Author Archive

Things you’ll only hear in ‘Embra’

Friday, August 16th, 2019

Edinburgh is a city of marked contrasts and there are certain words and phrases that you are unlikely to hear anywhere else in Scotland.

The contrast between the genteel New Town and the shadowy Old Town certainly fuelled the imagination of Robert Louis Stevenson. In fact, his famous tale Jekyll and Hyde is thought to be heavily inspired by Edinburgh because of this ‘double existence’.

Here is a guide to some of the most frequently used words in Edinburgh’s (Embra’s) local dialect and what they mean!

Definition: Unfair, disappointing, terrible, bad. Often used in conjuction with ‘pure’ (ie ‘very’) to denote extreme shanness. Everything that’s rubbish can be described as shan.

Definition: A ‘radge’ is a person who consistently acts in a noticeably crazy or angry way.

Definition: This means clueless, Scooby Doo being the rhyming slang for clue.

Definition: Disgusting or vile.

Definition: Someone who is constantly ‘spraffin’ too much is a person who just will not stop talking.

Haud yer weesht
Definition: An Edinburgh phrase delivered to people who just will not stop spraffin’ drivel, ‘haud yer weesht’ is a brilliantly onomatopoeic way to tell someone to be quiet.

Definition: To move quickly, run or run away.

Definition: Originally used to describe someone who lived in the city centre, these days the word ‘gadgie’ is more of an Edinburgh insult.

Definition: Great. Although it’s use has spread wider, this is still a proper Edinburgh word for anything that’s really good.

Definition: To purposely ignore someone. ‘Pie-ing’ a friend is the lowest of the low, and to be ‘pied’ really hurts.

Definition: Be aware that if someone asks you to help with a chore in the Edinburgh area, they may well be introducing you to a life of crime. Locally, to ‘chore’ or to ‘go out on the chore’ means to steal.

Definition: Accompany. Used as a verb, this means to go on a journey with someone.

Definition: A ‘stooshie’ is a bit of bother. Strong words may have been exchanged at the pub, but it came to nothing – that’s a stooshie. Stay vigilant during a stooshie to make sure it doesn’t turn into a stramash.

Definition: In Edinburgh the term is most commonly use to describe a friend who is acting like an idiot.

Definition: Unlike its standard meaning of smelly, in Edinburgh it’s one of many ways to describe an extreme state of inebriation.

Collie Buckie
Definition: Piggy back. To ride on someone’s back.

Edinburgh in quotes

Thursday, August 1st, 2019

“The most beautiful of all the capitals of Europe.”

As well as being Scotland’s capital city, Edinburgh is also the leading festival city in the world and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. But when you live and work in such an incredible city, it can sometimes be easy to take it for granted.

So, we thought it would be interesting to remind everyone about how the city has been loved and admired for hundreds of years with some of the most memorable and famous quotes about Edinburgh from some equally famous people.

Queen Victoria

“The view of Edinburgh from the road before you enter Leith is quite enchanting: it is, as Albert said, fairy-like and what you would only imagine as a thing to dream of, or to see in a picture.”

Queen Victoria made her first visit to Scotland in 1842, just five years after becoming Queen.
She marvelled at the beautiful views of the Castle, Calton Hill and Arthur’s Seat.

Alexander McCall Smith

“This is a city of shifting light, of changing skies, of sudden vistas. A city so beautiful it breaks the heart again and again.”

Author Alexander McCall Smith has written several novels set in the city, including 44 Scotland Street and The Sunday Philosophy Club.

Richard Demarco

“The Scots think of it as their capital; they’re too possessive, Edinburgh belongs to the world.”

The Edinburgh-born artist Richard Demarco has been a champion of visual and performing arts in the city for decades.

Robert Louis Stevenson

“Half a capital and half a country town, the whole city leads a double existence; it has long trances of the one and flashes of the other; like the king of the Black Isles, it is half alive and half a monumental marble.”

Stevenson’s Edinburgh: Picturesque Notes, is full of beautiful descriptions of Auld Reekie such as this. Despite being set in London, Stevenson’s famous tale of Jekyll and Hyde is thought to be heavily inspired by Edinburgh because of this ‘double existence’.

Tobias Smollett

“Edinburgh is a hotbed of genius.”

This famous quote from Scottish poet and author Tobias Smollett refers to Edinburgh’s Enlightenment of the 18th century. The city was associated with many writers, philosophers, scientists and academics, including David Hume, Adam Smith and Francis Hutcheson.

Oscar Wilde

“It is quite lovely – bits of it.”

Oscar Wilde’s famous quote gives a less romanticised version of the city, but still gives the literary seal of approval to Auld Reekie.

