Edinburgh Castle and it’s stunning views

Edinburgh Castle and it’s stunning views

Edinburgh Castle

After (almost) a year I finally paid Edinburgh Castle a visit

Edinburgh Castle

Athough I’ve been living in Edinburgh for almost a year, it so happens that I never actually paid a visit to the the castle that’s very hard to miss when you visit the city. I’m happy to report that I have finally remedied that mistake and stepped foot inside the castle walls.

Visiting Edinburgh Castle might be one of the most touristy things you can do in the city, but if you’re into history and do  appreciate a good castle this one should definitely go on that bucket list. At 18 pounds entry is definitely not the cheapest place to visit, but if you have the money to spare I’d highly recommend it.

I visited the castle with my friend Fleur, who is an AMAZING photographer and recently started her own business. (If you want to check out some her work, you can do so here.) We both took a bunch of pictures, and she took quite a lot of pictures of me, so this post won’t just contain my pictures but also ACTUAL PICTURES OF ME INSIDE THE CASTLE. As I’m usually the one behind the camera, this is quite the treat (and probably won’t happen very often, so enjoy it while you can).

Arches and Corridors

I do love a good corridors and pretty arches, and lucky for me Edinburgh Castle had plenty. The old arches, the bricks, the windows, the castle really is a feast for the eyes and every history buff’s dream. 

I mentioned it before, but I’ll say it again, it can get quite busy. There were plenty of other visitors around when we visited. Even though I normally avoid crowds like these, surprisingly I didn’t mind it as much as I thought I would. If anything, everyone’s there for the same thing and there’s this shared sense of enthusiasm of being inside a very impressive building.

Skip the ticket line

Did you know you can also order your tickets online? There’s a slight discount (although I’m not sure you can really call it that, as it’s 50 cents, but hey beggars can’t be choosers!), and you can print your tickets at home or print them on sight. As the lines for tickets can get quite long (I’ve witnessed them on multiple occasion and have zero interest in experiencing them firsthand), I really recommend it. It might also be worth it to go as early as you can and on a weekday, as the castle can get very busy (although I can’t recommend a specific day, since we went during the weekend, haha). 

All the views

Obviously I mean the view behind me (although, of course, I am quite the view myself *wink*). Fleur took this picture of me while I was very hard trying to find where I lived and point it out to her. The result is me looking very pensive with Edinburgh looking mighty pretty in the background. 

Although the view from Edinburgh Castle doesn’t beat the one you’re offered from the top of Arthur’s Seat, you definitely can’t complain. As you walk around the castle grounds you see different parts of the city, and I very much got a kick out of pointing out all the different areas of the city I loved.

Tip when visiting the Crown Jewels

There’s two entrances that take you to the Crown Jewel exhibition. One takes you straight to them, and one that takes you past some other exhibitions and ends with the Crown Jewel exhibition. We took the latter (because we didn’t know about the other one), and it turned out to be very advantageous as there was no line. The other entrance though… MASSIVE LINE. We had a bit of a laugh over it. So, for my readers only, if you visit Edinburgh Castle and there’s a line for that specific exhibition look for that second entrance. 

All the canons

There were so many canons, offering cute snapshots of the city. The walls are quite high, so you probably won’t be able to see over it (I only could while I stood on my toes, and I’m quite tall). The canons, and the openings in the wall, offer the perfect solution, while giving you a very nice photo opportunities. As you can see, I took full advantage of that by snapping a nice shot of the Scott Monument.

And that’s it for today! I didn’t take as many photo’s as I would’ve liked to take, mainly because for once I was the one being photographed instead of being photographer (and the beautiful surroundings definitely played a part as well).

Photo Gallery 

Instead of sharing more of my pictures, I wanted to take this space to share some more pictures Fleur took. She is honestly such a talented portrait photographer, and I love the pictures she took so much. I wasn’t kidding when I said I normally don’t get my picture taken and I love how she captured me in these. I highly recommend giving her a follow and checking out her other work!

So without much further ado, check out the rest of Fleur’s photos:

The Fairy Pools on Isle Skye

The Fairy Pools on Isle Skye

The Fairy Pools

A short trip to the Isle of Skye

The Fairy Pools

When my parents were visiting in May, we planned a rather spontaneous four-day trip to the Highlands. One of those days was spent visiting Isle of Skye, or rather, vising the Fairy Pools on Isle of Skye. I have a massive list of places I want to visit in Scotland, and I’m very happy to say that thanks to this latest trip the Fairy Pools have now been checked off that list!

