Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Meet the Locals: Flower Loveliness from Pyrus

Photo: Ann Kathrin-Koch Photography
I first came across the gorgeous nature-inspired wedding and event styling and botanical installations of Pyrus when I got lost down a classic "Instagram rabbit hole" on my bus journey to work one day. 20 minutes of scrolling through their gorgeous flower-filled feed later, and I was in love. Wind forward a couple of months and I'm running around one of their workshops like a puppy in a pile of leaves, arms full of lovely just-foraged foresty goodies ready to transform into an autumn wreath (and not a supermarket tulip in sight). So when Katey, Jen and I decided we'd love to do a wee "Meet the Locals" series on the blog about our favourite local businesses and the talented people behind them, I immediately knew I wanted to feature Edinburgh's very own advocates of the new flower power.

A huge thanks Fiona and Natalya of Pyrus for the interview! (and check out the end of the post for details on upcoming workshops!)

(1) We would love to hear a bit about how Pyrus started. When did it begin and what inspired you? 

Pyrus is Fiona Inglis and Natalya Ayers. It all began in 2011 when we took on a walled garden in East Lothian. Having progressed from art school to floristry, we shared a love of locally-grown and British flowers, having becoming tired of the lack of seasonality and variety available from the Dutch suppliers.  It was virtually impossible to buy the unusual or specialist British flowers we wanted for our work, so we decided to grow our own.

(2) What makes Pyrus unique?

We are studio florists which makes us different from a high street florist and specialise in creative weddings and events. We are not bound to a shop and spend a long time finding the right flowers and materials, focusing on the little details and botanical treasures which makes an event so special.  We like to think our uniqueness lies in our love of everything in the natural world and we don't restrict ourselves to just flowers in our work.  We will use anything that we find that has the right aesthetic, from wings and bones, mosses and lichens, to seaweed, branches and even weeds. If it has a natural beauty then we put it to use.
Photos: Left - Ann Kathrin-Koch Photography; Right - Caro Weiss
(3) What plans for the business do you have coming up?

We are actually planning a flower revolution! We want to make local flowers accessible to the wider market; not only are there multiple environmental issues in the flower industry (over 90% of flower shop flowers come from all over the world, heavily sprayed with herbicides and pesticides and transported in articulated trucks) we also firmly believe that local flowers are far more beautiful then their mass produced cousins, often with an intoxicating scent.  We are finishing off our working year with a stint in London at Christmas and then the planning starts for new creative projects in 2015.
(4) What are you most excited about for the autumn and winter?

Autumn is our favourite season by far; the glorious colours and texture of the berries, seed heads and leaves stop us in our tracks and the low light in the sky makes everything appear magical. The truth is that Autumn is exciting enough for us in itself!  This winter we are looking forward to displaying our newly honed taxidermy skills and incorporating lots of ethically sourced wings into an installation for a wonderfully adventurous and creative bride.

(5) What are your top tips for anyone who wanted to create a little Pyrus-inspired styling in their own home?

At home we tend to keep things simple. We'd suggest a few simple stems of something foraged, look for flowers and foliage that are full of movement with lovely bendy shapes, imperfect qualities that stand out from commercially grown blooms.  A scattering of conkers, shells or cones are always a nice botanical touch and a large, lichen covered branch will provide a focal point above a fireplace or on a shelf.

Photo: Caro Weiss
(6) When not tending to your beautiful garden, what are your top Edinburgh spots to visit?

We are big fans of Blackfriars - good drinks and amazing food.  If you haven't tried the amazing chocolate by Edward and Irwyn this is a must - chocolate to die for made by very talented ladies. We spend a lot of time in Lovecrumbs for their amazing cake and coffee and Gardener's Cottage is a great little gem for delicious food and relaxed atmosphere.   Can you tell we like our food?!  For shopping, head to the Century General Store in Marchmont which stocks a great range of unusual gifts and magazines. Edinburgh has so many wonderful, creative independent businesses that we could give you a whole top ten and more besides.
Photos: Left - Zoe; Right - Caro Weiss
(7) What's your favourite natural space or area in Edinburgh?

Edinburgh is blessed with lots of natural spaces; Arthur's seat on a windy day always clears the cobwebs out and gives you such a great view of the city, surrounded by naturalised plants and trees. However, nothing make us happier than seeing a little flower peeping through a crack in the pavement in the middle of the bustling, urban sprawl . Nature will always win out in the end.

