Fabulous February

January seemed to last forever what with FIVE Mondays and TWO full moons.

Thankfully, the shortest month is finally here and it’s going to be great!  Here’s why:

  • From 1st February, to celebrate the Year of Young People 2018, Historic Environment Scotland (HES) will be lowering drawbridges and opening gates to young people at historic sites across the country for the low price of £1 when presenting a Young Scot Card.
  • Throughout the month, Preston Lodge High School is having a ban on sugary drinks.  Look out for #ProudToBeFizzFree on Twitter.
  • Kitten Kaboodle is offering new customers in East Lothian 10% off their first cat sitting session until 11 Feb (quote “kitten” when you book).  Spaces are limited, so contact them now!
  • 1st of February is Time to Talk Day – a chance for all of us to be more open about mental health – to talk, to listen, to change lives.  Take a look at the Conversation Starter (pdf).
  • Life is nicer when you’re kind.  In February two years ago, a mystery person left cash to pay for a parking fine while the car owner was in Edinburgh’s Sick Kids. The recipient was so moved by this act of kindness that they paid the favour forward with a fundraising drive for the hospital.  That’s how kindness works, like a ripple in a pond.  Stuck for ideas?  Look here >> https://www.randomactsofkindness.org/kindness-ideas
  • Schools in East Lothian break up for half term on Friday 9th, returning Tuesday 20th.
  • 16th February marks Chinese New Year.  This year (along with 1922, 1934, 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994 & 2006) is Year of the Dog.  Click here for a review of The 10 Best Chinese Restaurants in East Lothian
  • The launch of new Pride for East Lothian takes place at Cockenzie House and Garden, on Saturday, February 17 from 11am – 7pm as part of LGBT History Month.
  • Shepherd House, Inveresk, will be part of The Snowdrop Festival on 24th and 25th February from 11 – 4 pm.  It will also be open 13th February – 6th March on Tuesdays & Thursdays from 2-4pm.
  • From 25th February, there will be improvements to East Coast bus services including additional services on the 107 (renumbered as X7) at peak times; the extension of the 106 service to Fort Kinnaird; and the introduction of the N113 NightHawk service to Ormiston.

As always there will be lots to see and do in the county.  Take a look through these East Lothian events:


Got something you want to share?  Get in touch

It’s going to be a braw January!

Happy New Year from Loopy Towers!

We’ve finally packed away the Christmas tree, eaten the last mince pie and already broken a few resolutions.

2017 – the Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology – flew by, and seems to have re-generated into the Year of Young People quicker than Peter Capaldi turned into Jodie Whittaker.

On 30th December, 17, 000 torchbearers processed from Edinburgh city centre to Holyrood Park to spell out “#BRAW” herald the forthcoming #YOYP2018

In these still short, dark, dreich days of January, it can be hard to imagine anything being braw but there’s much to look forward to…


If you don’t like change, you’ll appreciate the return to normal opening hours, TV schedules, refuse collection and regular public transport timetables.

Keep Calm and Coory Doon

The cold weather is an excellent excuse for wearing big jumpers, watching old movies, curling up with a good book and getting snuggly on the sofa.  If you’re looking for that ‘hygge’ feeling beyond your own home, we hear that Zanzibar in North Berwick has very good hot chocolate while the Tyninghame Smithy is the cosiest place in East Lothian and The Bothy at East Saltoun even supplies blankets!

Recycling old Christmas cards

Cards with glitter and/or foil can’t be recycled so why not send the front half of these to Women in Prison, Elmfield House, 5 Stockwell Mews, London SW9 9GX.  Next December, female prisoners will be able to make cards for their children and families.


The only thing better than bagging a bargain in the January sales is bagging a local bargain so support local independent business such as Secret Boutique (formerly The Merry-Go-Round) in Gullane.

Prefer online shopping? Both Ardmoor country clothing and The Nordic Edit Scandinavian interiors are run by East Lothian based folk.

Dunbar-based cruised holiday business gocruiseandstay.com has a Buy One, Get One Half price deal on cruises booked between now and 5th March.

