It’s been nearly 3 years since I moved from Birmingham to beautiful Edinburgh, and lately I’ve been reflecting a lot on how it’s changed me and my lifestyle. It was a huge culture shock, more than I had originally thought, but I think I finally feel more at home than ever despite being the kind of person that never likes to settle in one place, mentally and physically, for too long. I thought I’d do a list of 4 things that moving to Scotland changed in me or that I found interesting, which may be relatable for other ex-pats out there!
1. Och Aye! Personally I am a huge lover of Buzzfeed articles like this one that humorously describe the differences in language and dialect! In fact, when I did my final year of High School up here, I had to ask a classmate to write me a mini-glossary of Scottish slang as I had no clue what anyone was on about, plus moving to Aberdeen for university last year brought yet another onslaught of new words and phrases. When I go back to England, friends and family often laugh at me for saying ‘wee’, ‘aye’ and other little Scot-isms! I never thought I would catch on so easily.
2. Diet and Exercise. Despite all stereotypes, I swear that Edinburgh residents exercise a lot more than you think. It shocked me how little my friends drive or take the bus, and after a while I found myself walking nearly everywhere, whether that be a trek up Arthur’s seat, or to a nightclub! In terms of food, I couldn’t believe how much meat Scots consume, with just about every cafe serving bacon, haggis, lorne sausage, scotch pies and black pudding. Also, I had to adjust to getting ‘salt n sauce’ on my after-party chips and try the dreaded Irn Bru. But I’ve also discovered a huge vegan community here as well as loads of lovely organic cafes and health food stores!
3. Lack of diversity. I can’t deny that I was truly shocked at the contrast between my old and new cities in terms of racial diversity. Moving from multi cultural Birmingham, I couldn’t get over the blanket of white Scots that inhabit Edinburgh, and I know that other Scottish towns, particularly in rural areas are even less diverse. In fact, only 4% of Scots are of minority ethnic origin, compared with around 14% in England.
4. Creative Community. From Scot Street Style to the Edinburgh Bloggers, from Scotland Redesigned to The Scottish Design Exchange, from Ed Fashion to LS Productions, and all the other wonderful Scottish people and organisations involved in the arts and fashion industry; I can’t get over the amazing momentum that is happening; moving away from London-centric projects and towards a focus on locals. I have loved being involved in so many fantastic movements and opportunities that I wouldn’t have got back home. Less competition, more support and more community-spirit!
Ruth @ Urbanity xxx
What’s the first thing you think of when you hear the word Birmingham?
Perhaps it’s the famous Selfridges building inspired by a Prada dress, the big dirty canal system, the old brass bull, or even the strong Brummie accent.
For me, Birmingham will always be associated with my childhood, my upbringing, and my family and friends.
But on a recent trip down south, a long walk around the city I used to call home brought new surprises in the way of unique street art.
Not only was Birmingham filled with incredible festive decorations, 3D displays and statues, such as this amazing Christmas tree supermodel that I found in the The Mailbox adorning the newly refurbished Harvey Nichols superstore, but the streets were covered with the familiar urban grit that Edinburgh doesn’t quite have. From old school graffiti to innovative illusions, scroll down to check out a few of the snaps I took around my hometown.
Ruth @ Urbanity xxx
It’s a big city so there’s an awful lot to tell you about, welcome to part two of this post (read part one here!)
I’ll start off with one of the most moving experiences I’ve ever had, I visited Ground Zero. I wasn’t sure what to expect, and I’ve never seen the memorial in pictures let alone in real life. Despite being 5 years old when the Twin Towers were struck by the aircrafts I still remember seeing it broadcast on television as I’m sure many of us do. The memorials were beautiful, the delicate way in which they paid respect to those who lost their lives that day made me appreciate even more the amount of heroes trying to save lives, and made you feel for those who didn’t make it and the impact it has on their family. It was the most silent place in the city, showing that in a city that is constantly on the move and expanding empathy and respect will always be found.
Buddy Valastro, a wizard when it comes to all things baking, so much so he has his own TV show and goes by then name ‘Cake Boss’. I couldn’t miss an opportunity to visit one of his busy baking stores, his very busy baking stores. The minute I walked in it was packed full of people lusting after pastries, cakes and all that sweet sugary stuff, it made Greggs look like child play. There were ticket machines right at the door, yes that’s right, ticket machines…for cakes (ahhh America). I pressed the button on the ticket machine and a bright red ticket with the number ’72’ printed on it. I managed to overhear the lady working behind the counter shout for ticket number 23. Being an impatient British person I wasn’t willing to wait for 49 other people to be served before me (was I really that desperate for a cupcake?) so I had one glance at the cannolis and left empty handed, disappointed that my impatience got the better of me.
