Silence is Golden Retriever

By Matthew Nelson

This dog is equally as comfortable flying through the air as he is at the end of a bone

Bonfire night is not just a stressful time for straw effigies. Highly strung dogs across the country are just as likely to lose sleep over the loud bangs that November the 5th brings.  But help is at hand as a new invention allows you to keep your dog within earshot of fireworks- but almost entirely deaf to them. Welcome to the wonderful world of Mutt Muffs, ear muffs for dogs.

The brainchild of pilot Michelle Maguire, the muffs were designed to pacify her pet dog Cooper after she noticed he was distressed by the noise of short-haul flights. However, these handy inventions are not just useful for the rare instances when canines find themselves flying, they are also invaluable on one night of every year. A spokesperson for, principal supplier of the ear protectors, said that “they’ve proven quite successful for fireworks night as well as any other environment with extremely loud noises for a fixed duration of time.”

According to “some dogs aren’t fearful of fireworks, but for many it’s a phobia.” For border collie Stevie, the sound of fire crackers and Catherine wheels was a traumatic experience, until his owner Angelica Steinker bought him a pair of Mutt Muffs.  Steinker found that after fitting Stevie with the earmuffs that: “He did not panic or scratch the doors and scream like he usually does during fireworks.”

But what about cats? Their canine counterparts are catered for in the ear wear department, but they have nothing to protect them from low-grade explosives. Indeed, while a dog’s hearing is twice as sensitive as a human’s, a cat’s is three times as sensitive, so aren’t their ear drums even more at risk? A spokesperson from Cat Lovers’ Animal Welfare Society said: “I have never heard of ear muffs for cats.” However, it’s not all bad for felines, there are other ways to keep your cat calm. C.L.A.W.S reccomends that concerned owners purchase “anxiety liquid, a stress reliever that can be put in their water or food. There is also Feliway diffuser, which is plugged into an electric socket and emits soothing feromones that help the cat relax.”

The SPCA has a more measured approach when it comes to bonfire night though. Their advice is simple: “make sure animals are kept indoors at these times with sufficient background noise to prevent damage to their ears during the loudest fireworks.”

Government propose to change live music law

By Jamie Mann

sparrow-and-the-workshopThe government has expressed their will to improve the UK live music scene after proposing to allow small capacity venues to hold gigs without a licence last Thursday.  Though the proposition is currently undergoing a 12-week consultation, musicians and venue-owners alike have been offered hope for a prominent music scene; the scene has been somewhat restricted since the initiation of the 2003 Licencing Act.  The act currently enforces that venues of any capacity must possess a licence in order to host musical entertainment; obtaining a licence is not a simple task  as many have found to process strenuous and expensive to complete.

Nick Stewart, manager of the popular club Sneaky Pete’s agreed that the government’s proposal would be an asset to Edinburgh’s music scene with numerous clubs and pubs who could grant customers live music.  Stewart did not deem the process of achieving a licence an ordeal mentioning that it was “pretty easy” however, the capacity of his club was reduced from 120 to 84.  Though Stewart highlighted that the 2005 act affects Scotland and differs from the 2003 act, should the government’s proposition be successful , an improvement Edinburgh’s music scene could be imminent.

Focus on the Capital as Derby Anticipates Drama

Derek Riordan confronted by a fan at Tynecastle in May last year. Photo courtesy of The Daily Mail.

By Lauren Witherspoon

Hearts captain, Michael Stewart, has claimed that the media have undermined his team, by “manipulating” his words, to boost Hibs chances of winning the first Edinburgh derby of the season.

The SPL match of the day  kicks off at 12:30 on Saturday, with hearts hosting Hibs at Tynecastle, and there has been no shortage of drama in the countdown to D-day.

Stewart brandished the press “parasites” after it was reported he said Hibs recent surge up the SPL table was due to luck, and that Hearts failings were because they hadn’t had any of the rub of the green. The midfielder voiced his rage at the written press, saying: “They are complete parasites. They tried to manipulate, twist and put a spin on everything that has been said.”

Michael Stewart is expected to overcome the injury that saw him miss out against Motherwell at the weekend. The captain will relish the derby and if he plays to his full potential could overrun the Hibs midfield, and give Hearts the lift that they desperately need. However, the controversial player will have to leave the school boy behaviour in the dressing room if he is to control the game and lead his side to victory.

With Hibs currently sitting second place in the SPL, confidence is high amongst the Easter Road players. Hearts will have to play to their  strengths of physicality, especially in defence, and aim to close down the opposition by constricting the space that HIbs like to utilise when expressing their passing game.

The Hibs manager, John Hughes hasn’t commented on Stewart’s fall-out with the Scottish press this week, but has disclosed that Moroccan playmaker, Merouanne Zemmama, is struggling to be fit, facing a race against time to recover from the groin strain that seen him limp out of his team’s match against Aberdeen last weekend.

Hughes also said that as a “precaution”, he had to send some of his squad home from training with cold symptoms, as a precaution. He said: “We’ve had one or two sniffles and we immediately told the players concerned to go straight home.”

Derek Riordan will be eager to get on the score sheet after failing to in Hibs’s last three games. The September player of the month has a habit for saving his best for the Derby, and Saturday’s may be the place for Riordan to break his scoring drought. Riordan is a familiar face to the Hearts support after being the centre of controversy in the last May’s encounter, when the striker was involved with a Hearts fan that ran on the pitch to confront him after he scored from the spot. Riordan’s  penalty  won the match for a patched up Hibs team, and secured the bragging rights across the city that have dogged Hearts since.

Colin Nish may  be rewarded with a starting line up space in the Hibs team after coming off the bench to head in the winning  goal in the late stages of the match against Aberdeen. The tall striker, perhaps the least ‘silky’ of the Hibernian forward line, could work out to be a good choice, being the ideal player to get amongst a physical Hearts  defence, in a game according to history,  that will often turn into a scrappy affair.

