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A Good Vintage


Good morning lovely people

Harry Belafonte at 97; an amazing life in activism and music. Dame Edna at 89; exceptional taste in flowers. Lovely Len at 78; the perfect ten. They say it happens in threes.

It’s also Higher and Nat 5 exam time of year. Our number three (the baby) is in the thick of it. If I could do anything I’d ban exams. Can we not trust our teachers to assess our children and grade them based on their knowledge and how hard they have worked? Today we have access to infinite learning at our fingertips. Our exams are based on an industrial revolution not the technical revolution.

Running a business is like sitting exams. We get results every month in the form of our accounts. There is no room for failure. Yes in real life we all need assessment but maybe there are better, less stressful ways for our children to get their marks?

The best way for a business to pass any test is to have a great team. The last few months have started to feel like old times. We’re feeling like we are finally back up to pre-pandemic staffing levels and skills. Having the people around us, to help look after you, feels like we’re back in the top class.

We are luckier than many. Edinburgh is a fantastic city to run a business but we’re still very aware of the challenges and how quiet the city is in the mornings and at the mid week fringes. Working from home for many is still a preferred option, a two day office week seems to be normal for some. If you can work from home will ChatGPT be doing your job in a few years time? Maybe it’s safer to be in a role that needs your body and soul. Thankfully we all need to eat. ChatGPT will not order many coffees or make your lunch. We need people creating jobs and sustaining other jobs. We need our cities to be alive with people working and living too. Reports say business insolvencies are at their highest level for 10 years. This isn’t just a number, it’s homes and families. Yet energy firms and banks are taking in the A plus profits. The hardest months are over for many in hospitality and we’ve got the summer to look forward to. Next winter I’ve agreed with our accounts team I’m going into hibernation ready to blossom for our favourite food and easier business months that are coming up.

Despite Clive Myrie’s Road Trip we hardly need a holiday when the ingredients coming from Italy are so fabulous. Agretti, cima di rape, violet aubergine, fave or some stracchino on the homemade gnocchi in close to a visit to the Amalfi Coast. Even better than Italy is a seafood risotto made with local water Scottish shellfish. Soft fruit season starts in May which has Alina, the chefs and the bartenders giddy with excitement. In Scotland the asparagus, St Georges mushrooms, wild garlic and first strawberries are adding so much colour and flavour already. Deliciousness everywhere.

The Kitchen Garden is about to burst into life. Victor says he’s not built for the garden “in the winter”, but from now on it’s hard to get him out of it, or out of his garden clothes. These next months are the busiest. Thankfully he’s got help. We were never good at hothousing our children but the garden has a small essential greenhouse. The weather has been chillier than we’d hoped so Victor has persuaded Nonna G’s to use her patio window for propagation, it’s by far the warmest part of the whole house. Seedlings are already bursting into life. Maybe that’s why Nonna G is lasting so long, in her 95th year, she’s at the perfect temperature. Our beautiful heritage rhubarb, lovage, angelica, rosemary and several mint varieties will be easy staples from now on. Lots more to look forward to over the coming months, watch this space.

The terrace at The Scottish Cafe is looking sensational. We’ve added a pop of colour that is so bright and welcoming. The improvements to the terrace that the National Gallery project has created has given us a fabulous foundation to share the view overlooking East Princes Street Gardens. Edinburgh you really are a spectacular city. Apparently if you live here you have the highest life expectancy of the major UK cities too.

George Street outside spaces are being built tomorrow which will give us our Rocco Terrace (Yes, named after the puppy, as that’s where you can dine with your dog!).

Dining, Aperitivo and Menabrea heaven; when the sun’s out!

The stand for the Tattoo also starts to be built next week up on the Castle Esplanade. It’s a fabulous addition to the city skyline. We lose a little of our view at Cannonball, but it’s worth it for the REMT Performance and all the other great summer adventures that come with it. Sad news that the Edinburgh International Fireworks have been cancelled. Environmental and sponsorship reasons sighted. The end of another era perhaps but some very happy memories nevertheless.

Keep well and I’m sharing my smile for you all. Enjoy every day, life is short, celebrate the good moments and hopefully we’ll all be here as long as Harry Belafonte. Nonna G is looking like teachers’ pet and will be passing that test guaranteed.

Thank you as always. The biggest lesson we’ve learnt is not to take anything for granted, grazie.


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