Edinburgh, travel guide, scotland, arthurs seat, A Belly Full Of

Climbing to the top of Arthur’s Seat and being blown away of the views of Edinburgh!

Over the Easter weekend I spent a glorious 72 hours in Edinburgh with my partner in crime Josh, and wow, what a gorgeous city. I switched off my social media for the weekend to truly enjoy this incredible city and now I am sharing my top tips for eating gluten and dairy free, and what to see and do, in this city.

Scotland, Arthur's Seat, Bryony Hopkins, A Belly Full Of

That fresh air makes one very happy!

It helped that I was absolutely inundated with suggestions of great places to eat and drink, and for a relatively small city, we were absolutely spoiled for choice! Having said that, most of our finds were on the hoof as we explored, so I hope these gems add to the ever-growing list of allergy friendly places to eat in Edinburgh.

Friday PM and Eve

Edinburgh streets were just gorgeous. This taken on Victoria Street.

So after settling into our gorgeous Air BnB (see below for my tips on accommodation in Edinburgh!), we went on a wonder in the city and came across the pizza parlour Amarone, recommended by the lovely Gluten Free Gatherer and I just had my heart set on pizza for dinner, so we booked ourselves in for that eve. We were also famished, so we stopped off at a brilliant little coffee place called Fortitude Coffee where I had a sticky toffee loaf, which was vegan and gluten free with a black filter coffee. Delissshh and easy to miss, although that loaf was the only allergy friendly option.

Black americano and sticky toffee loaf. The icing was YUM!

Onto dinner and I absolutely loved Amorone (recommended by my pal, the Gluten Free Gatherer!). I went for a chicken and pepper number, without cheese and on a gluten free base and was very impressed. None of this rubbery or tasteless base business, this was extremely crispy. Definitely would recommend!

Unfortunately no vegan cheese, but still delicious with a tomato base

Saturday
The morning started in the search of breakfast, and having been recommended Urban Angel a 1000 times, we tried to grab a table. Unfortunately, they don’t take bookings and we were too hungry to wait 45 mins so ended up in a closer café, which wasn’t great for GF or DF, but did do black tea and a veggie fry up! Luckily we stumbled across a market where I found Missy Vegan Cupcakes and picked myself up a vegan and GF chocolate tiffin, which was HUGE.

This was essentially the fuel that got me to the top of Arthurs Seat! Which I definitely recommend as an activity in Edinburgh – it’s a surprisingly hard climb but absolutely worth it. The views from the top are just insane!



After such a wild trek up to Arthurs Seat (it had been raining all weekend so was a rather treacherous climb, absolute mud bath!), we needed some proper sustenance so found ourselves in a lovely little pub called High Street Number 1 on the Royal Mile. At first glance, it didn’t look like they did much allergy friendly, until we spotted the gluten free fish and chips! Served in GF batter and fried in a separate fryer, this was a GF dream.

It would have been rude to visit Edinburgh trying some of the local booze (I mean, we’re only human!), so we walked a little further up to the Royal Mile where we tried some of the gin offering at a small pub called The Albanach. Edinburgh Gin (this is an actual brand, not just gin from Edinburgh!) was an absolute find. So many gorgeous flavours, so good paired with Fever Tree Tonic. My fave was Rhubarb and Ginger. SO GOOD.


 

Sunday

After waking up with a slightly sore gin head, we were on the prowl for one thing only, BRUNCH! We headed this time towards Leith, as our apartment was just positioned in perfect walking distance between Edinburgh city centre and Leith on the coast. The Roseleaf was positioned just past the canal and WHAT A GEM! Disguised as a rustic pub, this spot did the best brunch skillet I’ve ever tasted and the menu was extremely well labelled for allergens. I went for the vegetarian breakfast skillet, served with a toasted gluten free muffin. The real stars of the show were actually the choice of juices and hot drinks. First we went for the ‘Red Cappuccino’ – a twist on a classic chai latte but infused with more cinnamon and ginger. I had mine with soya milk and it was beautifully rich and creamy. Then we went onto the juice menu (because you know, holiday) and particularly loved The Heartbeat (pomegranate, apple and raspberry) and the coconut crush (pineapple, coconut water and apple). Would definitely recommend this gem!

