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  Plans unveiled for new luxury floating hotel  in Edinburgh Plans unveiled for new luxury floating hotel in Edinburgh
Added: 22 Mar 2017
Plans for Scotland’s first luxury static floating hotel were lodged today with the City of Edinburgh Council. The former Northern Lighthouse Board (NLB) tender, MV Fingal, will be converted into a 23 bedroom hotel, berthed permanently at the Prince of Wales Dock in Edinburgh’s historic port of Leith.

The £3.5m investment by the Royal Yacht Britannia’s trading company, Royal Yacht Enterprises, will see this classically designed ship transformed to provide the ultimate in luxury, offering a wide range of bedroom suites, cabins with private balconies, duplex apartments, and a stunning Presidential Suite.

The ‘boatique’ hotel is expected to open in Easter 2018 and create at least 30 permanent new jobs in the hospitality industry, added to the 170 already employed directly at Britannia.

The hotel concept has been created by the Pedley Group and all the bedrooms will be named after Stevenson lighthouses nominated by the NLB. The interior design has been inspired by Fingal’s rich maritime history, blending the avant-garde expectations of discerning guests with the functional necessities of luxury retreats.

Developing Fingal represents natural organic growth for the award-winning team at Britannia and, as well as business synergies and operational efficiencies, the hotel will generate an income stream that is not reliant on visitors to the Royal Yacht but will nevertheless help secure its long term future.

The Royal Yacht Britannia, berthed at Ocean Terminal in Leith, attracted a record 350,000 visitors last year and is renowned for providing the very highest standards of customer experience: having been officially assessed as Scotland’s Best Attraction for the last 11 years running by national tourism agency, VisitScotland.

Britannia’s Chief Executive Bob Downie said, ‘Having excelled in the visitor attraction market for nearly 20 years, we are very much looking forward to the challenges of operating in the luxury hotel market and the benefits it will generate for Britannia over the years to come’.

One of the UK hospitality industry’s most eminent and respected figures, Peter Lederer, past UK Hotelier of the Year, and former Chairman of the Gleneagles Hotel said, “This new ‘boatique’ hotel has the potential to be the best hotel experience in Edinburgh and given the quality of the Britannia experience, I am really looking forward to seeing a new benchmark in Scotland.”
Website: http://
New Lanark reaching out with Autism Friendly Brick City SessionsNew Lanark reaching out with Autism Friendly Brick City Sessions
Added: 22 Mar 2017
New Autism Friendly Sessions will be available when New Lanark hosts Brick City, an exhibition of over 60 models made from an estimated half-a-million LEGO Bricks this summer from 28th June – 9th August.

On Thursday 13th July and Thursday 3rd August the exhibition will be open exclusively from 9am-11am for families of children with autism and additional support needs.
New Lanark decided to offer the Autism Friendly Sessions of the exhibition after undertaking public consultation on the exhibition’s public programmes through an online survey offered to their newsletter subscribers and Facebook fans in late 2016.

The Autism Friendly Sessions will have a much lower capacity than the standard exhibition viewing times, meaning they will be much quieter and less crowded. New Lanark staff will also be undergoing special training to prepare for the sessions and allow them to offer the best visitor experience.

The sessions are being run in association with REACH Lanarkshire, a local organisation founded in 2012 to provide support to families who have a young person with an Autism Spectrum Condition living within the authority of South Lanarkshire.

Brick City is a celebration of some of the world’s favourite buildings and urban icons, recreated solely using LEGO bricks. Brick City has previously been enjoyed by tens of thousands of visitors across the UK and now fans of LEGO young and old will have the chance to catch this must-see exhibition at New Lanark during the summer of 2017.
Prices for the Autism Friendly Sessions are £6 for Adults, £5 for Concessions, £4 for Children (3-15) and free for Under 3s. Essential carers are also free.

For those with autism who wish to attend the exhibition at other times, it’s advised they visit at 10am any day of the week during 28th June – 9th August for a quieter experience.

2017 marks the Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology, making it the perfect time for visitors to enjoy a trip to New Lanark to see Brick City which includes a variety of historical icons like the Mona Lisa and landmarks including the Colosseum in Rome, Arc De Triomphe in Paris and Sagrada Familia in Barcelona.

