Newsletter - Edinburgh Training and Conference Venue


Date posted: 27 September 2016


Wonderland comes to Edinburgh

Edinburgh will be the first city to host the multi Grammy award winning Wonderland in January, ahead of an extensive UK tour. Showing from 20th to 28th January 2017 at the Edinburgh Playhouse, following sold out seasons in Tampa, Texas and Tokyo, this is one of those iconic shows that will sell out fast … so if it’s your kind of thing, you’ll need to organise your tickets very soon!

TV and West End star Wendi Peters, much loved for her portrayal of Cilla Battersby-Brown in Coronation Street, will headline as Queen of Hearts alongside musical theatre favourite Dave Willetts. Then West End and Broadway leading lady Kerry Ellis, best known for her portrayal of Elphaba in the West End and Broadway productions of Wicked, will guest star a... Read more

Date posted: 26 September 2016


Hong Kong, Lego and Peacocks Not many of us can say we’ve trained with a national swimming team, and certainly not when that team is in Hong Kong! Account Manager Caroline Martin had certainly seen and experienced the world before coming back to school in Scotland, still only 13!

With an aircraft engineer for a father, Caroline spent the first few years of her life living in different airport cities, including Montreal, Canada (where she was born), Los Angeles and then settling in Hong Kong at the age of 6. She says Hong Kong is like Marmite, you either love it or hate it!

When she first moved there, Westerners were still an enigma, so locals regularly stared at her and touched her, mesmerised by the fair skin and blonde hair. Her mother was a swimming coach, which is h... Read more

Date posted:


Song Scramble

This fun, 10-minute energiser will certainly get your delegates moving … and singing too! It can also be adjusted to suit the age group you’re working with.


Write out the first lines from several well-known songs, but write down only one line on each piece of card. Make sure that only enough songs are used to cover the number of people present. You could also tape the songs to playback later.

Scatter the cards on the floor, upside down.

Explain that once the game begins, each person must grab a card. They must then try to find the holders of the other cards which will complete the verse or section of the song they’ve picked up.

The winning group is the first one to correctly assemble and sing their song. If you... Read more

Date posted: 22 September 2016


Sam’s Secrets – Sensational Chocolate Brownies

What is there to say about this recipe – it really speaks for itself. In my opinion you can’t go wrong with a chocolate brownie, especially this brownie. The delegates love them so much that we’ve even had requests for them to be served on the day of their event!

A tip here – the mixture should be barely warm when the eggs and flour are added. And use a bamboo skewer to test if the brownie is cooked … the skewer should feel moist if you want fudgy brownies, which is my favourite way!! If not bake the brownies for another 5 minutes or so.

When you’re done, store your brownies in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week … if you can keep them that long. Best served at... Read more

Date posted: 22 July 2016

Edinburgh Comedy Tour 3

If you Love Comedy … Edinburgh Comedy Tour is an award-winning, audio walking tour with a difference! A free app for download to smartphones or tablets, this is part Fringe play and part guided tour, led by two comedians.

Jamie MacDonald and Harry Gooch explore the history of famous Fringe venues including the Underbelly and, of course, The Stand Comedy Club in York Place … and you can enjoy it any time that suits you!

Don’t miss the Fringe daily draw for tickets to The Stand – details below

Jamie is a stand up comedian who performs live at the Fringe under the name That Funny Blind Guy.  As he is genuinely blind he loved the idea of being asked to lead a guided tour: ‘A blind guy, leading a walking tour, how’s... Read more

Date posted:

Blue November

Blue November: The Control Room

Submarine Mission comes to The Venue

The award-winning group Can You Escape will be dropping in here during the Fringe to bring you their latest challenging and immersive mission: Operation Blue November.

How would you like your team of friends, familyor colleagues to be blown away when they walk into what’s normally a meeting room and instead have to step through the porthole into an immersive submarine set?

