Art: Martin Parr – Only Human

Hi everyone!

I hope you are well and enjoying a positive week so far. This Thursday’s art instalment on the Pineapple Chicken Blog is on the latest exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery (“NPG”); Martin Parr – Only Human. I am a big fan of photography, this is why I started taking photos several years ago. Though I am still very much an amateur and lately I have been too lazy to carry my gear around – my favourite photography style continues to be street photography and portraiture.

NPG is somewhere I go back to time and time again because they always have great photography exhibitions (also a worthy mention is the Barbican Centre).  The Martin Parr: Only Human exhibition was another great opportunity to broaden my horizons and see the works of another artist to inspire my own photography. The exhibition is available until 27th May 2019 and costs £18 per adult or half price with the Art Pass. If you are under 25, the exhibition is only of £5 every Friday! (when the gallery is open until 9 pm.)

After Don McCullin’s exhibition at Tate Britain, I realised that I do not know many British photographers and as usual I walk into this exhibition not knowing very much about Parr. I think I should start a project on iconic British photographers, what do you think?  

Martin Parr

He is a British photojournalist and is one of the “best known” (oops!) and “most widely celebrate photographers”.  He is known for his satirical and anthropological look of modern life, in particular documenting social classes in Britain and exploring British identity. 

He seems to live and breathe photography (which is awesome). According to Wikipedia, he wanted to be a documentary photographer at the young age of 14 and went on to study photography at Manchester Polytechnic. After that, it seems like nothing could stop him. He is a prolific photographer and by just doing a quick search on Amazon you will quickly find a vast number of published photobooks by him. On my to buy list is “Small World”, which I had a quick flick through at the exhibition shop. The book is a portfolio of photos he took internationally as a critique of mass tourism. Considering that I love to travel, I thought would be good to have this in my collection 🙂

Only Human

Only Human exhibition captured a different perspective on everyday lives. The exhibition was surprisingly large and took an hour to walk around. Each room was individually themed with appropriate props and walls painted in very vibrant colours. For example, there was a room with photos of people dancing had a giant the disco ball in it. One of my favourite rooms was the room with beach photography, where one of his photos was used as a wallpaper and the adjacent walls in a shade of bright yellow, and just a deck chair in the middle.  What was most surreal was in the middle of the exhibition there is a room converted to a “greasy cafe” (which I grew up with in London) where you can order cakes and teas that were stereotypical of “English” tradition. 

Parr has an amazing eye for capturing humorous moments, making his photos inquisitive and engaging. There were some that just made me laugh, particularly his collection of self-portraits when he travelled, taken by the typical “tourist trap” photos in traditional gear and/or with weird backdrops.

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For his own photos, he uses vibrant (close to being slightly oversaturated) colours which reminded me of William Eggleston’s photography. Coincidentally, I saw back his exhibition back in 2016 at the NPG as well. Eggleston’s photos are more ethereal/whimsical, I think Parr’s photos have more of an edge to them. For many of his photos, they may look humorous but as you look a little longer, you realise there is more than meets the eye such as inequality, his photos are not critical, but they definitely brush being “political”.

Parr travels around Britain to try and capture what it means to be British, and of course, includes the hot topic – Brexit in the final room of the exhibition. I really enjoyed the photography in this room, because for me as a British born Chinese living in London, there is no one “look” for being British. I laugh at some of the sensibilities and traditions but recognise that a lot of being “British” is very much part of who I am too. One of his photos, though simple, captured two Muslim girls working behind the counter of a traditional Fish and Chip shop.  

This struck a chord with me because, to me, this is true Britain and how I see my home – a multicultural society. I grew up with my parents running a fish and chip shop and my uncle running a stereotypical Chinese Restaurant (with little lanterns and fortune cookies), but now I work in the City of London and my sister works in a startup in Covent Garden. There really is no template. Don’t get me wrong, we have SOOOO many issues, as captured Parr’s photos exploring how Upper-Class White Males still run many of our institutions – “The Establishment”, but I appreciate that Parr explored this and encourage debate about this.

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3.75 out of 5 Pineapples

I enjoyed the exhibition and the topics it covered but, overall, I was not particularly blown away by Parr’s photography, so if you aren’t really into street photography, you may not enjoy this. For those who would like a deeper understanding of everyday Britain, I think it is worth giving it a go. 