For further information about Brick City and to book tickets for the Accessible Sessions visit:
Welcome to King Robert! Welcome to King Robert!
Added: 22 Mar 2017
Event: 11am Thursday 23 March 2017 at the Stirling Smith Art Gallery and Museum

The people of the City and Royal Burgh of Stirling will be lined up to give a right royal welcome to a new sculptured head of King Robert the Bruce (1274 – 1329), victor of Bannockburn. The work is a new forensic facial reconstruction, using a cast of the skull of Bruce from his resting place in Dunfermline Abbey, sculpted by Christian Corbet, and based on the research by Andrew Nelson, Professor of Anthropology. Working together, the sculptor and scientist, both based at the University of Western Ontario, have concluded that Bruce had never suffered from leprosy, a story which was concocted as a slur on the warrior king.

On Thursday 23 March, the welcome party will include Provost Mike Robbins of the City of Stirling and Stuart Campbell, Deacon Convenor of the Seven Incorporated Trades, in their historic regalia, the Trustees of the Stirling Smith Art Gallery and Museum, who are the recipients of this magnificent gift from Canada to Scotland and Stirling and the Strathleven Artizans, who bring the achievements of King Robert to life for contemporary audiences.

The Strathleven Artizans have constructed a plinth for the new head using timber from the historic Bruce Oak tree from Loch Lomond National Park, together with timber from the estate of the Earl of Elgin at Broomhall, near Dunfermline. Construction assistance has been provided by Historic Environment Scotland.
As this is the most important artistic interpretation of King Robert since the Pilkington Jackson statue was unveiled at Bannockburn in 1964, the unveiling ceremony will be conducted by King Robert’s descendant, Lord Charles Bruce.

Welcoming the new work of art, Bruce Crawford, Member of the Scottish Parliament for Stirling said:
“I am delighted that the Stirling Smith Art Gallery and Museum have been gifted this fabulous sculpture by Christian Corbet of the Western University, Ontario, Canada. I would like to encourage everyone to go along to see not only this sculpture but all the vast and varied works of art that the Gallery has on show.”
Scottish Showpeople at Riverside MuseumScottish Showpeople at Riverside Museum
Added: 14 Mar 2017
Scottish Showpeople have played a significant role in the cultural history of Scotland and its people. Their unique history is the focus of a new display, A Fair Life, at Riverside Museum, Glasgow.
For hundreds of years Showpeople have travelled the country, providing entertainment with their rides and attractions. While this group have had a tangible influence on Scottish culture, the majority of Scottish people know very little about them. A Fair Life, created in collaboration with a small group of Scottish Showpeople, charts the distinct traditions and histories of this tight-knit community and showcases the important part they have played in shaping elements of the Scottish landscape.
Natalie Cowie-Kayes, a Showperson from Glasgow who helped co-curate A Fair Life explains: “I’m very happy to see A Fair Life open at Riverside. It’s been a wonderful project to work on. I’m sure many visitors to the museum will feel an instant connection to the objects on display. The waltzer car and carousel horse are certain to bring back fond memories of family daytrips to the shows.

“I’m very proud to have been raised in our community. For generations my family has travelled from place to place, transforming the everyday spaces of communities across Scotland into bustling and exciting places filled with lights, new smells and screams of enjoyment and laughter.

“Riverside is Scotland’s museum of transport, travel and technology so it’s a perfect fit, and carries on nicely from our old connection with the museum of transport when it was located in Kelvin Hall. I hope visitors to Riverside will enjoy the display, learn a little about our role in Scotland’s past and see that Scottish Show families aren’t really very different from their own.”

Showpeople are distinct from other Travelling communities in that they operate rides, games and food stalls at funfairs and events throughout the country. Scotland has between 3,000 - 5,000 Showpeople, an estimated 80% of which are based in Glasgow, living in approximately 50 privately owned/leased ‘yards’ located across the city. This is the largest concentration of Showpeople in Europe.

A Fair Life considers how the travelling lifestyle of Showpeople has evolved with technology. In days gone by fairgrounds were the destination of choice, where people spent their holidays and free time. Today, the travelling fairs that have entertained generations of Scottish families are under increasing pressure, as legislation becomes more demanding and new technologies offer increasingly attractive diversions.