The well publicised need for a prolific striker is a worry for Hearts fans, but England under 21 player Andrew Driver could be the Tynecastle outfit’s best option for goals. While Hibs have been impressive, their defence has been moved around since the beginning of the season, with John Hughes having to field the inexperienced David Wotherspoon. Wotherspoon has shown glimpses of brilliance, scoring on the first day of the season, but he found the pressure too much when Hibs to Ibrox recently, and allowed Rangers to have a free reign down the right wing. If Wotherspoon cracks under the derby atmosphere, Driver will expose the young defender and could enjoy the kind of freedom that will allow Hearts to score.

Hibs recent tendency for fielding five attack minded players could spark a nightmare afternoon for Hearts. Hibs will have to go for a direct approach to goal as the neatness of the Tynecastle pitch will allow Hearts to punish Hibs on the counter attack if there passing is not slick. Claims amongst fans that Hibs are strong favourites to retain the bragging rights maybe sensibly conceived on current form, but only a fool would expect the expected in an Edinburgh derby. For Hearts it will be a chance to gain a confidence boost, and with a defeat expected by many Heart’s fans, they have nothing to lose, which can prove a vital advantage in football.

Buisnesses Badly Damaged By Stonehaven Floods

By Amy Anderson

Weekend floods have caused damage in Stonehaven

Following the weekend’s unexpected floods, local business owners in Stonehaven are coming to terms with the damage that has been caused. The area, which is located in the North-East of Scotland, became heavily flooded on Sunday after a local river burst it’s bank. The severe flooding led to the evacuation of an estimated 50 locals from their homes whilst David Flemming, the Chairman of Stonehaven Community Council,described situation as ‘horrendous’ whilst speaking exclusively to BBC Radio Scotland.

Although many homes have been severely damaged by the floods, several local businesses are worried that the damage that has been caused means they may be out of business for ‘weeks’. A local pensioner stated that the areas which were hit the hardest were the High Street, Berkley Street and Cameron Street and commented that in the High Street, the water ‘was over 5ft high!’. He also stated that there will have been ‘several hundreds of thousands of pounds’ worth of damage done to businesses alone and that ‘several’ local shops, pubs and others businesses have been so badly damaged that they ‘will be lucky to be open by Christmas. Bob Mitchie, owner of ‘The Pet Shop’ on Cameron Street, also complained that there were not enough sandbags available to protect his premises from the floods and that his shop has been badly damaged as a result.

Although many businesses have been so badly affected by the floods, others are counting themselves lucky that they are still open for business The owner of a local pub said that he was pleased to have avoided such damage but that he ‘felt’ for those around him and would do whatever he could to help those in need.

On your marks, get set, go ho ho

by Samantha Taylor

72788474Hundreds of Santas will fly into Princes Street Gardens this December as part of a truly magical event called The Great Scottish Santa Run.

The event, which is organised by the children’s charity When You Wish Upon a Star, takes place each year and the proceeds go towards making Christmas just that bit more special for sick children.

This year the run will take place in the west gardens and fundraisers will do two laps of the grounds. Santa costumes will be provided on the day.

All money raised will go towards the charity who, each year take 400 sick children to Lapland to visit Santa. Whilst there they can enjoy husky rides, sledging and a trip on a sleigh with Rudolf the Reindeer.

Part of the money from the Edinburgh run will also go to Radio Forth’s Cash for Kids. Evelyn Queen, the charity manager for Cash for Kids, told Edinburgh Napier News what it would go towards: “All funds raised by our charity are for children with special needs.

“We give money to a lot of different places. Schools, nurseries and special groups are just some of the people that request our help.

“All money will definitely go towards helping children in this area.”

Evelyn also gave some advice to this years runners: “Just take it at your own pace and most of all, enjoy yourself and have a good time.”

The fun will kick off on Sunday 13th December when registration opens at 9am.

Edinburghs Hogmanay Celebrations at Risk

The famed Edinburgh street party in full swing, this years version however may be more sedated
The famed Edinburgh street party in full swing, this years version however may be more sedated

By Graham Turner.

As it stands, Edinburgh is the second most desirable tourist location in the UK, second only to London. With a million people from over-seas countries coming to visit the capital every year. Naturally, this tourism has served as a staple of Edinburgh’s economy and ergonomic development. The festive season in the capital attracts a substantial portion of this tourism, most notably with the renowned Princes Street party held every year on Hogmanay. This one huge event accounts for a large portion of Edinburgh’s tourist-based income with the festivities accounting for upwards of around £40m towards the capitals local economy.

However this year, the Edinburgh council has been forced to downsize the street party as a result of the on-going tram works. Although these works have created a consistent stream of negative press as a result of convoluted scheduling and the ever expanding black-hole of a budget, there now may be long-term consequences as Edinburgh’s biggest tourist event downsizes in not only capacity, but surely quality as revelers look upon the once majestic princes street in it’s current iteration of dug-up walkways and abundance of red ‘No entry’ barriers.

Essentially, the ramifications of these changes will not only affect the short-term cash intake from the event itself, but may indeed tarnish the city’s reputation in regards to this event thus subsequently affecting future tourist interests. When contacting  press representation for the street party, the issue seems to be a sort of broken record subject, when asked about the overall effect the works may essentially have on the traditionally open-plan feel of the event, response comes in stoic, mono-tone avoidance resulting in the promise of a forwarded email covering the basis of any issues as a result of the works.

The irony inherent considering the wide-spread affect this project has had is two-fold, firstly in the notion that in a time of such economic crisis, surely the city council should have been better prepared to ensure this event is bigger than ever to help nurture an economic recovery. Secondly, these developments simply add fuel to the fire in the debate that when the veil is finally lifted and these trams are in operation will they create the cosmopolitan, euro-chic feel that the local council appear to be striving for. Or, will the city’s reputation and tourist appeal be so badly affected by the on-going works that the city will never re-cooperate or indeed profit in relation to the money already spent.

Fletcher latest victim of UEFA court of European injustice

by Liam McGowan

‘Cheat’ is not a word that comes to mind when one considers Darren Fletcher.

But that, in effect, is exactly how the Manchester United midfielder has been unjustly brandished this week- not for the first time this year- reigniting an age-old debate over the ruling that yellow cards can not be appealed.