Are any of you familiar with his photography? Who is your favourite photographer? As always, I would love to hear from you!

With Sweet & Sour Love,

Pineapple Chicken x

Art: Don McCullin

Hi Everyone!

https://www.christies.com/features/Don-McCullin-6777-1.aspx

How has your week been so far? Work has been slow for me and the weather has been pretty miserable in London, but I am grateful for some downtime. Moreover, I have something really exciting to look forward to this weekend! This probably also explains why I have mentally checked out at work. My university friend is getting married in Chamonix, France, so I am going to go snowboarding for the first time (last time was about 10 years ago so I will consider myself as a beginner again!) and see some friends that I have not caught up with since I graduated!

Last Sunday, I went to the latest exhibition at Tate Britain – Don McCullin, it will be available until 6th May 2019, for those with an Art Pass, it only costs £9 or £18 for a normal adult ticketI love the Tate group and I think Tate Britain is one of the most beautiful art galleries in London. I highly recommend wandering around the free exhibits if you ever have the time!

Don McCullin

I love photography exhibitions (see my previous post on Diane Arbus) and as I am still working on my own photography, I was excited about this specific exhibition. I did not know much about Don McCullin, so I thought it was a great opportunity for me to learn more about him and see whether his photos would inspire different techniques of my own.

For the past 50 years, he has travelled the world capturing the horrors of wars in Africa, Asia and the Middle East. During this period, he was shot and hit by a bomb in Cambodia; an individual was standing in front of him and took a majority of the shrapnel, unfortunately, the Cambodian male died shortly after. He has been imprisoned, expelled from a country and even had a bounty on his head. I am completely in awe of him – he had the courage and bravery to go where other photographers didn’t and, most importantly, he ensured that every photo he took was with compassion and respect.

He does not want to be known as a “war photographer” – just a photographer. Personally, I think he is much more than this; it really is no surprise that he is so critically acclaimed. He is described as a “legendary” photojournalist or “one of our greatest living photographers. I do not think my words in my post today will do justice in trying to explain how his photos made me feel – “impactful” had been used to describe his photography but I think this is woefully inadequate.  

“Photography for me is not looking, it’s feeling. If you can’t feel what you’re looking at, then you’re never going to get others to feel anything when they look at your pictures.”

Exhibition

The exhibition spans from his first photos that were printed in 1959 that captured the gangs (The Guv’nors) in North London, to most recently, the war in Syria. It is split out into 23 sections and I was very surprised how large the exhibition was, as it highlights McCullin’s extensive experience in capturing key moments in our modern history, in addition to, his more artistic photos of still life and landscapes.

When coming up to the exhibition entrance, note the disclaimer on the side. There are photos of deceased people and extreme starvation. I didn’t pay it too much attention and I thought that I was a tough cookie and could view the exhibition without too many issues. How very wrong I was! I was shocked myself that I could even give an outward display of emotion. Therefore, this is a warning to my readers: the exhibition is not for the faint-hearted, (this is also why I have not shared my favourite photos in the blog) be prepared to be moved to tears, particularly his work on the Biafra war.  My tears reflected McCullin’s astonishing skill as a photographer; he was able to capture emotions or “the moment” that seems to be unparalleled by others. My personal favourites were his portraitures where I found myself captivated by the individual and wanting to know and understand the story behind the photograph. Though the topics were heart-wrenching, McCullin did everything to capture the truth and let the photographs tell the story.

“Photography has given me a life… The very least I could do was try and articulate these stories with as much compassion and clarity as they deserve, with as loud a voice as I could muster. Anything less would be mercenary.”

Given the topics that are covered, it was obviously not an uplifting exhibition, but very much an important one. It was a stark reminder of how terrible we, as humans, can be to each other and it is a topic that we cannot, and should not, shy away from. It is photographers like him that tell the unheard story and forces us to face reality, take action, and learn from the past. One of the best quotes I have heard from a speech summarises this perfectly:

“We seem to be able to all agree on the future, but we always argue about the past” – Secretary-General of the UN, António Guterres.

I think that McCullin does just that. His photography is sensitive and poignant. I will revisit this exhibition before it closes in May. I managed to walk through the exhibition in an hour, but it was slightly rushed because I was meeting a friend after. There is a “slide show” nearer the end of the exhibition showing the photography that has been in The Observer and other newspaper outlets, unfortunately, I didn’t manage to sit through that.  I think for the second time around I am going to leave more time so I can enjoy the photos for longer. This is why this exhibition gets 5 out of 5 pineapples.

