I lost the love for it.

And one of my major goals in life is too …

Choose-a-job-you-love

This year I’ve made a conscience decision to change that and re-discover the reason I began this blog – to use it as my creative outlet.

To document the ideas that come into my head in any way shape or form and to share them with … the world. However crazy and random they might be.

2015, the year of the blog – this blog.

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Firstly a little blog makeover to mark this new beginning.

 

Craft-mas

I feel as I haven’t really updated you all on anything in the last few months and I actually meant to start this post on Christmas day but it’s been a crazy week, so while I’ve two minutes to spare – mid food coma – I’m going to start as I mean to go on via 2015.

My Craft-mas!

I’ve been saying for the last few years that I’ve never really enjoyed a ‘proper’ Christmas as working in retail in the past it tends to be just your day off, and finally last year – after two Christmases in Oz – I enjoyed every minute … retail job frrreee!

This year Christmas started early for me, as the last week in November friends and I went to Hoscht in Germany for the Christmas Markets.

And if there is one thing I love, more than hotdogs and musicals, it’s Markets!

CRAFTING OVERLOAD!!! If you haven’t been you simply NEED to go.

Mulled wine, crepes, hot chocolate, carousels and Christmas trees, what is not to like?

Hoscht is roughly 20 minutes from Frankfurt, so we were lucky enough to attend both markets. Hoscht markets were my favourite as every stall sells handmade crafts and all the proceeds goes to the town bursary for schools, projects, events etc.

Amazing idea Hoscht!

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On Sunday we took a trip to Frankfurt to the – as they say in Hoscht – “the more commercial markets”.

We went in at night simply because of the lights. OOOOHHHH AAAHHHHH!

All the stalls were in little wodden huts and the food – OH THE FOOD – was just amazing. From ma-hu-sive hot chocolate and kinder crepes to candy floss the size of your head, you could eat your way around there all day.

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Though how could I forget the BUCKETS of mulled wine available, oh the smell was just amazing.

The stalls were mostly full of dainty little Christmas ornaments or Christmas related crafts but after one or two stalls there always was a jewellery stall or a household crafting stall. Pretty much sent me into crafting inspiration overdrive!

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The girls I traveled with have been to these markets before, so they brought us up to the top of the main shopping center in Frankfurt where there was an amazing view. WOW!

Frankfurt, you so pretty.

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And of course we went on the carousel.

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Wrapped up in your winter woolies underneath the Christmas lights and having the bants with great friends that you consider family – I’ve come to learn that’s what Christmas is all about.