Although the Fairy Pools are definitely quite touristy (more so than I expected), it was still a very enjoyable walk with some very pretty (small) waterfalls and pools. I’d love to go back some day, during a time of day when it isn’t so crowded, but for now my curiosity has been satisfied!

In this post I’ll highlight my two favourite shots and explain why I like them so much. I’ve also added a gallery at the end so you can flip through some other photos I’ve taken.

The movement of the water

As the subheading suggests, I really like this picture because it shows the swirls and movement of the water moving through the rocks. 

The photo shows a glimpse of the waterfall in the background. I first was more interesting in taking a photo with the waterfall as the main subject, but soon became more interested with the movement of the water itself. 

I played around a bit with the shutter speed, and had to tweak the settings a few times because it was such a bright and sunny day. I’m really happy with how this picture turned out.

Jumping off the rocks to take a swim

Some pools that are really good for swimming. However, despite the sun that day, the water was crazy cold and there is no way you would have gotten me into the water. Regardless, a few people were brave enough to jump from the rocks into the water (some wearing a wetsuit, and some not…). Maybe I’ll go back in the summer one day and take a swim myself, because it did look like good fun!

My favourite pool

I think by now you can tell that I like to frame my photos with flowers or leaves. This is without a doubt why this photo ended up being another firm favourite.

This was one of the smaller pools (and definitely one of the smallest waterfalls found on the walk), but also one of my favourite. I love the blue colour and the clarity of the pool, showing the rocks underneath the water surface.

And that’s it for today! I didn’t take as many photo’s as I would’ve liked to take, but that’s only natural as I was trying to enjoy the time with my family as much as I possibly could. Instead of solely taking pictures of the nature, I also took some pictures of my family (as evidenced by the picture of my sister in the photo gallery).

Although the Fairy Pools were definitely touristy (and not as quiet and relaxing I’d hoped it to be), I would still absolutely say it’s worth the trip. However, for the early birds amongst you, I would recommend getting up a bit early to avoid the crowd.

Photo Gallery 

You’d Be Mine by Erin Hahn | Sister Review

You’d Be Mine by Erin Hahn | Sister Review

You'd Be Mine

A Brand New Sister Review
 This review is a combined effort between me and my sister. We read a book and review it by asking each other questions related to the title we are reviewing. The idea is to provide you with two different perspectives.

 This review might contain spoilers! We might discuss any part of the story (sometimes the questions we ask each other might be general, while other times they might touch upon something specific about the ending, etc). If you have not read the book and do not wish for the story to be spoiled you might want to avoid this post!

You’d Be Mine by Erin Hahn | Sister ReviewYou'd Be Mine by Erin Hahn
Published by Wednesday Books on April 2nd 2019
Genres: Love & Romance
Pages: 304
Format: Hardcover
Buy on Bol.comBuy on Book Depository

Annie Mathers is America’s sweetheart and heir to a country music legacy full of all the things her Gran warned her about. Superstar Clay Coolidge is most definitely going to end up one of those things.

But unfortunately for Clay, if he can’t convince Annie to join his summer tour, his music label is going to drop him. That’s what happens when your bad boy image turns into bad boy reality. Annie has been avoiding the spotlight after her parents’ tragic death, except on her skyrocketing YouTube channel. Clay’s label wants to land Annie, and Clay has to make it happen.

Swayed by Clay’s undeniable charm and good looks, Annie and her band agree to join the tour. From the start fans want them to be more than just tour mates, and Annie and Clay can’t help but wonder if the fans are right. But if there’s one part of fame Annie wants nothing to do with, it’s a high-profile relationship. She had a front row seat to her parents’ volatile marriage and isn’t interested in repeating history. If only she could convince her heart that Clay, with his painful past and head over heels inducing tenor, isn’t worth the risk.

 Iris asks Merel:

After about two chapters of You’d Be Mine I had a country playlist blaring through my speakers. Did you experience the same?

The book certainly got me in that mood. However, at the time I was staying with someone (YOU) who was quite intent on being the DJ. So I didn’t have it blaring from my speakers, but I did get major Hunter Hayes/Sam Hunt vibes!.  

What did you think of the romance and how it developed? 

