Showing some love for Tollcross

In the beautiful city of Edinburgh, Tollcross gets a bad press. It doesn't have the sweeping georgian terraces of the New Town or the gothic grandeur of the Old Town, it doesn't even have the imposing victorian tenements and cobbled streets of nearby Marchmont and Bruntsfield. Stuck at the end of drab Lothian Road, a mish mash of largely run-down architecture, Tollcross is still my favourite neighbourhood in the Scottish capital, one I'm happy to call home. It's well-located, for a start, no more than fifteen minutes from pretty much anywhere I ever need to go, but more than this, it has a cool vibe and something approaching an edge - things that genteel Edinburgh lacks as a general rule. Tollcross is ethnically diverse, and has a brilliant range of restaurants and food stores, from Japanese to Mexican, Indian to Polish, there's always some tasty new delight on offer. It's also home to the Cameo, one of the coolest cinemas in the world, and King's Theatre. It's near to the funky vintage and second-hand shopes on West port by the College of Art - whose students mean Tollcross isn't lacking in style and creativity. And yes, maybe Tollcross is a little bit sleazy, with a handful of strip clubs and similar establishments and some more divey boozers... but it's all part of the fun. Who wants a polished gem stone when you can have something with a bit more bite?

White on blonde

My poor hair. I've wanted to go white for a while, so I just thought why not... and an hour of scalp burning later, a second layer of bleach has transformed my dried out locks into whips of white, the envy of any 80 year old. But seriously, white hair is just so hot, it looks so dramatic and suits so many things... apparently not my skin colour, but clashing is cool, right?


Polly's Scattered Goods

Polly Scattergood Polly Scattergood
Basically Little Earthquakes for the electro generation, this is one of the best albums I've heard in a while. Polly Scattergood has been given the dubious - yet prestigious - honour of being named the lovechild of Kate Bush and Bjork, but her album is much more than just a mixture of the two. Her raw, vulnerable, confessional tone and lyrics is amazing - her voice conveys emotion with a rare, touching ability - hence the Tori Amos comparison. A lot of the album is composed of mournful, relatable, insecure balladry, but it has an extra layer of electronic yumminess that lifts it above and beyond, making it both inventive and emotionally gripping. Highlights include the dramatic electro-rock out climax of the first track, 'I Hate the Way' and the upbeat electro-pop celebration of 'Bunny Club' and 'Nitrogen Pink' counterpointed by final, haunting track 'Breathe In Breathe Out.' Brilliance.

Retrograde wanderlust

I've been doing a lot of writing about Rome the past few days, which has involved a lot of thinking back to my trips there, as well as looking through my (embarassingly amateurish) photos of it. The more I think about it, the more I love it and long to be there. I can't imagine a city more amazing than Rome. Don't get me wrong, I'm not arrogant enough to assume that in the vast areas of the globe that haven't yet been graced by my presence that there aren't a million wonderful places that possibly have as-yet-unfound places in my heart, but for now, Rome to me is paradise. This may well have something to do with the typically grey, wet weather outside, but all I can think about it wondering through ancient streets surrounded by pastel coloured buildings, and the smell of freshly baked pizza and focaccia (and, yes, traffic fumes), seeing huge churches or ancient pillars looming out around a corner, sitting in the sunshine on Piazza Navona, the Campo dei Fiori or somewhere in Trastevere having a glass or four of wine... Mmm.

And in the few minutes not consecrated to dreams of the eternal city, I can't help but wish I somehow had enough money to go skiing. Grenoble may not have been my favourite place, but the sight of mountains, the possibility of skiing on fresh powder that falls away like icing sugar in the sparkling sunshine and crisp winds, all less than an hour away... just amazing.

One day.

Starting where it all began: Passion Fruit

There may have been human life before passion fruit, I'm not sure. Either way, it probably wasn't worth living. Think about it - a passion fruit has it all: it's sweet, it's juicy, it's sour, it's crunchy; and it's small enough to leave you wanting more.