The Highlands named as top world destination for 2019 by Lonely Planet

The Highlands and Islands have been selected as one of the top places in the world by Lonely Planet.

The beautiful landscape helped place the region in the top 10 of Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel list for 2019.

The guide named the Highlands “one of the wildest, least inhabited and most scenic parts of Europe”. The “innovative and fast-developing” accommodation across the Highlands is another reason for the area’s high ranking.

Lonely Planet’s guide recommends looking out for a number of animals native to the area including red deer, golden eagles, otters and whales.

The Highlands have long been a popular destination. They are home to Britain’s largest National Park, Britain’s highest peak, Ben Nevis, and a stunning coastline.

We found out where else in Scotland visitors should be sure to check out, by asking the public the most beautiful places they have been.

 

 

Scottish Vegan Festival back for another year at the Edinburgh Corn Exchange

 

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The Edinburgh Corn Exchange was packed with activity on Saturday. Photo by Olivia Hill.

The Corn Exchange was full to the brim on October 20 as visitors flocked to the many stalls available at this year’s Scottish Vegan Festival.

The festival has been successfully running for the last two years and is the ideal event for vegans or those eager to learn more about veganism. Organised by Farplace Animal Rescue, an animal sanctuary and campaigns group, the Scottish Vegan Festival hosts a series of stalls including many hot and cold vegan eats, cosmetics, clothing and animal rights charities.

There are currently around 600,000 vegans across the UK and as the number of vegans increased by 350% in the last decade in Scotland alone, it seems to be a trend that will continue to rise in popularity. Whatever reason it may be — for, ethical, dietary or weight loss — there is a growing interest in how and why people should adopt a plant-based diet.

This rise in the number of people taking on a vegan diet means there is an increase in demand for vegan options, not just at restaurants, but in other public places such as schools and hospitals. ‘Go Vegan Scotland’, a group of volunteers who spend their time away from work trying to encourage others to see the benefits of veganism, was at the Scottish Vegan Festival campaigning for the introduction of legislation which would guarantee plant-based options on every public sector menu.

Barbara Bolton, a volunteer for Go Vegan Scotland, spoke about how the group approaches conversations about veganism with those who may be interested in or unsure of adopting a plant-based diet.

”We have information stalls where people approach us, ask us what they want to know about veganism and we try to have conversations with them to bring out what they think about other animals and whether or not they are truly comfortable with killing them when we don’t have to,” she said.

”Every time we buy a product that has come from an animal, whether it’s from their body or we have taken their eggs or their milk, what lies behind that is animal exploitation. So we tease out from people whether or not they’re genuinely comfortable that they’re spending their money, paying people to use and kill other animals for them.”

Barbara also emphasised that it’s important to approach veganism in a certain way in order to stick to it:

”If you think of veganism as a diet or a lifestyle, then you may find it challenging but when you understand what veganism really is, when you understand veganism is simply living in a way that respects other animals’ right to exist and that it’s about not exploiting and killing animals, then it will become much easier.”

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Lots of vegan treats were available on display including these Halloween inspired doughnuts. Photo by Olivia Hill.

The festival also provides small businesses with an opportunity to showcase their products in a suitable environment.

Emma Lean, from new independent clothing company ‘East Coast 88‘, said the festival was a great place to introduce people to their products:

”All of our t-shirts are organic, they’re all printed using water-based inks and they’re all  Fair Wear Foundation certified as well which means the people who have made them have been paid a living wage, they’re in a safe environment and they’ve got workers rights as well.”

”We wanted to get our name out there and we wanted to meet people who would be interested in buying the t-shirts. So we started coming along and I think this is our 3rd festival so far and it’s been the best one. The atmosphere here has been really nice, it’s really cool.”

The festival was heaving with ticket holders who had come along to try delicious vegan eats and buy the latest vegan-friendly clothes and cosmetics. But there were also a number of animal rights charities present, including OneKind, Scotland’s largest animal campaign group.

