Newsletter - Edinburgh Training and Conference Venue
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Newsletter

Date posted: 25 April 2017

Venue Expo 2017 Great to see you! It was great to see so many of you at Venue Expo earlier this month at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre. This was our first exhibition in Scotland and most of the team made an appearance during the day. Sam’s mini carrot cakes went down a treat with everyone and visitors were also interested to see our home-made video of the journey from Waverley Train Station to the Venue, plus a little of…...

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Date posted: 24 April 2017

Factoid No. 16 – Technical Support On Tap How frustrating is it to find you can’t get your laptop to connect to the projector, or you can’t seem to access the WIFI … and then you have to wait … and wait for someone to come and help you? We totally understand your frustration and have almost eliminated that emotion when you’re with us. It’s a good job too as these issues are so common – we typically help: –…...

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Tropical Island This ice breaker will work with groups of 5 to 10 and will help your delegates get to know each other better while having fun! If you have bigger numbers, simply split the room into groups of 5 to 10. Instructions Tell the group that tomorrow is going to be their lucky day! They are going to wake up tomorrow morning and find themselves stranded on a deserted tropical island for an indefinite period of time. They will…...

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Sam’s Secrets – Pick me Up Carrot Cupcakes This month why not try these tasty moist carrot cupcakes that I just love to make as a Springtime treat. I make mini versions as a bite-size treat for our delegates and they are a real pick me up! One day after making the ever-popular carrot and coriander soup, I had a few spare carrots left over. Rather than having them go to waste, I put together my own version of the…...

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Sumptuous Leather Bags made in Edinburgh Founded in the early 70’s, the high-quality, traditional leather workshop, MacKenzie Bags has just opened its doors right across the street from us. Would you believe that the current owner began his trade in Spain nearly 20 years ago, making his own leather goods and selling them at local markets at the tender age of 19?! Simon Harvey-Potts had taken a year out and was traveling round Europe when he met local leather artisans…...

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Power Fishing and Authentic Sushi With his father working as a chef all his life, Duty Manager Jamie Magee was inspired from a young age to follow in his footsteps, coming second in a Rotary Young Chef of the Year competition at the age of just 13! By the age of seven he was already cooking potato scones, sausages and bacon, watching his Mum carefully in the kitchen and gradually expanding his expertise and love of cooking. At school he opted…...

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Date posted: 24 January 2017

Carrot and Ginger SoupSam’s Secrets – Spicy Carrot and Ginger Soup Soup is always really popular here at the Venue and it’s great to try new combinations. A few years back I was invited to dinner at a friend’s house, also a Chef by trade, who owns several Indian Restaurants in Edinburgh. That evening he prepared the most mouth watering spiced Carrot and Ginger soup from his home town of Kottayam. I have never tried anything so delicious and warming with a hint…...

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Nicolson Tweed TeddyKilts back on the Rise in Edinburgh! Mel Gibson’s 1995 Braveheart reinvigorated the dwindling world of kilts, eventually inspiring Gordon Nicolson to open the specialist Nicolson Kiltmakers store on the Royal Mile in 2001. Since then he has not only designed several exclusive tartans, including one for the University of Edinburgh, he has also now opened the largest kiltmaking academy in Scotland … right across the street from us! And he’s had Ewan McGregor in not so long ago to…...

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Date posted: 23 January 2017

Survival Guide for WebFactoid No. 15 – FREE Survival Guide How do you know you’re choosing the right venue for your event? How do you remember to check all the details to make sure everything runs smoothly? How do you justify the decision you’ve made? We believe we’ve come up with exactly the right questions to ask to make sure you avoid the pitfalls that are just waiting to catch you! “Your Venue Booking Survival Guide” brings together 60 year’s experience of bookings,…...

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ABCABC This is a great 10 minute review/summary activity that can be used to embed the key messages during a training event, training course or team meeting. It can also generate a relaxed, fun atmosphere and so helps to re‐stimulate delegates. Instructions Split delegates into groups of three or four people. (if you only have a small number of delegates you may decide to do the activity as a full group). Issue each group with a blank sheet of flipchart…...