Unusual visitors

No, we’re not talking about the human variety, frankly, we’ve had enough of them over the festive period.  Keep an eye out for snow buntings and waxwings and follow @birdinglothian for sightings.

The Sky at Night

January’s clear skies are great for stargazing and on the 31st you will be able to see the second full supermoon of the month.

Thank You Cards

Everyone loves receiving ‘real’ mail don’t they? This year, ditch the texts and emails and help bring back the lost art of handwritten thank you notes.  If nothing else, it will be good practice for National Handwriting Day on 23rd January.

Do Good, Give Blood

According to Action For Happiness, our generosity is hard-wired to the reward mechanisms in our brains. When we give our time, energy and kindness to others it not only helps them, it’s also great for our wellbeing too.

They have produced a Happy New Year Calendar of suggested actions to help you be happier yourself – and bring more happiness to others too.

If you are able, why not make one of your actions to donate blood?  SNBTS aims to retain 6 days of stocks at any time in order to meet the requirements of patients in Scotland.  On 3rd January, levels of A- blood type were considerably below that.

During January, you can give blood at donor sessions in Longniddry (11th), Tranent (14th) and Haddington (17th) – see more details here.

#YOYP2018 takeover over of @LothianLoop

We’re looking for young people with an East Lothian connection to take turns tweeting from @lothianloop.

We’re working out the mechanics of this and, like a new Doctor Who, we don’t know what it doing to be like but we’re sure it’ll be braw…

In the meantime, if you wish to register your interest or have any ideas please get in touch.

Queen Margaret University to stage November Community Forum

People living in the surrounding communities of East Lothian and Edinburgh are invited to Queen Margaret University (QMU) to get an insight into the institution’s work.

QMU will host its Community Forum of this year at its Musselburgh campus in East Lothian on Monday 21st November from 6.30pm – 7.45pm. The QMU Community Forum brings together university staff, local residents, businesses, organisations, schools and council representatives twice a year to discuss university and local community issues.

Local people will have the opportunity to ask questions about the University and find out how it works with the community through its students, staff, commercial work and widening participation initiatives.

Speakers at the event will include Professor Chris McVittie, Director of the Centre for Applied Social Sciences, who will discuss student participation in QMU’s Volunteering and Community Engagement module.

Professor Petra Wend, Principal of Queen Margaret University, said: “The QMU Community Forum creates a link between local people in and around East Lothian, Edinburgh and the University and is part of our community engagement strategy. The event attracts interest from local residents, councillors and representatives from community groups and offers an excellent platform for local information exchange. It also provides an insight into how the university’s students and staff contribute to the community and opportunities for local people to engage in our activities such as public events, open days, drama projects and community/outreach initiatives.”

QMU is open to the local community throughout the year, providing a range of public facilities, including learning resources, gym and sports centre, café, restaurant and grounds for leisure activities and dog-walking. Local residents should keep a close eye on QMU’s Facebook and Twitter channels which often promote opportunities for the community to engage with the university through public events and research projects.

For more information and to register for the QMU Community Forum, contact Lynne Russell, Communications Manager, Marketing & Communications Office, QMU, T: 0131 474 0000, E: lrussell@qmu.ac.uk

Original Seabird Centre architects to work on National Marine Centre project

Conservation and education charity, the Scottish Seabird Centre, North Berwick, announces the appointment of Simpson & Brown Architects for the National Marine Centre project.

The Simpson & Brown team worked on the original, award-winning Scottish Seabird Centre building which opened to the public in May 2000. The Seabird Centre has become a very popular landmark building and has won several architectural and sustainability awards.

Photo  Phil Wilkinson  info@philwilkinson.net
Photo info@philwilkinson.net

The success of the Seabird Centre led to Simpson & Brown being appointed to design other visitor attractions. Over the last 16 years they have worked on, and won awards for, a range of high profile visitor-related projects including the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum, the Dawyck Gateway at the Royal Botanic Gardens, the Arbroath Abbey Visitor Centre, York Art Gallery and, most recently, Rievaulx Abbey Visitor Centre and Museum to name but a few. They also designed the Scottish Ornithologists’ Club building at Aberlady.