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OneKind sells vegan-friendly t-shirts to help fund their campaigns. Photo by Olivia Hill.

OneKind has held a number of successful campaigns including Scotland’s ban on the use of wild animals in travelling circuses. Sarah Mackenzie, the events and volunteers officer, discussed its latest campaign.

”The campaign we’re running today is to stop the growth of the salmon industry in terms of salmon farming in Scotland. At the moment the welfare issues within the industry are unacceptable and we’re asking the Government to put a stop to the plans for growth before these issues are dealt with.”

There is a significant problem with sea lice (parasites that feed on the scales and flesh of the salmon) on Scottish salmon farms and mortality rates are extremely high; 11 million salmon died last year alone. If you would like to learn more about this campaign, click here.

The Scottish Vegan Festival will be back on April 7 and October 20, 2019. To keep up to date with the latest news, take a look at their website here.

 

 

Are we living in a “Peter Pan Generation”?

Every year I would get excited about my birthday. When I was 12, I couldn’t wait to turn 13 so I could class myself a teenager. When I was 15, I counted down to my 16th birthday because 16 sounded so grown up. I wanted to get a job, earn money, and be able to vote; I was in a rush to get on with my life. I was excited to turn 17 so I could learn to drive and then, finally, to be 18 so I could go out for drinks, leave school and go to university.

However, that changed the year I was turning 22.

As a teenager, I looked at people in their twenties and thought of them as adults, who had everything figured out and knew what they wanted in life. I was dreading turning 22 because I knew I didn’t exactly have a “life plan” – I didn’t know what I wanted to be doing at 40, and although I had my stuff together, it wasn’t a fit “long-term” solution.

The day after my 22nd birthday – after celebrating, of course – I was thinking to myself “Right, you need to get your life together now.” I made a list in my head of all the things I felt like I needed to do as a woman in her twenties. That list included things like saving money, enough to look at moving out; decide if I wanted to have kids and start a family or not; make a plan on finding a career job after graduating university;…

In short: I was thinking of everything that I considered proper-grown-up decisions that would set the course for the rest of my life.

It wasn’t until I was talking to my friend about it, and she told me I was acting like a 35-year-old, not like a girl aged 22, and that I should enjoy being young while I am.

I instantly felt better and assured, so I relaxed. But I did remind her that when my parents were in their early-to-mid twenties, they were married, living in a house and paying a mortgage with a one-year-old and another baby on the way.

“Relax,” she said. “That was a totally different era.”

That could not have been a truer statement – enter the Peter Pan Generation.

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Do we live in a Peter Pan Generation? Credits to Lalelu2000

The Peter Pan Generation is how people label today’s society and its millennials and tricenarians. It argues that people are in denial about their age and, as a result, behave in much the same way as they did ten years ago, like spending money today rather than putting it aside for the future.

This may sound reckless, irresponsible and even immature, but also very recognisable. It represents a group of 25-to-40-year-olds, who exist in a state of extended adolescence and avoid the trappings of responsibility — marriage, mortgage, children — for as long as possible.

Professor Frank Furedi, a sociologist at the University of Kent, who has been studying this phenomenon, said: “Our society is full of lost boys and girls hanging out at the edge of adulthood.”

Currently, the average age at which people marry is 30 for women and 32 for men, whereas back in in the 1970s, women typically married at 22 and men at 24.

Rather than starting a family at 23 (as it was in the 1970s), women are now starting a family at 34, and more than ever at 40 because of fertility treatments and IVF.

As for taking on the commitment of buying a house, the age of first-time buyers has gone from an average of 29-years-old in the 1980s to on average, 38, before they buy their first home. A report from LV Insurers suggests that by 2025, the average age of a first-time home-buyer will be 41.

Three million people aged 20 to 34 still live with their parents, and many others still rely on their parents. According to a report earlier this year, more than 13 million parents paid out over £34 billion in loans to their children who were well into their forties.

