A little bit of Edinburgh

by Stephanie Gilmartin

Here are a couple of places you should hit up, if you should happen to be in Edinburgh (or Glasgow) over the festival this month:

Armstrong's, in Edinburgh's Grassmarket - the most fabulous vintage shop in Scotland, next to Saratoga Trunk in Glasgow - I got a lovely navy and white dirndl there this time, for £20. I just wish they sold some of the more frou-frou pieces they have hanging up - I love a bit of tulle.

Victoria Street, which winds down to the Grassmarket from the Royal Mile, is a popular haunt on ghost walks (I'm sure there's supposed to be a wizard-on-horseback ghost that gallops down it) and I love it because it's one of Edinburgh's funny split-level streets.  I've never seen a more higgledy-piggledy city; it has so much architectural character.

It also has some lovely shops, including a joke shop, one that sells hog roasts all day and one called Context (it was previously one of my favourite shops for interior accessories, but it's gotten a little bit touristy).

Another split-level street, on the way up to Greyfriars Church from the Grassmarket.

Another split-level street, on the way up to Greyfriars Church from the Grassmarket.

James and I went to Hotel du Vin, which in Edinburgh is in an old asylum near the university.  We were in the midst of a flurry of graduation celebrations, which made us both feel really old (four years ago now!)  We were testing it out since my sister was getting married in the Glasgow Hotel du Vin (One Devonsire Gardens) two days later.  It passed - lovely staff, and wines with covertly funny names...

The waitress recommended her favourite wine, and even though we didn't order it, she brought us a small glass to try - things like that make it worth paying a little bit extra sometimes.

Back in Glasgow, we went to Sarti, which is my favourite ever Italian restaurant (I made everyone go there for my graduation).  Their wild boar pizza is amazing, as is their penne alla norcina - and the starter with the mozarella wrapped in parma ham and baked in cream is amazing.  They also sell lots of gorgeous Italian groceries, including Fabbri Amarena cherries, which are the most perfect thing you can have with vanilla ice cream.

It's also great for breakfast. Oh, remember when I had long hair! Feels like a long time ago now.