With over 38 years’ experience, Simpson & Brown specialise in conservation projects, creative adaption of existing buildings and the design of environmentally-sound initiatives. The project team will be led by Partner, Andy Davey, with Partner, Susan Whittle and Associate, Jenny Phillips.

Andy Davey, Partner at Simpson & Brown Architects, said: “Our team is delighted to be involved with the National Marine Centre Project. We are immensely proud of the Seabird Centre building and believe we are ideally placed to develop and strengthen the design to make it even more inspirational as well as functional for visitors and staff.

“Our work focuses on respecting the past and responding to the challenges for the future, particularly with regards to environmentally sound, sustainable design. As these aspects will be a core focus for the National Marine Centre project we look forward to researching, consulting and developing the designs in partnership with the Seabird Centre team and key stakeholders.”

Grace Martin, Project Director for the National Marine Centre, said: “We are thrilled to be working with Simpson & Brown. Andy and his team have a very strong association with the current building and a wealth of experience in visitor attractions, sustainability and sympathetic design.

“It is still very early days with the project and we are currently in a period of public consultation. Going forward, Simpson & Brown will be keen to engage with visitors and non-visitors alike to help them identify how best to enhance the existing, iconic Seabird Centre building”.

The aim of the National Marine Centre is to help people discover more about our amazing marine environment and wildlife – life above and below the waves – including seabirds. It will present the opportunity for the Centre to achieve more of its charitable objectives by expanding and diversifying its education and conservation programmes, developing new activities and events, and enhancing the exhibition space. The National Marine Centre is the working title for this innovative project.

The public survey for the project is currently still open, closing on Monday 7 November: https://www.seabird.org/national-marine-centre/your-say/43/231


East Coast Buses has announced timetable and fare information as part of its package to rescue key services in East Lothian.

A wholly-owned subsidiary and part of the Lothian Buses family of companies, the operator is set to introduce new routes in addition to the continuation of existing commercial and school provisions.

The company will commence operations on Sunday 14 August with key routes connecting North Berwick with Musselburgh and Edinburgh, and Dunbar with Haddington and Edinburgh.

East Coast Buses’ fare structure will be based on a simple and customer-friendly zonal system. Along with single fares the company is offering three Dayticket options for passengers. The county Day Ticket provides passengers with unlimited travel across the network, excluding the city zone, for £5, while the countyPLUS Day Ticket will allow unlimited access across all East Coast Buses services in all zones for just £7.50.

MANDATORY CREDIT: PIC - ROB MCDOUGALL www.RobMcDougall.com 07856222103 info@robmcdougall.com

East Coast Buses is also introducing a Network Day Ticket, which will allow East Coast Buses passengers access to all Lothian Buses day services, Airlink and Edinburgh Tram services at just £9 for the day.

Operating from Musselburgh and North Berwick Depots, the fleet of 34 newly liveried and refurbished vehicles will provide a high quality, reliable and comfortable service for bus travellers within East Lothian and into Edinburgh.

The East Coast Buses team will be on hand at special events across the new network showcasing the new vehicles prior to commencing operational service. Events will take place on Saturday 6 August in Haddington and Dunbar and Saturday 13 August in North Berwick. Passengers will have the opportunity to find out more information about timetables and fares and to collect a free day ticket for use on the East Coast Buses routes.

Richard Hall, Managing Director of Lothian Buses, said: “These new routes will ensure that residents, workers and businesses across East Lothian will continue to enjoy reliable transport links that support their daily travel needs. We are looking forward to welcoming members of local communities aboard on the launch date and to becoming an important part of the local economy, as well as attracting new customers to the network of services that we will be providing across East Lothian and into Edinburgh.”

Iain Gray, MSP for East Lothian said: “I am very pleased to welcome East Coast Buses’ new services to East Lothian.  Their initiative has secured bus services vital to many of our towns and villages, but also saved dozens of jobs and the depots in Musselburgh and North Berwick.  The last time Lothian Buses stepped in when another operator walked away from the County they introduced the 113 service which has just been voted best in Scotland, so I think my constituents have every reason to look forward to enjoying a reliable, responsive, high quality service from East Coast Buses.”

