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Girl Skater Tales: Harriet Alana explores the wilds of Edinburgh

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Skater and illustrator Harriet Alana headed north of the border with tattooist boyfriend Alex to explore the wilds of Scotland from the skatepark to the mountains. 

Arriving at Edinburgh Waverly station in a bustle, our rushed glances at the tremendous architecture in the car on the way to my aunt and uncle’s Edwardian home had us hyped about the trip to come.

The quest of day one was navigating our way to the Den of Iniquity, Scotland’s finest tattoo studio. Alex, a tattooist, was keen to investigate; Through the large black Victorian door, the Den boasts a high ceiling interior. Dark wooden cabinets and bureaus furnish the ruby-red room and the walls are decorated with framed sheets of traditional flash.

Alex introduced himself to Mark McEwan, one of the tattooists and they hit it off instantly chatting all things ink. We were kindly given prints by head tattoo artist, Ed Staples, and then we made tracks to our next cultural destination, but not before Alex booked himself in for a tattoo.

Whilst Alex was getting inked the next day, I rambled alone up Carlton Hill – Edinburgh’s first park, which opened in the 1700’s for the benefit of the population’s health. A refreshing space to rejuvenate from the busy city which at the summit, the entire city and beyond can be seen – the coast to the east, north to the old town and west to Arthur’s Seat, the city’s inactive volcano.

Edinburgh is an ancient city with evidence suggesting habitation from as early as 8500 BC. An expanding population of the capital in the 17th century meant houses needed to increase in height to accommodate the city’s needs. These 11-storey buildings built on the hillsides are what give the city its dramatic layered effect. Steeples of Gothicism alongside turreted houses and grand hotels built in old blue-y grey and cream stone. After a couple of hours meditating through my pencils, I returned to the Den of Iniquity to find Alex with a permanent picture of a frog playing a banjo on his leg!


The next stop on our culture tour was Analogue Bookshop, an independently run store selling artisan books and zines from local and far-a-field creatives. Here, I found two of my favourite art books, In The Wilds and In The City; colourful drawing journals of time spent in two opposite environments, by former Edinburgh University Student Nigel Peake.

As we left Analogue, the skies opened, we ran for cover and found ourselves sheltered by an Aladdin’s cave of wearable curiosities. It was W.Armstrong & Son, a vintage clothes and fancy dress shop. From the high ceiling hung a life-sized 3D model of a moustached 1920’s diver watching over the store, packed to the rafters with Victorian circus memorabilia and 70’s fashion.

Our second day in Edinburgh was dry and sunny skate appropriate weather, so we headed to the gigantean skate mecca that is Saughton. It offers a monstrous bowl in the centre and mini ramp adjoining and a separate deep bowl. There is a street section offering plenty of flat space amongst a great assortment of obstacles including rails, steps, angular hips, ledges and many different flat banks. I flung myself up most of them finding a short, steep bank to be most effective for that feel-good ollie.

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Alex demonstrated his array of impressive tricks including a front blunt, noted by an impressed local who introduced himself as TJ. The friendly locals, who initiated conversation, humbled us. Just like at any other skate park, they were a mixed bunch in age, ability and appearance, all with that shared love of shreddin’ the gnar. We gave out zines and stickers and took our boards apart. I gave mine to a long-haired fellow who’d been killin’ it – John Cardiel style – all day. His board was mashed.

After several days in the city it was time to see what Scotland’s wild had to offer us. Yellowcraig is an almost untouched beach on the East coast. To reach it, you have to walk through a small forest and then through the long golden grass of the dunes before seeing the treasure that is this beautiful, craggy stretch of coastline.

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It was a blustery, yet clear day with the ocean particularly clear at the shoreline and a rich azure shade out to sea. There are many scattered islands, including Bass Rock, a steep-sided volcanic rock and home for guillemots, razorbills, seals and over 150,000 gannets.

Shoreline explored, it was time to travel north, our mission was to camp in the wilds of the Trossachs. We borrowed a basic map and planned a rough route to go by on a two-day trail.

Our trek began on the old railway line in the forest. We were at the foot of the mountain, passing babbling brooks and spruces covered in lichen. Our ascent up the ‘Ben’ began. It was magical. Two inquisitive beings exploring the wilderness, content in the quiet presence of each other. There was an endless plethora of stunning views.

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After a day of hiking – quiet interactions with timid birds, steep ascents and varied weather – we found the perfect camping spot as the sun finally came out. Tent up and camping knife in hand, I located and cut up firewood from large fallen branches while Alex arranged rocks from the neighbouring stream in a pagan-like circle. Newspaper rolled, perfectly poised firewood, flames a flare – it was time to cook.

The rewarding sound of sizzling (veggie) sausages accompanied by Scottish whisky and great conversation to me proved the true meaning of our trek – this was love, happiness, wholesome being – real living.

The fire died and the midges arose – time to retreat. We snuggled up like hibernating bear cubs and slept soundly through the cold and mostly peaceful night with only the sporadic rustles of what must have been a curious mountain sheep.

We rose to a lovely day not a clue or care to the time. Egg sarnies for breakfast – thank you, Alex. He was in his element; “There’s nothing quite like cooking yourself breakfast on the mountainside, Harriet.”

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Despite a good night’s kip and a lighter load on our backs, our packs felt heavy on our knees as we gradually headed down the track. Our slow descent led us to the Falls of Docart; where a river flows over boulders through the town of Killin and into Loch Tay. Alex and I refreshed here for a while as the afternoon sun shone down, before the last stretch back to base.