I really liked how this was a slow burner in terms of romance. In fiction it sometimes bothers me how fast characters go from ‘I don’t want to be in a relationship with this person’ to ‘suddenly being madly in love/lust’You’d Be Mine definitely wasn’t like that. While it was quite clear where the story was going, the book mainly revolved around the story itself and the romance just seamlessly fit into this. 

Did the plot and the way it unfolded surprise you in any way? 

No, but for me that’s not necessarily a bad thing. After reading the blurb, it seemed quite clear to me where the story was headed. However, it’s not the ending that makes a book, it’s how the characters get there, how they develop throughout the story, and how the book is written. I liked the writing style of You’d Be Mine a lot!

What was your favourite character in You’d Be Mine

When it comes to the two main characters, I liked reading about Clay/Jefferson the most. It was very clear that he needed to work through some personal stuff, and wasn’t handling his past very well. I thought it was so interesting to read how he coped, spiralled out of control, and how he got it together in the end. I loved how he slowly figured out who he was, and how he wanted to to go about in the world.

Another character I liked a lot (besides Annie’s grandparents, because they were ab-so-lu-te-ly lovely) was Clay’s friend Fitz. I loved how loyal he was to Clay, and how he always tried to support him. He didn’t always do the right thing, but his character showed that blood doesn’t make a family, but love does. No matter what happened, he was always there for Clay/Jefferson and help him in whatever way he needed help.   

Merel asks Iris:

You were VERY excited about You’d Be Mine, did it live up to your expectations? 

Yes I was, and yes it did! I wanted a feel good contemporary that packed a punch, and You’d Be Mine definitely delivered. I love how it was SUCH an enjoyable read that had me playing country music non-stop, while also focussing on heavier themes, such mental health. I thoroughly enjoyed the You’d Be Mine and feel a reread coming up later this summer!

Was it easy for you to relate to the characters? Who did you like best, and what character did you want to learn more about?

Although I am in no way a good singer, nor am I an up-and-coming country star, I found it easy to relate to the characters in You’d Be Mine. This probably had to do with the fact that the fame wasn’t the most important part of the story. It was about these incredibly talented teens that were embarking on an amazing adventure, while dealing with the hardships of their respective pasts. It was a coming of age story above all else, and I think it was beautifully written.

My favourite characters were Clay and Annie (sorry, it’s a tie). They are also the characters I just wanted to know MORE about. I wanted to know more about their pasts and gobbled up all the bits and pieces of information as they were slowly revealed throughout the story.

I think every girl/woman has a rock star fantasy, how did you feel about the implementation of that aspect in this book? 

I thought it was so wonderfully done! One of my favourite things about You’d Be Mine is how it wasn’t just about ‘famous people’ and how it didn’t glorify that lifestyle at all. If anything it took the fantasy out of it by humanising the characters. It wasn’t so much a ‘rock star romance’ book to me, it was a coming of age story that was sweet and innocent and kept it very real.

This book deals with quite some heavy issues. How did you think these issues were handled? Do you think You’d Be Mine was written in a realistic way?

I think my answers to your earlier questions already somewhat answer this one. The mental health issues, as well as Clay’s drinking problem was handled very carefully in my opinion. I think You’d Be Mine does a very good job of bringing these issues to attention and carefully deals with them in a manner that I found quite realistic. I mean, these issues weren’t magically fixed by the end of the book, it’s a process, and I think that’s part of the message that makes You’d Be Mine such a good story.

  • Plot 80% 80%
  • Writing style 85% 85%
  • Characters 90% 90%
Visiting The Kelpies with the Family

Visiting The Kelpies with the Family

The Kelpies

I visited The Kelpies with my family

The Kelpies

The last two weeks my family was visiting, and  we visited a bunch of places together. I’d been wanting to visit the Kelpies for a while now, and them being here provided the ultimate opportunity to pay a visit to these equine sculptures.

I’d seen pictures of the statues, but nothing really prepares you seeing it with your own eyes. Each of The Kelpies stands up to 30 metres tall, and each one weighs over 300 tonnes! (Read: they’re MASSIVE). They’re also incredibly detailed, beautiful, and completely dwarf you.

I have always had a thing for mythology, and I love how Scottish legends depict kelpies as shape-shifting water spirits who inhabit the lochs and waterways of Scotland. Supposedy, they appear most often as a horse, and can also take on human form. These massive sculptures reflect the mythological transforming beasts possessing the strength and endurance of 10 horses. 

