Summer Exhibitions @ SOC, Aberlady

This summer, for the first time, SOC will host an exhibition of outdoor sculptures in the garden of the SOC in Aberlady, as well as an exhibition inspired by Insects indoors:

Wonder Wander

3 June – 26 September 2021

Edinburgh based sculptor Andrea Geile presents new outdoor sculptures in the grounds of the SOC (Scottish Ornithologists’ Club) in Aberlady. Inspired by coastal landscape and wildlife the large sculptures are made using corten steel and casting techniques. Originally from Germany, Andrea has lived and worked in Edinburgh since 1995. She particularly enjoys placing her sculptures in a garden environment where their organic and architectural forms merge with the planting. A prime example of this approach is the public artwork she created for Edinburgh in 2019 “Walking among the Green Wood”, a group of 11 sculptures on the cycle path at Gilmerton Station Road.

Insectarium: Fear and Fascination

3 June – 25 July

Beautiful, symbolic, repulsive? Insects have always loomed large on the human psyche while their importance to the ecosystem is increasingly appreciated. This exhibition presents artworks in a wide range of media that reflect the conflicting emotions insects inspire. Organised with the Society of Scottish Artists (SSA), the exhibition brings together paintings, prints, sculptures and small installations by 35 artists members of SSA.

The Big Beach Clean June 5-8th

Individuals, families, groups of friends and community groups are called upon to help clean the whole coast from Edinburgh to Berwick upon Tweed! 

Lil and Caledonian Horticulture need your help! They aim to clean as much of the shoreline as possible along the entire stretch and need all hands on deck to cover this roughly 80-mile stretch. 

Lil and Caledonian Horticulture are delighted to support and facilitate this ambitious event over the weekend of Saturday, June 5th – World Environment Day to Tuesday, June 8th – World Oceans Day. 

Wildlife in our seas and on our shores is under threat from litter with hundreds of creatures accidentally eating or becoming entangled in items like plastic bags and fishing line.

As well as keeping our coast beautiful, we will gather up all the litter from all the cleans to be weighed and sorted. This will help show the scale of the problem and the worst offenders – the most frequently found items. This data is hugely important as it helps track the common items we find on our beaches back to source, so we can push for change

The scale of the project also aims to generate media coverage and make a splash for World Oceans Day Lil and Caledonian Horticulture want to highlight the issues facing us all and our environment – that plastic rubbish breaks down and ends up in your fish supper! Your involvement will really make a difference.

HOW TO GET INVOLVED

If you are a group could you help coordinate a stretch of coast?

Or your own beach clean?

Or are you already planning something and keen to join in the cumulative weighing up and media coverage?

Lil and Caledonian Horticulture would LOVE for you to be involved in whatever way works for you.

  • Do you have a community you can share this with? Please share on social media, in your newsletter or just forward this info to anyone you think might be interested – groups, organisations or individuals.
  • Post your clean up events in the group so others can see what’s going on. Make your own fb events and tag Lil so we can help spread the word and link them.
  • If you have a location in mind, please drop a pin in the interactive Ether map. No login required. Just pop an orange pin on the central point of the area your group(s) can cover. Add some details in the description like the group name, what area you think your group can manage, note any equipment you can provide, and contact details you’re happy to share publicly for others to join you. A link to your FB event here would be helpful if you have one.
  • Waste collection. Caledonian Horticulture can provide small plastic sacks (around 40L) for volunteers to use on the beaches. You will also need sharps boxes for hazardous material. If you need support with health and safety for your beach clean info will be shared via the Facebook page. If you have safety briefings already for your group you can also share them there so others have examples to follow. 
  • Caledonian Horticulture will set up collection points (locations to be confirmed) with builders bags (around 850L) that can be filled with the smaller bags. These will need volunteers to man them.Kate will be in touch to decide the best locations. CH will collect the bags again on Tuesday 8th.
  • Alternatively you can deliver your bags to the East Fenton Composting Site  – EH39 5AH. Caledonian Horticulture would also welcome volunteers to help with sorting and weighing the waste. Details TBC so watch the Facebook Group if you’re interested.
  • Please ensure you and your group adhere to the current Scottish Government Covid guidance at the time.
  • Please PROMOTE your involvement. Send emails, facebook events, carrier pigeons, get as many folk along as you can. We’ll share tags # via the Facebook group 🙂

Individuals and small family/friend groups are also invited to take part so communicating who is doing what and where in these socially distanced times is really important. The more we can link volunteers with your groups the better – hopefully new folk will stay with you to help your future work too.