Sir Alex Ferguson was outraged by the decision and poured criticism without dilution on the referee at what he called ” one of the worst decisions I have seen in my life”. Although no stranger to overstatements at times, Ferguson’s reaction in this case was echoed by many.

In any case, this was an appalling error of judgment by the official. Even other referees, usually notable in their solidarity and support for their colleagues, stood out in their support of the United player’s innocence. Ex premiership ref Graham Poll expressed a sense of injustice shared by many in the footballing community. In his column for the Daily Mail, he wrote: “Fletcher is one of the most decent players in the game and to see him cautioned for diving on Tuesday evening was a slur on this honest professional footballer.To argue that he deserved some payback for his combative style is nonsensical”.

And, owing to UEFA’s strict and ,somewhat dubious, stance on appeals, dents made to Fletcher’s character are currently irrevocable. Ferguson has also called for UEFA’s stance on this ruling to be revised. Both the manager and the player have every right to feel incensed at what has happened, especially in light of the fact that Ferguson and Fletcher have both fell victim to the rules in a similar vein in the past.

Uefa should have revised this rule many years ago. If it is not revised now, it will be insult added to longstanding injury.

fletcher booked

Fighting for a nation

By Darren Shek5/11/09

November the 14th, a date of destiny for the hopes and dreams of a whole nation carried on the shoulders and fists of one man. On the day of his fights crime rates in the Phillipines are next to zero, sports halls and shopping malls erect large screens to show the action and poverty stricken citizens experience hope and joy through every victorious bout. Adored by Hollywood megastars such as Mark Wahlberg and Christian Bale, and mobbed by hundrerds of adoring fans of all nationalities whenever he makes an appearance. On November the 14th his punches will carry the weight of a nation.

Manny Pacquiao faces Puerto Rican slugger Miguel Cotto in what promises to be an epic and violent clash of titans. Manny Pacquiao coming off impressive back to back stoppage wins over Oscar De La Hoya and Ricky Hatton, both of whom had a considerable weight advantage over the Filipino who fought many of his bouts in the U.S.A at 9 stones. Miguel Cotto after coming off a devastating loss to Antonio Margharito will be fighting to prove he belongs at the elite level and will have every Puerto Rican in New York and beyond cheering for him come fight night. If the Filipino southpaw brawler can outwork the bigger man and use his speed to his advantage then a lucrative fight with Floyd Mayweather afterwards is one prospect which will have fans around the world foaming at the mouth. The bout which will be held in Las Vegas should generate millions in pay per view buys and advertising.

For many however this fight will mean more than just bloody entertainment. With the recent floods in the Phillipines which have destroyed countless homes and devastated the lives of millions, this fight will be the light at the end of the tunnel. The victory will lift the spirits of a nation and allow them to forget if only for a moment the pain and misery that surrounds them. Should the outcome be defeat however, the dreams and pride of a nation could be crushed from one sporting event. With every one of his fights being a national event, the pressure could break a smaller man. Manny Pacquiao, with his motto of no fear, is a man who excels under intense pressure. He basks in the limelight and come fight night will be ready inspire the hearts and minds of Fillipinos with every punch and evasive movement. Pinuelo Mastaf, a Fillipino student said ”Of course we hope he wins, he makes us all proud. With Manny our country has something to show the world the power of our people.”

Miguel Cotto the underdog has not said a bad word about his opponent and both mild mannered individuals will be letting their fists do the talking on November the 14th. The world will be waiting for the outcome, and whoever emerges victorious from the ring which has destroyed so many will be toasting with a country.

Manny dismantling Oscar De La hoya

Christmas Comes Early To The Capital

By Claire White

With Halloween just out of the way, Christmas seems to have come early to the capital, with shops already stocking their christmas range, putting up decorations in store and even playing the well known Christmas classics.

Courtesy of The Dome Edinburgh

The Dome in George Street has always been renowned for its extravagant decorations, which captivate many tourists during the festive period. They have already put up the decorations outside the premises, decorating the collesium style pillars with lights and wreaths. When questioned on why they decorate the place a month prior to the Christmas period, a spokeswoman stated that it was a ‘very hectic time’ and that the work on the decorations over the past few years has always been scheduled at the end of October/beginning of November as permission and a license is needed.  It is also done as a ‘build up to the festive season’.

It is not just The Dome that is in the christmas spirit, many shops such as Tesco, Boots, Asda and clothing stores such as Primark and Next have already started stocking christmas products. Marks & Spencers have their christmas food extensively advertised around store. including brochures which enable you to place your order for christmas dinner! Claire’s Accessories have also opted into the Christmas spirit by playing Christmas music every so often to put consumers in the christmas mood even more.

The reason behind this is a clever marketing scheme that is to encourage consumers to start purchasing for Christmas already, despite there being almost another two month until Christmas day. If consumers see the products and hear the music, it will start to cause a panic into thinking that the time is running out and therefore they will start to think about shopping sooner. They may even purchase items or presents from that shop due to this influence as they realise time is ‘running out’. Although this ‘scheme’ is in place every year, many people are still rushing to the shops on Christmas eve, so does the scheme really work?

Edinburgh’s Christmas officially starts on Thursday November 26th with the usual big wheel, traditional German Christmas Market and Ice Rink in Princes Street Gardens. Radio station Forth One is also broadcasting live from the opening day 10am – 2pm. As well as the Gardens extravaganza, Edinburgh will be full of the Christmas Spirit with the renowned event  ‘The Great Scottish Santa Run!‘ and new event ‘Edinburgh Sparkles!‘. Children are also well catered for as they are able to visit Santa during this period at ‘Santas Reindeer Garden’ situated in Princes Street Gardens or even visit ‘Santa’s Igloo Village’ for a storytelling session with Santa.

Edinburgh has always been renowned for it’s Christmas period, attracting hundreds of tourists to the capital to attend the events. It seems this year will be no different, even if it has come around earlier than expected!

