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Balbirnie House

An award-winning luxury country house hotel, superbly located between Edinburgh and St Andrews.

Balbirnie House is an award-winning luxury country house hotel nestled within 400 acres of beautiful parkland in the heart of Fife. Their Grade A listed Georgian mansion, voted Hotel of the Year at the Scottish Hotel Awards, and Haute Grandeur Global Best Destination Wedding Retreat, was built in 1777 and is near the village of Markinch, between Edinburgh and St Andrews. They combine fine food, beautiful surroundings and friendly Scottish hospitality to create a wonderful experience for their guests, whatever the occasion. From weddings to conferences, mini-breaks to exclusive hire, they have the perfect setting for you.

We were delighted to visit Balbirnie to write a feature on them as a luxury Scottish Wedding venue. Their award-winning, four-star hotel is recognised as one of the finest wedding venues in Britain. Upon our arrival we drove through their magnificent green gardens towards the breath-taking house. Walking up the stairs we felt very much like celebrities and were immediately greeted by a friendly member of staff. We were given the Bridal Suite which was “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” themed with the traditional blue. The Suite was spacious, modern but with the traditional touches still there including an incredible four poster bed. The room had everything we needed, even Tunnocks tea cakes with our morning cuppa!

We headed down to the main bar for a few drinks before dinner and were impressed with the selection of Scottish gins available. There was a small wedding taking place, so we got a sneak peek. A member of staff also took us on a tour of the different rooms where guests can have their ceremonies: the Ballroom, The Orangery and a peeat the outside area! We were extremely impressed at the beauty of all three spaces. We dined in the Orangery that evening; the Scottish Fayre was nothing short of delicious. The staff were also very knowledgeable about the wines and never missed a beat! After our three courses and full to the brim we sat back in the bar area for a nightcap. The hotel had a really comfortable atmosphere and we both felt at home. 

In the morning, we headed back down to the Orangery for a full Scottish breakfast. The Orangery has a beautiful big window and tall ceilings, perfect for a smaller, intimate ceremony. We sat chatting and couldn’t think of one single thing we didn’t like about the place and we would recommend it to anyone looking for a wedding venue in Scotland. Their flexible venue can accommodate up to 216 guests for a wedding banquet and 250 for an evening reception. Whether you’re looking for a bespoke service or an inclusive package with guaranteed affordability, you can be sure of the best service from your first contact with them through to your happy day. Each and every wedding is quite individual and as such, the Wedding team discuss every wedding on a onetoone basis with prospective Balbirnie brides, grooms and parents. They have a range of delightful rooms that may or may not be utilised for the various elements involved in making up your successful special day and at the time of initial discussion they will outline the various areas within the hotel which are available, and the best ones appropriate to the size of your special event.

Whatever the scope and size of your wedding, the team will be absolutely delighted to meet you and show you around beautiful Balbirnie. 

Get in touch to book your visit. If you would simply like more information, or a personalised specific quote then please email gaynor@balbirnie.co.uk, or call the team on 01592 610066. If you’re looking to tie the knot soon, they still have availability for a handful of dates this year.

Balbirnie Park, Markinch Village, by Glenrothes, Fife, Scotland KY7 6NE

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Sophie Wallace & Miss Scotland

Sophie Wallace has lived in Falkirk her whole life. Recently she was in the finals of Miss Scotland, representing Falkirk, for the second year in a row. She competed alongside her good friend, Gail Wilson, who is also from Falkirk.

Sophie has always been active in the community as she is a former international display gymnast and has travelled around Europe performing at gymnastics festivals with Falkirk Infinity Gymnastics Club, her previous squad. Sophie has written a weekly lifestyle column in the Falkirk Herald since she was 14 and she decided media was the route she wanted to go down when choosing a career. She went on to obtain a BA (Hons) degree in Multimedia Journalism at Glasgow Caledonian University. She is currently a Broadcast Journalist at Kingdom FM in Fife, previously at 103.1 Central FM.

Prior to entering Miss Scotland, Sophie had been modelling for some time and signed as a professional model with Superior Model Management in Glasgow when she was 17.

Miss Scotland Experience

Sophie first took part in the Miss Scotland competition in 2017 and placed second, and then competed again in 2019.

She says, “It was an amazing experience.” While competing she did things such as judging the best dressed competition at the Ayr races, being put through a professional fake-tanning course, training with some of the country’s most renowned personal trainers, being a Disney princess for a day and modelling for exciting, upcoming clothing brands.

Sophie says, “The opportunities as a result of taking part in the Miss Scotland competition two years in a row have been phenomenal. They have catapulted my career in broadcast journalism and modelling with a number of photographers and filmmakers looking to collaborate as a result.”