Have any of you been to the exhibition or have heard of Don McCullin? As always, I would love to hear your thoughts.

With Sweet and Sour Love,

Pineapple Chicken x

P.S. for those who want to learn more, there are other great reviews of the exhibitions in the link below:

 

Art: Diane Arbus & Kader Attia

Hayward Gallery

Hi Everyone,

How has your weekend been so far? It has been a really exciting one for me – my boyfriend and I went to our first house viewing! It was an awesome experience and I think we might have found our dream home. It is a new build and the developers were looking to transact quite quickly. Unfortunately, it looks like getting enough money together would be a bit of a problem (understatement) but I guess that is the same for most young professionals in London. We hadn’t planned to be looking so early as we wanted to build up a deposit in order to buy a home, therefore it continues to be a 2020 goal. The home was beautiful, but timing not so much.

Anyway! This was not what you were here for, so let’s get back to our usual 🙂 I managed to see some art last weekend and there is a lot more planned for the next coming few weeks. Remember, if there is anything that you would like me to go and review in London, please do leave a comment below!

Hayward Gallery does it again!

Hayward Gallery in Southbank is one of my favourite art galleries in London. I have come to love the brutalist structure and the vast ceilings within. I was very excited when I first found out that the latest exhibition is on photography. There were adverts all over the tube and I knew I wanted to be one of the first to see the exhibition. It will be open until 6 May 2019, so you have plenty of time to check it out! The only downside was that no photography was allowed, so you will just have to enjoy my written prose instead 😉

Kader Attia – The Museum of Emotion

Admittedly, I didn’t realise that the exhibition was for two artists. I hadn’t heard of Kader Attia before so was slightly surprised when I entered the exhibition to find a concrete brick was in the corner, suspended by a clear line rather than photographs! Attia grew up in the banlieues of northeast Paris. The first room of the exhibition was dominated by a projection of La Tour Robespierre (The Robespierre Tower) (2018) – I really recommend you spend the time to watch the 2-minute video as it is a close up of a post-war housing estate. The endless windows and concrete capture and provokes the viewer to consider the gap in the living standards between the wealthy and the poor.

Attia’s work, personally, was difficult for me to enjoy. Through art, he really makes the viewer explore powerful emotions and topics. It was definitely “heavy” viewing, with Room 2 focusing on large scale and intimate photos of Algerian transgender sex workers. In Room 3, which I found to be really weird, explored the politics of Western museums. He seemed to mock old methods of display – such as a stuffed cheetah in a vitrine. This is probably something you still see in the Natural History Museum in London today, however, he would then randomly includes a magazine within it or a contemporary “African” mask of his design. I couldn’t comprehend whether he was just trying to be smart or just provocative? The room did make me feel really uncomfortable but maybe that was exactly what has trying to do?! Honestly – not sure!

Room 5 is just one huge installation – The Repair from Occident to Extra-Occidental Cultures (2012). This room was super eerie and unsettling!  Particularly, when all you can hear is the constant click of the slideshow projector in the corner. It resembles a museum storeroom with shelves of various books and busts of African design. Some of the books are displayed upright as if in a bookstore, whilst others are bolted together to the shelves. All the book covers touch upon war, medicine, and African art. The purpose of the art was to contrast Western societies on how they seek to erase marks left by injury or trauma, compared to more “traditional societies” such a those in Africa who may have revered body modification such as facial scarring. It really isn’t for everyone….

Attia’s exhibition ends with video installations Shifting Borders (2018) which comprised of several large screens playing three separate videos and random chairs with prosthetic legs – super freaky! I didn’t sit through all of the videos as I would have been there for hours, but one, in particular, looked at the 1980 Gwangju Uprising in South Korea. It is not an easy watch and because I didn’t know much about the historical event, I thought made it even harder to watch as I didn’t really have enough time to process.

All in all – heavy viewing. I really didn’t enjoy it but not sure if everyone would feel the same?

Diane Arbus – In the beginning

I was pretty relieved when I could climb the stairs and move to Diane Arbus’ part of the exhibition in the Upper Galleries. Street photography is much more up my alley.  Diane was born in New York City and this is where she took most of her photographs. I think she captured the best era: 50s and the 60s.