For dinner we headed to an incredible artisan Italian deli that was right next to our apartment called Valvona and Crolla. Think high ceilings stacked with wines, cured meats, pastas, sauces and fresh vegetables. They had a whole row of fresh Italian gluten free pastas, so we picked up some bits for a night in at the apartment. Served with a bottle of red it was the perfect (albeit) unusual Easter Sunday dinner.


Monday

With only the morning left we had to fill the time the best way possible, BRUNCH! We headed to Urban Angel which I had been recommended by near enough everyone for a great gluten free brunch! We had to wait 40 minutes for a table, but the delicious gluten free bread did not disappoint. I mixed and matched, with smoked salmon, poachies and Portobello mushrooms on the plate paired with one of my fave hot beverages, turmeric latte. Gorgeous.

Travel (London to Edinburgh)
So there is much discussion about the best way to get to Edinburgh and as it was our anniversary weekend (5 years!), we splashed out on first class tickets on Virgin Trains and I honestly couldn’t recommend this form of travel enough. You literally hop on at Kings Cross and it’s only four and half-hours into the centre of Edinburgh. Complementary beverages and sandwiches are included(unfortunately not GF or DF), so make sure you stock up on snacks from Waitrose or M&S at Kings Cross. We probably paid about £150 each for a first class return, which was definitely worth it for the space and free wifi!

Accommodation


I really didn’t know anything about Edinburgh before this trip, so wasn’t sure what or where to go for in terms of accommodation. However, Josh & I are massive Air BnB fans (honestly best places I’ve ever stayed in Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Marbella etc), so we booked an apartment about 8 mins walk from the train station on Brunswick Street. The apartment was gorgeous and owned by the friendliest couple, Pat and George. They left milk in the fridge (for Josh obvs), cereal and the place was immaculate. Perfect location to walk into the city centre, as it was only about 15 minutes. Check out our apartment here.

Would love to hear if you use any of these travel tips in your future travels to Edinburgh!

 

Check out my Pitstop Guide to Copenhagen for more travel tips!
BRYONY HOPKINS, A BELLY FULL OF BRYONY

bryonyhopkins

This blog post has been in the pipeline for a few weeks now. Well, since my gastro consultant told me for the first time in my entire life that I’m in ‘clinical remission’ from my Crohns Disease. Big announcement. Big two words – two words I wasn’t expecting to hear, AT ALL! (See below for what remission means)
I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what it means to be in remission and how my body feels and I think it’s important I share this. Let’s rewind quickly first though… why was being told I’m in ‘clinical remission’ such a big deal – yet such a surprise at the same time? I was diagnosed with Crohns Disease at the age of four – which now at the age of 25, is a staggering 21 years ago.

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Loving the liquid diet life back in April 2016…

