Harry Potter and the Edinburgh Spell – Part 2

Welcome back to the Harry Potter and Edinburgh fun for PART TWO!

In case you missed PART ONE, here’s a link to catch you up- CLICK HERE.

Wands at the ready? Read on…

Here’s Your Harry Potter Check List for Edinburgh:

George Heriots School

CAPTION: George Heriot’s School. Image photographed by Court Jeremiah.

1. George Heriot’s School (Address: Lauriston Place, Edinburgh EH3 9EQ)–
This stunning school is best viewed just before dusk as the medieval brick-work just ‘pops’ against the colourful sky.

Potter Trail

CAPTION: The Potter Trail isn’t just locations and legends-it’s a performance, featuring performer ‘Becky’. Image photographed by Court Jeremiah.

2. Potter Trail TOUR (Meet at The Greyfriar’s Bobby Statue)–
A free walking tour which takes you to most of the Edinburgh connections with Harry Potter – free, goes for 1-1.5hours – the best reason to go is the Guides are extremely theatrical, it’s a performance that happens to give you the full story of J.K. Rowling and detailed significance of each location, plus key Scottish History – win-win. There’s absolutely no question they haven’t heard before and to add to the fun – you get a wand to play with.
I loved it, shout out to Becky (pictured above) – I see just why Potter Trail is in the Top 20 Best Attractions in Edinburgh on Trip Advisor. HERE’S THE SITE.


Greyfriars Kirkyard CJ

CAPTION: Medieval Tones meet Harry Potter where some of the characters’ names were sought. Image photographed by Court Jeremiah.

3. Grey Friars Kirkyard (Address: Greyfriars Place, Edinburgh. EH1 2QQ) –
Here you can walk up and the down graveyard as JK would when she was thinking up characters for the book, who knows maybe it’ll inspire you to write your own amazing stories.


Edinburgh Castle

CAPTION: The enchanting Edinburgh Castle ‘on the rock’.

4. Edinburgh Castle (Address: Castlehill, Edinburgh EH1 2NG.) –
The Castle itself is a masterpiece and whether you’re on a Harry Potter trek or not, it is a must-see. A Castle on a rock! REPEAT THAT. All the Hogwarts feels.

Elephant House Cafe

CAPTION: Elephant House Café, part of the story that produced Harry Potter but not it’s “birthplace”.

5. Elephant House Café (Address: 21 George IV Bridge, Edinburgh EH1 1EN)
Grab a hot chocolate and a spot in the window, best advice is to go quite early – say 7-8am before the crowds, take your seat and watch the city pass you by.
If you’re feeling cheeky – the best little cake shop I’ve ever been to is a couple doors down, nom nom nom.

Nicolson's Cafe

CAPTION: Renamed to Spoon, Nicolson’s Café is set along Nicolson’s Street.

6. Nicolson’s Café- Now renamed ‘Spoon’ (Address: 6a Nicolson Street, Edinburgh EH8 9DH) –
Have a cuppa’ here! There’s an official plaque there that states it’s use as Rowling’s place to write for the early chapters of HP.  Get away from all that ‘Hype’ of the Elephant House Café and give it a good look. Very close to Edinburgh University while you’re there…

Balmoral Hotel

CAPTION: The Balmoral Hotel, where the last lines of Harry Potter would be completed.

7. Balmoral Hotel – (Address: 1 Princes St, Edinburgh EH2 2EQ)
Definitely visit and ‘snap’ away, or have High Tea there! In the chance you do have the kind of coin it would require, you can actually stay in the room (Room 552) where the final book was completed and find the sneaky spot where J.K inscribed her name.

Victoria Street

CAPTION: Victoria Terrace is the most obvious connection to inspiring Diagon Alley. Image Photographed by Court Jeremiah.