The exhibition features more than 100 photographs, the majority of which are vintage prints made by the artist, drawn from the Diane Arbus Archive at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. More than two-thirds of these photographs have never been seen before in the UK. – Southbank Gallery

The exhibition was not organised chronically and there was no set route for visitors, so naturally being British, people tried to line up and follow an S line around all the pillars lol. Diane is a legend in street photography and she explored various different subjects. From “every day” adults and children on the streets to others considered “outsiders” such as midgets, circus freaks, giants and, transgenders. My personal favourites are the very up close portraits where the subject is gazing back at the camera.

Here are just a few of my favourite images:

Recommended

Though I struggled to enjoy Attia’s artwork, I personally recommend going to the exhibition to see Diane Arbus’ photography because a Google image search really does not give any of the photos justice! It is a great opportunity to see her pieces all under one roof.

I would love to know what you think of the exhibition. Do you have a favourite photographer? As always, would love to hear from you!

With Sweet & Sour Love,

Pineapple Chicken x

An apology and revival!

To my dearest readers,

I cannot believe that it has been so long since my last post. I wish I could give an awesome excuse as to why I stopped writing – like trying to save the world and didn’t have enough time to go on the internet. However, as some of my followers on Instagram knows, this is an absolute lie.

Unfortunately, life happened and, very much so, a lack of self-discipline. One of my best friends moved away from London (due to the draconian immigration laws in the UK) so I spent most of it trying to share time with her (this is not an excuse btw). She was also my inspiration for my blog and re-introduced me to the world of art and culture through the Art Pass.

I had forgotten how much I loved all this stuff and how much London has to offer. The blog was to get me off my butt and do something different. Whilst my best friend is wandering the beautiful streets of Paris, I have been inspired to post on my blog again because I really love sharing my experiences with you all. If you can share a bit of love and beauty in this world – that can’t possibly be a bad thing.

Therefore, I would like to say SORRY to all my readers. I don’t think I should make any more promises, as I feel I will be lining myself for failure. Maybe we should all try and bet how long I can keep this up for! Do leave a comment below, I would love to see the range of guesses 🙂

Though I have not been blogging, it does not mean that I have not been keeping busy! Below is a quick round-up of all the exhibitions I have been to in 2018 and that is currently still open. Take a deep breath – this is going to be a whistle-stop tour!

  • Royal Academy of Arts (RA)
    • Charles I: King and Collector, available up to 15 April SO HURRY!!!!. 4/5 Pineapples. It is the first time since the 17th century that all these pieces have been reunited. It provided an extensive look into how art was shaped during the time of Charles I, and it is always great when there is a bloody history as part of the story.
  • Southbank Centre, Hayward Gallery
    • Andreas Gursky, available up to 22 April 2018 (SO HURRY). 4.5/5 Pineapples. Again, being a budding photographer, I always get excited about photography exhibitions. Gursky is famous for selling one of the most expensive photos in history. If you google it, it does not look like much … but the size of his works and the detail – truly phenomenal. It is also located in the spacious Southbank Centre, which is always worth visiting for its Brutalist architecture. This was one of my favourite exhibitions this year.
  • Natural History Museum (NHM)
    • Venom: Killer and cure, available up to 13 May 2018. 3.5/5 Pineapples. This was an interesting exhibition and the first time I have seen that there is a live animal on display. There are some really awesome animals in the collection and I always learn loads 🙂
    • Wildlife Photography of the Year, available up to 28 May 2018. 4.5/5 Pineapples. I love this exhibition and I go every year so this might be a biased review but this year there is a great portfolio of photos.
  • Barbican Centre 
    • Another kind of life:  Photography on the Margins, available up to 27 May. 5/5 Pineapples. This was one of the most humbling experiences. I went very early in the morning and it was so quiet and I think it resulted in a very different experience. The exhibition was just truly beautiful and curated very well. There are a variety of photographers on display, I probably should write a separate post on this for those who are interested. but ultimately, it was really worthwhile – a true eye-opener. This was also one of my favourite exhibitions this year.

You have done it, you have reached the end! Now you can breathe out 🙂

As you can see, it has been a busy first quarter of 2018 and I really looking forward to sharing it with you all. Next stop will be Picasso 1932 – Love, Fame, Tragedy at Tate Modern.