Humza Yousaf, Minister for Transport and the Islands said: “The forthcoming start of East Coast Buses operations is great for local communities in terms of securing employment prospects and the ongoing provision of vital bus services.  This is a good news story and I also welcome the announcement of the new timetable and the use of environmentally friendly buses.”

Councillor Michael Veitch, Transport spokesperson, East Lothian Council, said: I am delighted to welcome East Coast Buses to East Lothian. The imminent commencement of these new services represents a hugely significant boost to public transport in the county, and I’m sure that local bus users will be as excited as I am about it.”

Full timetable information will be available at: https://eastcoastbuses.co.uk/

East Coast Buses Ltd will introduce the following services from 14 August 2016:

  • 107 – New 60 minute timetable introduced on all days running (30 minute Mon-Fri peak). Buses run West End, Meadowbank, The Jewel, A1, Haddington and East Linton to Dunbar. This part-replaces First Service X6/106.
  • 124/X24 – New 30 minute timetable introduced Monday to Saturday and 60 minute on Sundays. Buses run Semple Street, Meadowbank, Portobello, Musselburgh, Prestonpans, Longniddry, Aberlady, Gullane and Dirleton to North Berwick. 3 x morning and afternoon buses run Limited Stop as X24. This part-replaces First Bus 124/X24.
  • The following commercial and school services will be continued:
    • 124 – 1x morning and 1x afternoon journey between Longniddry and Preston Lodge HS.
    • 125 – 2x morning and 2x afternoon journeys between Musselburgh and North Berwick HS.
    • 126 – 1x morning and 1x afternoon journey between Aberlady and North Berwick HS.
    • 127 – 1x morning and 1x afternoon journey between Longniddry and North Berwick HS.


East Coast Buses Fare & Timetable Info

What will the fares be?

The EastCoastbuses network is split up into zones – with tickets available for both single-zone and multi-zone journeys.



Single tickets

Travel in 1 zone or 2 zones (if it includes city zone a)
Adult: £1.60
Child: £0.80

Travel in 2 or 3 zones
Adult: £2.60
Child: £1.30

Travel in 4 zones
Adult: £3.60
Child: £1.80

Travel in 5 zones
Adult: £4.60
Child: £2.30

Travel in 6 zones
Adult: £5.60
Child: £2.80

Adult single tickets are also available in the Transport for Edinburgh m-ticket app
county Day Ticket

(unlimited travel for one day in zones b-f on EastCoastbuses / Lothian Country Buses only)
Adult: £5.00
Child: £2.50
Family (up to 2 adults and 3 children): £12.00
countyPLUS Day Ticket

(unlimited travel for one day in zones a-f on EastCoastbuses / Lothian Country Buses only)
Adult: £7.50
Child: £3.50
Family (up to 2 adults and 3 children): £18.00
Network Day Ticket

(unlimited travel for one day in all zones on EastCoastbuses Lothian Country Buses, Lothian Buses day services, Airlink & Edinburgh Trams only)
Adult: £9.00
Child: £4.50

Please have the correct money ready as we cannot give change.

Adult Day & Family Tickets are available in the Transport for Edinburgh m-ticket app

Eligible Scottish National Entitlement Card holders travel free

When will my bus arrive?