So you could say our parents’ generation is a totally different era. But why?

Today’s economy could be to blame. Moving out and buying your own place are considered the first steps of growing up, but in today’s society, that is harder than ever. We constantly hear stories of those who need to move back home just to save for the insurmountable deposits needed to buy a property.

People growing up in our generation can be afraid to do these things — scared to think of themselves as proper adults. Or it could simply be that people in their twenties and thirties feel like they don’t need to grow up (or settle down) just yet.

Some people of our generation don’t feel they need to start work and start a family as soon as they hit their twenties the way previous generations used to. That little window of opportunity means we can play around with our youth a little longer.

 

BlacKkKlansman Review

Director Spike Lee’s new flick highlights racism in the present using a story from the not-so-distant past – but he still manages to provide some laughs along the way.

BlacKkKlansman is the story of Ron Stallworth (played by John David Washington), who becomes Colorado Springs’ first black police officer, and then more or less immediately takes on the job of infiltrating the local KKK chapter. Working his way into the most racist organisation ever proves difficult for a man of his skin colour, so he enlists the aid of fellow (white) officer Phillip “Flip” Zimmerman (Adam Driver) to act as his surrogate at Klan events.

Incredibly, it’s all a true story. Ron Stallworth was a real cop, and really was black, and really did infiltrate the KKK over the phone. Some dates and places have been slightly altered but the idea and the ridiculousness is all fairly true.

There’s some incredible acting, especially from Washington and Driver in their scenes together – the real Ron Stallworth wanted Denzel Washington to play him in the movie, but was ecstatic to have Denzel’s son portray him instead. Psychotic klansman Felix is also played with disturbing realism by Finnish actor Jasper Pääkkönen.

The only bit of the movie I disliked was the ending, in which the fiction ends and we are bombarded with newsreel from recent right-wing events in America. It’s depressing, and then I realised  that’s probably the point. Throughout the movie the language of the klansmen mirrors that of the current american administration: Grand Wizard of the KKK David Duke refers to “making America remember its greatness”, which sounds not unlike something I’ve seen on a hat recently.

Since October 1st was also the start of UK Black History Month, I wondered if the real life parallels of the film were also a major issue in Britain. I asked a friend of mine, Ore Malaolu, what his opinion was. Ore’s Nigerian, and has lived in the US for some time before moving to Scotland:

“[UK Black History Month] is almost nonexistent” he told me. “I know about it, but it’s not as brought to the forefront as it is in the US. Black history just isn’t really talked about.”

He also spoke about how his peers aren’t overly aware of the Month as well,

“My university have pictures up [about Black History Month] but I still find myself telling people ‘did you not know that’s a thing?'”

Hopefully, with movies like BlacKkKlansman become more popular worldwide (as opposed to just seeing success in the US) awareness of black history will become more prevalent in the UK. We seem to have a spotlight on black culture, but as a society looking back just isn’t our strong suit.

By Bryce Arthur

Alcoholics Anonymous celebrates 70 years in Scotland

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Leaflets aimed to make people consider their drink consumption

2018 marks 70 years of Alcoholics Anonymous helping people overcome their dependency in Scotland. To honour this anniversary, MSP Monica Lennon is sponsoring an event tomorrow evening at the Scottish Parliament.

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) in Scotland has changed the lives of thousands of alcoholics who have bravely battled their addiction and have continued to lead a sober life. AA provides free drop-in group meetings all across Scotland, which are non-compulsory, and members are not required to disclose their identity.

At the event, AA members will share their personal experience with alcoholism and their journey to sobriety with the guidance of AA. One such member, Martin B, will be part of the presentation at the Parliament tomorrow. He previously represented AA by helping to curate an exhibition at the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum in Glasgow that showcased the history of AA as a service in Scotland. 