After your mission briefing, you’ll be locked in the sub with one hour to solve a series of puzzles, challenges and activities in order to complete your objective … and escape! This brand new Crystal Maze meets Cluedo game can accommodate up to six of your team at a time.

Two of Can You... Read more

Date posted: 16 May 2016

Sam in Restaurant

Sam’s Secrets – Salmon Nicoise

I love fish and our delegates seem to share my feelings. Inspired by the South of France, the combination of flavours in this Nicoise salad are amazing. It’s a big hit with our delegates here at the Venue.

Before I give you the recipe, here’s a quick tip for the easy way to tell when fish is perfectly cooked … quite simply, put a knife into the flesh. The knife will sink straight in if it’s cooked.

Of course, if you’re cooking tuna or salmon that you want to serve medium or rare, then you’re looking for that resistance. A perfectly cooked fish will still be just a little pink in the middle.

Also season fish simply and cook it with respect. The flavor of the fish is what you want. When it comes off th... Read more

Date posted:

Set of touchscreen smartphones isolated on white reflective background

Factoid No. 13 – Wonderful WIFI!

You’ll love the wifi system now installed at the Venue, enabling 500 delegates to access the internet at the same time. That’s about twice as many people as we can take in the building!

AND 100 of them could be streaming video at the same time … although we never have quite that level of demand!

The speed offering has literally quadrupled and the nine access points around the building have created a wifi hotspot throughout the venue, so there is no corner without coverage … you can even check your email in the loos!

Some of the additional benefits …

The shared wifi is free to use and has been setup so that no one person can hog the bandwidth – everyone gets the same fair usage. Logging... Read more

Date posted:

color candy

Sweet Love!

This colourful, 20-minute icebreaker will help your delegates get to know each other in a fun and easy way. It works best when the group size is limited to 12, so if you have more than 12, divide the larger group and run the icebreaker within the smaller sized groups.

Materials Required: Sweets that include a good variety of colours like M & M’s, Skittles or Smarties. You’ll also need a whiteboard.

Set Up: Purchase several packs of sweets, enough for each person to be able to have at least five pieces. If you wish, you could put them into a bowl.


Pass around the sweets and ask each delegate to choose five sweets, but not to eat them yet. On the whiteboard, write what each colour means: Red – Favourite pla... Read more

Date posted:

Zoonights 3

Summer Nights at the Zoo!

RZSS Edinburgh Zoo has captured many headlines since the end of 2011 when giant pandas Tian Tian, “Sweetie”, and Yang Guang, “sunshine”, arrived.

Since then thousands have seen them live at the Zoo, while many more have watched them on one of the zoo’s live webcams. Actually you can also watch the penguins and squirrel monkeys on live webcams.

The zoo also has a very good rating on Trip Advisor, a comforting fact when you’re planning a day out … or in this case, a night out!

This summer, in only its second year, you can be part of the most unique event in Edinburgh at the Zoo’s after-hours Summer Nights! Running on Thursday 23rd and Thursday 30th June, you’ll have an exclusive chance to relax and unwind... Read more

Date posted:

Young James with Hockey Sticks

Gold Mining and Hockey

Born in Cannock, Event Co-ordinator James Abey was whisked away to South Africa at the tender age of three. His parents responded to a newspaper ad for jobs in gold mining, promising good prospects as well as good weather … and they took the plunge!

Since that time James has enjoyed moving between South Africa and the UK several times, managing to fit in an array of activities that include working in a chicken factory, serving dinner to Gordon Strachan, managing a flagship style store in Johannesburg’s best district …

…and a mountain of sport. There he is at the age of just 16 with his hockey stick. You just can’t see the rollerblades!

Growing up in South Africa’s sunshine, James loved taking part in sports activities prett... Read more

Date posted: 19 February 2016

Sam in Restaurant

Sam’s Secrets – Roasted Tomato and Basil Soup

A hot bowl of homemade soup has to be one of the most inviting meals on a cold day. Combine it with a slice of warm fresh bread, and you have a meal that is sure to please anyone.