Along with the difficulties incurred by the march of technology, Showpeople have experienced hardship throughout the years due to misconceptions about their lifestyle and culture. A Fair Life also aims to shed some light on this group of often misunderstood people.

A Fair Life is now on display in Riverside’s North Window.
First born of 2017 at Edinburgh ZooFirst born of 2017 at Edinburgh Zoo
Added: 14 Mar 2017
Keepers at RZSS Edinburgh Zoo have welcomed the first newborn of 2017: a red-bellied lemur born to parents Gizmo and Bart in January who is doing well.

The youngster spent the first few weeks being carried constantly by its mother, but now that it is getting a bit older it has become easier to spot as it jumps and swings around and plays with its older siblings, albeit never wandering far from mum.

Lorna Hughes, Primate Team Leader at RZSS Edinburgh Zoo, said: "We’re delighted to welcome the first baby of the year at the Zoo. The youngster hasn’t been named yet but is doing very well and can be seen clinging to its mum’s back. The newborn is the fifth red-bellied lemur to be born at the Zoo and will play an important role in the conservation of this vulnerable species through the European Endangered Species Programme."

The baby red-bellied lemur will spend the first five weeks being carried on its parents’ backs before it becomes more independent and starts to explore its surroundings, whilst staying close to mum and dad. The red-bellied lemur family at the Zoo is a close knit one, comprising of mum Gizmo, dad Bart and their three previous offspring. Visitors can spot the youngster in the Monkey House at RZSS Edinburgh Zoo.

Listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List, the red-bellied lemur is threatened as a result of habitat loss in their native Madagascar. Large areas of forest have been cleared out for logging and agricultural purposes, destroying the homes of the native lemur families. Hunting also poses a significant threat to this species.

Image: RZSS/Fiona Mcintyre
Added: 02 Mar 2017

The Royal Yacht Britannia, in Edinburgh, reached a landmark today, clocking up an incredible 10,000 ‘Excellent’ reviews on travel website TripAdvisor.

The Queen’s former floating palace, now a jewel in the crown of Scottish tourism, prides itself in providing the highest standards of customer service annually to its 350,000 visitors from across the world. The news today means that, of the 13,856 reviews posted on TripAdvisor, to date, by visitors, 72.1% are ‘Excellent’. This is the highest ‘Excellent’ percentage rating of any large attraction in Scotland, and 2nd only in the UK to the British Museum in London 72.5%, ahead of iconic attractions such as Houses of Parliament (71.7%), Big Ben (69%), Westminster Abbey (66.8%) and the Tower of London (65.6%).

This milestone follows on from Britannia reporting 2016 as its most successful year since opening 18 years ago and being rated by national tourism agency, VisitScotland, as Scotland’s Best Visitor Attraction for the 11th successive year.

Justifiably proud of this achievement, Britannia’s Chief Executive, Bob Downie, said: “Reaching 10,000 Excellent reviews, is an outstanding achievement and a real testament to our wonderful staff who consistently provide the great customer experiences that result in such positive feedback from 72.1% of our Tripadvisor reviewers. There is a huge difference in the quality standards required to gain a 5 Star Excellent review from your customers as opposed to a Very Good 4 Star review, with the former critical in convincing new customers to invest their time in visiting your attraction.”
Note: Please use a mobile device to access Tripadvisor’s most exact statistics. For some unknown reason the desktop version of their website does not accurately record the breakdown totals of the reviews.

Scottish visitor attractions record another successful year in 2016Scottish visitor attractions record another successful year in 2016
Added: 28 Feb 2017
ASVA has announced that visits to its member sites rose notably for the third year running in 2016.

Analysis of statistics submitted by 249 of the organisation’s member sites for its annual ’Visitor Trends Report’ confirms that almost 30 million visits were made to those sites in Scotland in 2016, a rise of 6% over 2015 figures. The increase comes on top of a 3.4% rise in 2015, which itself followed a 6.1% rise in 2014, confirming that visitor attractions in Scotland are currently enjoying a period of sustained growth.

Sectors which fared particularly well in 2016 include castles and heritage sites (+12%), sports and activities centres (+28.7%) and museums and galleries (+5.7%).