(RED) Cups are here!

by Aleksandra Jurczak

The cafe chain Starbucks Coffee started off its Christmas campaign yesterday. Festive drinks, coffee bags and merchandise will be sold throughout the country until the end of December.

The principal of this year’s campaign is to provide help fighting AIDS in Africa led by RED and the Global Fund. From every transaction made with the special edition (STARBUCKS) RED Card 5p will finance HIV health and community programmes in such African countries like Ghana, Swaziland, Rwanda and Lesotho, concentrating on distributing antiretroviral medicine to women and children. Also £3 from each (STARBUCKS) RED Tumbler will be donated to the Global Fund which sends off 100% of its contributions  to the countries in need.

Starbucks joined the RED partner team
Courtesy of

RED is an initiative supported by the biggest global brands, such as Apple, Converse, Emporio Armani or American Express and advocated by celebrities including Scarlett Johansson, Bono and Beyonce. Over 4m people have been affected by RED HIV and AIDS programmes financed from the sales and more than 2m people had received ARV treatment thanks to Global Fund Financing worldwide.

On top of choosing the items carrying the RED logo there is a number of ways to support the cause, such as making direct contributions to the Global Fund, spreading the word by befriending RED on social networks like Facebook or Twitter or, if visiting the US, by attending concerts under the RED patronage. Information about all these can be found on the JoinRED website.

The Red Cup tradition

Courtesy of

Every year Starbucks Coffee launches a special campaign for Christmas in support of a global cause. The leading products including Eggnogg, Gingerbread syrup and Christmas blend coffee bags are the customer favourites and have been awaited for the regular Starbucks visitors. ‘Starbucks bringing out their Red Cups in the beginning of November is the start of the Christmas season for me. When I’m having a gingerbread latte it feels like the holiday season has definitely begun’, says Ewan Holberg. the ‘regular’ at 106 George Street.

In the previous four years Starbucks actively supported the Prince’s Trust charity. Its aim is to provide financial and practical help to young people in order to enable them a move into work, education or training.

This year the company is also taking part in Light a Light 2009 initiative taking place on Monday 7th December in Charlotte Square Garden carried out by the St Columba’s Hospice. Starbucks volunteers will hand out complimentary coffee and mince pies to those who light a light on the Remembrance Tree in commemoration of their loved ones who passed away. The lights will be shining in Charlotte Square until Wednesday, 6th January 2010.

Biffy at the Barras

by Holliewould

There are times when music is more than just a catchy melody, a few chords and some singing, and Ayrshire born rockers, Biffy Clyro proved exactly that after a much-anticipated return to an anxious home crowd.

Biffy wasted no time at all storming straight into the fast and furious “That Golden Rule”, followed by equally rapturous, “Living is a Problem”, launching the crowd in a mass frenzy. Back-to-back heavy riffs and stage storming courtesy of Simon Neil made certain that “the Biff” are a force to be reckoned with.

The set consisted heavily of commercially sound tunes from Biffy Clyro’s 4th album release, “Puzzle”. The gig also showcased new songs, “Bubbles”, “Born on a Horse”, “God and Satan” and “Cloud of Stink” from forthcoming album, “Only Revolutions”.

The crowd swelling settled and  everyone got the chance to catch their breath and a soaking of water, whilst lead singer Simon Neil strummed effortlessly the much gentler sound of, “God and Satan” and “Machines”.

Biffy also returned briefly to their former underground glory days, with the surprise reappearance of “There’s no such Thing as Jaggy snake”, which set the crowd into anarchy, and rightly so.

105 minutes of Biffy Clyro was not enough to please a rubber-legged home crowd and so they returned triumphantly for a five song encore, much to the delight of every sweaty, beer sodden fan in the ballroom.

The end did come though, much to the dismay of long time fans, as not one track from “Vertigo of Bliss” had managed to charm its way into energetic set.

The night drew to a glorious close with the smash hit “Mountains”.

simon neil
Biffy Clyro live at the Barrowlands

Deep Sea World Set to ‘Rock’ Livi

Clowing Around: Charlie will be at Almondvale Shopping Centre this week.Almondvale Shopping Centre is not a place where you would normally associate aquatic life with, despite customers looking to catch a deal. This week, 4th – 8th November, shoppers at the Livingston complex will be able to have a look at various underwater species as Deep Sea World‘s Rockpool Roadshow comes to town.

The public will be able to view and even interact with various species of crab, starfish, sea anenomes, shellfish and even sharks. Younger visitors will also be entertained, as there are diving suit exhibitions, face painting, along with Charlie the Clownfish.

This brief visit aims to educate and raise awareness of marine awareness.

Deep Sea World‘s Paul Francis stated, “We’re hoping the roadshow will give people – both young and old – a better opportunity to understand the creatures of the ocean.”

“If they can experience sea life close up and maybe even touch it, it immediately becomes much more real than just reading about it in a book.By bringing a slice of the seaside to the store we’re hoping to inspire more people to find out about the seas around our shores.”he added.

The exhibition runs from the 4th November  to the 8h of November from 11 a.m. till 3 p.m.


Smoking Hot Model

By Erin Ross

30ft Jordan
the 30ft Katie Price

The traditional scare-crow like effigy of Guy Fawkes this year, in Edenbridge, Kent will instead be replaced by a 30 ft Katie Price.
The effigy shows a giant Katie Price, also known as Jordan towering into the air clutching under one arm magazines and the other grasping the heads of her former husband Peter Andre, and current lover Alex Reid. The effigy is to be burnt on Saturday night, and is not the first celebrity to be burn by the Edenbridge Bonfire Society. In past years there has also been a controversial Russel Brand and Jonathon Ross following their notorious phone prank in 2008, and Anne Robinson in 2001.
Charles Laver of the Edenbridge Bonfire Society said to the BBC that “I hope she takes it in good faith. We are only doing this for the fun of it. We are not doing it because we don’t like the lady or anything like that.” He stated that Ms Price was simply chosen as they believed that an effigy of BNP leader Nick Griffin would be ‘too political’.
The identity of the ‘infamous celebratory guy’ remains a closely guarded secret until the night of his demise, but the topical and sometimes controversial decision as to who will be torched is always a huge hit with the crowd. Since her split for Peter Andre early this year, Katie Price, has been constantly in the news and has become somewhat of an idol to some, or a hate figure to others.