Service 107

Dunbar – East Linton – Haddington – Edinburgh
hourly, 7 days per week (every 30 mins Mon-Fri at peak times)

First departure from Dunbar at 0555
First departure from Edinburgh to Dunbar at 0715
Last bus from Edinburgh to Dunbar at 2244
Last bus from Dunbar to Edinburgh at 2115
Last bus from Dunbar to Haddington at 2359

First departure from Dunbar at 0655
First departure from Edinburgh to Dunbar at 0740
Last bus from Edinburgh to Dunbar at 2244
Last bus from Dunbar to Edinburgh at 2115
Last bus from Dunbar to Haddington at 2359

First departure from Dunbar at 0743
First departure from Edinburgh to Dunbar at 0820
Last bus from Edinburgh to Dunbar at 2244
Last bus from Dunbar to Edinburgh at 2115
Last bus from Dunbar to Haddington at 2359

Service 124/X24

North Berwick – Gullane – Aberlady – Longniddry – Musselburgh – Edinburgh
Every 30 mins Monday-Saturday (every hour evenings and Sundays)

First departure from North Berwick at 0547
First departure from Edinburgh to North Berwick at 0726
Last bus from Edinburgh to North Berwick at 2328
Last bus from North Berwick to Edinburgh at 2155
Last bus from North Berwick to Musselburgh at 2305

First departure from North Berwick at 0623
First departure from Edinburgh to North Berwick at 0802
Last bus from Edinburgh to North Berwick at 2328
Last bus from North Berwick to Edinburgh at 2155
Last bus from North Berwick to Musselburgh at 2305

First departure from North Berwick at 0719
First departure from Edinburgh to North Berwick at 0902
Last bus from Edinburgh to North Berwick at 2328
Last bus from North Berwick to Edinburgh at 2155
Last bus from North Berwick to Musselburgh at 2305

Download the full timetable

Visit East Lothian…by Public Transport!

I love East Lothian but there are parts of the county I haven’t visited because I don’t have a car and public transport can be patchy.

Recently, I was in Waverley station and noticed a Visit East Lothian banner prominently displayed at Platform 4 and I found myself pondering how many visitors to Edinburgh take the train east.

Visit East Lothian has recently produced a TV advert showcasing the county’s attractions – but how easy are they to get to on bus or train?

First to appear in the STV advert is Foxlake Adventures which looks brilliant fun but I haven’t been as I’ve always presumed it would be difficult for me to get to.  The Foxlake website has detailed instructions for reaching the award-winning activity centre by road but no mention of public transport.  So, imagining I’m a car-less visitor to Edinburgh, how do I get there?

The quickest way is to get a train to Dunbar (20 mins), walk to the bus stop, get an Eve’s Coaches 120 bus (10mins) ask the driver to let you off opposite Tynefield and walk the remaining 6 minutes.  Alternatively, you can get the Perryman’s 253 service all the way from Edinburgh and as before, getting off at Tynefield and walking.  VERDICT: Let the train take the strain.

Next up is the John Gray Centre, Haddington, home to a library, museum and the Council archives.  The website has a helpful How to find us page which lists ‘by car’ first, then public transport and finally, cycling.

For the quickest journey, take the Perryman’s 253 (39 minutes).  Alternatively you could take the Lothian Country Bus 104 (51 minutes).  FirstBus currently run both the X8 and X6 services but are scheduled to cease all East Lothian operations in August.  VERDICT: Take the bus

The National Museum of Flight is a great place to visit and their website clearly details the many ways to reach East Fortune (bus, train, bicycle, car – in that order!).

A journey combining train and bus usually takes just over an hour but if you travel on a Saturday when trains are more frequent, you might be lucky with the timings and get there in as little as 44 minutes.  Take a train to Drem and get an Eve’s 121.   If you prefer two wheels, take a look at Cycling Scot’s blog on how to reach the museum by bike.  VERDICT: Easy Train/Bus (or Bike) combo

A trip to the Scottish Seabird Centre is very easy on public transport and their website encourages you to get there by walking, cycling, train, bus, car – in that order (well done Seabird Centre).

Take the train to North Berwick.  Buses are available (until FirstBus withdraws) but the train is quicker and more pleasant.  VERDICT: Take the train!

The video also features Dirleton Castle which is owned by Historic Environment Scotland.  The website gives details of grid reference and has links to travel planners but nothing specifically to encourage people to use public transport.  The withdrawal of the Firstbus X24 will make it problematic reaching Dirleton (and other coastal towns not served by a train).  Until another bus operator takes over the route, your options are walk the 2 miles from North Berwick train station. VERDICT: Wait and see

The last attraction to star in the video is Dunbar Leisure Pool – a family favourite and free swims for children during the summer holidays.  The website has a small map but there are no directions how to reach the pool.  Fortunately, Traveline Scotland suggests taking train to Dunbar and walking the short journey from the station to the pool.  VERDICT: Take the train!

