Rolf Rae-Hansen

Rolf's a freelance copywriter based in Edinburgh



Review: Deep-Tissue Thai Massage at Knot Stressed, Edinburgh

The Treatment

A 90-minute Seriously Stretchy Summer Release deep-tissue Thai Massage with rolling acupressure and passive stretches at Knot Stressed Therapies Clinic (40-42 Montrose Terrace, Edinburgh, EH7 5DL, 07540 809 944,

This treatment is based on a foundation of Thai massage, with the practitioner using their hands, elbows, knees and feet to apply yoga-like stretches to the receiver’s body. These Thai techniques are complemented by acupressure, whereby clearing pressure is placed upon the body’s “meridians”, junctions through which life energy is considered to flow. Price: £50.

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Review: Ruffians Barber, Edinburgh

The Treatment

A haircut (£40) and Ruffians Refresher (£15) at Ruffians Edinburgh (23 Queensferry Street, EH2 4QS, 0131 225 8962 www.

A Ruffians haircut is a comprehensive 45-minute process, beginning with a consultation, to help match a style to the customer’s face shape, hair type and general style. Next comes a shampoo and conditioning treatment, a scalp massage, then the all-important cut, finish and style. The Refresher is an extra luxury that includes an exfoliating and moisturising facial treatment, soothing hot and cold towels, and a shoulder, arm and hand message.

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Review: Yin Yoga at Tribe Quartermile

tribe quartermileA 60-minute Yin Yoga session at Tribe Yoga Quartermile (1 Porters Walk, Edinburgh, EH3 9GJ, 0131 229 1619 Yin is a passive yoga practice from the Taoist tradition, intended to stretch and strengthen your muscles’ fascia connective tissues. Various prone and supine poses are held for up to 5 minutes in a studio that’s heated to 26 degrees C. An extremely meditative form of movement, the emphasis is on de-stressing body and mind, to leave both in calm harmony. £12.00 for a drop-in class (set of 5 for £50, 10 for £90.00).

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Review: Empower Physiotherapy

A short review I wrote for the ‘Spa Spy’ section of The Scotsman newspaper’s magazine.


The Treatment

An Initial physiotherapy session at Empower Physiotherapy (Scotsman Health Club & Spa, 1 Market Street, Edinburgh, EH1 1TR, 0747 202 4559, This 60-minute assessment is designed to deliver an in-depth diagnosis, a detailed, personalised treatment plan, and an estimate of the time to reach recovery. GBP45.

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The Civilised Cyclist

I learnt in-the-saddle etiquette from my peers at Elgin Cycling Club, back in the late eighties. Whenever we, either as a bunch or in small groups, passed another cyclist we’d give a wave and/or (depending on our oxygen requirements) say hello. We’d even offer these cheery (cheer was weather dependent) greetings when the other cyclist was a complete stranger, and a complete stranger who was also a member of a rival club.

Waving Cyclist poster from:

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Dinner On The Pass

Cycling and food are two of my passions. Sometimes I wonder if the main reason for the former is to create a calorie deficit that excuses my intake of the latter.

View from the hot seat

I recently had the privilege of enjoying Dinner on the Pass in The Sheraton hotel’s One Square kitchen. The cycling equivalent of this foodie experience would be to ride in a pro-team car that’s driving  alongside the peloton: sitting at the pass, watching the kitchen work at full steam; the brigade of chefs in perfect synchronisation, gathered around their leader, selflessly doing his bidding, preparing the ground for a team’s grand victory; at the feed zone, the musettes hold more promise than energy gels and rice cakes. Continue reading “Dinner On The Pass”

Edinburgh to Edinburgh via East & Mid Lothian

Distance: 47.5 miles (scroll down for the Strava map)
Less then 48 hours until the clocks spring forward for the start of Summer Time and I’m staring out the window, wondering if the snow is sufficiently heavy for my bike ride to be cancelled. I put the coffee machine on, decided to wait and see how the weather developed. Half an hour and two very strong coffees later, I’m on the road, the snow’s stopped, the sun’s out but the skies on the horizon are dark and doom-laden.
Nevermind, at least I’m out. That was probably the hardest part of this ride, breaking that imaginary barrier, overcoming my meteorological doubts and exiting the flat. (How much improved as a cyclist would I be had the hours of weather watching and dithering instead been spent on the bike and riding?) Anything can happen now that I’m actually out, on the road and pedaling — rain, snow, lightning, storm of locusts, zombie invasion — it would only help to embellish the tales I’d tell when safely back in the flat, returned to staring out the window at the weather.
I headed out through town, away from the canal, up through Bruntsfield, across the Meadows, into Holyrood Park and on toward Meadowbank. I was in a contemplative mood and so paid sufficient attention to realise just how pretty a city Edinburgh is. In five minutes I was treated to stunning scenes of the Georgian skyline presided over by the Castle, the imposing crags of Arthurs Seat, then down the hill passed Parliament and Palace. I’d have taken some photos but removing my gloves put me at risk of frostbite and I kept thinking: I see this every day; I’ll take some photos another time.
Portobello Prom
Portie Prom
Passed Meadowbank with its stadium and dilapidated Velodrome, I rolled on down toward Portobello (a separate seaside town that’s become subsumed by the city). Rather than battle the traffic through the town I chose to meander along the prom’, dodging joggers and excited dogs, struggling to resist the aromas of fried food and coffee that leaked from the many cafés.