Edinburgh And Lothians Greenspace Trust look for continued support

School Kids helping out on a Greenspace project

By Edwin Mashonganyika

The Edinburgh and Lothians Greenspace Trust have carried out nearly £500, 000 worth of practical environmental projects involving over 2, 500 people, aimed at a positive impact on the health and well-being of communities, particularly in disadvantaged areas in the region.

The Chief Executive of the organisation, Chris Lewis, said the work of the Edinburgh and Lothians Greenspace Trust had included a wide range of environmental activities and events for schools, community groups and businesses, “giving the opportunity to take a hands-on approach to caring for and learning about their local greenspace.”

“Quality greenspace is now widely understood to have a highly positive impact on the health and well-being of communities, particularly in  disadvantaged areas. Our work is in direct response to this and, over the past year, we have carried our over £460, 000 worth of practical environmental projects with Lothian communities, helping to provide open spaces for happier, healthier living.

“We have worked to improve urban biodiversity through tree, bulb and hedge planting and looking after urban woodlands…our activities include project development and community consultation, community engagement, fundraising, project implementation and management,” Lewis said.

Lewis said greenspace was a critical yet cost-effective factor that promoted the well-being of individuals and communities.

He called for a continued support for his organisation by providing donations towards programmes of environmental projects by getting involved in greespace projects or “simply by giving your comments and feedback on our work and will help us to make Edinburgh and the Lothians a more vibrant and gree place in the future”.

Food and Drink is our Bread and Butter

By Grainne Byrne

The Bon Vivant, Edinburgh

You wouldn’t think we were in the throes of a recession what with the peppering of snazzy new bars and restaurants that continue to pop up across the city.

Mark Fraser and Mike Spink of award-winning bar and restaurants, Sygn and Monteith’s have  just opened Edinburgh’s newest bar in the city’s West End; which you may consider an ambitious move given the knell of headlines that ring out about an economic slump.

Sygn Bar, Charlotte Lane

Sygn’s sister bar The Westroom, which lies a stone’s throw away, opened its doors at the end of October this year and the company’s directors are optimistic that by offering consumers something a little different, in a central location, that they will soon be reaping the benefits regardless of the pessimism of the press.

“The Westroom has now been open for just a week and despite the world-wide credit crunch, we believe that it shall be a huge success.  Our ethos is all about exceeding customers expectations through offering quality  food and drinks in a relaxed setting. at affordable prices; delivered by personable, well-trained staff that really care about the product.   The Westroom is a uniquely designed bar in the centre of Edinburgh’s West End with a full menu that offers British tapas style food to really set it apart from any other bar in Scotland.”

With radical rations such as beef and beetroot pork pie and fish finger tapas, the Westroom should appeal to those searching for quality food with a twist.  Whether you seek wi-fi with a coffee and cake, a 3-course lunch, dinner, or  just a pint and the rugby, The Westroom is keen to quench your thirst.

Entrepreneur Stuart McCluskey has enjoyed a successful first year with his first-born,  eloquently named eatery, The Bon Vivant, formerly The World pub on Thistle Street.

Stuart says that despite the recession business at the ‘Bon V’  (as it is affectionately known) is booming.  Putting paid to his 12 years of experience in Scotland’s hospitality industry, Stuart says he has learned  a great deal from other people’s mistakes, saying:

“The reason we are doing well and expanding is that we know the market and are good operators.  We have cut our teeth based on the lessons I’ve learned from the bars and restaurants that I witnessed working and failing in Edinburgh.”

Essentially, Stuart puts paid to offering great value food and drink in times when consumers may be watching their spend on socialising:

“For consumers, value for money means everything; we never compromise on quality to offer value to our customers in a great atmosphere. The businesses that are doing well are multi-faceted, offering  both food and drink.  By casting our net over both markets we are able to cater to changing habits, as people are no longer going out and just drinking during the day.”

Another success on the Edinburgh food scene is Stockbridge’s The Saint, a stylish and down to earth food and drink offering from owners of award-winning cocktail bar Bramble.

Jason Scott and Mike Aikman, both with robust backgrounds in the hospitality industry in Scotland, opened their second unit last year.  Not resting their laurels following the many accolades they gained with Bramble, both owners took a step into food and drink with their heavenly haven.
The Saint, St. Stephen Street

Laid back co-owner of The Saint, Jason Scott says that they are simply responding to the changing habits of a seemingly more open-minded and food savvy population, he remarks:

“Britain as a nation has become more interested and influenced in food, travel, and the goal of a healthier and more cosmopolitan lifestyle. We like to think that we can be part of that and at The Saint we offer people locally and nationally sourced, good, honest food that is skillfully prepared yet reasonably priced. “

“We don’t stand on ceremony and prefer to preach casual all-day dining; we  like our customers to drop by on a whim, for a coffee, brunch, afternoon tea, or even a late drink besides lunch and dinner as substantial or modest as appetite dictates.”

Like Jason and Mike, the owners of Hamilton’s Bar and Kitchen expanded earlier this year to open their sweet, second eating and drinking venue, Treacle on Broughton Street.

Also taking a risk, and a step back from the DJ booth, was Edinburgh’s much-loved DJ, Trendy Wendy who opened her first funky bar,  ElboW Bar and Kitchen, just down the hill from Treacle.

Not content with running just two establishments, owners of 99 Hanover Street and Hawk + Hunter are enjoying the perks and the recognition of running 3 successful outlets with their newest effort The Green Room picking up an award for Most Stylish Venue at the 2009 Scottish Style Awards.

It is evident that Edinburgh’s entrepreneurs are not afraid to take a risk and build on their successes, Stuart McCluskey of The Bon Vivant is not at threatened by the financial disaster purported by the media and is actively seeking out his next success story, he says, “we are currently looking to expand in Edinburgh and looking for venues now.”