We visited The Kelpies on quite a rainy day, but it didn’t impact our visit at all. I had no problem walking around in the rain, admiring the great detail in these sculptures (especially since there’s a cafe close to the sculptures where you can get a cup of coffee to warm up a bit). You can go inside the sculptures as well, although I didn’t do this, as I was content just walking around snapping plenty of pictures.

I’d love to go back and visit the sculptures on a sunny (or just less rainy day), or during the night when they’re a lit up! For those of you wanting to travel Scotland: if you’re in the area, it is defintely worth putting a visit to The Kelpies on your to do list!

Photo Gallery 

I Designed, Edited, and Produced my First Book

I Designed, Edited, and Produced my First Book

Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde

I designed, edited, and produced my first book

My Book Project

You may or may not know that I am a MSc Publishing student at Edinburgh Napier University. During our second trimester we got to do a really cool project. (Probably the coolest project I’ve ever done!) We had to produce our very own book. We were given two criteria: the author we chose had to be Scottish, and the book we picked had to be out of copyright. My choice: The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson, a Scottish classic I enjoyed reading immensely during my undergrad.

When I started this project, I knew right away I wanted to create a young adult edition of a classic title. My main reasoning behind this being that those were the books that I, as a non-native speaker, couldn’t read when I was a teenager and still learning English. I wanted to create an edition of The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde that I would have been able to read. I am so very proud of the end result, and think I achieved the goals I set for myself and then some!

Cover Illustration

Alongside editing, I started thinking about the cover. I had a rough idea of what I wanted, however, I knew my Adobe skills weren’t advanced enough to create what I was picturing in my head. I wanted a cover that showcased the contrasting personalities of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, the cover needed to be appealing to both boys and girls (and have that slighly horror-ish look to it), and above all it needed to be a YA cover.

So, I contacted my VERY talented friend: Shiralee. She’s a graphic designer from the Netherlands, and after a skype conversation and few emails she absolutely nailed it and created this beautiful cover illustration for me!

The Editorial Bits

The editorial part of this book was perhaps what I was most nervous for. Because I set my sights on creating a young adult edition of The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde there was a lot to be done. I first went through the manuscript to eliminate any grammatical and spelling errors. After that was done it was time to focus on what needed to be done to make this an edition suitable for young adults (both native and non-native speakers). The original work was full of endlessly long sentences and quite some archaic words. Both needed to dealt with, but in such a way that I stayed true to the original work.

I ended up creating shorter sentences by splitting up the ones that were too long. I made a list of all words I didn’t immediately know the meaning of (and those that I did but were too old-fashioned) and researched them by looking up the definition and finding out where they originated. The list of words was quite long,  and took time to research, but it made me realise that there were some words that I wanted to keep because they gave the work (and the time period it is set in) character.

Hence why I ended up creating a glossary in the back of the book. Readers don’t need to use it to understand the book, but it does enhance the reading experience and allowed me to keep those words I wanted to keep. For example, the word ‘Sawbones’ is in the glossary. It’s a slang term for a surgeon or doctor, and I loved it to much to just cut it out of the book. The glossary solved this problem for me.

The Internals

Once all editorial was done, I had to flow in all text, and start on the production of the book in InDesign. This was probably my favourite part. I love working with InDesign and spent A LOT of hours making sure the internals ended up as pretty as they could be. There’s endpapers, there’s chapter illustrations, I took care of those pesky widows and orphans, and I made sure there were no weirdly hyphenated words throughout the book. You can see a glimpse of those endpapers and chapter illustrations in the image on the left (or above, depending from which device you’re viewing this post). Both (again) curtesy of my insanely talented friend Shiralee!

A lot of hours went into creating this young adult edition of The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde, but it’s hours incredibly well spent, because I am SO PROUD of the final product. I’m so grateful that Edinburgh Napier University created a learning environment that allows students to experience this. It was a safe environment that allowed room for trial and error, and I feel like I understand and appreciate the time and effort that goes into creating a book even more than before.

The book is currently at Bell & Bain in Glasgow, where it is BEING PRINTED. You read it right, in a few weeks time I get to hold actual physical copies of the book I created.

And that’s a wrap! I have been sitting on this, wanting to share it with you, for what feels like forever (but was actually just a trimester…). I’d love to hear your thoughts, so do feel free to leave a comment below!