The video ends with the words “East Lothian Attractions – Explore, Play, Stay, Amazing – No Ordinary Day

The ‘Getting Here’ section of the Visit East Lothian website lists the ways of reaching the county as: Road, Rail, Bus, Air & Sea.  Let’s hope that information providers explore the possibility that visitors might want to use sustainable methods of travel to ‘Edinburgh’s playground’ – now that would be amazing.

Further Information:

I’ve only looked at whether a journey was feasible (not taking into account practicalities such as travelling with a buggy) and I haven’t made price comparisons.  You should bear in mind that FirstBus will cease all East Lothian operations in August.

Eve’s Coaches

Lothian Country Buses


Scotrail – Scotrail have a KidsGoFree ticket which also offers free entry to some attractions 


Cycling Scot


April #EastLothianHour: Books!

Taking part in #EastLothianHour on Twitter is a great way to share information (and discover things!) about our great county.
The theme for March is Literature, Learning & Libraries and will be hosted by @PLHSLibrary
Join in the fun on
Thursday 17th March
from 7p.m. until 8p.m.
The timetable for #EastLothianHour is as follows:
7pm – 7.05
Introductions! (Who are you and where are you?)
Q1– What are you reading and how did you select the book?
(put A1 in your answer and #EastLothianHour)
7.20 – 7.40
Q2– When you were at school, what was your view of the school library?
(put A2 in your answer and #EastLothianHour)
Q3– Do you know school libraries have changed?
(put A3 in your answer and #EastLothianHour)
Q4– Have you visited any branch of East Lothian Libraries recently? If not why not?
(put A4 in your answer and #EastLothianHour)
Q5 – To allow us to compile a list ‘East Lothian Reads’ what is your favourite book? (Just one)
(put A5 in your answer and #EastLothianHour)
To take part, answer the questions (A1, A2 etc) and put #EastLothianHour in your tweets.
Don’t worry if you come in late, make a mistake, or want to chat generally, it’s informal and we would LOVE you take part.

April #EastLothianHour – Kindness, Coffee and Guerrilla Happiness

For this month’s #EastLothianHour, we are going to discuss intentional, anonymous acts of kindness performed in playful, creative ways for strangers.

So what does this actually mean?

If you give someone £2 for a cup of coffee, that’s a nice, decent thing to do.

If you campaign for fair trade coffee, that’s activism (there a good selection in Earth Matters, North Berwick).

If you stick “Pay Your Tax” stickers on Starbucks, that’s subtervising/guerrilla stickering/culture jamming…or something (Some local, independent coffee establishments are listed here, but there’s heaps more).

If you and your pals run on to a train, dressed as waiters, set down a tablecloth and pour free cups of coffee for the bemused passengers that’s, well, frankly, that’s just brilliant (but not recommended on the morning commuter train to Waverley).

We’d love to hear your ideas for Random Acts of Kindness or ideas to make East Lothian and beyond, a wee bit more pleasant.

Join in the discussion, from 9p.m. – 10p.m. on Friday 1st April and use the hashtag #EastLothianHour


Prizes to be won!

gardeningscotlandNot taken part in an #EastLothianHour before?  Don’t be shy.  Just jump right in and tweet your suggestions or share your experiences – as an incentive, everyone who contributes to the discussions will be entered into a prize draw.

Prizes are:

A pair of Gardening Scotland tickets

A pair of Scotland’s Big Nature Festival tickets.

Stuck for ideas?  An A-Z of Guerrilla Kindness might look something like this:

Action for Happiness@actionhappiness helps people take practical action for a happier and more caring world. And guess what? Being kind, makes you happy.