It would appear that  if you give the people of Edinburgh a concoction of good quality bread and water, at the right price in the right place, they will keep coming back for more.  The good news for punters is with these opening rates, we’ll be able to eat and drink in a stylish new bar and restaurant every night for a very long time.

Eat that credit crunch.

Scottish Sport To Benefit From Commonwealth Games Legacy

Glasgow's new £18m Athletics Stadium built for the Commonwealth Games

By David Henderson

Scottish sport will benefit from Glasgow’s hosting of the Commonwealth Games for decades to come, according to the Scottish Secretary.  

Jim Murphy was speaking on an inspection visit to Scotstoun Stadium which has been given an 18 million pounds makeover for the 2014 games. He said: “Scotstoun has a proud name in Scottish athletics but the improvements here make it fit for the international athletes who will train and compete here in less than five years. Scots will benefit from facilities built for the Commonwealth Games for decades to come.”

The Games organisers hope that the new Stadium will host the world’s fastest man; Usain Bolt could represent Jamaica in 2014.  Glasgow City Council also want locals to benefit from the facilities, Council leader Steven Purcell said: “This outstanding facility is testament to our commitment to provide a lasting legacy, not just for elite athletes but for all of our communities as we build a more active and healthy Scotland.”

The City Council invested 14 million pounds in Scotstoun, a further four million coming from sportscotland.

New Test to Predict When Biological Clock Will Stop

Can we predict the biological clock?

by Una Purdie

A new genetic test may be able to predict when a women’s biological clock will stop, scientists have revealed.

The research from New York’s Centre for Human Reproduction found genetic markers could show whether a woman is at risk of an early menopause. This would allow women in their teens or early 20’s to decide whether to start a family at an earlier age, or even freeze their eggs if their fertility is likely to decline faster than average.

Speaking in the New Scientist, the project leader Dr Norbert Gleicher said he was confident  he could “make a pretty good prediction” of whether a woman was at risk of early ovarian ageing, “then you can sit down and have a discussion about her reproductive life plan. In other words, do you want to have your kids before you get your PhD or afterwards?”

Gleicher believes he could have a test available by next year, although critics claim that while the research is promising,  further work is required to determine whether long -term fertility can be predicted in this way.

The research comes as more and more women in Scotland are choosing to postpone motherhood until later in life. Official figures show almost half the new mothers in 2008 were in their thirties or forties. One in five babies were born to mothers aged 35 or over, compared to only 7% of births twenty years ago.

Local GP Dr Gul Dent is one of the current boom of late mothers. She just had her first child at the age of 39: “I was busy getting on with my life, then I panicked a little about starting a family. This is not uncommon amongst professional women.”

Dr Dent gave a cautious welcome to the new research: “Everyone must do what’s right for them, but fertility rates do tend to drop after the age of 35 so it’s good to at least be aware of the risks of putting off having a family.”

“If this test is reliable maybe it could help some women struggling with those tough choices between career and motherhood.”

Marks and Spencers to Spice up Rivalry

Marks and Spencers

by Wendy Wan

Marks and Spencers announced yesterday that they will be selling around 400 branded grocery and household products in all of its UK stores for the first in its 125 year history.  This follows after a successful 16 month trial in its stores in North East and South East England.

The brands that will be entering the doors of M&S over the next year will include such big brands as, Coca Cola, Marmite, Kelloggs and Heinz.  To keep up with the competition all of the products have been price matched against the major supermarkets, ushering in a new twist in the supermarket wars.

John Dixon, Executive Director of Foods at M&S said, “there are some products that we could simply never compete with, like Marmite and Kit Kat, and other areas where, whilst we have a great M&S equivalent, the leading brand dominates the market.”

It is hoped by Sir Stuart Rose, Chairman of Mark and Spencers, that by including such big brands in M&S will provide customers with a one stop shop rather than having customers go elsewhere to buy them, saving cutomers time and making life easier for busy individuals.

In recent months making life easier for customers has become a matter of urgency with Waitrose planning on opening hundreds of smaller convenience stores that will see it compete directly with M&S Simply Food. 

M&S’s upmarket food business has been hit in the recession, with shoppers switching to cheaper rivals.  However, it has held its ground by introducing “Wise Buys” and new products. 

The entering of the big brands hopes to attempt to close the gap between rival Waitrose.  “Adding the nation’s favourite brands to our mix offers our customers more choice and strengthens our position as the UK’s leading quality food retailer,” continued John Dixon in a statement.   

Over the coming months shoppers will see the big brand names sitting amongst M&S’s own brands.  Each store will offer a selection of the range chosen according to its size, starting from around 50 products in smaller stores and up to the full range in larger stores.

‘Say Nae to the G20’ protest in St. Andrews

G20 protesters in London

By Anna Fenton

Hundreds of people will assemble in Market Street, St Andrews at 1:30pm Saturday 7th, to say ‘nae’ to the G20.

The demonstration, which has been supported by Stop the War, the SSP, a growing number of unions and St Andrews student societies, has been called in order to demonstrate opposition to the policies of the G20 finance ministers who are meeting in St Andrews for a summit on the economic recovery.

The G20 is taking place next on 7th November in St. Andrews, a month before UN climate change talks commence in Copenhagen.  Whilst the G20 itself is taking place outside of St. Andrews, many protest events will be taking place in St. Andrews’s centre. Campaigning groups united under the slogans ‘Put People First’ and ‘No more Business as Usual’ will be petitioning the G20 countries to take their views on board. 

“The G20 are continuing to prioritise unsustainable economic growth, which is causing catastrophic environmental degradation.  Whilst they enjoy their luxuries at the Fairmont hotel, we will be there as the voice of the voiceless,” said Amir Gholami, a third year philosophy student also at St. Andrews.

“I’m against the G20 because they are an unrepresentative, undemocratic organization that serves the few at the expense of the many. It’s like a private men’s club,” said Alistair Martin, a fourth year international relations student at Edinburgh.

‘Nae to G20’ say that the G20 has helmed one of the largest economic recessions in history and has been responsible for the growing gap between the rich and the poor.  Organisers have stated they do not want the G20 in their town, or anywhere.