LOOK OUT FOR SEA MONSTERS

Lil and Caledonian Horticulture are inviting everyone to create a sea monster with the rubbish they find – they can be imaginary, depict the problems facing the ocean, just fun or a real creature. There will be videos to share to help inspire creativity. There will be hashtags to share these creations

They are also working with artists to create Marine Litter Art for display at Fringe by the Sea to raise awareness of the problems, the main offenders and help drive changes to reduce coastal rubbish.

WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING?

Throughout the weekend Lil and Caledonian Horticulture will be celebrating all the organisations and individuals that work so hard to keep our beaches and coastline clean and free from litter. Do blow your own trumpets in your local press and Lil and Caledonian Horticulture will blow them for you via their channels too!

The Scottish Seabird Centre is holding a Marine Fest from 5th to 13th June. Lil is running a Waste Workshop looking at household waste and how you might reduce it as part of the event.

It is World Refill Day on 16th June so there is a great opportunity to highlight the single use catering items – plastic bottles, forks, coffee cups & lids, sandwich wrappers etc. The use of these has escalated massively during Covid (for good reason) but as we come out of the other side it’s a good time to remind everyone to take their bottle/cup etc.

If you want to get in touch you can reach LIL on 07765 126700 or email hello@dolilthings.org or email Kate at kate@frmrecycling.co.uk

The World’s First Reusable Bottle Made From Plants!

Since 2018 founders Jake and Amee embarked on a mission to craft the world first reusable bottle made from plant-based materials, while on their journey including social projects, economic justice, and ecological materials every step of the way. After 2 years of intense research Queen Margaret University graduate Jake and Edinburgh College graduate Amee managed to create the world’s first reusable bottle made from plant-based materials using naturally grown wheat straw. Creating their company S’wheat, they managed to craft the world’s most sustainable bottle. Designed in Scotland inspired by the diverse Scottish mountain ranges, mist-filled lochs, and ancient forests.

S’wheat is not only made from plant-based materials but also gives back to the environment, every S’wheat product sold takes the equivalent of 20 lbs of plastic out of the ocean, that’s 360 single-use plastic bottles worth, for every sale. However, founders Jake and Amee wanted to do more for the environment and make a real measurable difference that you can be proud of. That is why every sale also plants a tree, however the fascinating part is that you can track the growth of your tree in real-time and see where in the world it has been planted, this is available to anyone who purchases a S’wheat product.

S’wheat is committed to making a genuine contribution to the planet. They are setting an example for the reusable product industry. Each product they create is ethically produced, made from sustainably sourced materials, carbon neutral, and gives back to the planet. S’wheat gives their full attention to making the planet a cleaner and better place. S’wheat also donates a % of its profits to help protect wildlife and sea life all around the world. S’wheat aims to disrupt the single-use product industry by showing a cleaner and safer alternative to traditional means.

On their 2-year journey S’wheat has picked up a number of awards including awards from: Scottish Edge, Santander, Princes Trust, The Hunter Foundation, Natwest and more. Being recognised for their efforts was a humbling and driving factor to work even harder to make the world a cleaner place.

S’wheat’s inspiring friendship and close collaboration with nature has been ongoing for over 2 years. The brand’s practical, durable, eco-insulated and charming products have earned them a following that is both humbling and motivating. Research shows that S’wheat is doing something right too. Recent studies highlight a strong correlation between a product’s ability to stay in use for a long time and the environmental impact it thereby reduces. It confirms the values of what S’wheat is doing, and why the brand strives to create products that become long time favourites. Developing durable, practical, and most importantly sustainable products has been a true privilege for the brand and S’wheat is looking forward to growing with its strong community.

New office hub opens between Longniddry and Haddington

A new office hub, accommodating lone workers and businesses of up to eight people, has now opened between Haddington and Longniddry.

Wheatrig Business Hub, located two miles from Longniddry and four and a half miles from Haddington, has transformed a historic farm building, with stunning views and a peaceful location, into a modern office hub with rentable desks and private office spaces, a communal kitchen/diner as well as showering facilities and free parking.

The Hub offers the perfect environment for office work: comfortable surroundings, total connectivity, social interaction when required and, as long as is needed, social distancing in place. The development could be the ideal solution for someone not planning on returning to corporate high rises but unable to contemplate a future that involves staying at home for the majority of the day.

Outside the building, there is empty space to take a break and take in the fresh air and when it’s time to go home there is the prospect of easy travel without the queues.

Owners, Anna and William Thomson, said:

“Working from your spare room or dining room table is, as thousands will attest, far from easy. Whilst fine in the short term, as a long-term solution home working has its drawbacks: domestic life can cause distractions, technology is not always reliable, and loneliness has been identified as a real issue over recent months.