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Javier and Beach 2On the beach at Salou Zaragoza – Bologna – Edinburgh Zaragoza is that city that sits between Barcelona and Madrid where, according to the Lonely Planet, seeing the multi-domed Basilica de Nuestra Señora de Pilar reflected in the Río Ebro at dawn is reason alone to visit. And of course it’s warm most of the year! Kitchen Assistant Javier grew up there, enjoying your normal sports of basketball and karate during his school years and spending what sound like idyllic…...

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Date posted: 27 September 2016

wonderland-the-musical-croppedWonderland 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…...

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Date posted: 26 September 2016

caroline-1Hong 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…...

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singersSong 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. Instructions: 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,…...

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Date posted: 22 September 2016

sams-sensational-brownies-5Sam’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…...

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Date posted: 22 July 2016

Edinburgh Comedy Tour 3If 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…...

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Blue NovemberBlue 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…...

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Date posted: 16 May 2016

Sam in RestaurantSam’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…...

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Set of touchscreen smartphones isolated on white reflective backgroundFactoid 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…...

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color candySweet 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…...

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Zoonights 3Summer 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…...

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Young James with Hockey SticksGold 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…...

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Date posted: 19 February 2016

Sam in RestaurantSam’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…...

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The Dark Side 1Edinburgh’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…...

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Date posted: 16 February 2016

Rachel CanyoningDown 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…...

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Course Content BingoCourse 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. Instructions Split delegates into groups. (This activity can also be done as an individual activity if you wish). Issue each group with a blank flipchart…...

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Tower of Pegs

Date posted: 4 September 2015

Plastic Clothes PegsThis 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 Instructions: 1. Divide the participants into teams of three or four people. 2. Distribute 100 clothes pegs to each team. 3. State that their task…...

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Ghosts and Flying

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Nicoya - microlight 2From 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…...

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Autumn's Festival of Storytelling

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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…...

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Easter Science Fest

Date posted: 23 March 2015

Science-Festival-LatesIf 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! Family If you have children to entertain, the City…...

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Name that Person

Date posted: 20 March 2015

Name that PersonThis 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,…...

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Faces and Festivals

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Beth with Peter AndreWhilst 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…...

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Thoroughly Scottish

Date posted: 1 October 2014

Cranachan and Crowdie BigIf 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…...

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McDonalds and The Army!

Date posted: 29 September 2014

Stewart Laing OfficeWith 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…...

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Match the Cards

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Lady in Red with CardThis 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…...

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The Book Club

Date posted: 11 June 2014

Book ClubThis 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…...

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Bomb Shelter to Royal Warrant

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Kleen CleanersIf 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…...

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Football and Cheescake!

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Tommy McQueenWith 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…...

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A Scottish Treasure

Date posted: 12 March 2014

Carson Clark GalleryWhen 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…...

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Sunshine from Tunisia

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Sam with Olive OilOur 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…...

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I Remember

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British CoinsThis 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. Instructions 1. Delegates should each take a coin. 2. Delegates should look at the year on the coin and take a few…...

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Wear it Pink Week 2013

Date posted: 11 December 2013

Pink Week Cert 2013On 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,…...

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Pet Lambs and Bagpipes

Date posted: 9 December 2013

Sarah Hedges with sheepGrowing 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…...

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Who Am I?

Date posted: 28 November 2013

Who Am IYou’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 Instructions 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…...

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Edinburgh's Christmas - Bigger and Better

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WondergroundThis 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.…...

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Chocolate Bar

Date posted: 5 September 2013

Chocolate BarHere’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…...

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Aladdin's Cave

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Camera Obscura BuildingRanked 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…...

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South Africa and Back!

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Derryck - ShootingYou 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…...

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Shinty Boy Dan

Date posted: 9 April 2013

Shinty Boy DanBusiness 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…...

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The Twelve Days of TradFest

Date posted: 4 April 2013

Alisdair Fraser & Natalie HaasFrom 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…...

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Animal Roundup

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Animal Roundup - delegates' warm-up exerciseTry 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…...

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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…...

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Two truths and a Lie

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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…...

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Pretty Snowdrops... & Carnivorous Plants!

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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…...

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Rugby Hero to Chef!

Date posted: 6 September 2012

Chef Keith CameronYes, 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…...

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