A lot of restaurants use thickening agents such as cornflour or a roux to get the right consistency … Not here at the Edinburgh Training and Conference Venue! I like to pack my soups full of vegetables, giving you a tasty nutritious soup full of goodness.

My Tomato & Basil soup is always a winner with delegates. One tip I can give you is to halve your tomatoes, season with salt and pepper and drizzle with a good quality extra virgin olive oil, then roast them off in the oven with onions and garlic before adding to your so... Read more

Date posted:

The Dark Side 1

Edinburgh’s Murderers and Monsters

Cosmopolitan Magazine claimed back in 2005 that SANDEMANs had “the most charismatic and entertaining guides in the business”. This is emphatically backed up by their reviews on TripAdvisor, which ranks them Number One out of 159 Tours and Activities in Edinburgh!

So if you haven’t yet indulged in one of their walking tours, you really should consider putting it on your To Do list this year. Our very own Rachel Lane took the plunge just last week (in the rain), to learn about this Jeykll and Hyde city on their tour entitled The Dark Side. Here she picks up the story …

My tour was to begin at 6.30pm outside Starbucks, 124 High Street. It was a miserable night – dark, windy and raining, and as I sat in the coffee s... Read more

Date posted: 16 February 2016

Rachel Canyoning

Down Under and Back

There’s more to Receptionist Rachel Lane than meets the eye. With a background that’s included regular horse riding and spending three years in Australia and New Zealand, she has adventure in her blood … apart from the degree in Medical Microbiology!

Rachel has enjoyed more than her fair share of fun, with experiences including Humpback whale watching, sky diving, canyoning, bungee jumping, kayaking with seals, swimming with dolphins in the wild and tobogganing down giant sand dunes. Take a breath.

It all began … Everything began, however, in the village of Cottingham, just outside Hull, with stables just down the street. Rachel started riding over weekends at the age of 12, owning her own horse for a period of time too. She loved... Read more

Date posted:

Course Content Bingo

Course Content Bingo

This is a great activity for relaxing delegates and creating a light hearted atmosphere whilst checking that the key messages from the event are being retained. It can either be used as the event progresses or it can be used as a 15/20 minute summary activity at the end of a session.


Split delegates into groups. (This activity can also be done as an individual activity if you wish). Issue each group with a blank flipchart sheet. (or blank A4 paper for each individual). Ask each group (or individual) to create a bingo grid of 6 rows x 6 columns on their flipchart. They then need to randomly number the boxes 1 – 36 in any order they want. Tell them they also need to think of a catchphrase they will use to ‘buzz’ in. They can choos... Read more

Tower of Pegs

Date posted: 4 September 2015

Plastic Clothes Pegs

This fun and involving energiser will last between 5 and 30 minutes depending on how you use it. It can be really visually appealing too, great for ‘team’ photos and will test your delegates’ ingenuity, creativity, team working and risk taking!

Resources Needed:

100 Clothes Pegs for each team Tape measure Possibly some small prizes


1. Divide the participants into teams of three or four people.

2. Distribute 100 clothes pegs to each team.

3. State that their task is to build a free standing tower using the clothes pegs, and that the team with the highest tower will be the winner.

4. State that they will have five minutes to plan and build the tower.

5. Consider offering... Read more

Ghosts and Flying

Date posted:

Nicoya - microlight 2

From Gladiators and haunted pubs to enjoying the gore of dental surgery and the thrill of flying, Operations Manager Nicoya certainly likes to spice up her life!

Though she has lived in Edinburgh for most of her years, a spell in Inverness from the age of 5 exposed Nicoya to the delights of Highland Dancing, developing a great talent and winning many gold medals in the Highland Fling, Sword Dance & Seann Triubhas over 11 years.

