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!
From the age of 21 Nicoya went on to spend seven years managing bars, mostly at the famously haunted White Hart in the Grass Market.
In fact The White Hart, built in 1516, is considered to be Edinburgh’s oldest bar. Everyone who worked there, including Nicoya, witnessed the same “ghost” – the lower part of a man’s legs and feet seemingly climbing stairs. Some months later a historian explained that a set of stairs taking you up to the original inn used to sit where they saw this “ghost”!
Nicoya herself featured in TV’s Most Haunted when it was filmed overnight at the pub, with bar staff, psychics, mediums and TV crew filling the space.
She also appeared on ITV news one Burns Day, because The White Hart had a lot of Robert Burns memorabilia on show … it was said that he stayed in the Inn on his visit to Edinburgh.
On top of all that, The White Hart was one of the first three bars in Scotland to begin a no-smoking ban while Nicoya was there in 2004, all adding to the extremely memorable events during her time there.
Nicoya eventually decided to have a complete change and became a receptionist in a top dental practice. Her organisational skills clearly shone through early on as she was promoted to Practice Manager after just 3 months!
She loved the implants and bone grafts performed at the clinic and trained in-house to be a Dental Nurse, subsequently helping out during surgery when needed. She says that she loved having to gown up, scrub in … and she loved the gore!
After four years, Nicoya chose a complete change once again and was delighted to join the venue here in March this year, loving the day to day variety involved in ensuring every visitor enjoys a successful event.
Outside of work Nicoya likes to think of herself as a bit of a dare devil and says she has a bit of a weird obsession with airplanes and flying. This started fifteen years ago when she completed her first solo parachute jump in Perth to raise money for Sick Kids in Edinburgh.
Last year she had a go at paragliding in Turkey and in the last twelve months she has gone up in a microlight. Nicoya says she would love to get a licence to fly by herself!
She also enjoys other challenges, having done a 56 mile walk to Glasgow seven years ago to raise money for Guide Dogs for the Blind. And every year she takes part in a 10K charity run with the whole family, raising money for PSPA.
The one thing she adds however, is that she’d love to do a parachute jump abroad so the view isn’t so grey … maybe somewhere like Australia!