Photo: Craig and Eva Sanders Photography
A huge thank you again to the incredibly talented and lovely Pyrus team for sharing their inspiration, tips and gorgeous shots with us!

Pyrus will be running workshops at Coulson on Friday 28th November (garlands) and Friday 5th and Sunday 7th December (wreaths) - email to book or you can join their city centre wreath workshop at Lovecrumbs on Thursday 11th December - email to get your place - it's well worth it!

You can also follow/drool over their beautiful creations on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter. Let the Flower Revolution commence!

Monday, 17 November 2014

Edinburgh Events: Out of the Blue Drill Hall Monthly Flea Market

There are all kinds of awesome events that take place at Out of the Blue Drill Hall - live music, art classes, ping pong tournaments, film clubs to a whole lotta vintage sales. Their monthly flea market is one of our favourite rummages, combined with a yum brunch at their cafe. It's held on the last Saturday of every month and has more vintage and craft than you can shake a stick at. Some of our favourite pick ups from there include 1960s geometric mirrors, random childrens annuals (including my childhood fave, Count Duckula) and some beautiful original artwork. There's always awesome vintage dresses, fur coats and retro jumpers as well as old typewriters, kitsch statuettes and art deco cocktail glasses - everything that will make your life a little bit better. Highly recommended to pop into if you fancy a good rummage, bargain or just a lookaround with a good brunch!

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Exploring Edinburgh: Calton Hill

Edinburgh is a beautiful place to live for many reasons and one of them is the sheer amount of beauty spots and landmarks right in the centre of town. One of the loveliest walks to take on a sunny day is to Calton Hill, a mere 20 minute walk from the town centre to hilltop (and that's at my slow pace). Just a short walk from the east end of Princes Street and you can get some of the best views of the city and see several key Edinburgh monuments to boot - the Dugald Stewart Monument, Robert Burns Monument, Nelson Monument and the biggest one, the National Monument.  The latter is known to locals as Edinburgh's Disgrace, due to the fact it was never quite finished because of a lack of funds (a somewhat familiar story? *cough*trams*cough*). Modelled upon the Parthenon in Athens, it's still a pleasure to gaze upon its columns and think about what might have been and it's a popular place to have a seat and enjoy the sights. With views out to the Firth of Forth, Holyrood Palace and Arthur’s Seat, it's best to visit Calton Hill on a sunny day with your camera and prepare to be dazzled.

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Edinburgh by Instagram: @Ailsa.gram

So, Instagram. It's quite popular, I hear. We're on there, doing what we do best (an intoxicating combo of all the best stuff: brunch + cake + cats). And rather a lot of Edinburgers and Edinburgh lovers are on there too, taking some rather marvellous shots of our fair city. Whether you're lucky enough to live here or just visiting, I think we'd probably all agree that Edinburgh manages to somehow look stunning come rain or shine - the buildings pop against a bright blue sky, the rain and mist evoke a haunting beauty from the winding alleys, and we've got castle sitting on a f**k off rock in the middle of the town, a jaw-dropping photo opp I all too often take for granted. So, we decided to start a wee series featuring some (but by no means all) great snappers capturing life in and around the city with their iPhone - whether it be a classic Scott Momument shot, a day trip out to the Pentlands or simple pootling along the cobbles with a pooch and a cup of coffee.

I had no doubt in my mind when it came to deciding on who we'd like to feature for our first Edinburgh shutterbug: the lovely Ailsa Leonard, aka @Ailsa.gram. I came across her beautiful account about 6 months ago and have been enjoying her gorgeous pictures of Edinburgh and Scotland's countryside ever since. A passion that's now happily becoming a living, you can see more of Ailsa's work over at her website and of course her Instagram account - for now I've picked, with great difficulty, some of my many favourites below, along with a few words about what inspires her.

 A wee bit about Ailsa: "I'm Edinburgh born and bred. I've always loved photography and all things creative, but I hadn't quite realised how much until I downloaded Instagram 3 years ago. My passion grew from there. It's what made me realise I wanted to become a photographer.

On photographing Edinburgh: My favourite thing to photograph is the beautiful city that we live in. There are so many hidden nooks and crannies that create amazing light and offer many photo opportunities. One of my favourite things to do is walk the length of The Royal Mile, just exploring all of the closes. Each one is completely different.