I recently candidly told my story for the first time for World IBD Day, which was featured in the Huffington Post. You can see the article here.So 21 years of fighting, dealing with medication, being cut open time and time again… until spring 2016 when I found myself in the middle of ANOTHER FLARE. All I could think was geez, not this s**t again.I was told outright I needed to go on high dose steroids to get things under control and I just couldn’t do it. I made the decision to go on a four-week liquid diet – which turned out to be a massive turning point in my entire Crohns journey. You can read about my liquid diet journey here.
So fast forward a year, and I’m sitting opposite my consultant who has seen me through thick and thin since I was 17. He’s a straight talking man, but a man I know has a lot of time for me (it’s a personal challenge every single appointment to make him crack a smile! I succeed every time, obvs). We run through the usual things and out of nowhere, he says ‘well, it looks like to me you’re in clinical remission’. There was a long pause, until I said, ‘well, nobody has ever said that to me before!’ Cue the smile from Doc and he said I’m by far the healthiest he’s ever seen me. He let me go after agreeing to reduce my adlimumab injections to every fortnight and told me to enjoy the summer.
I walked out the hospital in a complete state of disbelief. CLINICAL REMISSION – WHAT THE F**K? How did that happen? How did I not even see that coming? I still suffer stomach pain, bloating and fatigue. Whilst I’m not passing blood, I still have to manage my lifestyle to contain my symptoms. I evaluated the past year since the liquid diet and it finally dawned on me. This remission isn’t a result of adlimumab , a drug I have taken for over 7 years now. This remission was a result of me changing my diet and lifestyle. As I travelled back into London from my specialist hospital in Oxford I thought – I BLOODY DID THIS. And how have I gone 21 years without anyone telling me to evaluate my diet and lifestyle sooner?!? I felt weirdly elated yet frustrated that I could have done something a lot sooner if I had known what impact a year of change would make.
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I continue to feel extremely lucky that I’ve reached this point in my life, but I still won’t be lured into feeling secure. I have had a few people say to me now ‘oh you’re in remission? Well brilliant, you’re alright forever now then!’ Well no, that’s not quite how it works. As we all know, IBD (I’m talking Crohns & Colitis here) is a chronic condition and can rear its ugly head at any time. A fact that I’ve been conditioned to never forget (although I wish I could!) Additionally, being in ‘remission’ doesn’t mean I no longer feel pain, bloating and extreme fatigue. I still have to very carefully manage my life and diet. Eating one thing that disagrees with me, being too exhausted or stressed can quickly send me in a little downward spiral. Self-management and self-care doesn’t stop at the phrase ‘clinical remission’… the journey never ends!
Having said that, the biggest lesson I have learnt is that the medical professionals don’t always know EVERYTHING. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t be where I am today without the incredible support from my Gastro team at the John Radcliffe in Oxford, but it was my decision to do the liquid diet and make a lifestyle overhaul. That being said, it’s not always easy and there may be a lot of trial and error. What I’m saying is try different things, do your research and know that you can make a difference to your illness.
And for me – I’m going to live life the fullest and continue sharing the journey with you!

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Sunning in Marbella with my favourite people and smiling because I can!

**So what is ‘remission’? Achieving remission means stopping symptoms as well as inflammation. Another way to think of remission is as a span of time when your disease becomes inactive or quiet.**
As always, I’d love to hear what you think.
Follow me on Instagram here. And on Twitter here.
BRYONY HOPKINS, A BELLY FULL OF BRYONY

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I’ve been lucky to take some incredible trips already this year, and I am so excited to share them with you! I’m going to start with Copenhagen, the land of hygge. I remember my Mum & Dad talking to me about this word about 2 years ago, and I honestly had no idea what they were talking about. They kept telling me they felt hygge when they sat in the garden – but what the hell is hygge?? Pronounced ‘hue-gah’, it is essentially acknowledging a moment which is special, precious and warming – whether you are alone or with friends. This isn’t a process of buying something to achieve hygge, it is literally a moment of warm loveliness and being aware of it. Sounds pretty lush right?
So when my boyfriend booked a weekend trip to the Danish capital, I was over the moon. I’d never visited any of the nordic countries before and was extremely intrigued. And I have to add – it is beyond beautiful. Definitely one of the cleanest, friendliest capital cities I have ever visited… not to mention the food! I’ve packed all my Danish knowledge into this punchy twelve top tips – so when you go (not if, because you HAVE to go!), you will be fully armed with the information to have the weekend of a lifetime.

  1. Pack for all weather types. Like the UK, the weather in the nordic countries can be extremely hit and miss. We took our trip in June, and I packed for rain, sun, cold, storms – the lot! In the space of 72 hours we experienced an all day thunderstorm and a heatwave. So pack smart – and make sure you pack comfortable walking shoes!
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    Walking through the parks in the heatwave!