8. Victoria Street ( Address: Victoria St., Edinburgh EH1 2HE) – There’s supposedly a few places of inspiration but to me this screams ‘Diagon Alley’. This is renowned by tours and locals as the OBVIOUS replica and favourite. Sadly though, the shops in Victoria Street hear about H.P. ALL THE TIME and are not experts – so please avoid bombarding them with questions, plus; most are just not quite as excited as we are!

Cockburn Street

CAPTION: Cockburn Street, Edinburgh. Also linked to Diagon Alley.

9. Cockburn Street (Address: Cockburn St, Edinburgh.) Another supposed inspiration for Diagon Alley and definitely worth a look. Do you own comparisons with Victoria Street… They’re close in location also.

JK Edinburgh Home

CAPTION: J.K. Rowling’s Edinburgh Home.

10. J.K.Rowling’s Edinburgh Home (Address: 1 Abbotsford Park, Edinburgh, Midlothian EH10 5DX) – Now, I’m really not encouraging any major-stalking… but a little peak never hurt did it? This building is just beautiful and every bit as enchanting as the owner herself.

JK Handprints

CAPTION: J.K. Rowling’s handprints are showcased in Edinburgh.

11. J.K Rowling’s Handprints (Address: 253 High St, Edinburgh EH1 1YJ)-
Very cool to see, the hands that changed history have forever been immortalised in the Edinburgh City Chambers. For good measure, give them a look – J.K. placed her hands down for setting in Caithness Stone after winning the Edinburgh Award in 2008. THE CHAMBERS WEBSITE.

Edinburgh City

CAPTION: Edinburgh city, is like no other. Curtesy of Wikipedia.

12. Walk around Edinburgh City (especially Old Town)– just like J.K. Rowling would in her day to day and I’m sure for further inspiration of imagery, characters and the world of Harry Potter.

If you’re still not done AND WAY TOO EXCITED…
Why not Continue the ‘Harry Potter’ Journey in Scotland:
Most of the significant Harry Potter scenes were filmed in the Harsh Highlands of Scotland – Fort William, Glencoe, Glenfinnan Viaduct, Loch Leven and more.

Glenfinnan Train

CAPTION: Hogwarts Express over Glenfinnan Viaduct thanks to Instagrammer/Photographer Grant Sloane – @rolling_sloane

Here’s a few connections for you specifically:
1. You know the flying-car scenes in Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets when Ron’s driving above the train? Well that’s filmed in a place up North called Glenfinnan Viaduct where the Jacobite Train steams on through twice daily. Plus if you grab a spot up high- it’s a great view, and you too can grab that ‘Insta-worthy image’ of it’s journey passed you.
Oh and FYI, it’s totally possible to ride the Jacobite Steam Train/Hogwarts Express, CLICK HERE.
2. Filming of Hagrid’s Hut took place in Glencoe, although the Hut itself has been dismantled since the final movie it’s still a great area to check out for HP-feels. – INFORMATION HERE.
3. The Valley of Ben Nevis – The tallest Mountain in the British Isles, the valley below was used for the filming of  Quidditch Matches in the movies.

Avoid Edinburgh in August especially, as a resident of Edinburgh I know first-hand how insane August is- the sun is often shining, and the amazing and equally chaotic ‘International Fringe Festival’ is on for the month. Delays are intense across the city. So unless you HAVE to go then- don’t. You’ll be able to get uncluttered photos and actually check things out without the rush or the queues.
-Before touching the plane down in Edinburgh – I suggest you have a HP’ Movie Marathon just to amp-up your excitement levels.

NEED A PLACE TO STAY DURING THE HARRY POTTER FUN? In Edinburgh, you could say ‘spoilt for choice’, we have 3 hostels here all within Old Town borders and in the heart of all Harry Potter places listed in Edinburgh above – Royal Mile Backpackers, Castle Rock Hostel and High Street Hostel – CLICK HERE.