Until then, with Sweet & Sour Love,

Pineapple Chicken x

Art: Soutine’s Portraits

Hi everyone 🙂 and welcome to another instalment of all things art and cultural! This week I wanted to cover an exhibition I visited a couple of weeks ago, which I had been looking forward to a while when I saw adverts on the tube. This was the lovely Soutine’s Portraits – Cooks, Waiters and Bellboys at the Courtauld Gallery, Somerset House. This exhibition is available until 21 January 2018 with ticket prices for the gallery and exhibition at £10.50, or £5 with the art pass!

Somerset House: Fun, Culture & Food!

For those who need some ideas for Christmas-y day out, I highly recommend visiting Somerset House. Not only does this iconic building house the wonderful Courtauld Gallery, but it has also now opened their famous ice rink for Christmas! I highly recommend that you purchase tickets for the ice skating beforehand as it is really popular. There is something magical about skating in the evening when it is all dark and the tree and surrounding area are beautifully lit up. Luckily, given that the sun sets around 4pm in London, you would have plenty of time to skate around in the dark! Not to mention, one of my favourite restaurants in London is also located here – Spring. Hopefully, I will get a chance to visit soon so I can share an in-depth review on the blog. For the meantime, you have to take my word for it that the food is exquisite and the restaurant is beautifully decorated! Perfect spot for a special night out. Everything you need in place: fun, culture and food!

Courtauld Gallery

I admit that I do not know much about Soutine but I was very drawn to the picture of the bellboy which was used to advertise the exhibition. The distorted face and disproportionate size of the body parts, such as the hands; meant that it was really different that I was instantly drawn to it. The expression of bellboy was extremely emotive despite the broad brush strokes and bright colours.

This style is consistent throughout all of Soutine’s paintings but the use of colour changed over time and reflected his mood. Chaïm Soutine was a Russian immigrant to Paris and struggled as an artist, living in poverty in the early years. It has been said his expressionist style channelled these struggles into his brushstrokes. Personally, I think this is very true and extremely poignant in his early works.

Soutine did have a moment of good fortune when a US collector bought 50 of his paintings, and since then you see an emergence of different characters his paintings, such as a waiter in a tuxedo which was much more reflective of the high-class restaurants/hotels he was frequenting.

One of the first impressions I got from the paintings is that it is very “Tim Burton”, just a little surreal and a little melancholy. I greatly enjoyed the exhibition, which brought to life a painter I knew little about but thoroughly enjoyed. However, it was a very small exhibition and was slightly disappointed that there was not more. Therefore, the exhibition just misses full marks and receives 4 out of 5 pineapples.

Despite the exhibition being small, I definitely recommend leaving enough time to wander around the Courtauld Gallery. This is the first time I visited the gallery and I was completely blown over by some of the wonderful pieces that are displayed! I did not realise that one of the famous “Card Players” by Cezanne and the beautiful portrait “A Bar at the Folies-Bergère” by Manet (1882) was located here. Such gems just under my nose and I did not realise all this time. Even the ceilings and each of the rooms are worth an exhibition in itself! Therefore, for the gallery, I give it a glowing 5 out of 5 pineapples. I personally believe that the entrance fee is worth every penny!

I am really interested in your thoughts about Soutine and the Courtauld Gallery, please put your comments below 🙂

With Sweet and Sour Love,

Pineapple Chicken

Travel: Edinburgh Day 2

Sorry you had to wait so long for my next post, I think I am getting to an age where time flies so quickly that I lose track of myself! Welcome to the second installment of my Edinburgh trip!

Breakfast @ Mum’s Great Comfort Food

The morning started off with me craving for a greasy fry up, which I always associated with a Sunday morning.  I think it is was because when I was younger, Mum with Grandma always took my sister and I to the local cafe for an English Breakfast with a cup of Builder’s Tea. There is something so satisfying about eggs, sausages and beans … and do not forget the hash browns as well.

The generic white mug with tea.

The nostalgia – the ultimate comfort food.

Brings a smile to my face just thinking about it.

I did a bit of research and one name came up time and time again, and that of course, was Mum’s Great Comfort Food. We just got there are the right time as it was starting to get quite busy; mainly with people nursing hangovers. There was an 80s vibe with a retro TV in the corner and blasting some old school tunes.  At this point I was pretty excited and super hungry!

