INTERVIEW: David Law, Co-Founder of Brew Lab Artisan Coffee Bar

Brewlab Artisan Coffee Bar, 6-8 South College Street, Edinburgh, EH8 9AA

Tom (L) and David (R) founders of Brewlab (Pic from The Scotsman)

Once upon a time, I worked in the social media department of a digital marketing agency. Back then, the department was made up of two people: me and David. David always talked about his dream of opening a coffee shop, and I always talked about my dream of having a nap every day.

Well it looks like both of our dreams have come true, because I’ve just woke up and David has just celebrated the grand opening of his coffee shop, Brew Lab!

Despite being the toast of Edinburgh and appearing in local newspapers and everything, he very kindly took time out of his busy schedule to let me interview him.

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REVIEW: The Cambridge; Best Burger in Edinburgh?

The Cambridge Bar, 20 Young Street, Edinburgh, EH2 4JB
0131 226 2120

Although I arrived back in Edinburgh a little sooner than I had anticipated, I decided to stay positive. That meant a night out in Underdogs (RIP) with my old gang. Unfortunately Lynne and Colin weren’t able to make it out, so we arranged to meet the two of them for lunch a few days later. I made sure to book a table at The Cambridge, widely regarded amongst many natives as the place to get the best burger in Edinburgh.

It’s a wee bit off the beaten track: on Young Street, a wee cobbled lane near Charlotte Square and George Street. The only scran they do is burgers but hey that suits us fine; especially if they live up to the hype and deliver the best burger in Edinburgh.

Which I reckon they do.

But then again, I never made it to the Holyrood 9A due to a misunderstanding (FYI Colin/Lynne/Sam/Links: when I said “someone should book a table for Saturday night”, I wasn’t talking about myself) so it’s entirely feasible that they do the best burger in Edinburgh instead. Or perhaps it’s the Burgher Burgher ‘guerrilla dining experience’, where booking a ticket is akin to winning the lottery (the events sell out in a matter of nanoseconds).

But this article isn’t about my inability to book a table at Holyrood 9A, and the subsequent ruining of an evening. It’s not about the fact that I’m not tres bon at ‘fastest finger first’ supper club bookings. It’s about how damn tasty burgers from the Cambridge are.

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Say hello to… Stumpy, the Renault Modus!

Stumpy, our Renault Modus
Our new car!

My dad woke us up with a cup of tea at 6am the morning after we arrived back in Edinburgh. We had a two hour drive ahead of us, out of Bonnie Scotland and into Sunny Sunderland. When James arranged a time to pop in and see the Renault Modus, he didn’t realise we’d be staying in Edinburgh so he suggested 10am. Gah.

We kicked the tires, took it for a test drive, and although I had a few misgivings about the beige interior, the working air conditioning soon put that out of my mind.

I did get the feeling that our car salesman was a bit sexist. The guy selling the car to us spoke mostly to James and seemed to see me as a bit of an irrelevance. Even when I whipped out my debit card to pay for the car, he still put it in James’s name. When James asked if it was simple to change the computerised milage from mph to kph, I knew the answer (my last car was a Renault Clio) but was ignored while the men fiddled fruitlessly with the controls. I suppose I just have to grin and bear it.

I think I mentioned in an earlier post that I felt this car was destined for us because it was so close to Edinburgh. Well it turned out that it had been on the market for £1000 more , but no-one was biting so they dropped the price. Less than 24 hours later we found out Sergio was a write off, and called to arrange a time to pop in and view the Modus. We hadn’t even been looking for cars before that, so it was a complete fluke. Kismet. (Although hopefully not the Killer kind!)

I love this car. I love it I love it I love it! I never felt this kind of attachment to the Seat (sorry, Sergio) but Stumpy the Renault Modus has stolen my heart away because he is amazing!

When a giiiirl loves her Renault….

Planes, Trains and Automobiles: The Journey Back to Edinburgh via Paris

Who needs Photoshop when you have MS Paint? NOT ME

Warning: this post contains gratuitous shots of Paris.