Edinburgh continued to dominate the marketplace, with 11 of the top 20 attractions located in the city, compared with 9 in 2015. The National Museum of Scotland welcomed the most visitors over this period, following the opening of ten new galleries in July, overtaking Edinburgh Castle as the most visited attraction in Scotland.

A new addition to the 2016 top 20 list was The Royal Yacht Britannia. Overall, some 54% of all visits were made to attractions that featured in the top 20 list.
Dr Gordon Rintoul, Director of National Museums Scotland said: “I am delighted that the latest ASVA visitor figures have confirmed the National Museum of Scotland’s place as the most popular visitor attraction in Scotland. In addition we recorded the highest ever visitor numbers across all our sites with nearly 2.7 million visits. Last year, in celebration of the National Museum’s 150th anniversary, we opened ten new inspirational and engaging galleries of applied art, fashion and design and science and technology and the visitor response to them has been overwhelmingly positive.

“It has been a busy year for the Museum with the hugely popular exhibitions, Celts and Fossil Hunters and a packed programme of summer activities including the sell-out Fringe showcase, Museum After Hours, a new partnership with the Gilded Balloon and award-winning contemporary dance.

“We are now embarking on our final phase of the transformation of the Victorian building, creating two new galleries for our internationally important Ancient Egypt and East Asia collections.”

Another area of Scotland which fared well in 2016 was the Highlands. Attractions in the vicinity of Loch Ness, including the medieval fortress of Urquhart Castle and Loch Ness by Jacobite, which offers scenic cruises on the loch, recorded significant increases in visitor numbers of 14% and 15% respectively. Highland Wildlife Park in Kingussie reported a 10% rise in numbers, while Culloden Battlefield Visitor Centre continued to benefit from media coverage generated by the ‘Outlander’ TV series, recording a 21% increase.

Commenting on a successful year for Loch Ness by Jacobite, Managing Director Freda Newton said: “The popularity of the local area shows no signs of slowing down, with visitor numbers growing year-on-year. In 2016, we welcomed 200,000 visitors on board our Loch Ness by Jacobite cruises – a new record. We’re expecting to welcome even more tourists on board this year and have had a great start to 2017 with a popular winter season.”

In Perthshire, The Black Watch Castle & Museum recorded a spectacular 1,248% rise in visitors, largely on the back of ‘Weeping Window’, a sculpture featuring thousands of handmade ceramic poppies commemorating those who died in World War One. The Museum was the first location in mainland Scotland to host the sculpture, which was installed as part of the UK-wide tour of the poppies by 14-18 NOW, the arts programme for the World War One centenary.
Welcoming the figures in ASVA’s 2016 Visitor Trends Report, Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs Fiona Hyslop said: “It is fantastic that Scottish visitor attractions recorded another successful year in 2016 with almost 30 million visits to some of Scotland’s most popular and iconic tourist sites.
“The tourism sector is of vital importance to Scotland, as it stimulates economic growth and enhances the importance of our cultural heritage. I commend the sterling work of ASVA in creating quality visitor experiences and building Scotland’s reputation as a top tourist destination for visitors from around the world.”

Douglas Walker, Chair of ASVA said: “These figures demonstrate that the visitor attractions sector in Scotland is in robust health. Attractions that have invested in their visitor offer by developing innovative new products and services and launching inspiring events and exhibitions programmes, supported by creative and effective marketing campaigns, are not only reaching new visitor markets but are actively encouraging their existing visitors to return time and again”.

For ASVA’s Top 20 Visitor Attractions in 2016, please click on the link below:
Download file: click to download attached file
People behind the plants: an evening of discovery at the BotanicsPeople behind the plants: an evening of discovery at the Botanics
Added: 02 Feb 2017
From adhesive for sticking lichens on trees to adventures in the land of the crested macaque, dynamic female conservationists are topping the bill for an evening at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE) on Wednesday, March 15. Tickets are free but booking is essential to hear Sally Eaton, Hannah Atkins and Sadie Barber tell tales of fundamentals, fun and frustration in the field.

Hosted by Regius Keeper Simon Milne MBE the evening will present an opportunity to hear about the serious issues behind occasionally frivolous headlines: what RBGE scientists and horticulturists do, why they do it and why anyone should care.