Favourite spots: "I love to walk through Princes Street Gardens too - I can't pass by without taking a quick shot of the castle! It's quite interesting to look back at them in my camera roll and see the colour changes through the seasons! Another spot that I love is the lane at the back of my office, Thistle St South West Lane. It looks like something out of a fashion editorial."

Beyond the city: I've always been an outdoorsy person, so I do try to escape the city as often as I can. I spend any free weekends that I have exploring the Scottish Highlands and west coast, whether it's "munro bagging', camping trips, or going on walks in the woods with my 7 year old son, these adventures are what make up a lot of the content on my Instagram feed. Theres definitely something magical about these unspoilt areas of the country, and they have a special place in my heart. I love that I can share Scotland's beauty with people all around the world."

A photo posted by A I L S A (@ailsa_edinburgh) on

A HUGE thank you to you Ailsa for letting us share your photos! If you're an enthusiastic Edinburgh instagrammer, whether you've 5 or 5000 followers, drop us a comment including your username below - we'd love to see your photos!

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Presents by post: Cocktails in a box from Tipple Box

It is a truth universally acknowledged that getting presents in the post brightens ones day considerably. Tipple Box is a new Edinburgh-based drinks company who are looking to brighten days by bringing the cocktail experience to your home each month with their mail order craft cocktail kits. This is far more than merely booze in a box as you'll get the spirits, mixers, ingredients, shaker jar and two cocktail recipes, enough to make eight cocktails. Types of cocktail include the Lady Marmalade, a delicious sounding citrus drink made with marmalade vodka and lemon. All that any wannabe mixologist needs to do is mix the ingredients together and add ice. Genius! And exactly the type of present that we would want to get in the post.

Tipple Box are supported by Chase craft-distillers, Fever Tree tonics and Martin Duffy, head mixologist at 56 North.  They're in the process of crowdfunding their business via Indigogo, where you can pledge a mere £20 for their first box, or more for subscriptions and even a lifetime of cocktails! So not only is it nice to be able to help support an Edinburgh-based start-up company, you'll be guaranteeing yourself a cocktail party in the post. There's also a certain annual gift-giving holiday coming up soon (is it too early to talk about Christmas?) - this would make an awesome gift and you could always hope that the grateful recipient invites you round for cocktails soon too!

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

It's Halloween! Celebrating 31st October in Style

October means pumpkin spice lattes, crunchy autumn leaves, buying new coats and planning for Halloween parties. Halloween is the most fun of the made-up holidays, whether you rejoice in the macabre elements, love dressing up like a Disney princess, make it to the Mound for the Samhuinn fire festival, or just enjoy decorating pumpkins and eating spooky Haribo. We've scoured the internet for Halloween party inspiration (you can find more on our Pinterest page) and here are our favourite ideas for eating, drinking and being spooky.

  Halloween party printables - poison bottle labels & bat cake toppers

clockwise from top left:
tropical twist on your standard Jack-o-lantern.
 These spooky (but also kind of stylish) ghostly guys
A little Halloween bling courtesy of some gold spraypaint.

clockwise from top left:
Flower filled pumpkin (for the classy Halloween shindig)
Minions, for 31st October should always be Despicable (har)
Dia De Los Meurtos sugar skull pumpkins.

Happy Halloween everyone! How are you celebrating yours?

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Edinburgh Spa Life: Sobo Boutique

Sobo Boutique opened recently in Newhaven, exclusively using Aveda products for their hair and beauty treatments.  Aveda are known for their natural eco-friendly brand whilst still providing luxury products that work well, which make them perfect for salon and beauty treatments.  Sobo invited us to try out one of their treatments and I was delighted to accept, deciding to sample their one hour Elemental Nature facial (£60) - their classic customised facial which should always be a good measure of a salon. 

Sobo has a cool and relaxed style with a good dose of New York chic - bare brick walls house huge, extravagant gilt mirrors and soft leather seats in muted olive and aubergine tones.  I was introduced to Lynsey, my therapist, who took me to the lovely treatment room, complete with heated table, soothing music and more Aveda products that you could shake a stick at.  Lynsey asked me about my current routine, any skincare concerns that I had and what I'd like the treatment to focus on (all of which are good signs that you have a knowledgeable therapist).  After a super-stressful work month my skin was in need of a little tlc.  Lynsey suggested some products from the Outer Peace range, which helps with problem skin and oiliness, and talked me through what the treatment involved. There was to be an oil pre-cleanse, foaming Outer Peace cleanser, liquid exfoliant, facial massage, clay mask and moisturiser.