We sat down and quickly ordered the Mum’s Classic Breakfast (MUMS plain pork sausage, egg, Stornoway black pudding, bacon, tomato, mushrooms, Heinz Beans, toast and potato scone) and Mum’s Veggie Classic for myself (Pretty much the same above but with Veggie sausage and no black pudding) both for £8.50 each. Personally, I thought this was rather expensive, given there are some places where you can get it super cheap in London with pretty similar surroundings. However, I gave it the benefit of the doubt.

The chilled out vibes of the cafe equated to a very slow service. It got to a stage where my sister and I got super hangry and just stopped talking altogether. The food arrived and it was sadly disappointing. My egg was already broken with the yellow yolk miserably spreading across the the plate. Don’t get me wrong, there was plenty of food on the plate, but it was not as satisfying as I hoped it to be. I was also slightly sad that I didn’t get hash browns. I thought the potato scone was a poor substitute. Though, having never tried before, it was no bad at all. Overall, Mum’s only receives 2 out of 5 pineapples from me.

Iconic Edinburgh Castle

Though it was disappointing start to the day, the sun had started shining and we made our way to the beautiful Edinburgh Castle! I cannot express how excited I was having seen it the day before and the ultra blue skies (which I have heard is very rare in Scotland hehe), I just couldn’t wait! We walked back to Royal Mile, swarming with tourists and the sounds of the bagpipes and made the short walk uphill to the castle.

When seeing it for the first time, it brought a smile to my face. The flags flapping in the wind and its castle walls is just something from a fairy tale filled with knights and armour. The only downside, as with many tourist spots, it was full of tourists (including ourselves). There was a bit of shuffling and shoving but overall it was a lovely experience. It is worth the entry price (£17 per adult), which I recommend to buy online beforehand so you don’t have to queue (which was really long) for a ticket when you arrive. There was a lot to see and very well maintained. The great hall being one of the most beautiful room in the castle.

The views from the top of the castle gave a clear 360 degree view of Edinburgh. I didn’t realise how close Edinburgh was to thee coast. After a hour and half wandering around and missing the view of the sea, my sister and I were inspired to do the Three Bridges Tour just so we could see the coast!  I thoroughly enjoyed the castle and should not be missed whilst you are there!

Three Bridges

I love seeing the sea, as a Londoner, I don’t really spend my time near the water, even with the River Thames running through. I had not planned to do a super touristy bus tour but realised that this was probably the most hassle free way to reach the the coast, and also learn a few facts on the way! Next to the station, we hopped into the bus tour company and bought tickets for the Bus and Boat tour of the Forth Bridges. It was £20 per person, including the boat tour, which I thought is pretty awesome given it meant that we would actually be out in the water.

I don’t have much knowledge of architecture or even Scottish history, so this was something that was a bit out of my comfort zone. I was so glad I went on the tour though. It was really unexpected and the bridges are beautiful, my favourite being the Forth Rail Bridge which is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Passing underneath it by boat just gives it a very different perspective. Though the best thing I saw was definitely the harbour seals, which I did not expect at all. They were so inquisitive and cute as they popped their heads out of the water to inspect the boat.

The bus tour and boat tour itself was based on prerecorded audio guides which made it feel a bit like a school trip. Though having said that it was a great afternoon out and managed to get us back in time for our flight back to London. What more can one ask for!

Feel free to ask my any questions below on the trip, I would love to hear your recommendations as I am sure I will be back to Edinburgh! Hopefully, it will coincide with a trip to the Scottish Highlands and to see Nessie!

With Sweet and Sour Love,

Pineapple Chicken x

Travel: Edinburgh Day 1

Hi Everyone, I hope you are all having a wonderful week and looking for the weekend. This is not my usual posting day, but I have managed to find some quiet time from my hectic schedule the past few weeks to share with you all the adventures that I have.

This one is just an introduction to my weekend getaway with my sister to Edinburgh. It has taken so long to write this post because I don’t think how I can do this beautiful city justice. I believe there is a reason why it is the most visited city after London! Let’s dive into Day 1 of our trip!

I landed late in the evening in Edinburgh due to delay to our flight and not enough staff handling suitcases from our flight. Turns out that this is a regular occurrence, so for those that are planning to go to Edinburgh and had plans after you land, I suggest that you leave ample time!