From Scotland’s stunning west coast to spectacular Sulawesi there will be an accent on rainforests, RBGE’s world-leading research and conservation and a special working relationship between Science and Horticulture which makes it unique among botanic gardens.

Scientist Sally Eaton has carried a passion for lichens since childhood. Today, her lab is the wild Celtic rainforest. Accompanied by four legged assistant Zebedee, Sally is leading the field in lichen conservation. Her work includes experimenting in translocation – gluing lichens to trees and monitoring their growth - to discover if this is a viable way to extend the range of rare species that are very slow to colonise new sites. This novel work has potentially crucial implications for these cryptogams so important to our landscape and yet too often overlooked.

Tropical Botanist Hannah Atkins and Horticulturist Sadie Barber regularly undertake expeditions and were most recently in Sulawesi last November. They will explain the importance of these two disciplines working together. With a focus on the exotic Gesneriaceae family, they will tell how fieldwork often results in finding species that are new to science – and what happens along the way.

With other speakers and an accompanying display area, the event starts at 6pm and tickets can be booked through
Leading Borders craftsmen to exhibit work at DawyckLeading Borders craftsmen to exhibit work at Dawyck
Added: 02 Feb 2017
Furniture made by two of Scotland’s finest craftsmen, David Lightly and Ross Purves, went on show at Dawyck Botanic Garden, Stobo, near Peebles on Wednesday (1 February). The exhibition, Fruits of the Forest, will be seen by around 34,000 people who visit the leading visitor attraction each year.
David and Ross, who work under the name “The Wood Neuk’’, take pride in handcrafting unique pieces of sculptural furniture inspired by timbers irregularities and imperfections. From tree to the finished piece, David and Ross are involved in every process.
The Wood Neuk grew out of Tim Stead Furniture and latterly The Workshop of Tim Stead where David and Ross have 38 years of experience between them creating fine sculptural furniture, guided by the designs of the renowned late sculptor and artist Tim Stead. The business is fully licensed to continue Stead’s classic designs alongside many exciting new designs of their own at Tim’s former premises.
David commented: “The exhibition is showcasing furniture made from native elm. At The Wood Neuk we’re involved in every process from tree to finished piece. We only buy trees that have been felled for a legitimate reason and take great care of the timber from the start right through to the finished work. One table that will be shown at Dawyck is made from an elm tree that was over 100 years old. It is made from one single plank of burr elm. This plank tells the story of the trees life. Through the patterns and grain it tells us of harsh winters and fruitful summers.’’
He added: “Through our work a tree lives on for many more hundreds of years. No timber is wasted because each hole, split or fault is repaired to show the material as it grew. Ross and I are very pleased to be showing our work in such a beautiful location. Hopefully after seeing the exhibition, people will walk round the Garden and will look at the trees in a different way. A tree is a beautiful thing to look at but what lies within contains a beauty of its own.’’
Dawyck is one of 50 gardens taking part in this year’s Scottish Snowdrop Festival which runs from 1 February to 12 March. It is co-ordinated by Discover Scottish Gardens and supported by VisitScotland.
While the Garden was closed for the winter season between 30 November and 1 February, staff undertook a varied programme of work which includes the removal of several moribund trees to provide longer term planting space for new wild-collected species. American skunk-cabbage (Lysichiton americanus) has also been removed following its recognition nationally as an invasive non-native species of significant concern. The plants at Dawyck were popular for their spring flowers and grew well for many years. However, unfortunately in other gardens if left untended, particularly near watercourses, they can become invasive. Dawyck has taken the lead on the removal of this plant and will look forward to replanting new species in the areas once occupied by the skunk cabbage.

Although the winter weather has been relatively kind, Dawyck is always susceptible to some storm damage. The prevailing westerly wind can be harsh at times and some of the older trees in the collection can be vulnerable. Three trees were removed in the lower car park. A large oak tree damaged another as it toppled and third tree had died. However, on a positive note the timber can be used for a number of other garden projects.

To improve access for visitors a new path and track have been created to link the upper Cryptogamic Wood with the lower Beech Walk.