She elaborated that the experience has been a huge confidence boosting opportunity. Sophie had low self-esteem as a teenager and was subject to bullying throughout primary school because she is tall. The competition has also helped develop her social skills and improve her public speaking abilities which are great to have for all aspects of her career!

Charity Fundraising

Each Miss Scotland competitor chooses a charity to fundraise for and Sophie fundraised for Carers Trust Scotland two years in a row. She has raised over £2,000 for the charity and has also raised its awareness across Scotland. She says, “I get massive gratification from working so closely with my chosen charity and partner charities.” Carers Trust Scotland provide support services for approximately 780,000 of Scotland’s unpaid carers. Sophie was appointed as their first charity ambassador, representing Scotland’s Young Unpaid Carers. She got involved with the charity after seeing first-hand the hard work and dedication unpaid carers put into looking after someone close to them who is unable to live independently. To fundraise she has hosted countless events, including charity evenings and pub quizzes, all in order to raise awareness of the role of unpaid carers and the need for support for them. Sophie also launched the #AyeCare campaign alongside the charity, which aims to raise online awareness about the sheer scale of the issue in Scotland. The campaign encourages all social media users who either are unpaid carers, or know someone who is, to post a status/picture using the hashtag. The campaign also looks to raise awareness around what an unpaid carer actually does – often people don’t realise they’re entitled to support because they don’t identify as being an unpaid carer and are therefore struggling in silence.

Sophie says that she is lucky in her job, as she gets to use the broadcasting platform to raise greater awareness about the work of Scotland’s unpaid carers.

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UMI: Japanese Cuisine

I was delighted to review Umi in Stockbridge for this issue. Sushi is something I enjoyed all the time while living in California, but I have struggled over the past three years to find sushi of the same quality and taste in Scotland. Well, I am delighted to say that I have found what I’ve been waiting for in Umi Japanese Cuisine. This restaurant is phenomenal.

I took along my boyfriend, Ben, who had never tried sushi and had no idea what to expect. He came out a master of chopsticks and a new-found sushi lover.

Umi is located in Stockbridge, which is a vibrant area of Edinburgh with a village vibe. It’s a little less hustle and bustle than the city centre but when you walk down the stairs to the bottom level of the Georgian terraced building where Umi is located, you open the door to a full restaurant. Everyone looked relaxed, laughing and enjoying the experience. The staff couldn’t have been more welcoming and took us to our table.

The place had a great feel, with red lanterns in the ceiling, comfortable tables and ambient lighting. There was also a private section that had traditional pillows for seats.

We decided to start with a traditional Japanese draught lager, which we found light and refreshing. I am a woman who loves a good lager. I tried to take a bit of control of what we were ordering but Ben had some of his owns ideas and ended up ordering a dish I’d never have thought of ordering, and it was delicious! We shared everything which I always think is great in a small plates restaurant and gives you more of a feel for the place! Everything was brought out in good time, not too fast, as I always find that disconcerting, but at a nice pace.

Small Dishes

Truffle Edamame (V)

Steamed green soybeans topped with sea salt and truffle oil

Miso Soup (V)

Traditional Japanese bean paste soup with wakame, tofu and spring onion

Takoyaki (Ben’s choice)

Fried dough balls with octopus served with mayo and house sauce

Roll Sushi (8 pieces)

Crunchy Soy Roll

Prawn tempura and avocado roll in soy paper topped with eel sauce, dill sauce and crispy fried onions

Toyko Roll

Karaage Fried Chicken, avocado and lettuce roll topped with flying fish roes and mayo

Yes, you read Truffle, and yes, truffle oil makes even vegetables taste unbelievably good. But I cannot guarantee that they have the same nutritional value or that they are low calorie. Our favourite roll was the Crunchy Soy Roll, it just melted in your mouth. Don’t let “eel” sauce put you off as it tastes nothing like you think it will and, I would say, is one of the best sauces ever!

Ben was in heaven with his Takoyaki; the word Octopus put me off for a second but not enough not to try it and I’m so glad I did! Absolutely delicious!

Our choices strayed away from the traditional raw sushi as I’m a huge fan of sushi rolls like they serve in California. It shows that you don’t have to eat raw fish if this isn’t your thing, there are still plenty of options at Umi. But, if tradition is your thing they have an incredible nigiri sushi Menu!

I was also impressed with their wine selection and they had one of my favourites, a Sauvignon Blanc from the Marlborough region of New Zealand. The refreshing wine went well with the sushi!

THE BIG QUESTION WILL WE BE BACK?

Yes! We are already planning our next trip through! Follow them on Instagram @umiedinburgh to see for yourself all the delicious dishes! A hidden gem!