  2. You can do a 72 hour trip because the city is tiny. You can walk across the city in under an hour and so it is possible to see a lot in a small amount of time. The flight time is only around an hour and a half from the UK, which means you can fly on a Friday morning and be back on Sunday, and still see so much!
  3. Book an Air BnB. Denmark is on the more expensive side – think London prices, plus a little more! For this reason, I recommend booking an Air BnB instead of a hotel. The city is packed with apartments, crammed on top of each other, but they are all beautiful and make excellent use of space. Additionally, it’s worth staying in an Air BnB to get a vibe for the danish interior design – which is just to die for. We stayed in a beautiful apartment in Norreport, with a dreamy kitchen. The Danes love the healthy lifestyle and our apartment was full of vegan and gluten free treats. AMAZING!
  4. Eat everything at Torvehallerne food market. The best part of staying in Norreport was the INSANE food market which was right on our doorstep. Torvehallerne food market is packed with over 60 stands of unique food sellers flogging the most amazing fresh goods. Literally everything you could imagine -from artisan coffee, to massive chocolate eclairs and numerous juice bars. And the best part? SO MANY DAIRY AND GLUTEN FREE OPTIONS! I enjoyed gluten free muffins, dairy free chocolate mousse and so many types of chia seed pudding. This seafood platter was another bonus – we enjoyed this for lunch twice over the weekend!
  5. Enjoy the parks. The green spaces are the bread and butter of Copenhagen. I always thought London did well for beautiful parks and gardens – but Copenhagen trumps us to another level! I would definitely recommend having a stroll around as many as you can. Orstedparken is beautiful, with a river running through it and right next to Torvehallerne food market – so perfect for a luxurious picnic. The gardens of Rosenborg Castle Gardens are also absolutely stunning and the Kastellet gardens will lead you right to the famous Little Mermaid statue!
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Rosenborg Castle Garden

6. Go and see the Little Mermaid… but don’t expect to be overwhelmed.  Fairy tale Hans Christian Andersen wrote the original version of The Little Mermaid and there is a statue on the Copenhagen waterside to honour this. The Den lille Havfrue is a must see, but it is tiny!!
7. Tivoli Gardens is a MUST visit. We were told by many friends that we HAD to go to Tivoli Gardens – but having taken the name at face value, I was just expecting another green space. Oh no – Tivoli Gardens is another world of it’s own. Think beautiful garden with restaurants/theme park/park/open air theatre. It’s all of these and so much more!You could easily spend a day getting lost here, although be prepared to spend some money and queue for rides. We enjoyed just strolling around and didn’t choose to eat there, though there were certainly a wealth of food options. Very touristy, but definitely worth the entrance fee, just to absorb the atmosphere and admire the pretty gardens.
8. Take a lot of spending money because it is expenny. Think exclusive and think London prices. We paid around £7-£8 for an alcoholic drink (Aperol Spritz or beer) and more for food. FYI they operate in Danish Krona – not to be confused with Swedish krona or Norwegian krone.
9. Everything is fresh and seasonal – which explains the prices! The food is to die for and would definitely recommend sampling their fresh seafood. They are also crazy for rye bread – which unfortunately us gluten free folk can’t tolerate, but my boyfriend loved the healthier bread option
10. Drink by the harbour in Nyhavn. This is one of the most iconic spots in Copenhagen, and the one you’ve probably seen on Google images and on postcards. The harbour is stunning, leading out to the open waters of the sea and there are hundreds of bars along either side, with blankets and heaters outside when it’s cold, and umbrellas for when it’s warm. The atmosphere is buzzing and many locals come down with a crate of beers and drink on the waters edge. This was my favourite place to come and people watch – and they made a mean Aperol Spritz!IMG_7339
11. And you can drink their tap water! This was pretty revolutionary for me, as I as standard drink around 2 litres of water a day, even more when it’s hot and we’re walking across the city! Denmark is a land enriched by water and they take pride in helping it enhance their lives. For this reason, Denmark has some of the cleanest drinking water in the world. They believe it’s the richest and most important resource they have – good on them!
12. Walk up the longest pedestrian road in Europe. Strøget is the longest pedestrian road in Europe and is full of designer and high street shops. In the later afternoon and evening, you can find street performers attracting large crowds and people pulling around vast amounts of shopping bags. A shopaholic’s dream!
For more of my Copenhagen photos, see my Instagram @abellyfullofbryony.
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bryonyhopkins