Saying goodbye to Sergio lifted a weight off our shoulders. For the past ten days we’d been in limbo; not sure how much it was going to cost to fix the car, not sure how long it would take, and not really able to do anything to progress the situation. Now we could do what we do best: make a plan.

We had a look on Autotrader for left hand drive cars in the UK. We’d made a few mistakes when we bought Sergio. This time my priority was making sure the air conditioning worked. Driving in 30 degree heat with no air con, oh good grief. I would not recommend it.

We found a few comedy cars: a lime green Fiat Panda, a Lada Niva, and a Citroen Berlingo were my favourites. But in the end, we made a sensible choice; a Renault Modus.

Fate seemed to be on our side with this car: it was in Sunderland. Just a short two hour drive from Edinburgh where we could stay with my parents for free instead of splashing out on an expensive Travel Lodge.

We had a look for flights and as luck would have it the only flights from France to the UK for under £200 were to Edinburgh. The only problem was, they were from Paris Beauvais and we were in the Pitou-Charente. As you can see, it’s a wee bit of a trek:

 

The road from Roumazieres Loubert to Beauvais Airport

However, I made a few calculations, and found that the money we’d save staying with my parents in Edinburgh and getting chauffeured around by Daddy P would more than make up for the cost of travel to Paris.

I decided my awesome car radio, which I removed from Sergio’s cold dead dashboard, was coming home with me. I asked a few traveller buddies if you’re allowed to take a car radio onto a Ryanair flight in your hand luggage. Although nobody knew for sure, the verdict was that it would probably be fine as long as I took it out of my bag to go through security.

For obvious reasons, driving to Paris was out of the question. Europcar Ruffec refused to let us extend our rental agreement and drop the car off in Beauvais, and no other car hire companies would trust us with a motor after what happened to Sergio.

So what were we to do?

Get on a train, of course!

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After the Crash

So back to the exciting story of the car crash that changed our lives… forever.*

*Most things change my life forever. I recently discovered that adding a pot of cheap yoghurt to a marinade has amazing results. I honestly don’t think I’ll ever cook chicken any other way. 

Despite my attempts to calm down a very shaken James by telling him that it’s “just a fender bender” and that “we’ll be back on the road again in a week”, it seemed that for once I was being optimistic.

The AA arranged for our car to be towed to the nearest garage (I actually drove it home from the scene of the crime) and then paid for us to get a taxi to Ruffec, the nearest town with a Europcar.  They also paid for us to hire a Ford Focus for a week, which was brilliant as we were in the middle of the countryside.

Quick note for anyone following in our footsteps and driving abroad: get AA European breakdown cover. It was an absolute life-saver. Our insurance company were brilliant at paying out, but aside from that they didn’t anything else that you’d expect: such as speaking to the garage, or offering a courtesy car. Basically, if it wasn’t for the AA, we’d have been buggered.

Read on for the harrowing tale of what happens after you write off a car in France.

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Cocoa Boutique Review

I’ll admit, I hate it when semi-literate freelance linkbuilders writers contact me looking for cheeky backlinks in exchange for a poorly written article (bad writing is my job, dammit!). But if there’s one thing I cannot resist, it’s the offer of a lovely freebie to review.

And this freebie from Cocoa Boutique was particularly lovely.

I wasn’t sure who Cocoa Boutique were before they offered me some chocolates to sample, so if you’re similarly clueless allow me to explain. Cocoa Boutique are a chocolate tasting club; similar to Naked Wines or

Virgin Wines or Laithwaites, except instead of a box of exciting wines from independent producers each month you’re getting a box of exciting chocolates from fancy schmancy chocolatiers. Great news for all of you who want to join a club but don’t like vino! Sarah, I’m looking at you.

The box I was sent to review was the ‘best of the best’ box, which is sent to everyone as the standard introductory package for September 2012. The sample size was huge, so I gathered my parents and James around for a gander…

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