And then whilst at secondary school, Nicoya spent three years with Edinburgh Athletics, training for 100M and Cross-country and coached by the famous Gladiators umpire, John Anderson. Nicoya says he regularly used his catch phrase “Gladiators … Ready” on the track … and so did his athletes!

Haunted Memories

From th... Read more

Autumn's Festival of Storytelling

Date posted:

Scottish Storytelling (Mara Menzies)

Hospitality and intercultural welcome are at the heart of the 2015 Scottish International Storytelling Festival (SSIF) – with the theme – Stories Without Borders.

Across ten event-filled days and nights from 23rd October, the SISF will assemble expert storytellers from across Scotland, Europe, the Middle East and North Africa, to celebrate oral traditions and cultural diversity.

The Art of Welcome

Storytelling is the hospitable art, and in the Scottish tradition every guest is welcome to share stories, music and song. Tuck into food and stories bursting with Scottish and Middle Eastern flavours at Open Table sessions, a fitting treat for Scotland’s Year of Food & Drink 2015. Plus there’s opportunities to see stories in all sorts of settings, f... Read more

Easter Science Fest

Date posted: 23 March 2015


If you’ve not managed to get to any of the Edinburgh International Science Festival’s events over the last 26 years (yes it’s been going that long), perhaps this Easter is the time to change that.

With a dizzying array of over 250 different demonstrations, sensational shows, exhibitions, talks and even parties that you can participate in, for both adults and children, you cannot fail to find a nugget that will appeal!


If you have children to entertain, the City Art Centre is a draw for the whole family, full of the unique, immersive workshop experiences that the Science Festival is famous for, while the Summerhall stages are bursting with some of the best science performers from around the world as well as technical workshops for older children.

To... Read more

Name that Person

Date posted: 20 March 2015

Name that Person

This 15-20 minute ice-breaker is great fun and will get your delegates engaged in no time. It will work best with numbers of eight to twelve though could easily be adjusted if your numbers are larger or smaller.

1. Divide your group into two teams, A & B, and give every person a blank piece of card.

2. Ask everyone, including yourself, to write five little known facts about themselves on their card, for example, I have a pet iguana, I was born in Iceland, my favourite food is spinach, my grandmother is called Doris and my favourite colour is vermillion.

3. Collect the cards into two team piles and then draw one card from Team A’s pile.

4. Read out the clues one by one, giving Team B the opportunity to guess whose card you’re reading out. Of co... Read more

Faces and Festivals

Date posted:

Beth with Peter Andre

Whilst not a wild child when growing up in Markinch, Event Coordinator Beth certainly had her fair share of fun (and hard work!) before she joined us, travelling all over the UK to serve pizza at music festivals and also developing a fine skill in Spiderman face painting!

Having got the theory with both Business Management and Event Management qualifications at Fife College, Beth has also enjoyed extensive exposure to the world of events through some of those jobs that most of us would fancy having a go at!

In fact part of her HND involved creating and managing events, including taking on comedians, singers and dancers for a showcase evening at Pettycur Bay for Yorkhill children’s hospital. She also orchestrated a Great Gatsby Ball for the final year students and tut... Read more

Thoroughly Scottish

Date posted: 1 October 2014

Cranachan and Crowdie Big

If you love your food, you’ve probably tasted some of the award-winning Scottish produce from Cranachan and Crowdie on Canongate already. Where else can you select from 18 different kinds of oat cake and 12 different brands of Scottish cheese?!

And where else will you find chocolate, hand-made on the southern shore of Loch Tay, and infused with foraged local ingredients like Scots Pine? Or Mojito Marmalade, made with 10% rum and great on toast as well as combined with a salsa or marinaded with fish?

Shouting out to global visitors on behalf of Scottish producers, owners Beth and Fiona stock a massive variety of Scottish food … in fact if it’s not produced in Scotland, you won’t find it in the shop. And they have tasted every single product they supply s... Read more

McDonalds and The Army!