“We are organising protests against the G20 to create a public discourse opposing the neo-liberal economic policies crafted by the G20, policies that are designed to advance the richest nations of the world at the expense of the poor. We are protesting because the multitude of voices resisting the G20 globally are not given a voice and as such must take to the streets to show their dissent” says Alex Brown, media liason for the group.

‘Nae Tae G20’ is a group made up of locals and students, ordinary people unhappy at the presence of the G20 in St Andrews.  As well as being endorsed by Stop the War and the Scottish Socialist Party, they also have the support of a number of other organisations, including Lower Rents Now! Coalition, numerous workers unions throughout Scotland and St. Andrews University student societies.

Speaking in The Courier earlier this week, Fife Police Assistant Chief Constable Andrew Barker said St Andrews should not experience any difficulties as a result of the protests: “Our policing intention over the period of the summit is to ensure the minimum level of disruption to the day-to-day lives of local people, consequently Fife Constabulary has utilised a dedicated team which has been planning for some considerable time for this event.”

Rugby Legend Advising Monty on Winning Golf’s Greatest Prize

Gavin Hastings and Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie at the start of the West Highland Way

By David Henderson

Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie has enlisted the help of a rugby legend to  give Europe the edge over America in golf’s biggest event.

Former Scotland captain Gavin Hastings is advising Monty on how to turn individuals into succesful team players. Montomerie takes charge of Europe at Celtic Manor in Wales next year.

Hastings warns Montgomerie that a team sport is a whole different ball game from his comfort zone in the solo sport of gold. Hastings told Edinburgh Napier News: “I’ve been a friend of Colin for years and I’m in no doubt he has what it takes to be a leader of men – and a succesful one. The Ryder Cup is unique in golf in that it is a team event. Monty is used to being a solo performer, used only to worrying about his own game. As captain, he needs consider the needs of the entire team”. 

Gavin Hastings saw how to deal with the needs of a multi-national group of sports starts when captain of the British and Irish Lions tour of New Zealand in 1993.  He’s cautioning Monty that he’ll have to manage egos to get results: “As captain of the Lions, I had to juggle my own needs with those of the rest of the squad. You need to manage the team as a group but also break it down and ensure that each individual is catered for correctly. Different players need different managerial techniques, sportsmen are all individuals. It’s about preparations and morale as much as it is about sporting form. I think that I can really help him and he seems to want to learn from my experience.”

The former Scotland captain is with the Ryder Cup captain on a fundraising walk for the  Elizabeth Montgomerie Foundation, the cancer charity formed by the golfer after his mother died of the disease in 1991. The sports stars were joined by Scotland football manager George Burley on their trek along the West Highland Way which aims to raise £100, 000 for the charity.

Child Poverty on the Rise

By Grainne Byrne
Image courtesy of The Guardian

A report launched this week shows alarming increases in the number of children living in poverty worrying figures for children in Scotland.

The report by The Campaign to End Child Poverty warns that 137,000 children now live in families with unemployed parents.  This means that the number of children now living in families that are entirely dependent on benefits has risen by 13%.

The report entitled Through Thick and Thin: Tackling Child Poverty found that four constituencies in Glasgow have the highest incidences of child poverty; North-East Glasgow, the worst hit area, has the highest number of unemployed parents as 4,000 people remain out of work.

Douglas Hamilton, Head of Scotland, for Save the Children said:

“These figures are shocking and illustrate that Scotland’s poorest are becoming even worse off. The highest jobless rate in Scotland is Glasgow North-East, an issue that must be addressed during the forthcoming by-election.  As a nation, we cannot let this continue”.

John Wilson MSP, for Central Scotland,who has previously worked to tackle child poverty in Scotland with Poverty Alliance said:

“From our perspective it is about trying to maximise income into households where there is child poverty and to increase opportunities for the children whilst trying find routes for the family out of poverty.”

The report not only shows stark figures for the traditionally poorer areas, as the typically more affluent areas such as West Aberdeenshire and East Lothian now recording an alarming increase of 100% in unemployment.

This week’s report hopes to kick start the government action on End Child Poverty’s “Recession Recovery Package”; the report that calls for the government to increase and maximise benefits for out of work and low-income parents to try and put them back on the path to recovery.

John Dickie, Head of Child Poverty Action Group in Scotland, in support of the “Recession Recovery Package”, said:

“This report shows that government can reduce child poverty even in a recession. It is vital for families across Scotland, and the rest of the UK, that the Chancellor uses the Pre-Budget Report to invest in the benefits and tax credits needed to protect our children from unemployment and poverty and to get the government back on track to hitting its child poverty targets”.

Esteemed social policy researcher and report author, Donald Hirsch, calls for change to make a difference to the future of children living in poverty:

“We couldn’t afford to let the banks fail and now we can’t afford to fail our children, our future. Rising unemployment in the UK has created a new poverty crisis which could leave children scarred for life and cost society some £25 billion a year. This dwarfs the £4 billion needed to hit the 2010 target.”

The Campaign to End Child Poverty report shows that government targets to reduce child poverty by 50% will not be met by 2010 with half a million more children likely to suffer deprivation next year.

Zimbabwe Community Group In Scotland Is Launched


Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown

By Edwin Mashonganyika

A Community Group with the aim to establish Zimbabwean values and identity in Scotland and the United Kingdom as a whole was launched in Edinburgh recently.

A member of the Group who did not want to be identified said the idea was to “foster Community cohesion and intergration and create a platform to interact, share ideas, advance cultural beliefs, explore and savour together the roots and origins of the Zimbabwean people.”

“We came out of Africa but we can’t get Africa out of us. It will be good to have  a big family day, friends, collegagues and associates…African food, African dances, jokes, African dress, African people, African experiences to enjoy and share,” said the member of the Groups facilitation Team.

Ties between Zimbabwe and the UK dates back to the British Empire when the country then Rhodesia was colonised by the British.

Zimbabwe attained its independence from Britain in 1980 after a long protracted liberation war headed by Robert Mugabe, who has ruled the country since then.

