Bruce Springsteen announces UK return

Springsteen is know as the “the Boss”. Photo Credit: Craig O’Neal

Legendary singer Bruce Springsteen has confirmed he will play a string of concerts across the UK in 2019.

Though no confirmed shows have been announced as of yet, Springsteen recently announced it was “time to get back to my day job”, confirming his return to musical form with a new studio album with his E Street Band.

A new studio album would mean the first new material released by the artist since 2014’s “High Hopes” however “Springsteen on Broadway”, a greatest hits performance covering Bruce’s mammoth 46 year career will premiere on Netflix December 15th.

Springsteen last toured the UK in 2016, which included a stop at Glasgow’s Hampden stadium. Known for his mammoth performances, the singer played for over three hours at the famed football stadium.

Bruce and the gang will be well rehearsed for next year’s dates, currently playing five nights a week as part of the Broadway shows in New York City. Though Springsteen turns 70 next year, it seems the iconic American hero is showing no signs of slowing down any time soon.

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.



Museum of Childhood

A trip down memory lane.

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The Museum of Childhood, 8th October 2018. Photo by Ross Hempseed.

Initially, looking at the impressive facade of the Museum of Childhood, you might feel overcome with giddy enthusiasm as you prepare to take a trip down memory lane. This is as close as you will come to entering a real-life time machine, and into a work of youthful innocence. The museum’s latest exhibit, entitled Growing Up with Books, showcases some of the oldest and most beloved children’s books throughout history.

The new edition boasts a wonderful collection of early works for children including some well-known titles such as Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan, and Little Women. All centred around specific themes, many of the books date back hundreds of years. Throughout time,  they have all been loved by generations of children who have grown up to learn important life lessons taught within the pages of their favourite childhood literature.

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Picture of Alice in Wonderland book, 8th October 2018. Photo by Ross Hempseed.

The exhibition is split into themes such as ‘Worlds of Imagination’, in which you find classic fairy-tales. Interestingly, back in the late 19th century, some of these stories were seen as a danger to the growth of children’s minds as they perpetuated worlds which were fictional and unrealistic. However,  for most children, it opened up a whole new world where they could immerse themselves in adventure and explore the impossible.

Since their publications, they continue to be a popular influence in many childhoods; even today books such as Alice in Wonderland, which was first published in 1865 and remains one of the best-selling novels of all time with an excess of 100 million copies sold, are loved worldwide. Other novels from the late 19th century such as ‘Black Beauty’, ‘Pinocchio’ and ‘20,000 Leagues under the Sea’ have all sold over 50 million copies, which shows both the longevity and the relevance of the underlying message of these books, which is to use your imagination.

“Imagination is more important than Knowledge.” Albert Einstein.

Another theme was ‘Worlds of Knowledge’, in which educational children’s books are displayed, highlighting the ongoing importance of books as a learning tool to help children examine the world around them and develop a healthy curiosity. Sadly, nowadays many children look to the internet rather than books to solve simple questions and explore their curiosities, which often undermines the need for books at all. This section of the exhibit proves why it is important for children to be familiar with books, as it showcases books focusing on science, humanities and religion. These give a fascinating insight into children’s learning and how they developed a relationship with these books as learning tools through notes and scripts within their pages.

“The more that you read. The more things that you will know.” Dr Seuess.

Museum Curator Susan Gardner was able to highlight some of the key aspects of the exhibit and how it developed from the back catalogue of over 16,000 books to the 150 that are on display now. These books are a representation of all key themes such as learning, imagination, growth and identity:

Having spent time with the books they speak to you as they do to all children who get lost in the images of dragons and damsels in distress, misty mountains and ancient castles, thunderous giants and promises of gold and adventure. Yet for adults who grew up reading rather than playing video games or surfing the internet, the exhibition offers a gentle reminder of how these books helped shape and define them as adults today.


Small screens don’t give you the full picture

The joy of getting a second shot on the big screen.