Martin said of AA’s impact in Scotland, “It’s been the best thing that’s ever happened for many, many people. There are nearly 1000 groups in Scotland and you can go to AA seven days a week.”

Throughout the years, AA has worked to ensure that alcoholism is recognised as a mental illness. Martin said,

“The idea that the alcoholic is the person with the raincoat and bottle has long been superseded by the fact that any social class in Scotland is affected by alcoholism. Its helped people from all factions of life.”

Martin has been a member of the AA for 28 years, and believes AA will carry on its essential support for alcoholics and their recovery. He said, “AA will continue to grow, there are younger and younger people coming to AA now which is a real blessing, so they don’t have to go down the road I went down.”

Central to the presentation at the event will be remembering pioneer Sir Philip Dundas. He is credited for establishing Alcoholics Anonymous in 1948 after becoming familiar with the group in America; he then travelled across Scotland setting up meetings. The first meeting was held by Dundas in a church in Perth and was attended by six men.

The 12-step programme is still an integral part of AA’s recovery programme for its members. ‘The Big Book’ details these 12 steps was first published in 1938 and has since sold more than 35 million copies and been translated into 68 different languages.

Although the AA in Scotland has external partnerships with the Scottish Health and Prison Services, they are financially independent and refrain from being affiliated with any outside organisations.

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Man drinking in the street – alcoholics often suffer alone

 

The Scottish government has said that the general consumption of alcohol has seen a gradual decrease of 9% since 2009, however levels are still of concern. The latest figures for 2016/17 show there has been a 33% reduction of alcohol-related deaths since 2003. However, a fifth more alcohol is purchased per adult in Scotland than in England and Wales.

Alcoholics Anonymous say there is an increased number of young people attending meetings. They aim to introduce AA meetings at every university within the UK in order to reduce the number of people suffering with alcoholism throughout their lives.

By Rachel Lee

Day of the Dead Festival: Desecrated, for your pleasure

Celebrating the dead is common to most cultures worldwide. Mexico holds the enduringly popular Day of the Dead on October 31st, which has had a recent surge in popularity throughout the English-speaking world. It might be because of the wholesome practice of remembering loved ones who’ve passed away, but it’s almost definitely just because their stuff looks cool. This cultural appropriation has led to events like the Edinburgh Festival of the Dead: a very bizarre, action-packed, drunk and debauched dance party.

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Proud witch and boyfriend, both making maximum effort

The pictures give a taste of the Day of The Dead’s idiosyncratic look. The real question: are people fascinated by this because it’s a colourful take on a dark topic, or is it because skulls are totally rad? I may be simplifying the issue. Loving the style of the Day of the Dead does not exclude one from appreciating the message. For example: I met a lovely woman [pictured right]  who was dressed in full Day of the Dead regalia. I expressed understandable confusion about walking into a building full of people dressed as Rave Skeletons. The woman then told me that she was a witch, and knew all about the Day of the Dead.

She explained how on October 31st, the barrier between the worlds of the living and the dead is at its thinnest, and this is why most cultures have their “spooky holiday” around this time – Pitri Paksha in Hinduism, Halloween in Christianity, and Samhain in Paganism. She added that as a witch, October 31st was actually her new year, and assured me that she was a good or “white” witch and therefore wouldn’t do any curses. Then she gave us cool free masks, so I trust her wholeheartedly.

This conversation would imply that there was an ongoing interest in the spirituality of The Day of the Dead. However, the conversation took place while we were standing in the line for booze. Don’t get me wrong: I’m all for drinking and dancing. I just feel like when you name your event after what is – for an entire country of people – a solemn and respected pseudo-religious festival, and then you have that event be a non-stop late-night techno-fest with acrobats and sexy dancers and DJs, it’s somewhat disrespectful. The MC for the night brought a dude onstage to do tequila shots with him. Is that part of the Mexican tradition? Somehow I doubt it.