After my Crohn’s journey blog post for World IBD day was picked up by Huff Post, I was over the moon when they asked me to write another piece for their campaign ‘Everybody’. The campaign seeks to redefine and empower those living with disabilities and invisible illnesses, whilst raising awareness of the modern lifestyle with such conditions. I took this opportunity to write a piece about positive body image when your body has been through the mill – and I’d love to share it with you below.
Let’s take a minute to talk about positive body image. Do you feel positive about your body? Do you love everything about yourself? Do you embrace everything you have and your flaws? This question is becoming increasingly hard to answer. Now imagine you have something on your body which is a little unusual. A scar, stretch marks, a burn… or in some cases, a little part of your intestine sticking out of your stomach to form an ileostomy bag. This little bag has saved your life. The scar has saved your life. Yet why is it so hard to get it out in public?
I have lived with an invisible illness for over twenty years – which at the age of twenty-five, is pretty much my entire life! Crohns Disease is an autoimmune disease, which can affect any part of the digestive tract. The body attacks itself, causing bleeding, ulcers, extreme stomach pain, nausea and diarrhoea (I know, mega glam!) I am just one of over 300,000 people in the UK living with Inflammatory Bowel Disease (we abbreviate to IBD). The disease can manifest itself in a million and one ways, which mean every single person’s journey is different. No two IBD stories will be the same – but the feelings at the core often are. My journey started when I was four years old and to date I have been under the knife seven times. Which means of course, my body has taken a bit of a bruising – internally and externally. Simultaneously, my confidence has taken multiple blows too.

The journey I have come on to accept who I am and what I look like has been long, arduous – and painful. And I’m not talking physical pain here; I’m talking about gut wrenching emotional pain.scar 2016 At the age of twelve my large intestine was so ulcerated and swollen, the only answer was to remove the whole thing. To be in a position where your body is rejecting an organ is a funny concept to get your head around, but I was so sick, I just wanted it out. To remove this, they had to make a 30cm incision, from just below my chest to below my pelvis. They then had to form an ileostomy, which I lived with for three years. This ileostomy transformed my quality of life and medically, I was the healthiest I had ever been. My confidence however, was on the floor.
My family has always instilled a great sense of perseverance in me, and so even though my teenage years were a monumental struggle, I still did everything my friends did. I went on school trips, sleepovers, did P.E classes and even had boyfriends. But I was constantly anxious, private and not myself. It was like my ileostomy and my scar had wrapped me in a Perspex box and I whilst I was physically there, I couldn’t engage in the way I wanted to. Most of all, I kept everything a secret. I didn’t talk about my Crohns, I certainly didn’t talk about my bag and I DEFINITELY didn’t talk about my gut issues. This was ten years ago now and I have since had my ileostomy reversed, but the memory of how I felt remains strong. I often open up my social media accounts and feel proud about how much awareness has been raised in the past few years and how many people are open about their IBD experiences. There was a time when talking about gut issues was taboo and embarrassing. Whilst it still might not be the best dinner chat, the grow of Insta-famous nutritionists and health bloggers mean there is now a forum for talking about this kind of stuff; there is a community sitting there waiting for you to unlock it and find the support you need. The fact I am even writing this article is a beautiful thing!! The growth of online support and awareness really couldn’t come at a better time; the rate of IBD diagnosis’ in young adults is at an all-time high… and rising.
Scars are beautiful because they demonstrate a battle won. The point is that there is no such thing as an ‘imperfections’. Who defines what is or isn’t perfect anyway?! If you have stretch marks because you’ve carried a baby, own it! If you have stretch marks because you’ve gone on an incredible journey to lose weight, own it! If you have spot scars from your teenage years, own it! And why should you own it?bryony bikini 3
Because ultimately, not accepting the way you are will only make you unhappy. Everybody is beautiful in his or her own way. If you’re body has overcome something amazing why should that be hidden? I’m not saying it’s easy by any stretch of the imagination, and there will surely be tears lost along the way to finding your way to body confidence. I used to walk around in a bikini with my hands covering my belly to hide my scar! But to my mind, if your body has been through the wars and has overcome it, then it should be screamed from the rooftops! MY BODY IS AMAZING AND THIS SCAR SHOWS YOU WHY!
Living with an invisible illness is a paradox, with which I still struggle. I want to look healthy and the same as all my peers, yet I also want people to understand the pain and struggles felt on a daily basis. Whilst looking completely normal, I want someone to rub my back and say ‘don’t worry Bryony, I understand you’re in pain/you feel sick/ you’re exhausted… Why don’t you take it easy today?’ On paper, it sounds absolutely bonkers (and also SO unrealistic!!) – yet this is the genuine dilemma of so many of us living with invisible illnesses. You can’t see it, so I’m fine, right!? It’s a total double-edged sword. Yet I’ve come to realise that humankind is pretty amazing at times. People understand more than you know and if they don’t, I’m no longer scared to put the record straight. Everyone has life experiences, which should be shared and learned from. Visual body victories are no different!! Share your knowledge, own your scar and tell the world what you’re all about. Your perspective on life is unique; and so very precious.
How is your body amazing? I’d love you to share your stories with me – in the comments below or on my social media channels to the right 🙂
Read the article in Huff Post here. 
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bryonyhopkins