The Garden’s hydro-electric scheme, which opened in 2014, is consistently generating in excess of 9KWh of energy per hour. The scheme, which was awarded a £30,000 grant from EDF Energy’s Green Fund, provides enough electricity to power both the Garden’s Visitor Centre and maintenance building. Heating for the Visitor Centre, which was built in 2008, is already provided by a sustainable biomass boiler. Surplus electricity is sold back to the national grid at times of low demand through the feed in tariff, creating a welcome income source for Dawyck. In a 24 hour period the hydro produces enough power to supply up to 17 average family homes.

Garden Curator, Graham Stewart said: “During the two months that the Garden was closed to visitors, we have successfully completed a programme of works, many of which will enhance the visitor experience. The winter weather has been relatively good so we have been able to complete the work on time. The Fruits of the Forest exhibition and participation in Scottish Snowdrop Festival will hopefully get our 2017 season off to a good start by encouraging people to come and visit the Garden in February.’’

Dawyck is home to one of Scotland’s finest tree collections including some of Britain’s oldest and tallest trees. The 65-acre Garden offers woodland and burnside walks and is renowned for its seasonal displays of snowdrops, bluebells, rhododendrons, azaleas, Himalayan poppies and autumn colour.

Fruits of the Forest will run from 1 February until 30 November. Admission to The Studio at Dawyck is free. Garden admission is £6.50 or £5.50 concession. Under 16s go free.
Added: 25 Jan 2017
The Royal Yacht Britannia in Leith, Edinburgh, is reporting its most successful year since opening 18 years ago, ending 2016 with a grand total of 348,272 visitors which represents 12.7% growth on the previous year.

There has in fact been a period of continuous growth at Britannia in recent years, resulting in a massive increase of 41.7% since 2010. Britannia is renowned for providing the highest standards of visitor experience. These record results at the end of 2016 coincide with the announcement that this ‘jewel in the crown’ of Scottish tourism has also been pronounced Scotland’s Best Attraction, by national tourism agency VisitScotland, for the 11th year running.

Visitors travel from across the world to visit this iconic yacht, Her Majesty The Queen’s former floating palace, and experience the highest standards of customer service. Britannia offers the warmest welcome for all visitors, and has also been rated as one of Scotland’s most accessible attractions. There is full access to all 5 decks of the ship for wheelchairs and buggies, as well as free audio guides in 30 languages, available in Basic English, Children’s Tour, Braille and British Sign Language.

Delighted with these newly announced results, Britannia’s Chief Executive, Bob Downie commented, “From day one, it has been our mission to make Britannia a destination of first choice for a high quality, value for money and memorable experience, delivered by skilled and passionate people, so to produce record visitor numbers 18 years after first opening is an amazing achievement and a real tribute to our great staff”.
Discover the wonders of Nepal Discover the wonders of Nepal
Added: 05 Jan 2017
Discover the wonders of Nepal on a new audio trail at the Botanics

A year-long programme of events at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE) to celebrate the bicentenary of the relationship between Britain and Nepal is concluding with the launch of a new audio trail.

When the 1816 Treaty of Sugauli was signed to end conflict between the British East India Company and Nepal, RBGE already had scientific links with the Himalayan kingdom. These links extended back to 1802 when Scottish surgeon-naturalist Dr Francis Buchanan-Hamilton made the first natural history collections in Nepal. Buchanan-Hamilton spent a year there, collecting and documenting over 1100 plant species, and he is now known as the ’Father’’ of Nepalese botany.

Taught botany by Professor John Hope in RBGE’s classroom of the Scottish Enlightenment - recently rebuilt as the ’Botanic Cottage’’, Buchanan-Hamilton’s research established a collaboration which continues today with the Flora of Nepal programme.

Now, the history of RBGE’s work in Nepal is captured in the new audio trail. Visitors to the Garden over the festive season will be amongst the first to experience the trail, available via a mobile app.

Many of the plants grown at RBGE originally came from the Himalayas, and this trail tells the stories of 12 Nepalese plants, some of which may be familiar, but others probably less so. The plants have been chosen to illustrate the continuing importance of Nepal’s biodiversity to its people, the stories of the collectors who brought them back to the UK and RBGE’s ongoing research programme in Nepal. RBGE is coordinating the Flora of Nepal project to produce the first comprehensive catalogue of the plants of this biodiverse Himalayan country. The Flora of Nepal is an international collaboration with partners in Nepal and Japan, and involves more than 100 botanical experts worldwide.

