I think of Gullane in East Lothian straight away. A beautiful sandy beach backed by high sand dunes close to the quaint village of Gullane. East Lothian is a lovely area. It’s a beach we would always go as children, a little escape from Edinburgh when needed. And sometimes you spot a famous golfer or two!


The Lyceum Theatre in Edinburgh is a beautiful, old building with the castle as a backdrop. Inside, the grandeur of the chandelier, velvet seating and the classic proscenium arch stage always takes my breath away. This is where I was first mesmerised by the magic of theatre as a child. I joined their youth theatre and watched incredible talents such as Siobhan Redmond as Miss Jean Brodie. I have performed there many times and now I am proud to have my podcast The Cultural Coven, in association with it.


Technically it’s a 17th century close and not a street, but Lady Stairs Close is one of the secret little streets in Edinburgh’s Old Town. I love the juxtaposition of views; one side on to the Royal Mile and the other on to the New Town. The unique, rickety buildings in the court are quintessentially old Edinburgh, it’s easy to feel the history of the city.


Definitely the girls’ trips to Nairn with my mum, grandma and sister in the holidays to visit my mum’s cousin Ian who owned the Braeval Hotel. The drive was always hilarious, my grandma map reading, getting it all wrong, while my mum would be playing Motown CDs. We’d have a pit-stop in Pitlochry, and venture into the old-fashioned sweetie shops. My mum would take us to explore castles and palaces. She died far too young but I’ve inherited her sense of adventure.


I live right by the Pentland Hills but when I was a child and we were on a drive, I would spot them from the motorway and immediately feel at home. I walk from the Bonaly side and you get the most incredible views over Edinburgh. You pass reservoirs, horses and even Highland cows just roaming free. You can walk for hours. I can see my old school from there and my grandma’s old house and right across to Fife. And they now even have a little café up there!


It’s Sligachan Old Bridge up looking on to the Cuillins behind it and the apparently enchanted waters below it. I hadn’t been to Skye until the pandemic struck but I’ve since been three times and it has become a place of solace for me. I think this view is even more magical and mysterious when surrounded by the mist. It’s almost unfathomable that these huge mountains are on a small island.

Legend has it that faeries live at Slighachan, I believe it but I’m not sure my boyfriend is convinced… yet.

The National:


There are two shops that it’s impossible to choose between. Totty Rocks in Edinburgh is cool – they work with tartan and tweed in a modern way. Their designs are a clever, modern twist on nostalgic looks.

Then Toys Galore in Edinburgh. An independent toy store that is an Edinburgh institution in Morningside. Toys you might think were now extinct are there. It felt special to visit as a child and even now to buy gifts for children.


I’m not sure a drink is a delicacy but if it was, it would be a peaty whisky. I ADORE it. A storytelling drink for the end of the night; a cuddle in a glass.

Food is all about context. I’m not a huge seafood fan but it’s hard to beat scallops at the Oyster Shed on Skye. I was there with my Canadian boyfriend a couple of weeks ago and those views on to the loch while standing round a barrel eating freshly cooked seafood feels special.


Caoro Dhubh Coffee Company in Carbost on Skye is this little hut that does the best coffee from the independent scene, right on Loch Harport in Carbost. It’s got a good focus on ethical trading too. It’s hard to think of a more unique location – one view is to the Talisker distillery and one is on to the water. When the sun shines and you sit at a wee table outside there is nothing better.


For me Braidburn Valley Park in Edinburgh is a peaceful, oasis. It’s 15 minutes’ walk from my house and where I go to learn lines if I need a change of scene. I strongly associate it with being a little girl.

My mum and dad would take us sledging there, and I would get lost in the Maisie the Morningside Cat books or the play The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie. If I win the lottery you’ll find me lounging in a mansion in Morningside!

Nicola is an actor and host of The Cultural Coven podcast. Listen at