Bus Shelters – Bus shelters are the perfect places for random acts of kindness.  East Lothian has it’s own tweeting bus shelter @PPansBusShelter where it is rumoured you may catch a glimpse of tiny people waiting for the X15.   With a rather larger budget that the Prestonpans prankster, Pepsi created an amazing augmented reality stunt at a bus shelter:

Next time you’re going for a bus, why not leave a pair of gloves, a joke or a book…or a chair? The Guerrilla Upholsterer a.k.a. @mick_sheridan leaves beautifully restored chairs in bus shelters.

Change the World for a Fiver –  Change the World for a Fiver is a book, priced at a £5, which is packed full of ideas on how to change the world for a better place.  Buy two and give one to someone.  Better still buy your copies from Hive, the network of independent bookshops.

Deeds – You’ve heard the expression, Actions speak louder than words.  It’s true.  Social Media makes it easy for us to say kind stuff, retweet kind stuff and like kind stuff but don’t forget to DO the kind stuff. (Having a Digital Detox every so often is really good for you and frees up some time too).

Effect – The side effects of kindness include happiness and healthiness.  Read more here.  The Science of Kindness – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M4ALRY5LyBM

Flashmobs – A flashmob is a group of people who assemble suddenly in a public place, perform an unusual and seemingly pointless act for a brief time, then quickly disperse, often for the purposes of entertainment, satire, and artistic expression.  Who can remember the Puffin Flashmob outside the National Gallery?  Take a look at this Mannequin Mob…would something similar work in East Lothian?

Guerrilla Gardening@guerillagarden Guerilla Gardening is the act of cultivating a neglected area.  This can be setting up a community garden growing vegetables or planting up a neglected roadside verge with brightly coloured flowers.  A sideshoot is Incredible Edibles which includes projects in Dunbar.

HugsFree hugs is a social movement involving individuals who offer hugs to strangers in public places.  You might not be entirely comfortably making physical contact with a stranger, but would this ball pit experiment work here?  

Improv Everywhere@ImprovEvery is a New York City based prank collective that causes scenes of chaos and joy in public places.  Check ’em out they’re freaking hilarious.

Jokes –  Jokes, pranks, silliness, high jinx and tomfoolery – when good humoured, and made with the intention to make the ‘victim’ laugh as much as the prankster – can really lift a person’s spirits. Take a look at these daft ‘memorial’ bench plaques.  rogerCuthill Park in Prestonpans played a trick on locals when it announced the installation of a plaque to commemorate ‘physicist’ Avril Fish.  Yes, it was an April Fool’s joke.

KidsFree cakes for kids is a community service to families who find it difficult to provide a birthday cake for their child.  In Prestonpans, a small group, working in conjunction with Prestonpans Community Council & East Lothian Foodbank, provided Christmas gifts to the children of families frequently using the Foodbank service.

Little Free LibraryLittle Free Libraries build and install Little Free Libraries across the UK with the aim of increasing access to books for children, young people and their families.   Find them on Twitter @LtlFreeLibrary. If you like this idea you will love the Athelstaneford Book Nook.  On a similar vein is Bookcrossing.  the practice of leaving a book in a public place to be picked up and read by others, who then do likewise.  Why not leave a note inside a library book for a stranger to find.

Microfinance@Kiva is a non-profit organization with a mission to connect people through lending to alleviate poverty. Leveraging the internet and a worldwide network of microfinance institutions, Kiva lets individuals lend as little as $25 to help create opportunity around the world. Learn more about how it works. Sign up here.

Nice Graffiti – No, we don’t mean illicit artworks in that beautiful French city (if that’s what you want, look here) we mean, uplifting non-destructive, temporary kind using chalk (see here)  or moss (see here)

Moss-Graffiti-–-How-to-Do-It12One Action@takeoneaction is Scotland’s global action cinema project linking audiences, movies, campaigners and communities.  See the change you want to be in the world!