I watched Aliens with some friends the other night. James Cameron’s classic sequel is one of my favourite films, but there was a problem: my TV is too small. Not because it’s old, from before the time of 60-plus inch mammoth home entertainment systems, but because a 60-plus inch ultra 4K TV still isn’t a cinema.

Truly, this is a question of go big or go home and home just doesn’t cut it. Film lives on the big screen. It’s in the way they’re shot, the way the sound is balanced, what your eyes gravitate to when they’re shown on a screen with enough mass to dominate your field of view.

Source: Google  

You could (and still can) find Blade Runner 2049 showing at every big cinema across the country, but seeing Ridley Scott’s original isn’t quite so easy and that’s a shame. I’m delighted to live in a city with cinemas that share this opinion. There’s not as many as I’d like to be sure, but places in Edinburgh like the Cameo and the Filmhouse offer the chance to see older films the way films are meant to be watched. In the last couple of weeks, I’ve seen Nightmare on Elm Street and Predator as I might have seen them in the mid-1980s. I’ve seen personal favourite The Thing, among others, in the same environment I’d never have had the chance to otherwise, because I had the misfortune of not being born when they released.

It strikes me as sad that more places don’t do this so often; it’s a uniquely warm, collective experience. I sat seeing Predator in a crowd of strangers, but every one of us was on the same page, because every one of us knew the script. We laughed together, were silent together and delighted in Schwarzenegger’s awkwardly iconic delivery together. It’s a shameless exercise in nostalgia no doubt, but it’s nice to leave a cinema knowing everybody enjoyed themselves as much as you did.  

Source: Google

These things bring people together. Whether it’s a showing of The Room where everyone throws plastic spoons, or an all-night horror marathon showing legitimate cult classics. Maybe that isn’t quite ‘as intended’ after all, but it’s probably just as good.

Now if I could fit or afford a 40ft screen into my home that would be wonderful, but such as it is, the cinema is the only place I could experience Aliens like James Cameron envisioned and I hope to see it on a listing one of these days. Do let me know, I wouldn’t want to miss it again.

How an 19th century Scotsman changed the face of combat sports

In 1826, a young 25 year old Scotsman from just outside Dumfries immigrated to Brazil in search of a new career. What he didn’t realise at the time was that in almost two centuries time, his descendants would change the face of combat sports. His name was George Gracie; a surname familiar in the world of mixed martial arts, particularly the martial art of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu which was developed by two Brazilians of 1/8th Scottish descent.

From George came Pedro, then from Pedro came Gastao, the latter fathered two children; Carlos and Hélio Gracie. Carlos Gracie began his martial arts career by practising the traditional martial art of Judo. He was instructed by prize fighting judoka Mitsuyo Maeda, who immigrated to Brazil in 1914 to teach the art of judo. Carlos used Maeda’s teaching to develop a martial art of his own, called Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ). Carlos founded the Gracie Jiu-Jitsu school along with brothers Hélio and George Jr. They quickly garnered popularity and began issuing open challenges to fighters of other combat sports such as boxing.

Carlos was small in stature and weighed only 135 pounds. Despite his size, he used the effective jiu-jitsu grappling techniques to get boxers of larger size to the ground and submitted. Hélio Gracie also competed in open challenges using his BJJ against other combat martial artist. In 1951, the jiu-jitsu grappler issued a challenge to judo practitioner Masahiko Kimura. The Japanese judoka came to Brazil and submitted him with his signature Kimura choke that is now a specialty submission move in MMA.

Hélio didn’t give up after the loss. He fathered nine children and almost all of them became legends within the world of mixed martial arts. His sixth child Royce Gracie, a sixth degree black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu rose to worldwide fame in 1993 when he competed in the Ultimate Fighting Championship in Denver, Colorado.

A skinny slender competitor, he did not have the prowess and size of his competitors in the eight-man tournament to determine the best form of combat martial arts. He faced boxer Art Jimmerson in the quarter-finals submitting him after just two minutes. The semi-finals saw him take on MMA legend and physical goliath Ken Shamrock. Although much larger in physique, Royce used his jiu-jitsu technique to submit Shamrock after 57 seconds to advance to the final. He faced French kickboxer Gerard Gordeau and submitted him after a minute and 40 seconds, winning the first ever Ultimate Fighting Championship.