The success of Harry Potter stems on the readers’ ability to connect and relate to the characters – even if they’re technically the real witches and wizards…
The best thing we can take from J.K. Rowling is that it’s never too late to be who we are born to be – at any age, in any circumstance, in any place.
But for now, it’s time to experience the mystery and the magic Edinburgh had on J.K Rowling and the profound influence it had on the Harry Potter world.

Written by Court Jeremiah.
STH Blog Writer/Photographer.
Please Note: All opinions stated in this Blog are entirely those of the Author.
Images photographed by Court Jeremiah are not to be taken or used without permission.

‘When Cancer Meets Comedy’

Tim Blott Main Image

Introducing ‘Tim Blott’. Photograph by Court Jeremiah.

I’d like to introduce you to the Stella’ Tim Blott.
Tim: Some days he’s that Typical Scot’, some days he’s a Tour Guide and some days he’s an every-day comedian.
Tim is a Veteran with the MacBackpackers Tours company, clocking up’ 20years.
Tim first and fore-mostly is a very likeable fella’.

Rewind time just three weeks ago, I met Tim. Twice in a week actually – lucky me – I was headed into the Highlands for a project and so it happened I hopped on the MacBackpackers Tours Bus for the trip up. Departing from Edinburgh- there he was at the pick-up point helping-out. Then again, in the enchanting ‘Lochside Hostel’ of Loch Ness. Both times I was welcomed into his arms with a BIG hug and a BIG smile. I love a good hug – and Tim offers them like they’re going out of fashion’. In Loch Ness, Tim pulled me aside – he had an idea that he couldn’t contain! He wanted to raise money for Cancer by doing a stand-up comedy show. I don’t remember every detail… but what I do remember is the hope in his eyes, filling up before me with SUCH feeling.
In just seconds, I could feel my veins filling up too- with all the hope and passion I could see before me.

Tim came to Edinburgh this week where we conversed more formally; about what his plan was for how cancer AND comedy could come together.
The talk itself, was accidental – it so happened – that I was walking across a room with visions of hot chocolates dancing in my head and a direction in my feet- headed straight for the Urn.
Tim was walking into that room too, when I heard: “Court! How are you?!”.
Immediate hugs, some light chit-chat to follow and then we got talking…

“You know, Tim…” I said, “I don’t actually know your last name?”. “It’s ‘Blott’, B.L.O.T.T” he told me. “Ah yes, is that a Scottish name?” – “No, it’s an English name, from the North East of England” he went on to tell me how his father’s family were ‘way-back’ English from the hills. Whereas “My Mother’s side – they are from Ballater and Glenbrown, so they’re Scots!” We jokingly-concluded he was a typical ‘mixed-breed’.

Tour Guiding with MacBackpackers: he’s been doing it for 20 years“What made you decide to get into this?” – “I got into this by total accident, I was working as bar-man in Milne’s Bar in Hanover Street…” he responded, “Part of New Town?”, “Aye, going back about 21years…I served a guy, a Kiwi (from New Zealand). He had a guitar! So I asked him “Do you play guitar?” and he said “Ah yeah, I like to play guitar but there’s a music night down at the ‘Canongate’, every Sunday night there that I’m involved with, come along’ if you like live-music!”, well I loved music – so I went on down – there was a Backpacker Open Mic’ Session and while I was playing – there was this guy Scott, speaking to a guy called Jed – who had been employed to start a Tour Company. Well he asked Scott “Do you know any Scottish guys here, that are outgoing, quite entertaining, that would make a good Tour Guide?” and Scott went – “him” pointing a finger at me, and that’s how I got into it!” he said with a big grin.
And the rest is history?”
, exclaiming he said: “THE REST IS HISTORY, COURT!”.

Quirky Tim

Life’s never boring with Tim around. Photograph by Court Jeremiah.