Pay it Forward – if you’re lucky enough to be the recipient of kindness or good fortune, pay it forward.  The vision for Pay it Forward UK is to assist people to have the opportunity to give to others – particularly those less fortunate than themselves.  One good deed might not seem like much, but if everyone did something good for someone else, then the cycle of generosity and kindness can help us to become better people. @PayitForwardDay is on April 28th this year. East Lothian man, Jamie Morris aims to fund a racing wheelchair then use it to raise funds for others.  Follow his ‘Pay it Forward’ campaign here: raise funds for a racing wheelchair.

QR codes – Environmentalists have used QR codes to great effect to sticker products and give consumers information that companies prefer to keep quiet.  As well as being used by activists, an enterprising person has linked QR codes with kindness and sell kindness ‘tokens’ with a QR code on that ‘tracks’ the journey of the token.

Random Acts of Kindness – – Kindness Day is held on 13th November every year. It is a day to celebrate and promote kindness in all its forms from giving out chocolate at train stations to flash mobs. In February this year, a mystery samaritan left cash to pay for a parking fine while the car owner was in Edinburgh’s Sick Kids. The recipient was so moved by this act of kindness that has paid the favour forward with a fundraising drive for the hospital.  That’s how kindness works, like a ripple in a pond. Still stuck for ideas? Look here >> https://www.randomactsofkindness.org/kindness-ideas

Subtervising & Stickering –   are ‘improving’ certain prominent adverts in their own sassy way.  Although technically illegal, a similar guerrilla stickering campaign on the LondonReduction_of_expanded_play_opportunities Underground has brightened up many a commuter’s morning.  Make Magazine produced a series of stickers which could be stuck on some products in toy stores to highlight how playtime is becoming an endangered activity.

#ThisIsThoughtful@Thtfl is a magazine, studio & creative community on a design-driven mission.  Read about their Penny for your Thoughts project here  .  #ThisIsThoughtful is a little experiment…

Walk Raleigh Mount_Urbanism -It’s easy to fall in to the trap of thinking that big cities and towns and unfriendly, uncaring places and wee villages have a wonderful sense of community.  A group of North Carolina residents mounted walkable direction signs around their town. What changes would you make to your town to make East Lothian a wee bit more pleasant for residents and visitors?  Public bike pumps? Vegetable vending machines?  .  Check out some of the the improvements that three designers made in Paris. If you want proof that cities can be caring places, read these examples.  Better still, be the example.

Voice activated – You know how it is, you have a new label maker, you’re feeling a bit mischievous and next thing you know, there are confused shoppers trying to operate a ‘voice activated’ trolley.  No? Just me then.  Also works well on doors and hand dryers.  Have fun.

Weird and Wonderful – Using materials found in the local environment and some basic artist supplies such as clay and paint, Mark Buckman crafted unique quirky pieces and placed them back on the Littlehampton beach where he had found them for beach visitors to discover.  Perhaps you’ll find something at Dunbar’s Stone Stacking Challenge….

X – X is for Crossing -Would Remi Gaillard’s famous prank work in East Lothian?  And where should we carry it out?

Yarnbombing and craftivism – Crafty members of @musselburgh2016 have been decorating the Honest Toun with all sorts of creations to foster interest in the forthcoming Riding of the Marches. Follow the #ROMArt hashtag to discover more.

Zzzzz – that’s it.

Be kind to everyone you meet, not because of who they are but because of who you are!

URGENT: Special Landscape Area Consultation

East Lothian Council is carrying out a review of its landscapes with a view to designating Special Landscape Areas. These landscapes will then be given protection through the policies of the East Lothian Local Development Plan.

This is your opportunity to suggest beauty spots, natural places, viewpoints and landscapes that you consider special or have particular importance, to be considered for designation as Special Landscape Areas.

This important consultation closes on Sunday 1st March!

You can submit your suggestions via a short survey which include the following questions:

Where do you think the best views in East Lothian are?

Which areas of East Lothian do you think are special and why?

You will be able to upload up to three supporting photographs or other documents (Word, JPEG, bitmap or PDF files only).

There is an additional question: Are there any areas that need landscape improvement, and what would need to be done to improve the landscape/area? (included for reference – no improvements are planned).

You can also email photographs and other documents to landscape@eastlothian.gov.uk