“A study by TotalJobs in August 2020 found that 67 per cent of workers felt that working from home during lockdown negatively affected the variety of their social interactions. Similarly, 52 per cent of UK workers rely on the workplace socially.

“Surely not much could be more inspiring than sitting at your desk and looking out over the rolling countryside? Wheatrig Business Hub is offering East Lothian and East Edinburgh residents just that – the opportunity to work close to home but without distractions and with added views!

“People have realised that they don’t need to be in a bland city centre office in order to be productive and that a lunchtime walk (or even a swim!) is far more conducive to achievement. “Without doubt, the physical environment here is truly inspiring, hopefully encouraging people to be creative, let their minds wander and truly enjoy the experience of work.”

To find out more, or book a visit, simply email: info@wheatrig.com or message via Facebook – Wheatrig Business Hub or Instagram @wheatrigbusiness

East Lothian takeaway batters competition to be crowned one of UK’s top 50

One of East Lothian’s most popular family fish and chip shops has been crowned one of the UK’s 50 Best Fish & Chip Takeaways of the year for the second year running and the only chippy in Edinburgh and the Lothians to make the prestigious list.

The accolade follows an extensive search by leading trade publication Fry Magazine to find those chippies serving up the finest fish suppers amidst a tough and challenging Covid year.

To make the 50 Best, East Coast on Musselburgh’s North high street had to impress a mystery diner who visited unannounced and marked the chippy on over 40 aspects of their business, from the quality of the food and customer service to their social media presence and their Covid safe practices.

East Coast scored an impressive 97% with the mystery diner particularly praising the freshness and crispness of the batter and the flakiness of North East Atlantic haddock, as well as the environmentally friendly packaging, the smart and professional staff, and covid safe measures.

Just a short walk from Fisherrow Harbour and Musselburgh beach, East Coast is the ideal foodie venue for families to enjoy award-winning Scottish fish and seafood in the fresh sea air. 

The upmarket East Coast takeaway also runs specials such as East Coast lobster with garlic butter and twice cooked chips, prawn loaded fries and monkfish scampi. They offer a kids menu and gluten free options are also available.

Owned by Carlo and Katia Crolla, East Coast is the next chapter for the Crolla family, who have been serving the honest folk of Musselburgh from its venue on North High Street since 1974. Styles may change, but great flavours, family heritage and warm, friendly service remain as important to Katia and Carlo today as they did 47 years ago.

Carlo Crolla, owner of East Coast in Musselburgh, said:

“We’re over the moon to have been named one the UK’s 50 best fish and chip takeaways for the second year running and add yet another great award to our collection.

“It’s also a real honour for us and the whole East Coast team to have been recognised as the only fish & chips takeaway in Edinburgh and the Lothians to land a place on this list and help put East Lothian on the map as a real foodie destination.

“It’s quite common for businesses in smaller towns like Musselburgh to be overlooked in UK-wide competitions and not get the recognition they deserve, so it’s an amazing feeling to be able to successfully represent a business from Musselburgh on a national level in a competition with such a high benchmark.

“We’re committed to having a friendly team, being dedicated,  having great knowledge of the industry whilst continuously wanting to improve, having very high standards and knowing what a consumer wants.

“We would like to dedicate this award to all our loyal customers, friends and team members who have supported us during a very challenging year and look forward to welcoming everyone back properly as restrictions are eased.”

Reece Head, Fry Magazine’s 50 Best Fish & Chip Takeaways competition organiser, added:

“Without doubt, the last 12 months have been tough for fish and chip takeaways and many will not have dealt with this level of crisis management before.

“Allowed to stay open during the pandemic, there was a lot they had to implement in a very short space of time to operate in a Covid safe manner. Many had to flip their businesses to click and collect and delivery, serve at the door, introduce card payments and work in much smaller teams, but they did and they kept the nation fed including our elderly and vulnerable, those shielding and our key workers.

“This year’s judging criteria took into account these changes and we’re delighted to acknowledge that, despite the difficulties and added pressure, East Coast never let standards drop. During this pandemic they have been at the heart of their communities, with a smile on their faces and hot food in their hands. We’re proud to have them in our 50 Best Fish & Chip Takeaways for 2021.”

Fry Magazine’s 50 Best Fish & Chip Takeaways is in its ninth year and sponsors include Goldensheaf, Frymax, Friars Pride, VA Whitley, Henry Colbecks, Middleton Foods, KFE, Brakes, Profry, BD Signs, NFFF, Nortech Foods, Sarson’s and Acumen.