Musician/Bar Man turned Tour Guide!
“I couldn’t believe someone was going to pay me to drive around a beautiful country and talk about my favourite subject matter which was Scotland, and its history! I thought – “What?!” This is amazing!”
“This obviously goes into the category of your Favourite Things To-Do Tim, what else do you love?” I asked. “EVERYTHING” he said to me. “EVERYTHING, I’m passionate about everything – I love history, knowledge, learning, playing music, singing, I love reciting crazy Scottish poems that no-one understands, I LOVE – MORE THAN ANYTHING ELSE- IS MAKING PEOPLE LAUGH!”

“Let’s talk about the Cancer-side of things now… What cancer do you have?” I carefully asked.
“I was diagnosed with Cancer of the Thyroid.” He told me, about what it entailed and the substantialness.
“It’s a VERY scary thing, when someone points the finger and says ‘CANCER’, it’s not very nice” – he then spoke of his luck with having such a great support system and having found it early.
“When did you find out you had cancer?” – “Ah, Middle of July.” Tim confirmed – “Quite recently actually then…” – “Yeah I mean, often people think yeah-nah, not me, couldn’t happen to me. It’s fresh – but you can either let it get to you, or you can make the best of it.”

Tim has been “receiving amazing treatment from NHS” (National Health System) –  he felt compelled to give something back: “That’s where the crazy idea of ‘Timmy’s Big Comedy Night’ came from.”
With hands outstretched, I joked back “Timmy On Tour at The Rock” – “Hey, I like that!” he gasped, I couldn’t take all the credit – I reminded Tim that he had said it to me in the Highlands.

“The best reason I’m doing this, is so that people put their hands in their pockets and put their money where it should be going – to helping people, especially people less fortunate than me. Helping the network of support like ‘Maggies’ who support the families of cancer patients…”

’Maggie’s’ is special because originally a cancer-patient: Maggie Keswick-Jencks, realised back in 1993, that although there was all this “physical help” for patients, there wasn’t really any help for the emotional side of things – either the sufferers OR their family or friends, a foundation was made, today there’s 20 odd Centres across the UK to help with that- for FREE!”  He mentioned that they are funded through people raising funds like he hoped to do.
“The volunteers are so beautiful there, so kind and so caring.”

“The thing Court, about Cancer and going through treatment is, that you feel so humbled- SO, SO humbled.” He said regarding all the support and generosity he’s receiving. “I think, some of the worst situations bring forth the best from people: sheer humanity’”. Tim sat across from me quite perplexed, but he then leant forth to me with his hopes in his eyes still. Tears accompanied: “Exactly. EXACTLY”.

Timmy Castle Image

“It’s time to take action guys!”. Photograph by Court Jeremiah.

Said in serious softness: “I felt COMPELLED to fight cancer- by getting off my ass’ to help do something about it! Not being that person saying I want to do it, I want to do it, I want to do it.” “I just thought: get off your ass and just do it!”

The Show is being held October 7th at the Castle Rock Hostel at 7.30pm, which’ll feature music too.

“Ultimately, what is your goal for this show Timmy?” – “I’d like to get at least 2,000 pounds in donations together for ‘Maggies’, if we could get something like 10,000 pounds… – well that would be just super’!”.

“I’m just willing to be the ‘World’s Biggest Idiot’ if it means that people put their hands in their pockets for some donations to help.”

Any donation: BIG or small, would be so appreciated. CLICK HERE TO DONATE.

selfie time

But wait… It’s ‘selfie time’! Court & Tim at the Rock’

Tim is still that Typical Scot, he’s still a Tour Guide and he’s still your every-day Comedian. Cancer or no Cancer – those things won’t change, what sets Tim apart is a tremendous amount of heart.
I am a better person for having met Tim.

court jeremiahWritten by Court Jeremiah.
STH Blog Writer/Photographer.
General Note: All opinions stated in this Blog are entirely those of the Author. Images photographed by Court Jeremiah are not to be taken or used without permission.


Edinburgh Fringe: Best of the Week

The first week of Fringe is done and dusted and, as you might expect, there are a few standouts from the crowd. Here are some of our must-see picks. Grab your tickets before it’s too late!