Macy’s. Where to even begin, the ground floor is Jenners x50. What you see in the picture on the left is a never ending horizon of make up stands stretching into the distance, counter after counter, pictures of models, celebrities and Christmas box deals pilled on top of one another was never ending. Stampedes of early bird Christmas shoppers bustling about with bags and shoulders like iron to take out anybody who stood in their way. The bright beacon of America’s coffee giant Starbucks was everywhere, I swear there were two on one side of the bottom floor, shopping in a place like this you definitely need a pick me up of sugar laced coffee to keep you going. I didn’t even buy anything (apart from a Starbucks) despite the countless amount of tempting products on show. It was a blur of perfumes, escalators, bags, the sound of voices, high heels smacking against the marble floor and security. It was unbelievable, those who managed to get all their Christmas shopping in Macy’s are athletes. Despite the crazy nature of the place, I’d definitely go back and hope that there was a finish line to cross at the end of my spending spree with a bottle of water and a physiotherapist. If you’re in New York go to Macy’s, it is fantastic and everything I’d imagined it to be.
Sarah @ Urbanity xxx
A concrete jungle filled with bustling crowds, advertisements around every corner, a blur of yellow taxis and no time to rest, New York is like nothing I’ve ever experienced before.
Lets start with the flight, which was basically 7 hours of endless opportunities not to be bored. Every seat had a TV on the back, you could listen to music, watch the newest films and TV programmes, play games and watch the flight path of the plane (which was only entertaining for about 3 seconds). If that wasn’t enough to keep you entertained you were constantly fed. It reminded me of being hungover minus the headache (eating and burning through time binging on films and wondering if you fell asleep at one point or not).
“God dammit get out of my way”- first words spoken to me by a native New Yorker and I was ECSTATIC. If you’re going to be a tourist you may aswell get in peoples way right? After taking pictures of buildings and being thrilled by taxi’s I found myself in Times Square. Thee Times square. Giant faces on enormous TV’s bigger than the pretzels over there and what really caught me eye? SEPHORA (the holy grail of make up stores). I go in, filled with questions to do with Kardashian-esk make up skills aka “how do I change my face with make up. GIVE ME ENVIABLE BONE STRUCTURE.” What can only be described as a Kylie Jenner on a budget type of experience, I walk out with 3 beauty blenders and foundations in different colours, some like make up spray thing, and the regret of spending a ludicrous amount of money trying to fund the make up skills I do not have. On the plus side the sales assistant (who was either VERY good at selling products or I have no will power, I want to say she’s good at selling but I know the truth and so does my bank account) done my make up so I was feeling very reality tv show ready that the day.
The second day wasn’t so glamorous but much more enjoyable. Starting the day with my new make up and lack of make up skills, which can only be described as a trial and error approach to getting ready, I was set for The Statue of Liberty herself and Ellis Island. Filled with the history of America and the thrill of seeing something with your own eyes and not in pictures was incredible. Climbing up the stairs inside The Statue of Liberty made me realise that there is no hope for my calves but seeing the view of New York from there was totally worth the agonising burning, breathless and quite simply humiliating process of climbing the stairs. Herded like sheep back onto the tourist boat and wondering how many people can actually fit on this before it sinks made me hope that my ruined legs could still support me to swim, we arrived at Ellis Island. Getting off of the boat onto the Island which had seen many past faces doing the same thing in hope for a better future was really quite touching. Thinking that the land you’re walking on was once hope for those that’d travelled hundreds of miles, the halls inside the grand building that had caused families to be separated, and ultimately forming America that we know today: a multicultural society. Both informative and enjoyable, the experience of getting a little glimpse into the history of America was fantastic and I can’t recommend it enough.
As this is an extremely long post already it is being split into two parts (#2 is out tomorrow). I’ll be talking about visiting ground zero, the open top bus tour around the city, Macy’s, CAKE BOSS (If you watch TLC you’ll know who I’m talking about), ice skating in the typical New York Christmas fashion and fooooooood.
Sarah @ Urbanity xxx
During my adventures in Prague, Czech Republic, this week, I’ve discovered so many intriguing retail treasure troves. From pokey, dark little shopfronts filled with eccentric collections of antiques to huge thrift stores full of second-hand clothes to vinyl record and book shops with bargain classics lining the walls to flagship high-street and designer giants on the main shopping street. However, the one that stood out most to me was Boho, a “vintage concept store” pop-up….
Boho surprised us as we peeked inside, as it lay on a street full of traditional pubs, newsagents, pet shops and the like. Also, no offence Prague, but what we’d seen so far of it’s fashion scene, it seemed to be rather behind the times with little innovation! Like most stores there, signage and windows were very minimal and it was so dimly lit we doubted it was even open.
We were greeted by a shy but utterly lovely young woman who sat quietly, behind a counter covered with flyers and business cards advertising arty events, Czech fashion designers and cool music, while I browsed the intriguing selection of products that made me wish I hadn’t left half my koruna at the hotel!
On display were mannequins dressed in authentic vintage clothing, rails of reworked or up cycled garments, original, high-end pieces from local talent hanging from huge suspended ropes, and distressed wooden shelving adorned with sumptuous leather gloves and handbags scattered amongst bespoke hand-made jewellery.
Prague was full of surprises, and it was amazing to discover the ‘underground’ style scene developing. Another post is coming soon about the stunning architecture, music and food!
Ruth @ Urbanity xxx