Hugh MacDiarmid

“But Edinburgh is a mad god’s dream.”

One of the principal figures behind the Scottish Renaissance of the mid-20th century, Hugh MacDiarmid, was an influential poet and writer. This quote, taken from his poem Edinburgh, is immortalised on a plaque outside the Scottish Parliament.

Alan Rickman

“I always feel that when I come to Edinburgh, in many ways I am coming home.”

Even for those who are visitors to Edinburgh, this quote from the late British actor Alan Rickman, a regular at many of Edinburgh’s festivals, sums up exactly what people feel about the city.

Ian Rankin

“Edinburgh isn’t so much a city, more a way of life…… I doubt I’ll ever tire of exploring Edinburgh, on foot or in print.”

Ian Rankin’s series of Inspector Rebus novels are some of the most popular books set in the city.
Rankin began his writing career whilst studying English Literature at the University of Edinburgh.

Robert Burns

“Edina! Scotia’s darling seat!”

Burns lived in Edinburgh for a couple of years at the height of his career. Although he originally hailed from Ayr, Scotland’s national bard was very fond of the capital city, as illustrated here in this Address to Edinburgh.

Washington Irvine

“It seemed as if the rock and castle assumed a new aspect every time I looked at them; and Arthur’s Seat was perfect witchcraft. I don’t wonder that anyone residing in Edinburgh should write poetically.”

In 1817, Washington Irvine travelled to Edinburgh to visit Walter Scott and was enchanted by the city. Best known for his short stories Rip Van Winkle and The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, Irvine was one of the first American writers to gain international success in Europe.

Sir Walter Scott

“Piled deep and massy, close and high; Mine own romantic town.”

This famous line is taken from the epic poem Marmion. Scott, who was born in College Wynd on the Cowgate, is one of the most significant figures in Scottish literature and the Scott Monument is the largest monument to a writer in the world.

Charlotte Bronte

“My dear Sir, do not think that I blaspheme when I tell you that your great London, as compared to Dun-Edin, ‘mine own romantic town’, is as prose compared to poetry, or as a great rumbling, rambling, heavy Epic compared to a Lyric, brief, bright, clear, and vital as a flash of lightning.”

In this letter from 1850, author Charlotte Bronte tells her companion that London and Edinburgh are two very different cities. She even makes reference to the famous line from Marmion, which she also quoted in her novel Jane Eyre.

Sir John Betjeman

“The most beautiful of all the capitals of Europe.”

The Poet Laureate was a huge fan of Victorian architecture, this explains why he was so fond of Edinburgh’s traditional tenements and town houses.

George Eliot

“When I looked out in the morning it is as if I had waked in Utopia.”

Mary Anne Evans, better known by her pen name George Eliot, was one of the leading writers of the Victorian era. She was one of many authors to be inspired by the city after a visit to Edinburgh.

Charles Dickens

“Coming back to Edinburgh is to me like coming home.”

Charles Dickens was particularly fond of Edinburgh, as it was the place where he received the first significant public recognition of his work. He described Edinburgh as a “city so distinguished in literature and the arts” and visited several times throughout his life.

12 facts you might not know about Edinburgh

Thursday, July 25th, 2019

Here are twelve facts that you might not know about Edinburgh.


1) Edinburgh Castle sits on Castle Rock, a 700 million year old extinct volcano. At 1pm every day (except Sundays), the ‘One O’Clock Gun’ fires a shot from the castle.

2) The Royal Mile is actually one mile and 107 yards long.

3) Edinburgh is the greenest city in the UK, it has 112 parks and more trees per head of population than any other city in the U.K.

4) Much of J K Rowling’s inspiration for the Harry Potter books derived from Edinburgh. In fact, she wrote the majority of Harry Potter books while living in the city and you can visit the Elephant House Coffee Shop and Balmoral Hotel where she spent time writing the novels. You can also visit the Edinburgh locations which inspired the books including GreyFriars Kirkyard and Victoria Street (Diagon Alley).

5) Edinburgh Zoo is home to the world’s only knighted penguin and his name is Sir Nils Olav. The King penguin’s role includes inspecting the Norwegian Guard on their visits to the Scottish capital and since his knighthood in 2008, he’s since been promoted in the ranks to Brigadier.

6) St. Margaret’s Chapel, located within the walls of Edinburgh Castle, is the oldest surviving building in Edinburgh. It was built around 1130, in memory of Queen Margaret, who is said to have died from a broken heart after the death of her husband, Malcolm III of Scotland.

7) “You’ll have had your tea?” was once a common Edinburgh greeting and is still used today as a way to avoid putting on the kettle. It is believed the phrase originated in the 18th century with a nobleman named Mackintosh of Borlum who didn’t like the sound of tea-slurping at social gatherings.