Date posted: 29 September 2014

Stewart Laing Office

With both parents in the army, you can be sure that Event Coordinator Stewart learnt the art of discipline while growing up, as well as how to keep a bedroom very, very clean! In fact with his Grandad also in the army and his uncle in the Military Police, it’s no surprise that Stewart was keen to pursue the same career … until his ankle injury.

Still only 20 years old, though, and Stewart has already climbed Ben Nevis and has an eight-month old boy called Sean!

He clearly has a lot of energy and he demonstrated that from an early age, playing just about every sport available at and for school, including football, tennis, basketball and even a little bit of American football! He played as a Flanker for Livingston Rugby Club between the ages of 8 and 18 as we... Read more

Match the Cards

Date posted:

Lady in Red with Card

This simple, and sometimes loud, 10 minute game can be played in a number of ways to get your delegates alert and energized. You’ll just need to choose some well known phrases in advance and write half of each phrase on a piece of paper or card.

One example would be to write Sacred on one card and Cow on another, or Happy on one card and Birthday on another. For a longer or more challenging game, select longer or less well known phrases and split them across three or four pieces of paper, e.g. The pen is mightier than the sword.

If there are well known phrases that link with your course subject, build those in too.

Game 1: Better with larger groups of 10 or more

Using just two cards for each phrase, make sure that the number of cards matches the number of... Read more

The Book Club

Date posted: 11 June 2014

Book Club

This is a fantastic trend to enhance learning consolidation, taking the norm of training manuals and training resources and stretching it to another level. It requires stretching too from all stakeholders involved in the training!

The trend begins at providing delegates with books to back up and extend the learning experience, and goes on to include discussion meetings and even a book club in the workplace, magnifying the knowledge gained in training.

Here are some pointers …

1. Determine if delegates are interested in a book club – reading a recommended book in their own time and then meeting at lunch once a week to discuss the book.

2. Get the employer to buy the books – one per person rather than sharing so your delegates feel unpressured as... Read more

Bomb Shelter to Royal Warrant

Date posted:

Kleen Cleaners

If you should ever need to find a bomb shelter while you’re visiting us, you’ll be pleased to know that Kleen Cleaners, just a couple of doors up, has one in their basement!

Indeed their bomb shelter was used by many during the Second World War whilst air raids dragged on overhead. Thank goodness there were no direct hits and we can still enjoy the wonderful architecture with its turrets and crenellated roof tops from the 1860’s.

The oldest, independent dry cleaner in Edinburgh, and one of the oldest shops in the street, Kleen Cleaners was first opened by a Mrs Watson in 1947. In those days dry cleaning was wrapped in brown paper and tied up with white string before being handed back to its owners.

St Mary’s Street, 1984Read more

Football and Cheescake!

Date posted:

Tommy McQueen

With his Dad, Tommy McQueen, working as a professional footballer it’s not surprising that Account Manager Matthew moved about during his early childhood. That included coming into the world in Chelmsford while his Dad enjoyed a spell with West Ham, before moving back to Scotland just a few months later.

Tommy enjoyed a successful career, even winning the title of Medallion Man by the early 90‘s, as a result of winning each of the three Scottish leagues with three different teams … Clyde, Aberdeen – under Sir Alex Ferguson – and then Falkirk.

In spite of his Dad’s career Matthew didn’t only play football, competing well in sword fencing as well as achieving his Bronze and Silver Duke of Edinburgh awards. The awards were not without their d... Read more

A Scottish Treasure

Date posted: 12 March 2014

Carson Clark Gallery

When you visit Carson Clark Gallery just opposite our venue,  you step into a world unique across the whole of Scotland. The nation’s biggest dealer of specialist maps and prints, Carson Clark stock over 20,000 antique maps from around the world, many created as far back as the 16th Century, and with a strong emphasis on the land of Scotland.