We arrived back weary, but contented, in a dream-like state. A steaming cuppa in our hands, we spent the evening drawing and writing about our adventures in Scotland. Our most awakening experience in the wild proved that sleeping and living outside is wondrous. Despite its challenges, it’s something everyone needs to experience for the sake of our planet. Learning, whilst living within nature, is key to educate us all of the importance of protecting the natural world around us.VLUU L200  / Samsung L200


Film Review: Stephanie in the water


By Gina Burns

Stephanie Gilmore’s highs and lows from being a five times world champion athlete are documented in the film Stephanie in the Water, directed by Ava Warbrick.

Competing since 2001 as a child she won her first world title in 2007 at just age 17. In the film her smile radiates across the screen  and it is easy to see where she gets her nickname “Happy Gilmore”.

Intimate footage of her and her fellow surfer girls show true friendship and girl power at the house in Hawaii. However Stephanie shares deep feelings of how she has a large network including other high profile surfers such as Alana Blanchard yet she feels separated and different than the rest of the group. Ava and her crew must have become close friends with Gilmore due to the open nature and details in her story.


She held the world title for four years before a very traumatic experience effected her performance and she had to personally hand her trophy to Carissa Moore. The mood of the film changes dramatically at this point, it is clear that Stephanie cannot accept losing her title – and she starts refusing interviews.

Determined to get back on track, rather than practising in the waves Stephanie uses the technique of balancing on a ball for more than 2 hours at a time. The theory behind being that it avoids any opportunity to have a bad set which would psych the competitor out before a competition.

The final section of the documentary film see’s Stephanie on top form regaining her title in 2012 and then showing her free surfing some sweet right hand barrels.

The film provides less actual surf action than expected, however, it does reveal the tale of Stephanie’s life and a better understanding of the true pressure an athlete faces.


5 minutes with Stephanie Gilmore & Ava Warbrick:


So what was the time frame of shooting the film?

AW: There was no end game really – We had an extremely small crew which was all women and sometimes it was just myself filming so that we could get as much natural footage as possible.


Obviously you have won a lot of competitions, which would you say were your best wins?

SG: It’s hard to pick but if I had to choose my favourite wins were at Honolulu bay. Another best surf win would be in France as it was on Bastille day the beach was crazy!


When do you expect women to start surfing at places like pipeline? Is there talk of a women’s competition there?

SG: There is talk of a Women exhibition at pipeline actually so fingers crossed i won’t drown. (laughs)


When are we going to see money makers?

SG:  I think guys and girls levelled 3 years ago and now guys have gone crazy! Girls are just learning and progressing constantly.


What advice would you give someone starting surfing?

SG: If I look back at my first years surfing i didn’t worry so much and now I am definitely more stressed I so could learn from that, from my younger self. I would also say to take it all in instead of floating through, everything happened and then I worried about winning 5th world title. It’s also important to always have fun.


Do you ever feel social pressure to sell your body when modelling?

SG: I always think it’s best to be yourself so if your sexual person go for it but don’t be something your not – should celebrated your athleticism as long as it’s in context. At the end of the film it’s a clip of you free surfing.


What was the decision on sharing the Contest footage verses free surfing at the end?

SG: I was so happy there, it was the best surfing footage we had you know I was in my dreamy happy place so it felt right to end it there.

Watch the film online here: http://www.stephanieinthewater.com/.


The Amazon Riders: Teaser with Claudia Ogorondik


Wer’re in Sao Paulo Brazil for the weekend, filming for our new production The Amazon Riders. It’s 9pm and we finally manage to get a few hours without rain. We find ourselves in the epic Marquise do Ibirapuera, designed by legendary Brazilian architect Niemeyrer. It’s a sloping structure, which with it’s curves, columns and contours, is a haven for those on wheels whether they are on skateboard, longboard or rollerblade wheels. Thousands flock to the area every weekend and it’s easy to see why, it’s an enormous space, protected from the rain with a perfectly smooth surface – any skateboarder’s dream.

We find our subject of today’s shoot, 25 year old Claudia Ogorondik, hanging out in the freestylers corner, munching on bacon flavoured potato chips and sipping Guarana with her girlfriend. She’s proudly donning her black ‘Per Canguru‘ hoody, from the freestyle skate company that sponsors her. Claudia Ogorondik is not unique only because she is a girl on a skateboard, she is the only female freestyle skateboarder in the entire continent of South America – and she represents.


After a warm up chat we get shooting, it’s cold and it’s getting late but as soon as Claudia steps on her board, we forget everything else. She seamlessly performs a rail slide and effortlessly displays her footwork connecting walk the dogs with space walks and cross-footed rail flips. We are open-mouthed, in awe - this girl has talent.

After capturing Claudia’s skills on film we get to the interview. The fun begins as we trade our segmented knowledge of Portuguese for her limited English and burst into fits of laughter due to our hilarious miscommunications. Luckily we have a translator nearby to get things running smoothly as Claudia talks about her love for her sport, “It’s like meditation, you forget everything else and just have fun.” she explains.


Despite the cold night, we leave the shoot with a warm feeling from not only capturing raw talent on camera but from encountering such a passionate, down-to-earth person with a silly sense of humour. Check out the teaser from the shoot below and like The Amazon Riders Facebook page to keep updated with all the action.

Life & style on the edge