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If you look closely you’ll see that the arm on the right is in fact a detached mannequin arm, as is tradition in Mexico

 

The show itself was pretty good. But the sheer amount of debauchery involved meant I felt I had to write something about the divide between what the name means and what this event was. At one point, the MC held out a large bag of fake cocaine, and after several jokes, was dragged bodily offstage by dancers in risqué police costumes. This was followed by a DJ set. If this had been a Halloween ‘Techno Night’ with the same amount of drinking and costumes, I would’ve thought that was really cool! But they just had to call it the Festival of the Dead, and reference all the Dia de Muertos stuff. It’s not Dia de Muertos

“Festival” is absolutely bang on though: the disclaimer here is that the event was great fun and absolutely fascinating to see, cultural appropriation aside. If the show ever comes back to Edinburgh, by all means go for the lights and music and performance, because it’s one hell of a show they put on. But don’t go for the traditional Mexican values. There’s not a lot of those.

For a less ranty explanation of the event, see Iona Young’s overview here: https://en4news.com/2018/10/02/festival-of-the-dead-comes-to-edinburgh/

By Bryce Arthur

Skye Live Review

A recent addition to the festival circuit, this cavalcade of British DJs looks to be a new favourite.

Set up in 2015 by local DJs Niall Munro and Ali MacIsaac, Skye Live is the modernised successor to the original Isle of Skye Music festival, bringing together a refreshing combination of traditional artists and electronic acts. Now in its fourth year, the festival’s panoramic location – overlooking the scenic Portree Harbour – and the beauty of Skye’s seemingly untouched surroundings continue to create a festival experience unlike any other.

The event has undoubtedly grown over the years, attracting both Skye locals and those willing to make the long trek from Scotland’s central belt to the scenic island. However, the still comparably small scale of the festival allows for an intimate appreciation of both the remarkable setting and the commendable line-up of acts that entertained over the weekend. With a mix of gourmet food and drinks available onsite to fuel the days, there are few things missing from the programme. This year’s line-up placed more emphasis on electronic acts and DJs than in previous years, but nevertheless remained a seamless blend of international names and upcoming folk acts. The festival transformed the Apothecary’s Tower at Am Meall into one of Scotland’s most compelling dance floors, and Friday’s line-up saw some of Scotland’s best DJs take control as people began flooding the forest floor.

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The illuminated Apothecary’s Tower

Glasgow’s rising club star Ribeka kicked off the night, followed by Edinburgh born Eclair Fifi in her set with Big Miz. Down the hill at the tented Talisker stage the penultimate guest was Irish born, Liverpool based DJ and producer Or:la (Orlagh Dooley), blessing the crowd with her breakbeat-heavy set as the sun went down and Friday headliner Denis Sulta took over with his late night disco-adorned act. The Sultan’s buoyant character combined his crowd-pleasing sets (a balanced mix of disco favourites and contemporary club beats) have led the Glasgow born DJ to become a world-renowned producer.

Despite the unpredictability of Scottish weather, Saturday gave the talent a few dry spells to work with. The day also showcased a bill more familiar to Skye Live veterans: an eclectic mix of electronic, leftfield and traditional acts. This wide range of styles really makes the most of the open air landscape, producing the creative sound that epitomises what Skye Live is about. Islay born Lord of the Isles (John McDonald), kicked off the Saturday with a set of synth melodies perfectly suitable for both the local families and young campers. Fort Romeau (Michael Greene) then upped the pace as the evening progressed; bringing his unique combination of house, kraut, ambient and techno to the Tower Stage.

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Session A9 entertains a rowdy crowd

Even more so than previous years, the gender balance of the line-up was notably progressive. All-female groups Kinnaris Quintet and Heisk – a six-piece folk act combining traditional Scottish music with punchy riffs and grooves – featured alongside fiddle sensations Session A9. Following them were Skye natives Niteworks, whose fusion of Gaelic language with traditional and electronic influences created a fresh and exhilarating sound appealing to both the young and the old. Leeds based Vessels closed the Talisker Stage with a late albeit impactful set of live electro, taking full advantage of the festivals newly established 2am license. While tensions may exist between the established communities and the new generations, the blend of contemporary and traditional that Munro and McIsaac have achieved, this year in particular, has the potential to mark Skye Live as one of Scotland’s most distinctive small festivals.