It’s impossible to leave the Gallery without learning something about the geography of Edinburgh, Scotland and indeed the world, as well as something about the history of map making and printing. One great example is that French map makers typically omitted any part of the world not yet visited by a French national! Indeed Paul Clark, the son of founder Carson Clark, has appeared on television and in various newspaper articles,... Read more

Sunshine from Tunisia

Date posted:

Sam with Olive Oil

Our new Head Chef, Sam, is already making a splash, combining the best of Scottish cuisine, with a range of dishes  from around the world. Born and brought up in Edinburgh but with a Tunisian heritage, Sam has gained cooking experience with so many different cuisines, it’s no wonder he’s got such a broad repertoire!

Both Sam’s parents are from the north of Tunisia and although they’ve been here for many years, they still maintain their own olive farm back home in Jendouba, with around 500 olive trees. Every year Sam’s family pick their own olives, even producing their own extra virgin olive oil on-site! He says the difference between his family oil and shop bought oil is like night and day!

While growing up in Edinburgh, Sam was inspired to cook... Read more

I Remember

Date posted:

British Coins

This easy, 15-20 minute ice breaker will work well for any size of group, even if your group know each other relatively well already. You just need enough coins for each delegate to have one, ensuring there is a good distribution of dates minted amongst them. You could also give a prize to the winner if you like.


1. Delegates should each take a coin.

2. Delegates should look at the year on the coin and take a few minutes to think about what they were doing when that coin was minted. Were they in school? Were they a child? Where did they work? Were they married? Where did they live? What was going on in their life at that time? What was the music of the day?

3. When they’re ready, they need to find someone with a coin that was minted at least t... Read more

Wear it Pink Week 2013

Date posted: 11 December 2013

Pink Week Cert 2013

On the 25th of October 2013 it was “Wear it Pink Day”. A day in which, nationwide, people wear pink to raise money to aid the fight against Breast Cancer.

Here at the Edinburgh Training and Conference Venue we went the extra mile, and held a “Wear it Pink Week” between the 21st and 27th of October 2013. We matched all donations received, doubling the amount of money raised.

Everyone was wearing pink – whether it was a shirt, tie, shoes, hairclips and so on. We would like to say a huge thank you to everyone who took part in this, helping us raise a massive £256, which needless to say will go a long way in helping continue the fight against Breast Cancer.

We’re already looking forward to next years Wear it Pink Week!

... Read more

Pet Lambs and Bagpipes

Date posted: 9 December 2013

Sarah Hedges with sheep

Growing up on a farm at just about the furthest tip of the North-West Highlands (there she is with one of the sheep), winning the Royal National MOD female solo bagpiper at the age of just 13 whilst simultaneously settling into boarding school 65 miles from home because there was no high school in her home town! Oh and add to that survival in the recruitment industry for 10 years!

We’ll bet you never knew that Account Manager Sarah had such a colourful life!

With her childhood spent right up in Kinlochbervie, Sarah was regularly helping on the family farm and school holidays were varied but busy – lambing in the spring, potato picking in the autumn, calving throughout the year … and collecting eggs every day!

During lambing, Sarah was usually w... Read more

Who Am I?

Date posted: 28 November 2013

Who Am I

You’ll know this simple, fun energiser already, but when did you last use it in a training room? Great for larger groups of 8 or more, this 15-minute game requires virtually no props and and plays out according to very specific, easily explained rules.

Things You’ll Need:

1. Pen 2. Stick-on labels


1. Pick a famous name for each person playing, writing it on a stick-on label. Don’t let any of the players see the names until the game starts. The names can represent celebrities, animated characters, storybook characters, historical figures or political personalities.

If your event lends itself to a theme, you could tie the chosen names to that theme. For instance, if it’s leadership training, use famous leaders past and present. There are... Read more

Edinburgh's Christmas - Bigger and Better

Date posted:


This year, Edinburgh’s Christmas will be bigger and more beautiful than ever. Spread across East Princes Street Gardens and St Andrew Square, Edinburgh’s Christmas will feature dozens of attractions and shows, and will continue from 22nd November to 5th January.