As usual, this month I have been eating my way through the best gluten free, dairy free and vegan eateries in London and this week I’m sharing one of my all time favourite cafes – and a new little find. 
Kin Café
Price: £
I am completely obsessed with this café. Not least because it is right beside my office, but because the food is absolutely on point. Kin is tucked away about a seven minute walk from Oxford Circus and Great Portland Street tube station. Blink and you would miss it, it is so small, but as soon as you step inside you are greeted with their delicious spread of vegan and gluten free goodies. The breakfast menu is insane and so reasonably priced! The gluten free and vegan pancakes covered in fresh fruit and seeds are to die for, and they can cook it up right there for you to take away and enjoy at your desk. 

pancake to die for

I also regularly enjoy their Chia pudding – also vegan, which is so creamy and topped with different fresh fruit everyday. The menu is also filled with creamy Mexican eggs, overnight oats and every topping on sourdough toast you could think of (including avo!)
 Aside from the breakfast, I would go there just for a matcha latte. The blend of matcha versus milk (I always have almond milk) is so delicious; I could easily drink five in a row. The lunch menu changes daily, always with a vegan twist on a popular classic. Vegan hot dogs for example or vegan crab cakes! 

Matcha latte with almond milk – SO delicious

They also serve the most delicious array of cakes, biscuits and loaves. ALL VEGAN AND GLUTEN FREE! AND NOT DRY AS A BONE! The coffee has also been praised by many of my colleagues – ‘a super smooth blend’, someone actually said to me! At the moment Kin is not open for dinner… but I’m told they are starting a supper club soon..! The great news is that they do cater for parties – and their menu looks divine. Definitely worth exploring if you’re hosting a large do!
So what are you waiting for? Get yo’ arse to Kin.
 Niche
Price: ££
I have to give all credit for finding this place to my boyfriend, who recently took me here for dinner. Situated just near Angel tube station, it is a bit of a pain to find but once you step in, you’re greeted with a very pristine, cute little restaurant. Niche is completely and one hundred percent gluten free – meaning it is a coeliac’s dream! Niche has a typically British menu, with steaks, burgers, pies and bangers and mash featuring strongly. They also had a great list of huge salads. I was so excited at the prospect of being able to eat a dish like bangers and mash, I went straight for the heaviest option on the menu! 

you could choose from 4 different types of sausages!

Sausages typically have gluten in them and I was on cloud nine when I saw they were accompanied with onion rings. Onion rings I could actually eat!
 Unfortunately, our mistake came in that we also ordered starters. And a bread basket. Credit to the waiter, he did warn us that it would be too much food – but we were ‘starving’! I had a delicious light crab salad for starter, whilst Josh had deep fried mozzarella balls (obviously not all things on the menu are dairy free!) 

Avocado and crab starter with bread basket

Although it was light, I was completely overwhelmed with food when the sausages, mash and onion rings arrived. Note here – the portions are HUGE! If you’re going for a big main – you definitely don’t need a starter. OR a bread basket! Sadly I didn’t get to sample the desserts – but I will be sure to go back to try these. 😉 Overall, delicious gluten free food that you wouldn’t usually get to eat – but one hearty main plus a drink is PLENTY enough! Great for evening socialising.
Enjoy!! 

bryonyhopkins