By Joanna Hampson

All photos credited to Ryan Buchanan

Festival of the Dead comes to Edinburgh

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A hanging sugar skull face set the mood at the Usher Hall

The Halloween extravaganza is back as the Festival of the Dead returns to the capital. But what is it all about?

Day of the Dead, or ‘El Dia de los Muertos’ is a Mexican celebration, where those who have died are remembered and celebrated. In order to honour those who have departed, special foods and beverages are prepared as family and friends gather to pray and share anecdotes, photos and memorabilia.

The Christian multi-day holiday begins on the 31st of October, where people believe that the spirits of the dead visit their families. It ends on the 2nd of November when the spirits are believed to depart again. Although the tradition is now celebrated by Mexicans from all religious and ethnic backgrounds, it is originally a reaffirmation of indigenous life. 

Today the Day of the Dead traditions have spread all over the world, with some people in other countries outside Mexico, choosing to celebrate this instead of other events such as Halloween. For example, ‘The Festival of the Dead’, a touring festival in the UK. 

This weekend ‘The Festival of the Dead’ was held in the Usher Hall in Edinburgh. The one-day event took place on Saturday, and many were dressed as is typical for the Day of the Dead festivities, with sugar skull faces. Those who were not already dressed for the occasion could get their faces painted at the event.

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Pyrotechnics lit up the main stage

 

The array of enthusiastic performances paired with the vibrant, impressive stage decorations and a mix of Latin classics and techno beats gave the night more of a party vibe rather than a religious celebration.

To find out what Bryce Arthur thought of Saturday’s event check out: Day of the Dead Festival: Desecrated, for your pleasure

By Iona Young

 

 

Women Make It Happen

Inspiring event tackles everyday barriers faced by Muslim women

“Unless we’re all on an equal playing field it’s very hard to judge who is able to access opportunities, and who is genuinely choosing to live a different form of life,” says Mahrukh Shaukat, development worker at Amina Muslim Women’s Resource Centre, an organisation set up in Glasgow nearly twenty years ago to tackle the unique issues facing Muslim women in Scotland. I met with Shaukat at their recent Women Make It Happen event in Edinburgh. The aim of the day: overcoming barriers.

Employability in Edinburgh

Shaukat and I discussed some of the different barriers that might prevent Muslim women from getting employment. In 2016 a government report revealed a disparity in employment between women from ethnic minorities and other groups in Scotland – just 45% of ethnic women were employed compared to 70.5% of white women. Shaukat tells me:

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Mahrukh Shaukat, development worker at Amina the Muslim Women’s Resource Centre

“… although people from ethnic backgrounds are usually high achievers in university, when that translates into the workforce, well, it basically doesn’t.” She continues, “There are very few numbers in high up positions or leading their own businesses. It could be cultural barriers, that is one potential.”

Muslim women in Edinburgh have expressed to Amina that employability is important to them and that some would like to set up their own businesses. In an attempt to facilitate this, the organisation arranges events and workshops that specifically deal with these issues. Amina describes itself as a responsive organisation and Women Make It Happen is a response to Muslim women’s need for advice and inspiration.

First female Muslim Pakistani taxi driver

Throughout the day, selected speakers shared their individual stories. One woman, Shamshad Ghani, stands out a mile from the crowd. On the 8th of March 2002, Ghani became the first female Muslim Pakistani taxi driver in Scotland. In the beginning, her family protested, claiming that a taxi driver was not a respectable job and not safe for a woman. Ghani, however, persisted.