The much-loved markets will return, and this year as well as the European Christmas Market, there’s a Scottish Food and Drink Market and a Children’s Market for the little ones, featuring workshops from card-making to designing your own gingerbread man.

A beautiful Spiegeltent in St Andrew Square will host critically-acclaimed circus sensation LIMBO. Fresh from rave reviews in London and Australia, LIMBO mixes live music, circus, dance and illusions and is guaranteed to heat up Edinburgh this Ch... Read more

Chocolate Bar

Date posted: 5 September 2013

Chocolate Bar

Here’s a delicious idea for making your training more sticky, quite literally!

Place a bunch of chocolate bars on each table at the end of the day and choose bars whose names can be used in a sentence. These could include Picnic, Topic, Wispa, Boost, Dream, Drifter and Bounty to name a few.

Ask each person to take one and share with the group how their choice relates to the training they have just finished. They could say …

“My job will be a Picnic now that I know how to …” “I’ll be able to get more Bounty now that I can …” “I’m glad we’ve covered the Topic of X because I will now be able to …”



Of course you could make this a healthier activity by choosing a variety of fruits!

“... Read more

Aladdin's Cave

Date posted:

Camera Obscura Building

Ranked number two in TripAdvisor’s Top 10 UK Landmarks, Camera Obscura and World of Illusions has a rating of 4.56 from 2,870 reviews!

A Travellers Choice winner for 2013 too, if you’ve not visited for a while or indeed you’ve never been, you should consider it now!

Just a stone’s throw from Edinburgh Castle, it’s the capital’s oldest, purpose-built visitor attraction, amazing visitors with its optical illusions and breathtaking views since it was founded on Calton Hill in 1835.

160 years ago this year, in 1853, the attraction moved to its current site, high on Castlehill.

The Camera Obscura

The building offers some of the most stunning views of Edinburgh from its 360 degree rooftop terrace perched above the Old Town, with powerful telesco... Read more

South Africa and Back!

Date posted:

Derryck - Shooting

You might have believed that our General Manager, Derryck, was South African through and through … actually he was born right here in Edinburgh!

Fair enough though, he did live in South Africa for some twenty years from the age of four! And there he is receiving a shooting trophy at the age of 11.

An electrician, his Dad wanted to be part of the coal mining boom that was taking place in South Africa, so moved the family there in 1984. Their home at Ermelo was within 75 miles of some 25 mines and his Dad worked in quite a number of those over 15 years.

By the time Derryck had completed a degree in Marketing and Business Management, his Dad was running a mining supply business and Derryck worked with him there for three years. He ended up buying and sell... Read more

Shinty Boy Dan

Date posted: 9 April 2013

Shinty Boy Dan

Business Development Manager Dan Shipman will not forget his shinty days on Skye in a hurry, suffering a facial injury in his final match that left him with a broken nose AND in need of stitches! Here he is at the tender age of thirteen with one of his many trophies – this one for being made player of the tournament in a Skye Cup competition.

Growing up on the island, Dan’s speed and agility on the pitch made him the perfect buckshee back, not only for his school but for Skye and Lochalsh. He travelled all over Scotland to compete for both teams over six years, fitting in weekly football matches at the same time!

Dan then embarked unwittingly on a service based career, developing a passion for customer service first in the retail industry. That passion foll... Read more

The Twelve Days of TradFest

Date posted: 4 April 2013

Alisdair Fraser & Natalie Haas

From 24th April to 6th May, Edinburgh will once again play host to a new festival: TradFest. This extravaganza brings to the city twelve days of music, song, storytelling, dance, craft, folk drama and environmental celebrations for Mayday/Beltane!

There are performances and workshops, dances and exhibitions, walks and talks … in all, 82 events will take place at both indoor and outdoor venues including Greyfriars Kirk, Arthurs Seat, Calton Hill and Portobello Promenade.