8) The Edinburgh Fringe Festival is the largest arts festival in the world. There are over 3000 shows staged with a total of 50,000 performances across 300 venues. The population of Edinburgh doubles in size during Fringe with people travelling from every corner of the world just to experience it.

9) Edinburgh has not always been the nation’s capital. Edinburgh replaced Scone as the capital of Scotland in 1437.

10) Edinburgh Castle’s Great Hall has a small window high above the fireplace known as “laird’s lug” (lord’s ear) which was used for eavesdropping. The window allowed castle residents to eavesdrop on conversations taking place in the Great Hall.

11) The National Monument on Calton Hill is known as “Edinburgh’s Folly” or “Edinburgh’s Shame.” It was modelled on the Parthenon in Athens, but funding for the building ran out and it was never completed.

12) Over 75% of the buildings in Edinburgh are listed. With more than 4,500 buildings making the list, Edinburgh is home to the most listed sites in the UK after London.

Strolling and dining off the tourist path in Edinburgh

Tuesday, July 16th, 2019

Oink are delighted to feature in this article all about Edinburgh, thank you to Marilen Fontanilla
(Explore ABS-CBN/ANCX)

Strolling and dining off the tourist path in Edinburgh

Scotland’s capital city is filled with well-preserved monuments and tenements, quirky nooks, affable residents, and a thriving restaurant scene highlighting what is distinctly Scottish

read the article in full

Pigs in the city

Monday, July 15th, 2019

As Britain’s second most visited city after London, Edinburgh truly is a world class place to visit at any time of year.

Almost every inch of Scotland’s stunning capital city is a reminder of its fascinating history. Once you explore the narrow, cobbled alleys of the Old Town and the elegant crescents of the New Town, you’ll soon see why they’ve been jointly awarded UNESCO World Heritage Site status. With so much to see and do, it can be hard to know where to start exploring. But we recommend a great place to start is the Royal Mile, home to the iconic Edinburgh Castle at one end and the Palace of Holyroodhouse (the Queen’s official residence in Scotland) at the other discover here. As you make your way along the Royal Mile, you’ll pass St Giles Cathedral, The Real Mary King’s Close underground tour and the amazing Scottish Parliament building.

There’s always something going on in Edinburgh but if you are interested in arts and culture then a visit to one of Edinburgh’s Festivals is an absolute must. Each August, people from all over the world flock to the city for the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, the largest arts festival in the world and the iconic Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo. And come December, if you are looking to celebrate the New Year in style then don’t miss the city’s spectacular Hogmanay celebrations.

And if you enjoy a little retail therapy, Edinburgh certainly won’t disappoint. Head to world famous Princes Street and George Street and for luxury brands look no further than Multrees Walk and Harvey Nichols in St Andrews Square.

After setting the scene like this we are very proud to be located in two of Edinburgh’s most famous and iconic streets and thought it would be fun to let you know some interesting facts about them and the vicinity.

Did you know that JK Rowling based magical shopping street Diagon Alley in Harry Potter on Victoria Street ?

The street is of course located in the Grassmarket, which was from 1477, one of Edinburgh’s main market places, a part of which was given over to the sale of horse and cattle (the name apparently deriving from livestock grazing in pens beyond its western end.

In 1803 William and Dorothy Wordsworth took rooms at the White Hart Inn, where the poet Robert Burns had stayed during his last visit to Edinburgh in 1791.

In his 1961 film Greyfriars Bobby, Walt Disney chose a lodging in the Grassmarket as the place where the Skye terrier’s owner dies (depicting him as a shepherd hoping to be hired at the market rather than the real-life dog’s owner, police night watchman John Gray.

The Canongate is the lower section of the famous Royal Mile and ends at the Palace of Holyroodhouse which was built in 1501.  It was only incorporated into the city of Edinburgh in 1865 before that it was a separate burgh and had a history and culture all of its own.

Did you know that Bovril can trace its roots back to the Cannongate?  An early version of the drink was made by a Cannongate butcher John Johnstone who developed “Liquid Beer” by using spare beef and gelatine.  He emigrated to Canada and there further marketed his drink coming up with the name Bovril (from Bovis Latin name for a cow and the word Vril).

Like many other streets in the New Town, Hanover Street was named in honour of the monarchs on the throne at the time of its construction.

The Hanoverian dynasty ruled Britain from 1714 to 1901, and George III was the reigning monarch at the time of Hanover Street’s construction in 1786.

After the First World War there were proposals to change the name to something less German-sounding, but they were unsuccessful and Hanover Street remained.

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