Novotel Hotel, Edinburgh Centre

Thankfully, the airport is not far from the city centre, where we stayed at Hotel Novotel Edinburgh Centre (note that there are two branches, the other closer to the airport). I really do not recommend this hotel at all. Though location wise, it is great and the lobby recently refurbished. I thought the rooms and bathroom had a lot of wear and tear. Definitely not worth the money we paid for the room, therefore, I highly recommend that you try and other hotel than this one. It is located right next to a Premier Inn…I think I might have been better off there!

Other than my poor accommodation choice, the rest of the city is beautiful and the people are so friendly! My sister and I also had great luck with the weather – mostly sunshine with only a spattering of rain! None of my Scottish friends and colleagues back in London believed me when I told them!

All things Harry Potter….

On the first day, we started off just walking through town, where we found Grassmarket Square with a few stalls. It is located right at the foot of Edinburgh Castle, for someone who has never been to Scotland before (despite being British), this was really phenomenal and exciting! We didn’t manage to pick up anything along the stalls, but we kept walking and arrived at Victoria Street.

For those that may not know, this is probably one of the most photograph streets, with its colourful facades and cobbled streets. As I climbed up the hill, it is no surprise how J.K. Rowling might have been inspired by it for Diagon Alley in the Harry Potter series. Each individual shop had these beautiful displays of tweed, and little bookstores crammed next to another shop. So dreamy!

For all my fellow HP fans out there, you have to visit Diagon House, which sells all things Harry Potter. I am not 100% sure whether all the merchandise in there is official but all the trinkets and beautiful displays, really makes it worth while! There is also another branch on Cockburn Street.

Royal Mile

Despite Victoria street being so famous, it is one of the shortest streets! So do not expect that it will take long at all to walk through, though it is just around the corner from the Royal Mile, this is where you see all the hustle and bustle! With large groups of tourists disembarking from coaches. Though crowded during the weekend I was there, it still managed to retain its charm and it is the number 1 place to go to pick up a souvenir!

Whilst at the Royal Mile, we stepped in St. Giles’ Cathedral, which is famous for its fine selection of stained glass windows. For all photographers, please be aware that there is a £2 charge to take photos whether from your mobile or camera. I don’t often take pictures of the inside of churches (exception being The Sagrada Familia, Barcelona), therefore I do not have photos to share with you but I highly recommend to step into this lovely cathedral, which is free for all.

Rollo

Given the wonderful weather, we decided to walk all the way out of the city centre towards Stockbridge for our first meal in Edinburgh. Before flying from London, I was doing a lot of research to where I could have a nice meal without breaking the bank. One name that came up was Rollo. It is a boutique family run restaurant and for adults only. Not only has it received wonderful reviews about the food, but also famous for its super chic design. This comes to no surprise given that it is owned by three partners George Rollo – Architect, Alison Rollo – Sculptor, Ailsa Rollo – Fashion Designer.

I loved the atmosphere in there and truly one of the most outstanding service I have had in a long while. I enjoyed the food though was not blown away. It is difficult to pin down the cuisine, as it was was fusion of many cuisines but mainly west meets east. I have to admit that their non-vegetarian options were a lot more exciting than my pumpkin gnocchi. Nevertheless, I think it is worth seriously considering if you are in town and looking for a place to eat. (3 out of 5 pineapples!)

The Royal Botanical Gardens

Before heading away from Stockbridge, down the road from Rollo, we found this amazingly cute store – Life Story (on London Street) which I think everyone should stop by if they love things for the home! It had such a great collection of home ware which is mainly Scandinavian inspired (think white marble and slate coloured bowls). Really loved the vibe in there! Highly recommended if you like stores such as the Conran Shop in London.

To make most of the sunshine, we walked all the way to the Royal Botanical Garden. As I have gotten older, I have found myself wanting the to connect with nature more and my love for anything green has grown. The Royal Botanical Gardens satisfied ALL those needs. I can’t express how beautiful this place is. If you ever go to Edinburgh, I personally think this is a MUST visit place and that includes paying tickets to go into glass houses. There is no point otherwise. For those who follow me on instagram, you might have seen a few of these leafy greens on my feed. It is so wonderful to walk around the gardens, they had a pond where we managed to spot a few ducklings too. A definite 5 out of 5 pineapples from me!

I think that is enough an update from me today! Can’t wait to share with you my adventures for Day 2. Have a wonderful weekend everyone!!!

With Sweet and Sour Love,

Pineapple Chicken