East Coast is also home to a popular Seafood & Grill restaurant, which is due to reopen at the end of April 2021 as soon as lockdown restrictions have been lifted.

For more information on East Coast, visit https://eastcoastrestaurant.co.uk and follow on social media, including Facebook https://www.facebook.com/EastCoastMusselburgh and Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/eastcoastmusselburgh  

Local businesses set to help First Time Buyers beat rising East Lothian property prices

Local businesses Stisi Group and Clancys Solicitors and Estate Agents are set to give first time buyers a leg up on to the property ladder with a free virtual First Home Fund event this weekend, helping to beat rising local prices and the financial challenges of the Coronavirus pandemic.

A recent report from Online Mortgage Advisor found that 11 out of 31 local authorities have become less affordable in Scotland over the last ten years – and revealed that East Lothian has seen the largest affordability ratio increase of any local authority over this time. The higher the ratio, the wider the gap between local earnings and property prices.

The latest figures from ESPC (Edinburgh Solicitors Property Centre) found that properties in East Lothian experienced a 9.4 percent increase in average selling price year on year, from November to January, up from £247,950 to £271,211.

This continues a rising trend for house prices in the region – ESPC reported an 18 percent increase in average selling prices from 2010 to 2019. This trend has continued through 2020; despite the unprecedented closure of the property market with the first Coronavirus lockdown, average selling prices still rose, to £264,035 – an increase of 5.9 percent on 2019.

While the thriving East Lothian property market is good news for the region, it also means that first time buyers often cannot afford to purchase a home in their local area. To compound this, the Scottish Government has announced cuts to help to buy schemes, due to the current additional financial pressures on the budget. The main Help to Buy (Scotland) scheme has been closed for 2021 – 2022, and the Open Market Shared Equity (LIFT) scheme has been reduced to £44 million for the year.

There is however some hope for first time buyers, with the First Home Fund – currently closed due to these extraordinary circumstances – now due to reopen on 1st April 2021. This scheme hasn’t escaped the budget cuts though, and has been reduced from £200 million last year, to just £60 million for 2021 – 2022.

Local family businesses Stisi Group mortgage experts and Clancys Solicitors and Estate Agents have teamed up to offer a free First Home Fund information session, in a bid to ensure that local first time buyers don’t miss out. The shared equity scheme offers a free loan of up to £25,000 towards a first property deposit; the buyer needs only to provide a five percent deposit.

Funding is offered on a first come, first served basis, across Scotland. With the additional financial pressures of the Coronavirus pandemic making it more difficult than ever to save a deposit, the main Help to Buy scheme closed, and the severe cuts to the LIFT and First Home Fund, it’s expected that demand will be high and the available funding will run out quickly – long before the March 2022 end date.

Ross Stisi, Stisi Group Managing Director, said: “Strict lending criteria is making mortgages with low deposits harder to obtain and we know it’s not easy for everyone to save up for a large deposit. As the First Home Fund is a shared equity scheme, it works like an interest-free loan with no monthly payments. Anyone interested will need to act quickly though, as industry experts expect demand to soar. I wouldn’t be surprised if funding ran out within months, or even weeks, due to uptake.”

Paul Clancy, Property Director at Clancys Solicitors and Estate Agents, added: “We’re keen to make sure local first time buyers hear about this opportunity, as it could be the difference in making a home in East Lothian affordable to them.

“A great advantage of the First Home Fund is that it’s not means-tested like other shared equity schemes, so I feel this will be able to help a lot more first-time buyers in the EH postcode area.” 

The free information event First Time Buyers – How to get £25,000 towards your new home – will be held on Saturday 6th March, at 10am, via Zoom. Bookings is via Eventbrite – see bit.ly/FirstHomeFundEvent .

Anyone wishing further information can call Stisi Group on 0131 510 1240, email info@stisi.co.uk or follow @StisiGroup on social media.

East Lothian charity faces up to Covid-19 mental health challenges

Covid-19 has had an impact on all of us in one way or another. For those working in the field of mental health, with face-to-face meetings on hold for nearly a year, it has required a new and different way of working. East Lothian mental health charity, CHANGES have devised a training course called CHAT (Crisis Handling Awareness Training), delivered online, around crisis care and suicide prevention.

“CHAT is a course designed to train people to help others through an immediate crisis. It does this by looking at how best to negotiate a way through the crisis. We also look at what people can do to help in the very specific circumstances where there is a suicide risk. Its been running very successfully since December. We’re delighted to announce that, with the financial support from the Health and Social Care Partnership, we’ll be continuing CHAT into the new financial year.” (Brian Glass, CHANGES Trainer)

As part of CHANGES evaluation of the course, the organisers were asked to obtain feedback from those doing the training. It has been very positive.