Royce Gracie paved the path for mixed martial arts. He showed the combat world that Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu was the superior martial art having gone onto win the UFC 2 and UFC 4 tournaments in 1994. BJJ has now become a necessity in MMA and in particular the UFC, MMA’s leading promotion. Almost every top fighter within the promotion has a high level of BJJ, most of which are students of the various Gracie Jiu-Jitsu schools dotted around the world.

Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Student Nate Diaz applies a rear-naked choke on superstar and BJJ brown belt Conor McGregor at UFC 196.

The Gracie family name has spread from Brazil all the way up to the United States. Hélio’s children have made their way stateside such as Rickson Gracie, the third eldest. Regarded as one of the best Gracie Jiu-Jitsu family members, the eighth degree black/red belt is highly touted as one of the best teachers of BJJ. His son Kron is currently active in MMA with Japanese promotion Rizin, obtaining a perfect record of four wins and no losses.


Kron Gracie (left) with father and jiu-jitsu legend Rickson Gracie (right)

It seems that what goes around comes around Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu has returned to its Scottish roots. Paul ‘Bearjew’ Craig is the latest Scots MMA fighter to be signed by the UFC. He has an impeccable 9-0 record in mixed martial arts with eight of his wins coming via submission. His UFC debut in Saramento, California last December saw him overcome Brazilian fighter Luis Henrique da Silva via armbar submission in round two. “You either tap, nap or snap in this game,” says Paul Craig. “You tap when you’ve had enough, nap and go to sleep or get snapped.”

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu specialist Paul Craig weighs in on his UFC debut.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu specialist Paul Craig weighs in on his UFC debut.

It seems quite fitting that two centuries after a young George Gracie made his way to Rio de Janeiro in the 1820’s that the favour has been returned to Scotland. One thing is for certain however. If you practice Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, you will have most definitely have learned it from a member of the Gracie family. The Scottish surname is synonymous not just in Brazil but globally with combat martial arts and without the Gracie family name, the UFC would not exist and the promotions superstars such as Conor McGregor and Ronda Rousey would have never received the platform to stardom the UFC has given them.

Scotland is More Creative than You might Think – Here’s Why


It could be said that when it comes to the creative industries, Scotland shouts the loudest. Being one of the most vocal opponents of the recent cuts to school arts programs, it is no secret that we are protective over our cultural name. But sometimes the most unique of creative spaces in Scotland are the ones hidden away in the shadows, so we thought we would shed some light on them.

Creative Edinburgh is a name that might not be familiar to you – but its one that will be on the tip of everyone’s tongue pretty soon. With initiatives set up all over the world, Creative Edinburgh was started by a power team consisting of Janine Matheson, Holly Wesley and Rachel Arthur and has been growing ever since. It is the largest network of creatives in Edinburgh and serves to fund creative endeavours and support local entrepreneurs. They host regular “Creative Mornings” with inspirational, motivational speakers whose videos can also be found on their Vimeo channel. With funding for the arts decreasing all over the UK, this kind of initiative is vital for the future of Scotland’s culture.

Another creative space with a twist is The Edinburgh Remakery, a retail space that describes itself as “promoting a sustainable, zero waste culture based in the heart of Leith,” it is a combination of Edinburgh’s vibrant creative aesthetic and its renowned environmentally friendly reputation. They are a company taking donations of old furniture and knick-knacks, transforming them and reworking them. It is a green way to think and a unique way to reuse perfectly viable objects you would otherwise dump in the skip.

Proof of Scotland’s popularity for creatives is all around – in Glasgow, especially. Caitlin McKenna is a artist that hails from Boston, Massachusetts and has planted herself in Scotland to launch her modern calligraphy shop, Brahmin Lettering Co. She is currently opening a shop in Edinburgh where examples of her work can be found in an artisanal, unique space.

There is so much more to explore in Edinburgh’s creative world, but these are just a starting point for showcasing modern millennial Scottish culture.


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