There is a large number of Zimbabweans in Scotland and the UK as a whole due to political and economic instability  in Zimbabwe.

Mickey Mouse Goes to China


Mickey Mouse at Disneyland

by Wendy Wan

After decades of talks between the iconic American theme park and the Chinese Government, Mickey Mouse has finally wowed the Chinese and has been granted permission to build one of its famous theme parks in China’s largest city. 

Shanghai is set to be the destination for the most ambitous Disney theme park in the world if plans are approved by China’s national Development Commission.  The announcement by planning authorities in Beijing was carefully timed as U.S President Barack Obama is to arrive in China in November. 

“China is one of the most dynamic, exciting and important countries in the world, and this approval marks a very significant milestone for The Walt Disney Company in mainland China,” said Robert A. Iger, president and CEO of The Walt Disney Company in a statement.

Disney has been gradually making its presence known in China over the years after opening a theme park in Hong Kong in 2005 with much excitement and fan fare.   However, the excitement was short lived.  The theme park in Hong Kong is viewed as a tepid attempt of Disney’s first steps into the Chinese market. 

According to Allan Zeman, Chairman of Hong Kong rival theme park Ocean Park, the reason why Mickey Mouse failed to charm was in part due to its failure to understand local tastes and culture. 

The announcement of the go ahead has therefore raised a few eyebrows in Hong Kong.  Ocean Park itself has thrived in light of the faltering steps of Disney.  Zeman, also known as “The Mouse Killer” in local papers put in major renovation plans when he heard the mouse was looming over Hong Kong back in 2005.

After charming his way into Shanghai, it now seems Mickey Mouse and his bosses at Disney is faced with the task of winning the hearts and minds of the Chinese once more. 

The Chinese authrorities had feared that perhaps the mouse will be too much of a foreign influence on local culture.  Han Zheng, the mayor of Shanghai said of the relationship between Disney and Shaghai last spring as “lovers, still in love, but having a hard time deciding when to get married.”

It now seems a proposal has been made and Mickey Mouse will be packing his bags for China.




Tories Try to Block Cheap Booze Ban

Is the end to cheap booze in sight?

by Una Purdie

A heated debate is expected in the Scottish Parliament today as the Conservatives try to vote down plans for a minimum price on alcohol.

Setting a minimum price per unit is a key plank of the Scottish Government’s alcohol strategy. The move would end high strength, cut-price booze such as supermarket own brand spirits and lagers.  Conservatives oppose what they call a ‘blanket hike’ on prices, which they say will unfairly punish responsible drinkers without tackling Scotland’s alcohol problems. They hope to strike a body blow to the plans by voting them down today.

Deputy Leader of the Scottish Conservatives Murdo Fraser said: “Increasing prices will not automatically reduce consumption. Problem drinkers will find the extra money and spend less on other things, such as food for them and their family.”

The Scottish Government dismisses these criticisms. Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon said: “Minimum pricing will not raise the price of all drinks – it will target products sold at rock-bottom prices.”

Research from Sheffield University, commissioned by the Scottish Government, supports the case. It found a suggested minimum of 40 pence per unit would reduce consumption by 9% in harmful drinkers, cut alcohol-related deaths by nearly 19% in ten years and reduce hospital admissions by 10 per cent. The additional cost of alcohol for responsible drinkers was estimated to be £11 per year.

Minimum pricing also has strong backing from health organisations including the British Medical Association, Alcohol Focus Scotland and the World Health Organisation.

Lobbying against the proposal is the Scotch Whisky Association which warns of job losses should the policy get the go-ahead. They seized on a recent European court opinion which declared plans for minimum pricing on tobacco were illegal. The tobacco price plans had been put forward by France, Ireland and Austria but were said to distort competition and ‘were not necessary in order to protect public health.’  The SWA claims the same distortion of competiton would apply for alcohol.

With the Liberal Democrats also opposed to minimum pricing, the minority SNP Government is relying on votes from Labour to get the plans through the Scottish Parliament, but so far they are refusing to show their cards. Their new Health Spokesperson, Jackie Baillie seems less keen on the scheme than her predecessor Cathy Jamieson. The Chivas whisky distillery, employing 600 people, is situated within her constituency.

The conservatives have brought the issue to the chamber before the final bill has been published. While today’s vote is not binding, it will set the tone of the debate for the months to come.

Lothian LGBT Helpline Launch

by Anna Fenton


After 35 years of running a helpline for gay and lesbian people in Edinburgh and the Lothians, Lothian Gay & Lesbian Switchboard (LGLS) took its last calls at the end of October. Taking over the running of  the helpline from November 4th is the LGBT Centre for Health and Wellbeing.

The helpline has the LGLS number (0131 556 4049) and will be available every Wednesday, 12.30-7pm.  It offers support and information on a range of important issues including sexuality, relationships, sexual health and coming out. The service is available to anyone who is lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender and those questioning their sexuality or gender identity. It is also there to help families, friends, supporters and any other agencies acting on behalf of another person. 

Stiofán McFadden, NUS Scotland LGBT Officer and University of Edinburgh LGBT President said: “The helpline is important, as it offers information and the LGBT societies do not have a very big presence on the web. It also offers support and advice for people who are confused about their sexuality, and as it is anonymous, people don’t feel as worried about it as they would coming to a meeting.”

LGBT Centre for Health and Wellbeing’s Manager, Maruska Greenwood said: “Switchboard volunteers have done a tremendous job providing this phone service for so long. Switchboard has over the years helped tens of thousands of callers and it is an honour for the LGBT Centre to take on their mantle. We already run a comprehensive programme of groups, events, courses and activities for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. Thanks to the funding NHS Lothian have made available we will now be able to also provide a dedicated telephone service that offers information and support to all LGBT people who need it.”

The LGBT Centre for Health and Wellbeing opened in 2003 as a unique initiative to address health inequalities by promoting the health of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people living in, working in and travelling to Edinburgh. There are a number of other helplines in Edinburgh , including Nightline, Depression Alliance Scotland and Samaritans, but the LGBT Helpline is the only one specifically for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.