The twin towers of Cockenzie power station (in the direction I was headed) looked minutely distant. I’ll be there in no time, I thought, still under the influence of my morning coffees.

Out through Joppa, I turned left and long the coast road, through Musselburgh (the poor man’s Portobello), passed the race course and left toward Prestonpans (named after its salt-panning origins). That stretch, which should have been a scenic warm-up, was proving a tougher task, the wind against me, keeping those twin towers distressingly distant.
Eventually out through the Pans (as the locals call it) and I stopped to snap a photo of the power station and its chimneys. (I also took the gloveless opportunity to fish an energy bar from my back pocket.) The ugly-yet-imposing place really is a local landmark. I wondered what would happen to it now that the facility had been decommissioned, taken off-grid. Would it be listed, turned into a residential and leisure development like London’s Battersea? Or left to rot, crumble and, eventually, tumble?
Cockenzie Power Station
Cockenzie Power Station
I battled on, through Cockenzie and Port Seton, the road still following the coast but ducking into tree-filled stretches that provided a little shelter from the wind. As that cover fell away my time came to turn inland, away from the coast and into Longniddry.
The road into the village passed the impressive arched gateway to the Wemyss Estate with it’s carved motto: je pense forward. I thought and rode straight ahead — then turned right, through the village, before a left, under the railway line and on into open countryside (headed toward Pentcaitland).
My views until then had been mostly blue sky and sea. The coastline behind me, I now had dark skies, barren fields and snow-covered hills for encouragement and entertainment. It looked daunting: I reached into my back pocket for another energy bar. Je pense forward.
When I got there, Pentcaitland was a pretty little place, a stone’s throw from Scotland’s capital city but looking and feeling thoroughly rural. I stayed on the narrow road through the village (resisting the urge to stop and investigate a sign that offered “hot drinks & hot food”), crossing the River Tyne (no, not the River Tyne) following the directions for Dalkeith.
The road was now undulating nicely and the wind wasn’t making much impression. It had, however, started to snow and the skies ahead were blacker than the tarmac along which I was rolling. I was in the mood for thinking backward, to the blue sea and sky I recently departed.
After a few miles I took the left turn to Pathhead, onto a less amenable road. Within a few minutes of the turn, the snow had stopped and the sun was out. I unzipped my jacket and swigged from my bidon, gone from stressing about being under-dressed to wondering if I might have worn a layer too many.
Mur de Ford
Mur de Ford
Through Pathhead I took the left turn to Ford, noticing a signpost that warned of a 12% gradient. Doesn’t bother me, I thought, as I freewheeled downhill, before reaching the bottom and remembering that what goes down must come up (unless of course you want to ditch the bike and start a new life at the bottom of the hill).

The Mur de Ford, as it shall henceforth be known, was the first real ascent of the day and my legs failed to show any signs of appreciation.

At the top of the Mur was a left turn to Gorebridge (once a mining village, now a former mining-village, like many outposts in this part of the world). Through Gorebridge and I followed the signs for Penicuik. The landscape had opened out again to reveal those snow-covered hills, now looking much more like snow-covered mountains. Time for another energy bar.
Either the energy bar was an extra special specimen or the wind was behind me, for I took the next few miles in my stride, turned left just before the village of Temple and on through the wooded valley to Carrington (the least Dynasty place on the planet). You can tell you’re short of fuel on a ride when a farm’s hand-painted sign selling free-range eggs makes your stomach rumble. 
Carrington Church
Carrington Church

That’s what happened, so I sat in the sun outside Carrington’s 18th century church (now a design studio) and munched another bar.

Up the wee rise and out of Carrington and I was back on more familiar roads, the sight of those not-so-distant snowy mountains (the Pentlands) no longer delivering dread. All I had to do was drop down the hill into Roslin Glen, climb up the other side and I’d be (almost) home. The 16% gradient of that climb took me down into third gear and forced out a rather tired sigh but was soon over and done with. I turned left (away from the village and the chapel made famous by The Da Vinci Code) and onto the main Edinburgh Road.
Roslin Glen
You’ve Been Warned

I kept it in the big ring all the way home from there — although, it took a few jelly babies from my emergency rations, and a good deal of Thomas Voeckler face-pulling on the last climb (up to Fairmilehead) to do so.
Downhill all the way from there. Back to the flat for a bacon butty, hot, sweet lapsang souchong and an even hotter bath. My last winter bike ride was behind me, if only I could have said the same for the winter weather.
There’s a full map of the route here on Strava.
Click here to view all the photos on Flickr.

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