Natalie Palimedes

Natalie Palimedes- LAID (comedy, absurdist, clowning)

Part theatre, part clown performance, Laid is as funny as it is unique. Palimedes plays the part of a woman who lays an egg everyday and must decide whether to raise it, or eat it. What ensues in the most ridiculously hilarious hour of theatrical comedy you might see at the Fringe this year.

For more information, please click here


Natalie Palimedes; Pleasance Courtyard (Venue 33), 16:15, £10-12


Trainspotting Live (theatre, drama, comedy)

When you think of Scotland, you think of Trainspotting. So a trip to the Fringe festival would be incomplete without experiencing this interactive homage to the classic book and film of the same name. At times overwhelming to the senses, Trainspotting is genuine, raw and so immersive, you’ll feel accomplished just for getting out of there alive.

For more information, please click here

Trainspotting Live; Venue 150 at EICC (Venue 150), 18:00, 19:45, 21:30,  £10-17.50


Hannah Gadsby- Nanette (comedy, stand up, monologue)


After winning Best Show at this year’s Melbourne International Comedy Festival and Best Comedy at Adelaide Fringe, it’s hard to believe ‘Nanette’ is Gadsby’s swan song. More of a touching monologue about her journey through the comedy scene than a traditional stand up show; you can expect to cry as hard as you laugh.

For more information, please click here

Hannah Gadsby- Nanette; Assembly George Square Studios (Venue 17), 15:50, 17:30, 20:00, £11-12


Sage Francis and B Dolan present: Tricknology (spoken word, political)


Sage Francis and B Dolan bring you spoken word like you’ve never heard before. Hip-Hop beats combine with inspirational messages to bring you a rage-fueled set that will either bring you non-stop Zen or make you want to start a revolution.

For more information, please click here


Sage Francis and B Dolan present: Tricknology; New Town Theatre (Venue 7), 18:35, £15

Edinburgh Fringe: A Survival Guide

Edinburgh Fringe Survival Guide

Edinburgh Fringe Survival Guide

The Edinburgh Festival Fringe is the one of the biggest arts festivals in the world, and with this year being the 70th anniversary it’s sure to be the biggest yet!

Attending the Edinburgh Fringe may seem like a daunting undertaking, so we’ve compiled some tips and tricks to make your Fringe experience the best it can be!



Edinburgh Fringe Programme Guide

Edinburgh Fringe Programme Guide

These big red programmes are everywhere and can help you navigate the thousands of performances being held over the month of August. If that sounds a little…overwhelming, take advantage of some resources that can help narrow down your choices.


The Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society (where the main box office and shop is located) can help you navigate your experience over Fringe.


Also check out online publications such as The Skinny, Chortle, and The List to read reviews and find recommended shows.


Once you’ve selected some shows to see, it’s time to buy tickets! This can be done through the website, in person at one of the box office locations, over the phone, or through the Fringe App.

While there is no mobile ticket option, tickets can be collected all over the city.


Those looking for a deal can check out the Virgin Money Half-Price Hut at The Mound Precinct (Venue 55) for hundreds of discounted tickets.


If you are planning to see free or PWYW shows, carry some change or small bills. These shows typically have a bucket at the end where you can toss in some cash. “I only have card” are the four saddest words for these performers to hear, so be sure you’re ready to show your appreciation!


Some tips on scheduling shows:

  • When planning your shows, pay attention to the venue NUMBER, more so than the venue name. There are many venues around town listed by production company (Underbelly, Assembly, Laughing Horse, etc.) but the venues themselves are nowhere near each other. The venue number is listed clearly in the programme, on the Fringe App and usually on the venue itself. The last thing you want is to be at the Gilded Balloon Rose Theatre when you should be at the Gilded Balloon Teviot!


  • Keep in mind that, unless you are a teleporter, you will not be able to get from a show that ends at 7 in one venue to a show that starts at 7 in another. Some venues do not accept latecomers, so plan accordingly.