Peter said: “…probably one of the best online trainings I have taken part in… I found the course materials to be excellent”.

Claire said that she had called upon her training when faced with someone who was suicidal: “…without the training I would not have approached them… I was able to help and be confident in knowing that what I was doing would help”.

This training is free to any individual living or working in East Lothian as the Health Social Care Partnership are funding a number of these courses each year. It is also available commercially for any organisation wishing to put frontline staff through the training.

For details of the courses and dates and times contact CHANGES on info@changeschp.org.uk or 0131 653 3977.

Domestic Abuse – Right To Ask

Coronavirus restrictions are difficult for everyone. For those living with an abusive partner or family member, it is dangerous, traumatic and relentless.
 
Police Scotland’s Disclosure Scheme for Domestic Abuse Scotland (DSDAS) aims to prevent domestic abuse by giving people the right to ask about the background of their partner.  It also allows concerned members of the public, such as relatives and friends, the right to ask about someone’s partner if they are concerned that the person has been abusive in the past.
 
As at the 1st of October 2020, there have been more than 8,500 requests received since the Scheme launched in 2015.  Of the 8,533 requests received, 4536 people (53%) were told that their current partner has a violent or abusive past.  During the first Lockdown, Police Scotland saw a 34 per cent increase in DSDAS applications and a steady rise in the number of incidents being reported, after an initial decrease.
 
You can submit a Right to Ask application if you are concerned about yourself or someone else.  Please visit www.scotland.police.uk

Click on the link to open a Right to Ask application: http://lothianloop.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/70332_Right_To_Ask_Domestic_for_Media.docx

Local Charity Wins Self Management Awards

During a tough and testing year for many, the 2020 Self Management Awards went ahead for the first time virtually, with local charity ANAM CARA being announced as the Winner of the Self Management in the Community Awards – a testament to their work within both East and Midlothian.

Held virtually on ZOOM, the awards brought together 130 individuals to celebrate examples of good practice and to promote a range of innovative self-management activity which has happened over Scotland over the past 10 months. Hosted by Pennie Taylor and administered by Alliance on behalf of the Scottish Government, it was an exciting time for the team at ANAM CARA who work tirelessly in order to provide women with an exceptional support network in order to progress as individuals whilst battling issues such as anxiety, depression, domestic violence, alcohol and drug misuse amongst many other conditions.

With the awards being announced, the excitement was building for the team, who for the first time in their history took their self-management workshops online to ensure women were supported and connected during lockdown and the ongoing pandemic.

When ANAM CARA was announced as the winner, Founder Maria Martin was ecstatic. Maria explains, ‘ Being announced as the winner of this award was a huge honour not only for myself but also the team. To be recognised for our hard work and commitment to a cause we strongly believe in whilst continually supporting and helping women progress through their difficulties in life is incredibly rewarding. COVID 19 has been exceptionally difficult for many and for us to support those ladies in need during such a difficult time and be recognised for this is fantastic. We’d like to thank the team at Alliance, the Scottish Government, the SA Awards and the ladies who are part of ANAM CARA.

Scotland’s Railway gives students Christmas tickets


Christmas is coming early this year for Scottish students, thanks to a massive 50 per cent discount on tickets from Scotland’s Railway.

They will be able to take advantage of half price travel on any off-peak ScotRail service until 24 December.

And, the train operator is getting into the festive spirit even more by simplifying the process of buying the tickets.

All a student needs to do is turn up at a staffed ticket office with their ID, jump on board and head home to their loved ones.

The offer will be a huge boost to students who are worried about getting back to their families under the current coronavirus travel restrictions.

They need to record a negative Covid-19 test before they travel, but test appointments and the time taken to produce results mean students will find it almost impossible to book specific train services.

The off-peak half price offer will be a flexible, open-return ticket valid for one month after purchase, which will allow most students to return to their studies in January after another negative coronavirus test. The discount will be available on both off-peak day return and off-peak return tickets.

Students will be able to purchase the discounted tickets up until 24 December, which would mean they would have until 23 January to use the return portion of the journey.

Lesley Kane, ScotRail Commercial Director, said:

“Students are going through a hard enough time just now trying to keep up with their studies while worrying about catching coronavirus and balancing their finances.

“We think this half price deal on tickets is the best gift we can give them before Christmas and we’re sure it will be very popular amongst students who want to get home to see loved ones at this special family time of the year.

“We are confident ScotRail will be able to carry all passengers safely over the festive period by observing the five rules for safer travel, including wearing a face covering and maintaining physical distancing.”