Must Visit Green Spaces in Edinburgh

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All pictures are my own and were originally posted on my Instagram account.

Edinburgh has always struck me as unique in its ability to be a bustling capital city where you can easily turn a corner to wonder if you have accidentally stumbled into the countryside. In this post I want to share with you four of my personal favourite green spaces in Edinburgh, from extinct volcanos to magical fairy gardens and much, much more.

Arthur’s Seat & Holyrood Park

There is nowhere I love in Edinburgh more than Arthur’s Seat and the surrounding parks. It is the one place in Edinburgh that I miss now that I live in London, as I truly cannot find anything comparable in the hustle and bustle of the UK’s capital. Arthur’s Seat itself is an extinct volcano and it is surrounded by expanses of greenery, multiple lochs and is attached to Holyrood Park where, surprise, surprise, Holyrood Palace is situated. Once you find yourself roaming the hills around Arthur’s Seat you forget you are in a city. It’s a beautiful place to escape to, never too busy especially if you explore the areas off the beaten track. I’ve spent a lot of my life in this park: playing imaginary games with friends, walking our dogs, rolling eggs on Easter and just taking time to myself to walk and unwind as an adult.

Dr Neil’s Garden, Dudingston Village

This one is attached to the area surrounding Arthur’s Seat and situated in Dudingston Village. Dudingston Loch can be approached via the park or from Dudingston itself. On its edge you will, however, find a magical little secret garden. The garden is public but accessed through a small gate off the street itself. It is beautifully landscaped, full of flowers and different levels leading down to the waterfront that are perfect places to have a seat and relax in. If I could imagine fairies living anywhere in Edinburgh it would be here.

The Botanical Gardens

This is the only place on my list that could potentially cost you some money but that is only if you want to visit the greenhouses. Everything outside of the greenhouses, and that includes a lot, is completely free. The gardens are expansive and feature plants from around the world. These plants have been divided into different gardens and areas, each of which have you feeling as if you have entered an entirely different park. Of course, the Scottish climate does not suit every species so to see certain plants you will have to enter the greenhouses, which as I mentioned cost a few pounds to visit. If you do enjoy a bit of botany and have the money to spare I would always recommend including these in your trip but otherwise there is more than enough to keep you entertained.

Colinton Dell

Situated on the outskirts of the city, Colinton Dell is a woodland walk that runs alongside the Water of Leith. It has walking and cycle paths, as well as places to stop along the way.  The woodlands themselves are classified as ancient and there is something quite majestic about walking through the trees here.

Have you visited any of these spots? Do you have any other green spaces you would like to add to the list? Where is your favourite green space where you are?

Stay With Me by Ayobami Adebayo

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Title: Stay With Me

Author: Ayobami Adebayo

Publisher: Canongate Books

Feeling: Astonishing

★★★★★

This book was first put on my radar when it was longlisted for The Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction this year (2017). And let me tell you, I will be forever grateful it did. For me, the experience of reading this book demonstrates what is so magical about the Women’s Prize for Fiction, as without it I may never have picked Stay With Me up. Which would, I assure you, have been a great loss for me.

The book itself takes place in 1980s Nigeria and predominantly follows Yejidi, whose husband Akin, in the very first few pages of the book, takes a second wife without informing Yejidi that he is about to do so. Although he is not alone in their circle of family and friends to marry multiple women he did so against the express wishes of his first wife. The reason that Yejidi’s life is suddenly turned upside down is due to her inability thus far in their marriage to conceive a child and the pressure that has incurred from Akin’s family to find a wife who can. From that point on nothing unfolds as you might predict.

With every twist and turn in this book, I fell more in love with it. It never settled into a predictable narrative that allowed by interest to wane. Perhaps it is just me, although I don’t think so, but I never guessed exactly what was coming and each time I felt the book was heading in a certain direction it took me by surprise, again and again. Not only is it pleasant to never know what is coming, the shape that the plot took added to my overall investment in the character’s stories. This sense of curiosity and sometimes anxiety kept their lives real for me in the way that you can never truly predict the path your own life will follow.

I could not have felt as invested in this story, however, if it had not been for the characters themselves. Each felt well rounded and complex, compassionate and underhanded actions alike.Yejidi, in particular, felt so real to me and although I have never and will never experience many of the things she did I could empathize with the struggles she faced. One of the stifling attitudes that society, seemingly universally, directs towards women, including Yejidi, is the interweaving of female identity with motherhood. that society, seemingly universally, Adebayo, in part, uses moments in Stay With Me to explore this expectation of women, who may very well wish to be mothers but still experience the negative effect this pressure can have upon them.

Stay With Me manages to simultaneously explore individual identity, relationships, family and the experience of cultural and societal expectations across different generations and people; it does this all within 296 pages. That in itself may be the most astonishing thing of all.

Want to pick up a copy using my affiliate link? Click here.

