Peter Sawkins’ hidden gems and best bits of Edinburgh – ‘I just can’t get enough of it’

Scotland: Protesters say they’ve ‘seized’ Edinburgh Castle

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Peter Sawkins is very much in love with Edinburgh. “I absolutely love the place, I’m really just sort of taken by it. I think the special thing about Edinburgh is it’s a really small place. It’s a small city. However, there’s a lot packed into it.

“I have these things that we call ‘Spontaneous Edinburgh Appreciation Moments’. Where I’ll just stop and go ‘wow, isn’t Edinburgh great?’ as we’re just walking up the Royal Mile or down the Mound or through Bristol Square or something.

“I just love being here. I’ve lived here for 21 years and I still find new bits of buildings I’ve never seen before, I see a new close I haven’t actually looked down before.

“The city still surprises me and I just can’t get enough of it.”

Peter’s ideal day off includes a lot of walking, as well as a cheeky ice cream treat.

He said: “My perfect day would start off with a walk through Old Town, probably making my way down to Stockbridge. I think going from Southside Edinburgh, through Old Town through New Town down to Stockbridge and then I’d stop off for a coffee or a brunch down there probably.

“Then I would definitely have to go and get an ice cream from Mary’s Milk Bar or MOO Pie Gelato in the early afternoon.”

Peter’s favourite places in Edinburgh
Blackford Hill
“I love walking up Arthur’s Seat, or running up it, but my favourite place, I think, is actually Blackford Hill. You know, if you’re going from Southside, you can get up there in 40/50 minutes. And it’s not too far away. But because you’re at the south end of the city, you get this view of the entire city looking to Fife. You look around you see Arthur’s Seat, Carlton Hill, you see the castle, you get absolutely everything of the city, because you’re right at the at the south of it.”

The Meadows
“The Meadows in summer is the best place that you can be. Everyone’s just relaxing, having a good time there.”

Peter’s Top Tips
Carlton Hill
“Carlton Hill is obviously incredibly touristy. But once again, the views are second to none, you get a different perspective of the city.”

The Castle
“When I was kid, going up to the castle was the best. We used to have Historic Scotland membership. It’s just such a majestic place to be.

“Uni students avoid going to the castle because apparently you’ll fail your degree if you do that before you graduate. You know, this ship’s sailed a long while ago, when I was first at the castle when I was probably four.”

“Just go down to the National Museum on Chamber Street, which is of course free. Because it’s very close to the University, I’ll nip in for 10/15 minutes just to see one thing because it’s free, you can do that. And you know, they’ve got such great things for children. You can spend many, many hours in museums. It’s a really terrific family day out and you can stay as long as you want.

Alternatively, Peter thinks “the Portrait Gallery is amazing”.

Doors Open Day
“There’s a thing called Doors Open Day in Edinburgh every year and that’s when lots of buildings that are normally closed are open and you can go in and see them. The church I go to our doors are open and you can just walk in. Loads of the university buildings are really amazing, quite historical buildings and you can go in and see them. You get to see inside so many fascinating different buildings in the city. And it’s a really great thing to be a part of.”

Peter’s recommendations for food and drinks
Noodles and Dumplings in Newington
“A great spot for lunch is Noodles and Dumplings. My flatmate took me there for the first time. And it’s absolutely amazing. Massive portions of this great food for not horrendous price.”

Teviot in Bristol Square
“You don’t have to be a student to go there for a drink and it is an amazing building and amazing place. For me I go there to study and to get a drink with friends but it’s a fantastic place to go and grab a drink if you want. The Student Union Edinburgh is quite a good spot.

The Jolly Botanist in Haymarket
“The other one that we did for my birthday this past year is a gin bar. Their gin list is staggering. I needed a lot of help to make any decision on what gin to get. But it’s a really good spot.”

Wee Boulangerie
“Can I caveat this with the fact that I don’t go to many bakeries, because I bake myself? However, my favourite bread that you get in Edinburgh is from the Wee Boulangerie. I think they do a really great baguette, and a really good sourdough.”

Peter’s day trip away from the city
North Berwick
“I think the nicest place to go is North Berwick. It’s 30 minutes on the train, in East Lothian and you’re by the sea, and it’s just stunning and beautiful. Except everyone loves it. So, it can be quite busy, that’s the only issue with it. But that is where I’d go.”

Alternatively, Peter said: “Go down to the Borders or Peebles. It’s not too far of a drive. And that’s a bit more sort of quiet and smaller towns and nice things to do.”

Peter has just released a book, Peter Bakes. “It’s got 100 recipes in it. I got to create recipes that I’m really experienced in or ones that really excited me and that my friends and family loved. Everything has a gluten free amendment available if the standard recipe is not already gluten free. My brother is gluten intolerant and I baked gluten free all my life. It was important for me to reflect that in the book and share that in the book.”
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