Lynsey gave me three fragrant blends to select from (tea tree, tangerine and rose) and used my favourite (rose) in elements of the treatment.  All  Aveda's products smell gorgeous, but having the scent throughout the treatment gave a nice feeling of personalisation.  Highlights of the treatment included the clay mask which left my skin feeling super clean, and the oil facial massage which was not only great for the skin to boost circulation and lymphatic drainage, but also relaxed the tension I'd been holding in my face.  In fact the whole treatment was intensely relaxing, with a blissful back, shoulder and scalp massage whilst the clay mask was on.  I can thoroughly recommended it for you when you need a spa treatment to be therapeutic for your skin and for your soul.

Sobo currently have an amazing deal of 50% off treatments on the first visit and 30% off on the second visit and all Aveda products are 20% off too.  Lynsey had some excellent recommendations for skincare products too and I can't wait to go back!

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Beyond the Builders Brew: Anteaques

Even if you haven't heard of Anteaques before, if you're an Edinburgh resident it's likely that you'll have tried some of their tea before.  Based in a wee shop on Clerk Street in Southside, they supply a number of our favourite cake shops with their extensive range of teas.  Their loose leaf is available to buy in store (along with a variety of tea infusers and the like) and you can smell a variety of their lush tea blends whilst getting any advice from their expert staff whilst you're there. And of course, whilst you're there you should stay to sample a cup of tea and some of their delicious cakes and scones too. Their cake menu changes daily and everything is freshly homemade.  On our visit we tried the Japanese matcha tea layer cake and a classic fruit scone (served with your choice of jam); the cake was divine with a delicate green tea flavour and white chocolate cream and the fruit scone very well done indeed. Bear in mind that the shop only has a few tables so it may be prudent to ring in advance if you have your heart set on visiting! You can also stay and browse the antiques they have for sale (hence the mash-up name y'see) - beautiful tea sets, crystal, silverware and lighting from a bygone elegant age.  A rail full of vintage fur coats gives a corner of the room a Narnia-esque vibe.  Anteaque's opening hours are somewhat limited, open on Friday, Saturday & Sunday from 11am-7pm.

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Edinburgh Etsy: Poosac Homeware and Huggables

My hunt for new homewares is neverending, and I particularly love when I come across a seller that not only creates gorgeous things but also does so close to home. So I was delighted to discover Poosac (via my friend Gaby of the beautiful Braw Scotland), a range of cushions, toys and cards, based right here in Edinburgh. Quirky, squidgy and sweetly humourous without being twee, the Poosac collection is a lovingly lopsided menagerie, featuring bears, cats, rabbits, heilan coos and more, handstitched from a variety of gorgeous Scottish and Scandi-inspired fabrics. As if it couldn't be even more lovable, Kim, Poosac's creator and designer, is inspired by the heartwrenching childhood classic "Dogger" by Shirley Hughes - possibly the Best Book Ever (or so I thought when I was wee). I actually want the whole wonderful lot, but here are my absolute faves:
This heilan coo cushion/toy is magnificent. I love his fringe - tres 90s-era Boyzone. He comes in miniature at £18.00 and supersized at £30. I think a herd grazing casually on your sofa would be fabulous, but for a more eclectic pairing then this sleepy cat (£34.50) and sweet dinosaur (£40) are also wonderful. 
Alternatively, how about this well-dressed trio? I love this lady in her bright orange smock and her tres belle twin, both £34.50, and who can resist the most dapper bunny I've seen hopping along the aisles of Etsy, rocking those polka dots like a BOSS at £32.50.
Moving on from animals, I absolutely adore these mountain cushions - all they're missing is Fraulein Maria running merrily down the side. They make up for it with an utterly edible range of colours and fabrics - brown twill, forest green felt, mustard harris tweed (all £35) and my personal favourite, fuscia harris tweed (£50).

Poosac also features a 36-strong range of greeting cards - how about Och Aye The Moo, a floppy-eared pug or Crazy Cat Lady (we all know one), each coming in at £3.50 - you can also see the full range here.

It's hard to believe you won't be able to find something you love in the marvellous world of Poosac, but if you're looking for something a little bit special, Kim also does custom listings. So if you want, you can get a Dogger* all of your own.

*apologies to all those who have never heard of Dogger and are thinking "WTF? That sounds dodge." Promise it's not dodge, just a tale of a lost toy that both breaks and warms your heart.