“Some jobs are only thought to be for men,” she explains, “but practically no one gives you a penny for sitting in the house and no one else is going to pay my bills!”.

Previously, Ghani worked for 24 years as a shopkeeper, and driving her taxi meant more freedom in that she found the time to pursue her work and her hobbies. “I fed my passion for writing, composing and practicing my singing while sitting in the taxi”. Ghani has now published two books – one is a humorous poetry book and the other documents her mother’s story during the partition of India.

New opportunities

Earlier that day I had the chance to speak with Nasim Azad – Racial Equality Officer at Bright Choices, a group supporting anyone affected by Honour-Based Violence. Azad has lived in Edinburgh for 33 years and plays a crucial role in a variety of projects aiming to teach people about Islam, including the Beyond the Veil campaign. She explained that organisations like Amina present new opportunities to Muslim women.

“There are a lot of women that are just at home with kids. I’m not saying the majority are like that, but there are quite a few that are like that. If they are happy then that’s fine [but] through no fault of their own they are not actually aware of what is available out there.”

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A local business owner sells and crafts traditional jewellery

At the event there are various stalls set up: one offers information about the Midwifery programme at Edinburgh Napier University; another is run by the Council of Ethnic Minority Voluntary Sector Organisations (CEMVO); and two other local businesses run by Azad’s sisters have set up tables with colourful kurtas and beautiful jewellery.

Changing perception

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Nasim Azad, Racial Equality Officer at Bright Choices, has worked on a variety of community-based projects

After the 7/7 London bombings in 2005, Azad noticed a shift in the way the public perceived her and other Muslims within her local community. “You would read about ladies hijabs being pulled off, men being attacked in the street. That can be very crippling for a person who is already not very confident. I was a very confident woman and that really did buckle me as well – I really felt it.” However, Azad still pushes for a strong community in Edinburgh. The Women Make It Happen event, despite being predominantly run and attended by Muslim women, left me, a young white woman with no significant religious beliefs, with a strong sense of that community.

So, what does Azad say to people who direct racist and abusive marks to her? “Let’s just get on with it. I’m not going anywhere, mate.”

By Emer Harrison

Cuba Comes Calling

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Bartender makes rum cocktails

The Rum Festival returns to Edinburgh to share some drinks, some music, some food, and some more drinks.

The UK’s first ever travelling rum festival has returned to the capital for another weekend of rum filled goodness. As promised, they offered rum enthusiasts two evenings of live music, free sampling, great cocktails and Mexican food.

This year is the second time The Rum Festival has been held in Edinburgh, with last year’s event taking place at the Assembly Rooms. Lucy Douglas, events manager and founder of the festival, explained why she was keen to return to Scotland.

“People love and understand distilling in Scotland because of the whisky culture. They understand products and are open to trying new things – and for us, people trying new rum is what we are all about. It’s great because people are interested and they embrace what we do.”

To spice things up the team decided to move the festival down to the Biscuit Factory in Leith. Although they had an amazing time at the Assembly Rooms, Lucy says the venue was “too clean and very proper” and this year they wanted to find somewhere “a bit cooler and a bit more Cuban”.

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Steel drum band entertains the guests

An impressive selection of 109 rums were on show this year, with 15 different suppliers offering their expert knowledge, advice and tastings. One bar offered a variety of rum and mixers, whilst at another you could find a range of cocktails all made by an enthusiastic and talented team. The live music was typically Caribbean, only adding to the fun mood of the night.

The whole idea of The Rum Festival was born when Lucy realised there were not many places outside of central London where she could drink a variety of new and exciting rums. She decided this must change and in February last year she launched the UK’s first travelling rum festival.

With the recent surge popularity in gin and beer festivals, Lucy’s team of “rum’uns” are keeping up with the new trend. At the same time, they are offering their own original vibe, giving rum experts and novices alike an opportunity to get tasting in a fun and relaxed atmosphere.

By Iona Young

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