  • Be sure to download the Fringe App, and get the Fringe Programme in your pocket! The Fringe App also lets you purchase tickets, add shows to a calendar and find upcoming shows near you!
Edinburgh Fringe Festival App Screenshot

Edinburgh Fringe Festival App Screenshot


Food and Drink


While Edinburgh does have lots of great places to sit down and grab a bite, you should expect long waits and high prices. Instead, beat the crowds by dining al fresco in one of Edinburgh’s many beautiful green spaces. There are many takeaway places in Edinburgh that’ll wrap you up something delicious for under £10.


Here are some of our top picks:

  • Italian Mound (fresh sandwiches & good coffee), 15 Bank St., Old Town
  • Burrito & Shake (huge burritos, open late), 107 South Bridge, Old Town
  • Slice (giant slices of pizza), 49 Forrest Rd., University
  • Mosque Kitchen (Indian buffet/takeaway), 31-33 Nicolson Square, Southside
  • Oink (roast pork sandwiches), 34 Victoria St., 82 Canongate, 38 Hanover St.
  • Baked Potato Shop, 56 Cockburn St., Old Town
  • BRGR (burgers), 4-6 Nicolson St., Southbridge
  • Wings (chicken wings) 5-7 Old Fishmarket Close, Old Town


The Fringe website also has a list of cheap, tasty food as recommended by past Fringe-goers.

edinburgh fringe festival scotland meadows

edinburgh fringe festival scotland meadows

Getting Around

Save your Uber fare and invest in some good walking shoes and a raincoat. While taxis and Ubers are aplenty, Edinburgh isn’t really made for driving at the best of times and Fringe just means more traffic and higher fares. In short…you’d be better off walking.

If you do need to get across town, the buses are good, cheap and have free wifi!


Some tips for getting around Edinburgh:

  • Download a map of Edinburgh to your phone for easy reference without a need for wifi or cell reception. Maps.ME is a great free app that will give you directions that include all the little alleyways and closes that the locals use in lieu of the congested main roads.


  • If possible, when planning to see shows, try to check out one area of the city at a time. And give yourself plenty of time to get to the next show, even if your map tells you it’ll only be a five-minute walk.


  • Use the Fringe App’s “nearby” feature to find a show near you. Part of the Fringe Philosophy is trying new things; so don’t be afraid to take a chance on something just because it’s close by!




Edinburgh is crowded at the best of times, but during Fringe safety plays a big part in your enjoyment of the festival.


Some tips on staying safe:

  • As with any tourist city, keep valuables close to your body and carry a sensible amount of cash.


  • Wear sensible shoes! Edinburgh’s streets are uneven and sometimes slick with rain. Function beats out fashion here- so dress smart!


  • Leave the umbrella at home. This may not seem like a safety issue until you’ve been bludgeoned with a rogue umbrella that’s been blown out of someone’s hand! Umbrellas also cause crowd congestion and make it difficult to maneuver in small spaces. Wear a raincoat instead.


  • If you are in need of medical attention, dial 111 for free medial advice. NHS Lothian also offers free medical attention for tourists during Fringe.




If you find yourself in need of a place to stay during Fringe, consider one of our hostels. Scotland’s Top Hostels has three hostels in Edinburgh- right in the center of all the action! Hostels are much more affordable than hotels and AirBnBs and see a higher rate of cancellation, so before you give up on finding a place to crash, give us a call!


After the Fringe


Ready to trade in the insanity of festival life for a little peace, quiet and serenity? Well, hop on a tour with our award-winning tour company MacBackpackers. We offer 3-, 5-, and 7-day tours around the Scottish Highlands. After planning everything for Fringe, we’ll do all the work. All you have to do is hop on the bus and say goodbye to the Fringe!

Macbackpackers Tours

Macbackpackers Tours

Written by – Jacki Hope
STH Blogger.