There really is a huge range of events taking place!

TradFest has been inspired by the traditional arts of Scotland and promises entertainment for all the family, while showcasing homegrown Scots and Gaelic talent alongside artists from across the world.

The History

From... Read more

Animal Roundup

Date posted:

Animal Roundup - delegates' warm-up exercise

Try this loud, fun and slightly chaotic exercise when your delegates need energizing … you need just 10 minutes, a group of up to 50 people and NO materials or preparation!

1. Tell group members to silently think of their favorite animal. 2. Then tell group members that, without talking, they need to arrange themselves from largest to smallest animals. 3.  Group members can only make gestures and the noise of their animal. 4. After they have finished, have group members go around and say the animal they were supposed to be to see if it was accurate.

You should see order and unity gradually taking over the noise and chaos!

If you have more than 20 delegates you could split the group in two and turn the exercise into a competition. Both teams would need to b... Read more

Madrid to Edinburgh

Date posted: 15 January 2013

Juan, the Edinburgh Training & Conference Venue's restaurant manager.

Restaurant Manager Juan is as Spanish as you could be, despite living in Edinburgh for 34 years! Here he is in the 70’s, in full costume, performing at Madrid’s answer to the Edinburgh Festival– the El Madri Castizo!

He has truly seen life, having completed his National Service in Spain under General Franco, working the staging and lighting in theatre and subsequently learning to cook Tapas in the bars of Madrid – a must-have skill for a waiter there!

In 1978, at the age of 28, Juan married a professional dancer from Edinburgh and made the move here.  And thank goodness for that as he’s brightened up the city ever since, working in a wide variety of hospitality roles.

Many of you will have known him as manager of Parador Tapas in William Street, b... Read more

Two truths and a Lie

Date posted:

Two truths and a lie ice-breaker.

This 15-minute ice-breaker will certainly generate a few laughs and reveal some interesting facts about your delegates! It’s also one of those games that everyone feels comfortable joining in and works best with small groups of up to ten people.

Give all the participants five minutes to write down two truths and one lie about themselves. Suggest that they make the lie believable and create some red herrings with unusual truths. Also they should write the truths and lie in a random order. Choose who will start the game and ask that person to read out their three statements. Then ask the person to read them out again, and get the rest of the group to guess which statement they think is a lie. Ask the person to reveal which of their statements is the lie. Everyone who voted... Read more

Pretty Snowdrops... & Carnivorous Plants!

Date posted:

Carnivorous Plants at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Edinburgh.

Yes, this February you can view 82 different types of snowdrops AND view a collection of carnivorous plants on the same day!

Surely you can only see such a diverse contrast of flora at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE), as part of this year’s Scottish Snowdrop Festival, organised by VisitScotland and the Garden’s own phenomenal Glasshouses.

Guided Snowdrop Walks

Each Friday, Saturday and Sunday between 8 and 24 February, garden guides will lead tours to show visitors 82 different types of snowdrops, including some rare varieties, and other early flowering plants that herald the start of spring.

The walks begin from the John Hope Gateway, Arboretum Place, at 11am and the cost is £5. They are suitable for ages 14 years and over. Booking ad... Read more

Rugby Hero to Chef!

Date posted: 6 September 2012

Chef Keith Cameron

Yes, our very own chef Keith Cameron was a rugby star in his youth, quickly progressing from school rugby for Trinity Academy (aged 12, he's the one in the middle at the back), to club rugby in Edinburgh and then onto the honour of representing Scotland.

In fact, he was playing for the Scotland Under 18's when only 14, such was his strength and power as a prop forward! Bad luck then hit when he suffered a broken shin and despite going back into training after a year's recovery, his shin could no longer stand up to the pressures of the scrum.

So Keith was forced into retirement at just 15, missing out on the opportunity of an international career. Not that he had been relying on that, having already started training to be a chef from the age of 12!<... Read more