The stories are told by Dr Mark Watson, Dr Colin Pendry, Dr Bhaskar Adhikari and Dr Alan Elliott, four of the Edinburgh botanists working on the Flora of Nepal, and the audio trail is available through a downloadable app which includes an interactive map to guide users round the garden.

Dr Pendry commented: ’Visitors are sure to recognise several of these species as they are commonly grown in British gardens, but we hope they will enjoy hearing about their importance to the people of Nepal and the plant collectors who brought them back.’’

Events this year at RBGE have included The Flora of Nepal exhibition of historic and contemporary plant portraits from Nepal, alongside examples of how plants are used in Nepal today. Staff at RBGE oversaw the creation of the Biodiversity Education Garden at the National Botanic Garden, Kathmandu. Regius Keeper Simon Milne joined an expedition in which RBGE was able to collect seed for the first time since 2005. Mr Milne returned from Nepal with 600 metres of prayer flags which were displayed as one of the main features in the 2016 Botanic Lights event.
The Famous Grouse Experience offers visitors a new winter warming experienceThe Famous Grouse Experience offers visitors a new winter warming experience
Added: 12 Dec 2016

Hot off the heels of giving visitors the #BestScottishWelcome, The Famous Grouse Experience at Glenturret Distillery will welcome visitors with a #WarmScottishWelcome this winter, with the introduction of the Hot Toddy Experience.

Beginning on Monday 12th December and running until the end of March, the new distillery experience welcomes visitors to The Famous Grouse with an inviting hot toddy, followed by a 30 minute tour of Scotland’s oldest working distillery.

The hot toddy is a traditional warm drink made with whisky, honey and lemon and dates back to 1786, some ten years after Crieff-based Glenturret Distillery first began producing whisky in 1775.

Stuart Cassells, General Manager of The Famous Grouse Experience, commented:

"In Scotland, we’re know for our warm welcome so we thought what better way to welcome visitors to The Famous Grouse Experience this winter than with a truly Scottish warm welcome in the form of a hot toddy! We thought this is the perfect way to showcase our special hand crafted whisky and to make sure we make our visitors feel cosy and welcomed this winter season."

The Hot Toddy Experience begins with a hot toddy or non-alcoholic punch on arrival, a tour of the distillery and the chance to sample two tastes from The Glenturret whisky range in a new tasting area in The Famous Shop.

For more information and to book online, visit:
Added: 13 Sep 2016
‘1975 -1983’, the first full exhibition retrospective of film works by the extraordinary Scottish filmmaker John Samson opens to the public on 18th September 2016.

John Samson (1946 – 2004) only made five films during his life and, until now, these works have never been shown together in Scotland.

All of Samson’s films emerge from personal concerns with issues of class, subculture, radical politics and bohemia, and explore a diverse range of subjects, including the art of tattooing, fetishism in clothing, restoration of a locomotive and Eric Bristow and the world of competitive darts. His most acclaimed work, The Skin Horse (1983), is a ground-breaking film about sex and disability.

Despite courting controversy with his subject matter, Samson was an extremely compassionate filmmaker who never sought to exploit. He would immerse himself in his subject’s respective worlds, teasing out motivations and telling their fascinating stories with a dry yet gentle good humour.

Born in Ayrshire, as a teenager Samson moved to Paisley where he remained for the formative years of his life. At 16, Samson left school and took on an apprenticeship in the Clyde shipyards learning precision tool making in an engineering firm. Samson quickly became involved as a spokesperson in the first Glasgow apprentices’ strike, helping organise visits by Glasgow apprentices to other shipyards in England in order to demonstrate solidarity across the British Isles.

Around this time Samson began to engage with the Anarchist movement, joining the Committee of 100 and participating in a number of Nuclear Disarmament protests including Holy Loch in 1961 where he was arrested with 350 others for demonstrating against the presence of a US nuclear submarine. In 1963, upon meeting his wife Linda who was studying painting at Glasgow School of Art at the time, Samson gave up his apprenticeship and fell in with a bohemian circle that included artists, writers and musicians. He taught himself guitar, took up stills photography and by the early 70s began to make films.

A programme of screenings and talks will take place during the exhibitions run.

John Samson: ‘1975 -1983’ opens 18th September 2016 running until April 17th 2017.
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