International Women’s Day 2017

Around the world, the 8th of March is International Women’s Day. Originally founded in 1909 by the Socialist Party of America, International Women’s Day is an opportunity to celebrate the women who have fought for change and is an opportunity to discuss current issues faced by different people across the world and what can be done to initiate change, inspired by those who have gone before us.

In the spirit of International Women’s Day, I wanted to take this opportunity to highlight just a few individuals, groups, projects and reading materials that you can watch, read, follow and get involved in.

You can also watch my International Women’s Day Reading List video here.

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d6NILMlg_400x400.jpgRowan Ellis is a YouTuber and activist.  She creates some of the most thoughtful, well produced and interesting videos I have ever come across online. Through these videos, she explores LGBTQ+ topics, feminism, sexism, homophobia, and media (incl. television and film). She also runs a fortnightly twitter chat using the hashtag #femtubechat, which may be of particular interest to those of you who create your own online content or have been considering doing so.

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Marina Watanabe has been making engaging, insightful and informative content on YouTube and elsewhere for more than four years now. In her videos, she covers issues including feminism, sexism, body image and sexuality. She is also a contributor & social media associate at the Everday Feminism website.

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10 Books Reading Challenge

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That’s right everyone, I have met my Goodreads reading goal for 2017! We are two months into the year and I’ve already hit that coveted goal, so why bother reading any more for the next ten months? Bring on the TV binge watching.

I know that last year when I changed my Goodreads reading goal to 10 books I had a few questions about why I’d set my challenge to such a ‘low’ target. Since this is a number I have decided to stick with I thought I might address the issue of ‘why’ in a wee blog post.

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The Arrival of Missives by Aliya Whiteley

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Title: The Arrival of Missives

Author: Aliya Whiteley

Publisher: Unsung Stories

Feeling: Expectant

★★★★

Prior to reading this novella I had read Aliya Whiteley’s other short novel The Beauty and a selection of her short stories; all of which deeply unsettled and disturbed me (The Beauty genuinely gave me nightmares). This is not a criticism, however, Whiteley’s writing is beautifully addictive and I was ready to read anything she wrote. I, therefore, instantly requested a copy of The Arrival of the Missives upon its release. For one reason or another, it took me a few months before I actually got a chance to read it but as soon as I arrived back at my parents home in Edinburgh for Christmas, where my books currently reside, I picked it up off the shelf. A decision I do not regret! I sped through this book, I quite literally could not put it down and it has made me all the more excited to see what Whiteley comes out with next.

The premise of the story begins with our protagonist Shirley, a 17-year-old girl about to complete her schooling and living on a farm in rural, post World War 1 Britain. We are made aware from the offset of the novel that she has feelings for her 24-year-old school teacher Mr. Tiller who returned from the war permanently injured. It is her intention, however, to make her feelings known to him now that her schooling is coming to an end in order for them to be together. From that point on absolutely nothing goes as you would expect it to.

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The Wonder by Emma Donoghue

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Title: The Wonder

Author: Emma Donoghue

Publisher: Picador

Feeling: Steady

★★★★

I was a little apprehensive to pick up Emma Donoghue’s latest novel. Having previously read two of her other works and absolutely adored both I had high expectations for anything else she wrote. High expectations, can, sometimes be a terrible burden for any book to handle. The Wonder, however, bore my hopes steadfastly throughout my reading experience and assured me that Donoghue’s beautiful prose are here to stay.

The story is set in 1850’s Ireland and follows our protagonist Libby, an Englishwoman unfamiliar with rural Ireland. She was trained as a nurse by the renowned Florence Nightingale and thus comes with a certain reputation. She has been specifically hired to watch over Anna, an eleven year old Irish girl who has supposedly not allowed a morsel of food to pass her lips in the past four months. Naturally a collective of authority figures including priest and doctor wish to discover whether this is due to divine intervention or some trick that is being played; it is Libby’s duty to find out.

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100 Women Writers

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I think it’s fair to say that the vast majority of lists, especially from mainstream outlets, suggesting ‘100 Books You Should Have Read in Your Lifetime’ are dominated by male authors. Fantastic authors with great books, sure, but nevertheless unrepresentative of the population makeup. My mum and I have a penchant for scrolling through these lists together and seeing how many of the books on it we have read – my mum in particular likes to set herself the goal of reading as many of these books as possible. More often than not, however, we despair at the overwhelming gender bias they present. Even when I sought out specifically female focused lists of ‘100 Authors You Must Read’ they did not offer 100 female authors but 100 books by female authors many of which were written by the same authors.

This is in no way due to a lack of phenomenal women writers to chose from. As fantastic as Jane Austen is (you will see her featured here) there are many more women writers out there. So I have decided to curate my own list of ‘100 Women Writers I Need To Read In My Lifetime’. The women on this list go as far back as antiquity and as far forward as the 21st century. They have been pulled from the suggestions on the standard ‘100 Books To Read’ lists, my own experience with women writers who have made important contributions to literature and recommendations from my mum (with a few adages from friends). Each and every one deserves to be on this list but it didn’t take long for me to realise 100 was a very small number; this list is, therefore, by no means exhaustive.

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